“Bird” (1988): The Best Jazz Movies
For his role as bebop great Charlie Parker, Forest Whitaker didn’t just study the saxophone: he also interviewed junkies about the effects of heroin. He was rewarded with a Best Actor win at Cannes, but all that research took a toll. Whitaker later said he was often depressed and came to understand why Parker tried to take his own life. “It took quite a while to shake his thoughts from my head,” he said. With deliberate pacing and mood-setting by jazz-loving director Clint Eastwood, Bird remains one of the most accurate portrayals of the jazz world Hollywood has created.