The 15 Best Movie Musicals of All Time

(c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Musicals have their origins in the theaters of Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages, and it’s obvious they are never going to go out of style. The best musicals are timeless, and induce audiences to sing and dance in their seats. There are many genres of musicals, for instance the dark and sinister dramas, such as Sweeney Todd and Les Miserables, which contrast with the upbeat and colourful comedies of Hairspray and Oklahoma. It may not be realistic for street gangs to dance ballet before a rumble, or a whole high school class to spontaneously break out into a choreographed dance number, but we wish they would. Here are the 15 best movie musicals of all time!

15. Sound of Music (1965)

It’s hard to believe it has been 50 years since Maria (Julie Andrews) sang on an Austria mountain top, taught the von Trapp children to sing, and married the Captain (Christopher Plummer). All children have memories of pulling their covers over the heads during thunderstorms and singing “rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens…”

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14. Grease (1978)

It’s the classic high school drama set to 1950s music.  The film answers all adolescent queries, such as how to be cool, get the girl, and drive the car.  There is just one question that needs answering “John Travolta, how do you shake your hips like that?”  It’s 2015, and Grease is still the word.

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13. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Tim Curry (Dr. Frank-n-Furter) in pearls. Need more be said about this cult classic starring a young Susan Sarandon (Janet Weiss) and Barry Bostwick (Brad Majors)? To see this movie, just do the time warp again.

(c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection

12. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Was the remake starring Johnny Depp any good? Well, Johnny Depp is always delicious regardless of whether or not he lives in a candy factory, but the original was better. Gene Wilder is whimsical and charming as the brooding factory owner, and the child actors are hilarious and entertaining as their greed literally consumes them. While the remake relies on special effects, the original uses pure imagination.

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11. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

After 66 years, there has yet to be a remake of this classic musical, and why? No one can do it better than Judy Garland. Dorothy (Garland) is the lost girl from Kansas who finds herself in Oz, befriends the lion, and kills the wicked witch, all while wearing a stunning pair of ruby slippers.



10. Mamma Mia (2008)

At the ripe old age of 20, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) decides she is ready to begin married life with Sky (Dominic Cooper), but on one condition, her dad, whom she has never met, must walk her down the aisle. Yes, Pierce Brosnan’s (Sam) attempts at singing were laughable, if not embarrassing, and yes, Meryl Streep (Donna) can no longer pull off being 40 (she was almost 60 while filming), but it’s still an all-around hilarious musical that makes audiences wish they were 17 and dancing queens.

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9. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

At a Parisian cabaret, struggling writer Christian (Ewan McGregor) falls for sensual courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman), but they are kept apart by a plotting nightclub owner and a selfish duke. The film shows viewers all the flavours of the human experience: Drive, passion, betrayal, love, and a singing guitar who only speaks the truth.

(c)20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

8. White Christmas (1954)

Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) come back from war and become overnight singing sensations. They seem to have it all until they meet a sister act that that shows them what they’re missing. This heartfelt movie has everyone wishing for a white Christmas whether they live in California or the Tundra.

Everett Collection

7. Hairspray (2007)

The bright colours, upbeat songs, and teenage melodrama may be a little contrived for some, but the film made the list for the following reason: John Travolta (Edna Turnblad) in drag dancing with Christopher Walken (Wilbur Turnblad). Michelle Pfeiffer (Velma Von Tussle) and Queen Latifah (Motormouth Maybelle) are pretty good too.

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6. Walk the Line (2005)

What do you do when you’re a married country singer who falls in love with another married singer? A lot of drugs and some time in jail before your wife leaves you and your new love rescues you. The romance of Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) and June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) is one for the ages and a joy to watch for even non country music lovers.

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5. Chicago (2002)

If you can’t be famous, be infamous is the moto of jazzclub singers Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger). This musical’s intricate dance sequences, hot costumes, and steamy plot deliver all that jazz.

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4. Rent (2005)

New York, the center of the universe, is where Roger (Adam Pascal) falls for Mimi (Rosario Dawson); Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) rescues Tom (Jesse Martin); and Maureen (Idina Menzel) performs street theater, while Mark (Anthony Rapp) captures it all on film. Wine and beer are always needed when watching this street savvy musical.

(c) Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection

3. Dreamgirls (2006)

The story of the Supremes told through the singing of Beyonce Knowles (Deena Jones) and Jennifer Hudson (Effie White). The struggles with success and the heartache of betrayal are captured in the music, tears, and laughter of this incredible group of singers.

©DreamWorks/courtesy Everett Collection

2. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

You do not have to be a wealthy man to enjoy this film. A poor milkman with five daughters has only two thoughts on his mind: Riches and marrying them off to whoever will take them. But more than that, it is about a family and a father who clings to his beliefs and traditions as the world that he knows ceases to exist.

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1. Footloose (1984)

After a senseless accident left teenagers dead, dancing and rock and roll music were outlawed in the town of Bomont. That all changed when the adorable and hunky Ren (Kevin Bacon) came to town. Ladies held their breath as Kevin Bacon flew through the air in an insane and electrifying dance routine. He was the hero that all small town reverend’s daughters were waiting for.

(c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Michelle H