User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 29
  2. Negative: 2 out of 29

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  1. Jun 24, 2013
    9
    This fascinating documentary focuses on the singing careers of 4 or 5 fabulous African American backup singers. Most of them started in the 1960s and were backup singers on some of the most famous records of all time. In a couple of instances, they even sang the lead on some hits but the credit was given to other singers who did not sing on the record at all. These women are legendary within the music industry and certainly have the talent to be stars, but why haven't they? The documentary tries to answer this question by interviewing big named stars that have used these ladies on their own records over the years. The film features a lot of great music, and it makes you think about how many extremely talented people there are in the music industry and yet never become stars, and yet many of the pop stars of today can't sing at all and have to lip sync when they perform. Highly recommended. Expand
  2. Jul 18, 2013
    8
    This doc looks at the women who sing backup for rock and soul acts. There are profiles of some of the greats (Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer) and interviews with lots of women who've joined them. A few rock stars (Springsteen, Jagger, Sting) offer their comments. It's fascinating to learn about the history and influence of these amazing vocalists. It's fun to hear them riff effortlessly and reminisce about the past. When the focus turns to their failed attempts at moving to the front of the stage, the energy turns dark and drags on too long. Still, it's remarkable to get the chance to appreciate what these amazing women can do. Expand
  3. Apr 24, 2014
    6
    Another music industry-related feature-length documentary Oscar winner, after last years’ SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (2012, 7/10), 20 FEET FROM STARDOM homes in on back singers, from the esteemed Darlene Love, a recent Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame recipient; Lisa Fischer, the diva of the line of work, a Grammy winner for her only studio album in 1992; to lesser known veterans like Merry Clayton, Táta Vega, Claudia Lennear, The Waters, till up-and-coming young blood, spearheaded by Judith Hill who is still striving for her breakthrough as a solo artist, a THE VOICE contender last year, her debut album is in the offing.

    read rest of my review at my blog, google cinema omnivore.
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  4. Apr 4, 2014
    8
    This Oscar winning documentary is both engrossing and fun highlighting as it does the careers and importance of some of the most famous backing singers in the business. Interviews with the likes of Bette Midler, Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen are full of praise for what the likes of Darlene Love, Tata Vega and Lisa Fischer (amongst others) have contributed to the major bands and pop stars over the years. These afore mentioned backing artists, and others, share with us their frustrations, disappointments and the love for what they do. And let's not forget their talent. In many instances they are vocally superior to many of the lead entertainers that they support. However, as Sting so concisely puts it, 'It's not always about the talent'. Circumstances, opportunity and a little bit of luck can play an enormously important part in the transition from background to foreground to star! Expand
  5. Feb 15, 2014
    8
    I am not that aware of the artists from the old days, but I recognize them by some of hit tracks I know. Since I don't know much about the musics of before 80s, I just enjoyed the stories they told in this documentary. This movie is about the back-up singers and their's life with achievements and struggles.

    I had no intention of watching this music-documentary film if it was not
    nominated for the American Academy Awards. And I am surprised the tale they told about what they went through in their life and everything. Particularly a line one of them say as like 'in entertainment business nothing is guaranteed', so true. I have heard about film celebrities who lost everything within, just like that. So I think it is a good movie for young people to study about what to do and what not to do if they choose this same field as their profession.

    Some of them who attempted solo tell their sudden fall before the career taking off. From their perspective, it was heartbreaking because they were awesome. In fact, most of them were better that the lead singers and had an incredible voice. Then those times ethics of the music world were different than now. Those who attempt risk will terribly fail, sometime it put them into the edge of their career.

    One of the sidekick singer says in her interview that she worked as a house maid. She did it just to survive in the world after losing the job. It was a sad but true story of the unsung heroes of the past. It was not a must see, like any documentary movie this one unwraps the untold secrets of the unknown true stars.
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  6. Mar 2, 2014
    4
    I didn't see 20 FEET FROM STARDOM in the theater because I thought it would be just a lame VH-1 type doc. And guess what, it is! I finally saw it because it has such Oscar buzz. It's a pretty lame unfocused mess. Nice to see so many talented "background" singers but the film can't contain itself when it comes to fame and the big time. So lame. These women deserve to be celebrated for what they brought to music. The film does but then it veers all over the place. Just a big nothing. Expand
Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 25
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 25
  3. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Mar 24, 2014
    80
    A crowdpleaser that also tells an important story about showbiz, it’s fab. You’ll come out singing.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 30, 2013
    80
    A crowd-pleaser, through and through.
  3. Reviewed by: Dave Hoekstra
    Jul 16, 2013
    88
    From front to back stage, 20 Feet From Stardom is a compelling look at the spirit of these giving artists as they navigated the rapid musical and social change of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.