Since the age of silent cinema to today, music has long been film’s greatest supporting role. Adding a complementary layer of emotion and gravity, film scores and soundtracks often become the essence of a movie’s impact on audiences. And, just as theatrical musicals have shown, leaning into this power-player can bring storytelling to a whole new level of entertainment.
An opening ensemble number to get all the exposition out of the way? Yes, please. Follow it up with a teary solo? Cue: Waterworks from every audience member. Luckily, you don’t need to scavenge for front row tickets to experience the magic of a musical at home. And you don’t need to be a theatre geek to enjoy the many forms that musicals have come to be in the film industry. So, warm up you vocals and get into your places: Here are the best movie musicals of all time.
Pop. Six. Squish. Uh uh!
Chicago is one of the most successful and popular movie musicals from the modern era, locking in a slew of Oscar wins along the way. Hot take: while Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Richard Gere lead the pack, it’s really Queen Latifah’s Matron Mama Morton that blows the lid off the place.
Fiddler on the Roof
Singin’ In the Rain
Wizard of Oz
The 2006 film adaptation of Dreamgirls was a massive success, starring the likes of Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé, and Eddie Murphy. The film also introduced the non-American Idol lot to Jennifer Hudson, and she made quite the impression, landing a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her first ever nomination.
West Side Story
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Black is King
Written, directed, and produced by Beyoncé, Black Is King is a cross between a musical film and visual album, depicting a live adaptation of The Lion King.
Sound of Music
Before you ask, “Did the world really need multiple musical films in which Julie Andrews arrives as a sing-songy caretaker to save a family from despair?” The answer is yes. Andrews stars as Maria, a young postulant who is assigned to be the governess to an Austrian naval officer’s children. Amid the Nazi invasion, Maria leads the family to music, joy, and freedom.
A Star is Born (1954)
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