Music films are not only an integral part of the golden age of Hollywood, there have been stage musicals adapted for the screen, and even some purely television-ready films that are from a musical. Of course, it isn’t just America that makes musicals, Bollywood has a long history of vibrant, colorful musicals such as Bobby and Lagaan.
What are the top musical movies ever?
There is no definitive way to decide what is the top movie. Do you judge by the most money taken? The most awards were given or on by one of the many polls that have taken place on the internet.
If you look at Rotten Tomatoes they may have different scores for one musical than IMDB has so which one is right?
To try and narrow down which is the top musical of all time you may need to consider all these factors and see how the rate of the movie in each category.
Classic musical movies
There are a number of movies that come to mind when you mention musicals. These would almost always bring up The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, and numerous Disney movies. There are later movies that have come to try and steal a position like Les Miserables and La La Land.
Top rated by critics and movie sites
It seems that looking online that musicals have somewhat died out. Looking at Rotten Tomatoes top 100 musicals of all time you can see that in the top 5 movies only one film was made after the early 1960s. In fact, the whole of the top 20 only has 5 movies from after 1964. Is this a sign that the musical has gone out of fashion or is that modern music just doesn’t match up to the older golden times?
The top five on RT and adjusted for modern scoring are La La Land at 5, Hard Days Night at 4, Top Hat, Singin’ in the Rain, and Wizard of Oz at 3,2, and 1 respectively.
Top by fans
When it comes to fan polls the results vary as would be expected. Ranker has the top five in reverse order starting at 5 as Cinderella, 42nd Street, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and at No. 1 Singin’ in the Rain. What’s on Stage has it slightly differently with West Side Story. Not surprisingly this site has a big leaning towards movies that also staged productions such as Mamma Mia. Singin’ in the Rain is at No. 5.
The awards nights are always interesting and frequently controversial ignoring fan favorites no matter what the genre is. In the past popular movies have been pushed aside by worthy but little-watched movies on occasion. The time now to look at how the Oscars have treated the musicals.
It may be no surprise to hear that Walt Disney won the most Oscars by one person with a total of 22. Chicago received 13 nominations and La La Land 14, of which it won 6 awards. Lion King only got 2 wins despite its huge popularity. West Side Story however won an amazing 10 academy awards with a further 2 nominations missing out. The Sound of Music won 5 out of 10 and Singin’ in the Rain 2 showing that musicals have always been Academy Award material.
Biggest box office
Now to the nitty-gritty. For some, this is the area that counts. How many dollars did a movie make? Does being top here mean being the greatest musical of all time? Of course, if you disagree you could always make your own musical and sound halo has all the instruments to start you off with a world-beater.
If that is the case then Disney is the clear winner. With their current business plan of turning their old animated musicals into live-action and CGI musicals, they are taking a huge share of the box office. The current top 5 according to several sources looks like this:
4 Beauty and the Beast
2 Frozen II
1 The Lion King
It may be interesting to note The Lion King and Aladdin are both remakes and not the originals. The first Lion King is at No. 6. Followed by The Jungle Book remake.
It is probably impossible to name one movie as the greatest and these are all great movies in their own different ways. A great musical is a form of artistry where the songs become expressions of pure emotion. With great casts, choreography, and music (of course), a musical can be utterly joyful. No doubt Disney will revive more of their back catalog and if there is one movie that will be interesting to see it is Stephen Spielberg’s West Side Story. How this move will stand up to such a great is anyone’s guess for now.