The 25 Best Musicals


1. Singin' in the Rain (1952)

    Also on the 10th Anniversary (5), Romance (16), Comedy (16), and Greatest (9) Lists - The top musical on the list. Rather strange at times it is very enjoyable and the music is definitely catchy. The plot follows a couple of vaudeville actors, where after the advent of movies with sound, her career is in jeopardy due to her shrill voice. For those of you whole love musicals you have probably have already seen this but if not, you should.


2. West Side Story (1961)

    Also on the Romance (3), 10th Anniversary (51), and Greatest (41) Lists - The musical based on Romeo and Juliet set in "modern" day New York. Very good catchy music and great acting. It really shows the grittiness of New York at times. Although I question whether gangs in NYC really know all the moves in choreographed dances.


3. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

    Also on the Thriller (43), Greatest (6), 10th Anniversary (10), Inspirational (26), and the 10 Top 10 - Fantasy (1) Lists - It has been a very long time since I have seen The Wizard of Oz, so we ended up watching it in preparation for my daughter to go see Wicked for the first time. And as a child I did not get the overt symbolism used throughout the movie. How the characters at the beginning of the movie were reincarnated as the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion, not to mention the Wizard and the Wicked Witch of the West. The acting was also just so over the top. Nobody seemed to be holding anything back and just letting it all out there. However, that is what makes this movie so charming. It could have faded into the dustbins of history but the overacting by the four main leads are what draws us into the movie and keeps us there. I couldn't keep my eyes off the Scarecrow's walking behavior throughout the movie and the Cowardly Lion's eating up of the scenery. It was absolutely hilarious. I think what really got me was when the Wizard, playing the doorman, starts crying and it obvious he is just having water pour over his face. It's terrific. Judy Garland's Dorothy is equally over the top and without her acting so dramatic it wouldn't have worked with the other three. She was the glue to hold it all together. On top of all that, the colorization design of the movie was spot on, especially given the early days of color in which the movie was made. The color work was loud and glaring in many spots making the colors really pop out at you. It was beautiful. This movie earned it's place in history as one of the greatest ever made and will likely remain there for decades to come.  


4. The Sound of Music (1965)

    Also on the Romance (27), Greatest (55), 10th Anniversary (40), and Inspirational (41) Lists - One of the most popular musicals of all time. It is based on the Von Trapp family who during WWII were eventually forced to leave their native Austria. The main plot of the movie follows a former nun who finds her true calling as a governess to the family and eventually melts the heart of the once stern father. This all occurs in lighthearted nature over several irritatingly get stuck in your head musical numbers. Obviously their situation was portrayed not as dire as it actually was but it is still an enjoyable movie.

5. Cabaret (1972)
     Also on the 10th Anniversary (63) List -


6. Mary Poppins (1964)

   Mary Poppins is a musical comedy about a magical nanny who interjects herself into a household in order to mend familial problems that abound. Although not the first movie to combine animation with live action, this was likely one of the best earlier efforts to that effect. The scenes where the characters are fully immersed in the cartoon/drawn world actually work pretty well. I love how the live action merry-go-round horses tear up the ground every time the go down as they hop up and down across the scenery. Within the cartoon world, the green screen effects also aren't that bad and the primary actors, Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews do a very good job of convincing us that they are indeed interacting with the cartoons. This leads us to the primary driving force of the movie, which is the main actors. They perform the roles perfectly, becoming almost live action cartoons themselves, with Dick Van Dyke taking the brunt of the cartoonishness. Without these two actors, I don't think this movie would have been a fraction of what it turned out to be. There isn't much else in the movie without them. The movie also contains a surprising amount of women empowerment, especially given the time when it was released. The green screen effects during other parts of the movie, especially when Mary Poppins is removing over-sized items from her bag, are dated and I'm surprised that the studio hasn't attempted to "fix" it with modern techniques. Although the movie contains many memorable songs, many of the songs are just a rehashing of the main songs, like the repetitive reuse of the Chim Chim Cher-ee song throughout the movie. The children in the movie are barely tolerable though and I would greatly appreciate it someone else had been hired. Overall, I would say that the greatest strength of the movie is the interactions of the live action and cartoons, especially given Van Dyke's cartoonish persona adopted through the movie and the often subtle humor interjected throughout. In general, the movie is enjoyable for me, though with limited rewatchability. 


7. A Star is Born (1954)

    Also on the Romance (43) List -


8. My Fair Lady (1964)

    Also on the Romance (12) and Greatest (91) Lists - Based on the inspirational play Pygmalion that very few people have actually heard about. Its a very simple concept really, a highly educated linguist who can tell the difference between any accent ever is challenged to convert a street tramp into the belle of the ball. The problem starts when he starts to have feelings for her. Some very enjoyable songs, although not as well know as some other musicals, still sing-a-long worthy. 


9. An American in Paris (1951)

     Also on the Romance (39) and Greatest (68) Lists - Overall An American in Paris is a good movie. The plot is easy to follow and intriguing, the dancing is phenomenal, and the singing is entertaining, but the musical portions seemed to have no connection to the plot of the movie. Maybe I am just jaded by modern day movies but the meaning for last 18 minutes completely eluded me. The very end also seemed to be a bit too good to be true. The story is basically an American painter (Gene Kelly) is in Paris and falls in love with a French girl (Leslie Caron) who happens to be engaged to another man. Like anyone would expect the French girl ends up with the American but for no apparent reason the man she was engaged to seems happy at the match. Not one of the best movies on the list and seemed to drag on at times.


10. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

11. The King and I (1956)

    Also on the Romance (31) List -


12. Chicago (2002)

    The good thing about musical movies is that they already have a good script. They just need good actors to play the parts and a good director to visualize it on the screen. Chicago is a very good musical on its own. Then throw in award winning actors and actresses and it is a gem. This is another of the recent movies on the list and it well deserves to be there.


13. 42nd Street (1933)

14. All That Jazz (1979)

15. Top Hat (1935)

16. Funny Girl (1968)

    Also on the Romance (41) List -


17. The Band Wagon (1953)

18. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

       Also on the Greatest (100), 10th Anniversary (98), and Inspirational (88) Lists -


19. On The Town (1949)

20. Grease (1978)

    Also on the Romance (98) List - Another iconic movie on the romance list. This is the 1970's musical. A very fun movie to watch and since everyone knows the words it's all the better.


21. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

22. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

    Also on the Romance (34) and the 10 Top 10 - Animation (7) Lists - Beauty and the Beast is the second movie that Disney released after they revitalized their animated movies with The Little Mermaid. When I watch Beauty and the Beast I feel the musical genera, like Phantom of the Opera, spills out of the TV screen. This movie was also one of the first movies to use computer generated scenes with traditional animation overlaid on top of it. Being one of the first movies to do this, one would expect it to be choppy and not well done, however the background is almost flawless, if not obviously computer generated, during the big dancing scene towards the end of the movie. In regards to the story, I have often heard people decry the movie as showing a weak central female character hoping the brutish man would change for her. Instead, while I watch it, I see a very strong female protagonist who stands toe-to-toe with every man in the movie, never once backing down. If anything this is almost a female empowerment movie, showing women that they don't have to take what is given to them and that they can take what they want for their lives. On top of everything is the music. The music composed for this movie is one of those that gets stuck in my head for days and I'm not all that perturbed by it. I love the music for this and Angela Lansbury has a surprising nice singing voice to boot. Overall, a highly enjoyable movie which is not a misogynistic as I think people claim it to be.


23. Guys and Dolls (1955)

24. Show Boat (1936)

25. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

    One of my wife's favorite movies. She made me watch this every Friday my Junior year of college. It is definitely a good movie and the musical numbers are very catchy. Since I have not seen a ton of musicals I do not have much to compare this too but I feel it should be on this list, possibly even higher up.