Movies are fun. The boy finally gets the girl, the guy in the mask is revealed, no matter what happens, movies are meant to entertain. But there is a genre of movies take everything to a new level. Movie musicals are just like those fun movies except, instead of talking, the characters sing their way through the story.
No matter how good a story is, the music is what makes the musical work. Because the characters are relying more on lyrics and less on dialogue, there must be good lyrics. They must be able to show how the character is feeling but not be too complicated. The songs must be catchy but still help the story along. It is hard to make a musical. These musicals find a way to pull everything together.
There are more than 10 good musicals. Some of the best musicals won’t make the list because there are simply too many to include all of them. Just because a musical isn’t on the list doesn’t mean that it isn’t wonderful and magical. It just means that there wasn’t a spot for it.
This list does not include animated musicals like The Little Mermaid or Tangled. If I were to include those then making the list would be impossible. They are completely separate from these live action movie musicals. They deserve a list of their own.
Here are the 10 best movie musicals. If your favorite is on the list, comment on your favorite song. If yours didn’t meet the cut, then comment why it deserves a spot.
[new page=High School Musical]
10. High School Musical, 2006
Image Courtesy of WikiMedia
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. How in the world could a Disney
Channel Original Movie make it onto the best list? High School
Musical isn’t the most complicated in the world. And the songs
aren’t as great as some of the other musicals on this list. However,
its spot on movie musical list is well deserved.
High School Musical reintroduced teens and tweens to musicals.
While enjoying Mary Poppins may seem fun, the film was almost
40 years old when High School Musical was made. The TV movie
was so successful it even had two more movies.
High School Musical follows the story of Troy Bolton (Zac
Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) and their times in their
school musical, their summer jobs and their difficult college plans.
All in all, the High School Musical trilogy’s soundtracks have
sold over 16 millioncopies
9. Oklahoma!, 1955
The musical that warmed our hearts and taught us just how to spell the
Sooner State’s name. Oklahoma! is one of the classic musicals.
It is based on the 1931 play Green Grow the Lilies and the
music was written by composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
II. The original broadway version of the musical opened in 1943.
The film follows Curly McLain (Gordon MacRae) and Laurey Williams
(Shirley Jones) with their wishy-washy relationship. In 2007, the
United States National Film Registry preserved in the Library of
Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically
[new page=The King and I]
8. The King and I, 1956
The King and I is based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical
of the same name. The musical is based on Margaret Landon’s novel
Anna and the King of Siam. A remake of the 1956 film was
released in 1999 and it was animated.
The musical follows Anna (Deborah Kerr), a schoolteacher, who is hired
to help the King of Siam (Yul Brynner). The King and Anna fall in love
throughout the movie and they both refuse to admit it. The stage
musical opened on March 29, 1951.
The movie musical has won five Academy Awards. Brynner won for Best
Actor in a Leading Role. They also won Best Art Direction, Best
Costume Design, Best Music, and Sound Recording. The film was also
nomated for Best Picture of the Year but lost out to Around the
World in 80 Days.
[new page=Rocky Horror Picture Show]
7. Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975
Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult classic. The film stars
Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) as they
get stuck at a creepy castle when they get stuck with a flat tie.
Within the castle, they meet Dr. Frank N. Furter, Riff Raff, Magenta,
Columbia and other interesting characters.
There was an episode of FOX’s Glee in which the characters
dressed up as the characters from the film and sang the songs. The
film is typically shown each Halloween to celebrate the holiday.
In 2005, Rocky Horror Picture Show was selected for
preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the
Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or
[new page=Annie Get Your Gun]
6. Annie Get Your Gun, 1950
Annie Get Your Gun tells the musical story of real-life Annie
Oakley and Frank Butler. The two were both sharpshooters for Buffalo
Bill’s Wild West Show.
Annie and Frank begin the film as rival sharpshooters but Annie falls
in love with him when she first sees him. He doesn’t reciprocate the
feelings until after Annie has cleaned herself up and learned how to
Originally Judy Garland was to play the role of Annie Oakley but had
to withdraw because of her health. At that point, there were rumors
that she had to drop out because of drug problems. Betty Hutton
replaced her. Howard Keel played Frank Butler.
The film won an Academy Award and Hutton won a Golden Globe for her
role as Annie.
[new page=West Side Story]
5. West Side Story, 1961
West Side Story was inspired by Romeo and Juliet. In
both productions, it tells the story of star-crossed lovers whose
romance angers their opposing groups. Before the musical was a film,
there was a stage adaptation.
The film stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno and George
Chakiris. The film follows two gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Tony,
who is a member of the Jets falls in love with Maria who is a member
of the Sharks. The film won ten Academy Awards in its eleven nominated
categories, including Best Picture.
It is listed on American Film Institute’s list of 100 best…100 Movies
list at number 41.
[new page=The Wizard of Oz]
4. The Wizard of Oz, 1939
The Wizard of Oz follows Dorthy Gale (Judy Garland) and her
adventures in her imaginiation. She is drawn to a magical world, Oz,
after she is swooped up by a tornado in Kansas. She and her dog, Toto
try to find the wizard in order to get magic ruby slippers to get back
home. She meets a scarecrow, lion and tinman who also want things from
The fantasy film has many quotes that are popular in culture today
such as, “There’s no place like home,” “I’m melting!” and “Pay no
attention to the man behind the curtain.”
The film was filmed at the former MGM lot, now Sony Pictures Studio,
in Culver City, California. Sony has since covered the iconic yellow
brick road. They did, however, build a 94-foot-tall rainbow
sculpture to celebrate the magic of the film.
3. Grease, 1978
img src= http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e2/Grease_ver2.jpg>
Image Courtesy of WikiMedia
Grease is about Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John
Travolta) and their love affair. After they have a summer romance, she
moves to his school. Since he has a reputation as a bad boy, she is
confused why he’s not as sweet as he was during the summer.
The movie musical has a sequel but Newton-John and Travolta did not
return for their roles as Danny and Sandy. The sequel starred Maxwell
Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer as original characters.
Grease, the stage adaptation opened in 1971. There have been
adaptions of the original stage adaption that many celebrities were in
such as Megan Mullally and Sutton Foster.
In the United States, Grease is the number one highest-grossing
musical. But, although it is commercially popular, it only holds an
80% rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes.
[new page=My Fair Lady]
2. My Fair Lady, 1964
My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Dolittle (Audrey Hepburn)
and Henry Higgens (Rex Harrison) and their long love story. Henry is a
proper professor who bets that he can get Eliza, a flower girl, to
become a proper lady.
There was quite a controversy when My Fair Lady was released.
When Julie Andrews was passed for the part of Eliza Dolittle, she took
a role as Mary Poppins in Disney’s Mary Poppins. When she won
her Academy Award, in her speech she thanked Jack Warner for passing
her up because she wouldn’t have gotten to play Mary Poppins and beat
Audrey Hepburn out of an Oscar.
The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor,
and Best Director. Audrey Hepburn didn’t do the singing in the film,
rather Marni Nixon sang them. Rex Harison refused to have his songs
[new page=Mary Poppins]
1. Mary Poppins, 1964
And finally, there’s Mary.
Mary Poppins tells the story of the Banks family and their magical nanny, Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews plays the title role as a stern but fun nanny.
The musical is based on P.L Travers’ book series of the same name. The a behind-the-scenes of Mary Poppins was recently dramatized on screen in the film, Saving Mr. Banks. According to the film and stories from the cast and crew, Travers was not a fan of the approach that Walt Disney took and absolutely hated the cartoon penguins.
Mary Poppins was scored by the Sherman brothers, Robert and Richard, and their songs have continued on after the movie was adapted for the stage. The two won both Oscars and Grammys for their work in the movie musical.
The film won five Academy Awards; Best Actress for Julie Andrews, Best Film Editing, Original Music Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”
In 2013, Mary Poppins was preserved in the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress.