Best Musical Movies

WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley ranks the best movie musicals of all time in the gallery below.

Not seeing your favorite movie? It’s probably in a different genre! Check out the full list here.

30. ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ (1942) – Michael Curtiz

Nothing beats James Cagney tapdancing down a staircase as patriotic playwright and composer George M. Cohan.

29. ‘The Band Wagon’ (1953) – Vincente Minnelli

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse delivered fancy footwork with a songbook including “That’s Entertainment” and “Dancing in the Dark.”

28. ‘Guys and Dolls’ (1955) – Joseph Mankiewicz

Marlon Brando’s big dice-rolling number “Luck Be a Lady” became a radio hit for co-star Frank Sinatra, as a gambler bets his buddies he can loosen up Jean Simmons’ cold missionary, falling for her in the process.

27. ‘Gigi’ (1958) – Vincente Minnelli

While it should have never won Best Picture, we at least get Maurice Chevalier singing “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” and Leslie Caron singing “The Night They Invented Champagne” in Vincente Minnelli’s widescreen splendor.

26. ‘Oliver!’ (1968) – Carol Reed

Likewise, “Oliver!” should never have won Best Picture, but it introduced countless memorable songs to the already timeless Dickens novel: “Consider Yourself,” “I’d Do Anything” and “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two.”

25. ‘White Christmas’ (1954) – Michael Curtiz

After originally singing “White Christmas” in “Holiday Inn” (1942), Bing Crosby reprised it for the 1954 musical “White Christmas,” tap dancing with Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, all while counting his blessings instead of sheep.

24. ‘Dreamgirls’ (2006) – Bill Condon

Before playing Aretha Franklin in “Respect,” Jennifer Hudson exploded from “American Idol” to Academy Award winner in this soulful musical starring Beyonce, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.

23. ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ (1954) – Stanley Donen

The barn-raising scene alone makes this widescreen musical canvas worth watching again and again with songs like “Bless Your Beautiful Hide.”

22. ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ (1975) – Jim Sharman

“Let’s do the time warp again!” A newly engaged couple visit Dr. Frank-N-Furter in this original cult classic that had moviegoers dressing up for midnight screenings long before “The Big Lebowski” and “Harry Potter.”

21. ‘The Greatest Showman’ (2017) – Michael Gracey

After showing his musical side in “Les Miserables,” Hugh Jackman delivered a dazzling display as P.T. Barnum in this criminally underrated Pasek and Paul songbook featuring smash hits like “Never Enough” and “A Million Dreams.”

20. ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’ (1971) – Mel Stuart

Gene Wilder turned Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka into a screen icon with songs like “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” and “Pure Imagination,” not to mention the Oompa Loompas singing off each bratty kid for violating the rules.

19. ‘Moulin Rouge!’ (2001) – Baz Luhrmann

Musicals entered the postmodern era, as Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor sang a mash-up of pop hits like Elton John’s “Your Song” and original songs like “Come What May,” all to Baz Luhrmann’s flashy style.

18. ‘Chicago’ (2002) – Rob Marshall

Renée Zellweger’s Roxie Hart kills her husband, while Catherine Zeta-Jones croons “All That Jazz” in this flashy Hollywood spectacle that became the first musical to win the Oscar Best Picture since “Oliver!” (1968).

17. ‘The Gold Diggers Trilogy’ (1933) – Busby Berkeley

Choreographer Busby Berkeley changed Hollywood forever with a trio of musicals in 1933: the naughty, gaudy numbers of “42nd Street,” the “We’re in they Money” coins of “Gold Diggers of 1933,” and the kaleidoscopic waterfalls of “Footlight Parade.”

16. ‘Funny Girl’ (1968) – William Wyler

“Hello, gorgeous.” Barbra Streisand earned her Best Actress Oscar as the adorable Fanny Brice, wooing gambling addict Omar Sharif and belting such instant classics as “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “People.”

15. ‘Top Hat’ (1935) – Mark Sandrich

Fred Astaire tapped machine-gun style in top hat and tails, while Ginger Rogers did everything he did only backwards and in high heels, coming together for an iconic “Cheek to Cheek” finale on an Art Deco set that made viewers feel like we’re in heaven.

14. ‘Swing Time’ (1936) – George Stevens

The best of the Astaire-Rogers pictures finds Fred singing the first-ever recording of “The Way You Look Tonight” and Ginger twirling to a sparkling “Never Gonna Dance” finale in one of the most complex choreographed dance numbers ever put on film.

13. ‘An American in Paris’ (1951) – Vincente Minnelli

Few movie musical moments stop time like Gene Kelly soft-shoeing with Leslie Caron by the river Seine to “Our Love is Here to Stay,” part of a Gershwin score that builds to the abstract “An American in Paris Ballet” that influenced dream ballets for years to come.

12. ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964) – George Cukor

Rex Harrison’s Henry Higgins transforms Audrey Hepburn’s Eliza Doolittle set to a soundtrack of beloved showtunes: “Wouldn’t it Be Loverly,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.”

11. ‘The King and I’ (1956) – Walter Lang

Deborah Kerr struck a feminist blow against Yul Brynner’s King of Siam, singing “Getting to Know You” before waltzing to “Shall We Dance” and staging a subversive play within a play. “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.”

10. ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ (1944) – Vincente Minnelli

The film that literally birthed Liza Minnelli: Director Vincente Minnelli fell for actress Judy Garland, beautifully framing her within frames over four seasons as she sang “The Trolley Song,” “Meet Me in St. Louis” and the first-ever recording of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

9. ‘Cabaret’ (1972) – Bob Fosse

Bob Fosse upset Coppola’s “Godfather” to win Best Director, as Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey warn against the rise of Nazi Germany.

8. ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ (1964) – Jacques Demy

This French musical masterpiece features Jacques Demy’s bright color palette, Michel Legrand’s haunting score and a wrap-around romance that inspired “La La Land.”

7. ‘La La Land’ (2016) – Damien Chazzelle

Emma Stone won Best Actress belting “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” while Damien Chazelle won Best Director for a final dream ballet that wraps around with teardrops on Ryan Gosling’s piano.

6. ‘Grease’ (1978) – Randal Kleiser

Our chills just keep multiplying with each passing year, thanks to John Travolta and Olivia Newton John singing “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted,” “Greased Lightning,” “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” and “You’re the One That I Want.”

5. ‘Mary Poppins’ (1964) – Walt Disney

Julie Andrews won Best Actress as the magical title nanny with a prolific songbook: “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Cheree,” “Jolly Holiday,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Step in Time,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” and Walt Disney’s favorite “Feed the Birds.”

4. ‘The Sound of Music’ (1965) – Robert Wise

This Best Picture winner about Austria’s singing Von Trapp family remains the No. 3 top-grossing film of all time with such timeless tunes as “The Sound of Music,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” and “So Long, Farewell.”

3. ‘West Side Story’ (1961) – Robert Wise

The Sharks and Jets snapped into Best Picture history with a Romeo and Juliet tragic tale, Oscar-winning Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, and iconic songs including “America,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Maria,” “Somewhere” and “Tonight.”

2. ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (1952) – Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly

This hilarious send-up of Hollywood’s transition from silents to talkies is Technicolor perfection with Donald O’Connor prat-falling to “Make Em Laugh,” Debbie Reynolds’ crooning “Good Morning” and Gene Kelly splashing in the iconic title number.

1. ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939) – Victor Fleming

The most famous movie in history is this musical fantasy with “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard” and Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow,” voted the AFI’s Top Movie Song of All Time.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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