My love for the theatrical arts rivals my love for the cinema, especially in high school and college. In high school I performed in my fair share of musicals, including Hello Dolly and The Wizard of Oz. In college, I work as a stagehand for the Honeywell Center, which is a local stage theater in central Indiana. While working at the Honeywell Center, I helped out with many performances including Annie and Cats. As you can see the theatre has left an imprint on my life, therefore I couldn’t skip the Musical / Dance genre. This genre typically doesn’t have sequels, so no real franchises have spawned out of this genre. Unless you want to count the bad sequels to classic Disney films. So, like before, I am going to do a top ten list, but this time around I’m going to put a bit of a spin on it. I’m going to do my favorite musicals throughout history. Let’s get started.
2010’s: Les Misérables (2012)
I know this decade hasn’t even reached the half-way point yet, but there have been a lot good movie to come out already. Les Misérables is by far the best musical film of the decade so far. Over the past five years or so, these are my favorite musicals to contend with Les Misérables: The Muppets (2011), Pitch Perfect (2012), and Frozen (2013). Even though Frozen and The Muppets had better songs (“Let It Go” and “Man or Muppet”) Les Misérables was a better film overall, which it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
2000’s “Modern Musical Era”: The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Moulin Rouge! (2001)
The 2000’s was a great decade for musicals, just look at all these contenders: Chicago (2002), The Producers (2005), Rent (2005), Dreamgirls (2006), Across the Universe (2007), Enchanted (2007) Hairspray (2007), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Mamma Mia! (2008), and The Princess and the Frog (2009). There were a lot of choices from this decade. From a personal stand point most of these films came out while I was in high school and college, when my love for the theatre was at its peak. The merit of these film were also good. Chicago won Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2002 and, Moulin Rouge was nominated for Best Picture in 2001. Dreamgirls and Enchanted both had three of their songs nominated for Best Song. I personally didn’t enjoy those films as much as The Phantom of the Opera. The factor that placed The Phantom of the Opera at the top of my list was it visuals. It was nominated for Best Cinematography, but was beaten out by The Aviator.
1990’s “Modern Disney Era”: The Lion King (1994)
The 90’s was the decade that housed a good amount of Disney movies with great songs, thanks primarily to Alan Menken. Here are the songs that won Best Song at the Academy Awards, that were produced by Disney: “Beauty and the Beast”, "A Whole New World", "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", "Colors of the Wind", and "You'll Be in My Heart". I’m going to lump in "Under the Sea" even though that song won in 1989. Both The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast had three songs nominated for best song during their respectful years. Beauty and the Beast one-upped The Lion King and earned a Best Picture nomination in 1991. Beauty and the Beast may have bested The Lion King at the Oscars, but The Lion King is one of favorite Disney movies, so it has Beauty and the Beast beat in my opinion.
1980’s “Dance Era”: Footloose (1984)
You couldn't have two left feet in the 80’s because there were a good amount of dance themed movies: Fame (1980), Flashdance (1983), Staying Alive (1983), and Dirty Dancing (1987). All of these films were good to groove to but some better than the other. The songs “Fame”, “Flashdance…What a Felling”, and “(I've Had) The Time of My Life” all won the Oscar for Best Song. The song “Footloose” was nominated, but was knocked out by “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder. I believe Footloose had the better story out of the dance movies in the 80’s.
1970’s “Silver Age of Musicals”: Grease (1978)
There were a lot of musicals released in the 70’s, three of which were recognized as great films by being nominated for Academy Awards, those are, Fiddler on the Roof (1971), Cabaret (1972), and All That Jazz (1979). Some of the other musical released in the 70’s that I thought were good: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), Pete's Dragon (1977), and The Muppet Movie (1978). Some of these movies had Best Song nomination with these songs: "Candle on the Water" and "Rainbow Connection". Grease is a classic movie musical with good songs.
1960’s “Golden Age of Musicals”: West Side Story (1961)
Musical movies in the 1960’s brought home the golden Oscar many times, four musicals won Best Picture in the 60’s. Those Films are as followed, West Side Story (1961), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), and Oilver! (1968). Other musical movies were nominated for Best Picture but didn't win: The Music Man (1962) was beat out by Lawrence of Arabia, Marry Poppins (1964) lost to My Fair Lady, Funny Girl (1968) was defeated by Oilver!, and Hello, Dolly! (1969) did make the cut verse Midnight Cowboy. If you have been counting that’s eight musical movies nominated for Best Picture. Marry Poppins may have not taken home the Oscar for Best picture, but it takes home the Oscar for Best song with “Chim Chim Cher-ee” I want to say Marry Poppins is second favorite musical of this decade, mixing animation and live action was spectacular, especially for that time period.
1950’s “Classic Era”: Singin' in the Rain (1952)
This decade brought with it a lot of classic movies in general, naturally the musical movie world followed suit release some classics of its own. Gigi (1958) won Best Pasture and Best Song, were as, The King and I was nominated, but was bested by Around the World in 80 Days (1956). A hand-full of classic Disney film also came out during this decade, Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland, (1951), Peter Pan (1953), Sleeping Beauty (1959), granted these films are less known for their musical numbers. Overall this decade produced many musical that are seen as classic films today.
1940’s “Classic Disney Era": Pinocchio (1940)
It could be argued that 1950’s is the “Classic Disney Era” because of the Disney film that came out during those years, but I’m going to make a case for the 40’s. Disney was making his mark in the 40’s with films such as, Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941), Saludos Amigos (1942), The Three Caballeros (1944), Make Mine Music (1946), Melody Time (1948) and, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). Again not all these movie are 100% musicals, per se, but they do have great music that is beatifically worked into the stories. I think Pinocchio dose this best with all of its songs, but most noteworthy with it songs, "When You Wish Upon a Star” and "I've Got No Strings.” For those of you who might be thinking, “He has spent a lot of time on Disney films”, well Disney has produced many movies and a large percentage of them have been musicals, and good musical if I may add. Tommy from Informal Talks might argue I didn't spend enough time on Disney movies. With that being said, I may do post on animated film in the future, keep your eyes peeled.
1930’s: The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Going to be honest, I have seen many films from this decade and beyond. I know that I really like The Wizard of Oz as both a musical and movie. The film was nominated for Best Picture but lost to Gone with the Wind. The Wizard of Oz’s song “Over the Rainbow” won the Oscar for Best Song. What else do I have to say about this classic timeless musical movie? That’s right nothing!
What are your favorite Movie Musicals?