While movie musicals don’t enjoy the same popularity as they did in the 50s and 60s, they endure in the occasional modern adaptation of popular Broadway musicals and the rare original take at the genre. To reminisce about the fantastic charm of musicals, we’ve gathered the 10 best musical movies of all time.
Top 10 Best Musical Movies of All Time
Swing Time (1936)
Arguably one of the best musical movie that the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers duo made together, Swing Time (1936) tells about the story of a groom with cold feet who falls in love with another woman, a dance instructor.
The film is most memorable for its award-winning song, The Way You Look Tonight which would also be the biggest hit of Fred Astaire’s career.
The Lion King (1994)
With a live action version coming out in 2019, let’s take a look back onto the original animated film The Lion King (1994).
The film, dubbed as the best animated musical movies of all time, takes William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and adapts the story to a pride of lions in the African Sahara.
It produced memorable and beloved songs like I Just Can’t Wait to Be King, which staging in the film is a tribute to choreographer Busby Berkeley and Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
West Side Story (1961)
Another retelling of a William Shakespeare play, West Side Story (1961) sees the tragic lovers reincarnated as teenage New Yorkers caught between the rivalry of the gangs they belong in.
The film entertains us with fantastic songs and well-choreographed fighting dance sequences before dealing us the blow of the inevitable end of the tragic lovers.
A Star is Born (1954)
A Star is Born (1954) served as the comeback film of Judy Garland after stepping out of the spotlight for four years.
The film is a remake of another musical from 1937 and tells the story of an alcoholic movie star who boost the career of an aspiring actress. After deciding to marry her, the actress shot to fame while the actor spirals downward.
It is praised by critics for being a more realistic retelling of the original story.
Ah, the film that caused Francis Ford Coppola to lose out on his bid for best director for The Godfather.
Cabaret stars Judy Garland’s equally talented daughter Liza Minnelli as a singer at the sleazy Kit Kat Nightclub. Minnelli’s first on-screen singing performance won her the Oscar Award for best actress, an award which eluded her mother’s long career.
The musical movie was both a box office hit and critical success taking home a total of eight Oscar awards.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
This classic musical movie is based on a book of the same name by American author L. Frank Baum. It stars a young Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, a girl who finds herself transported to the colorful world of Oz by a mysterious storm.
The film follows Dorothy’s adventures with fantastical characters (a Tin-Man, a talking Lion, and a dancing Scarecrow) who she meets on her trip to Oz’s Emerald City. It’s also one of the first films to use Technicolor and did so in the best way possible.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo star in this wartime romance musical.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) tells the melancholic love story of a young French mechanic and a young woman who works in her mother’s umbrella shop separated by war. The entire film is sung (including the dialogue).
The film received acclaim upon its release with film critic Jim Ridley calling it ‘the most affecting of movie musicals’.
The Band Wagon (1953)
Another Fred Astaire musical makes our list of best musical films. This time it’s The Band Wagon (1953).
Considered to be a comeback for the aging Astaire, the film tells the story of Tony Hunter (Astaire) an aging movie star who heads to Broadway in the hopes of revitalizing his fading career. Unfortunately, not everything works out for him leading to the failure of his first comeback attempt.
The film is remembered for such notable songs as Triplets, Dancing in the Dark and That’s Entertainment. It also holds the honor of being preserved in the US National Film Registry for its cultural, historical and aesthetic significance. The Band Wagon is one of the best musical movies.
All That Jazz (1979)
All That Jazz (1979) is a fantastic semi-autobiographical musical film directed by Bob Fosse who used his own life and experiences in the entertainment industry as inspiration.
The film details the story of Joe Gideon (a character based on Bob Fosse), a womanizing and drug-addicted director and filmmaker, as he goes through the process of casting his new Broadway show which stars his ex-wife in the lead.
It is praised for its sharp (although exaggerated) portrayal of the entertainment industry and the characters in it.
Singin’ in the Rain (1954)
Topping our list of the 10 best musical movies of all time is Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s beloved film Singin’ in the Rain (1954).
The film chronicles the experiences of three performers in caught up in the 1920’s transition from silent movies to modern day ‘talkies’. Gene Kelly stars as Don Lockwood, a famous silent film actor, who finds his career in jeopardy with the coming of talkies.
Although receiving moderate praise upon its release, Singin’ in the Rain has become to be regarded to be one of the greatest films Hollywood ever made. It is one of the first 25 movies that the National Film Registry preserves and has inspired plenty of other musicals and films in the years after its production. It is one of the films that inspired the award-winning film La La Land. Singin’ in the Rain is considered to be one of the best musical movies ever.
What do you think of the musical movies that made it into our top 10 best musical movies list? Which ones haven’t you watched yet? Why not share this article with your friends so you can add it onto your list of movies to marathon the next time you hang out.