The Top 5 Movie Musicals

For most musical fans, myself included, our first introduction to the musical isn’t through a first Broadway show, it’s through movie musicals. While there are hundreds of movie musicals out there, here are my top five movie musicals that truly made me love the genre, and that helped foster my love for musicals as a whole.


The Wizard of Oz

How could The Wizard of Oz not be on a list of favorite movie musicals? Since its release in 1939, The Wizard of Oz has become the ultimate American classic, and has been shown to generations of children by their parents. It’s really no wonder why—the movie follows the stories of four different characters who are all seeking something “missing” in their lives, only to realize that they had what they desired all along. The characters are extremely relatable to viewers young and old, and the movie never fails to entertain and inspire. Whether it’s your first time seeing the film or your 100th, The Wizard of Oz is always a delight. Also, where would we be without the song “Over the Rainbow?”


The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music is based on the true story of the Von Trapps, an Austrian family forced to flee their home when persecuted by the Nazis. Starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and a host of adorable children, The Sound of Music is another American classic. The movie shows the power of song, love, and family to overcome even the worst of circumstances.The message and the music of The Sound of Music are equally memorable and wonderful, promising to stay with the viewer long after its nearly three-hour run has come to a close.


A Star is Born (1954)

While Judy Garland is most often known from her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, my favorite of her movies is easily A Star is Born. A Star is Born is the story of Esther Blodgett, a singer yearning for something more than just a life of singing for different bands. It opens with Esther performing for a charity benefit, where she meets Norman Maine—an alcoholic actor who will change her life. The two fall in love, and Esther’s fame grows as Norman’s declines, which endangers both their love and their careers. This movie is in no way the typical happy-go-lucky musical—it’s as heartbreaking as it is lovely, and it should be seen far more widely than it is.


Funny Girl

Oh, Funny Girl. Barbra Streisand’s first film, Funny Girl, is loosely based on the life of actress, singer, and comedian Fanny Brice, her rise to fame, and her relationship with the unpredictable and unreliable Nick Arnstein. Fanny meets Nick following her breakthrough performance at a hometown theater, and the two begin a tumultuous relationship that lasts for years. Fanny becomes a star and Nick becomes insecure regarding her wealth and success—leading to troubles in their careers, and in their lives together. While the story of Funny Girl is interesting and engaging, the music is truly what brings the movie to life. Barbra Streisand is absolutely a joy to watch, and her performance alone makes this film well worth watching.



Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey star in 1972’s Cabaret, the story of Sally Bowles and her “divinely decadent” life. Sally is a cabaret performer, living day to day in Berlin in hopes of becoming a popular film star. Sally meets Brian, an English tutor teaching in Berlin to make ends meet, and the two become involved in an intense and interesting affair. Throughout the course of the film their relationship changes and evolves, leaving Sally with a choice—should she live a “normal” life, or continue to pursue her unrealistic goals of becoming a star? The music, acting, and story present in Cabaret are all perfect, and the film as a whole is moving, disturbing, and entertaining. It definitely deserves a first viewing...or a 50th.


While these five movies stand out as my favorites in the genre, movie musicals as a whole are so interesting, entertaining, and impactful that I would recommend watching as many as you can. Even if musicals aren’t typically your “thing,” who can resist a little singing and dancing every once and a while?


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