Must Watch Musical Movies

Although the traditionally, frothy romantic comedies are an easy way to do away with the day, there’s nothing warmer and fuzzier than a solid musical movie, complete with singalongs and high-energy dance numbers. 

Who doesn’t like feeling like the world is capable of bursting into song at any moment, right?

Of course, while all musical films generally follow the same formula (a.k.a. plenty of great tunes and show-stopping dance routines), there’s actually an incredible variety to the genre — which means there’s truly something for everybody, from feel-good romantic films to epic, heart-wrenching dramas to make you weep. 

Luckily, we’ve rounded up some of the best musical movies to date.

Grease

Cover of the musical film Grease

Leather jackets, drive-in movie theaters and a bopping track list makes for one of the best movie musicals of all time. 

Transfer student Sandy and greaser Danny have a blossoming summer romance, but when Sandy shows up at his school, Danny must decide whether to stick with his bad boy persona or show off his true feelings for her.

The songs, from “Beauty School Dropout,” to “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” and “Greased Lighting”, which provide the soundtrack to those B-character’s storylines, are just as integral to fans’ undying love of the movie decades later.

La La Land

Created as a “modern musical” by director Damien Chazelle, this L.A.-based flick follows an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and a traditionalist jazz musician (Ryan Gosling) as they struggle to hit the big time, but adorably hit it off instead.

It’s a deeply beautiful film that’ll leave you feeling breathless — especially at the spectacular soundtrack and profound ending.

Into the Woods

When one curse leaves a baker and his wife childless, they must venture into the woods to find a way to reverse the spell. This fantasy movie from Disney riffs on the classic fairy tale genre with imaginative creativity and an epic sense of adventure — not to mention memorable performances from a truly stellar cast.

Along their journey looking for the hardest (and weirdest) items, they bump into familiar fairytale characters like Cinderella, Prince Charming and many more that bring our favorite storybook tales together to help this promising family change their fate.

Mamma Mia!

You’ve got the Greek islands, a plot built around ABBA tunes and Meryl Streep. What’s not to love? The plot follows a young future bride who invites three men to her upcoming wedding, with the hope of finding out which one is her father.

For all fans of ABBA, this must-see jukebox musical film is a delightful adventure featuring some of the supergroup’s most iconic and infectious hits (including “Dancing Queen,” of course). 

Plus, if you just can’t get enough, there’s also a 2018 sequel that’s just as — if not more — charming than the first.

Hairspray

Hairspray music movie poster

This feel-good comedy stars John Travolta and Nikki Blonsky in a story about a teen in the 1960s who loves to dance and wins a spot on a local TV show. The new role catapults her to stardom, and she tries to use her spotlight for good to encourage more diverse casting.

As if there’s even more reason to watch this feel-good hit about a dance-loving teen in Baltimore (besides the catchy, contagiously upbeat musical numbers, of course), it also features Zac Efron as the handsome, swoon-worthy Link.

The Greatest Showman

Taking its inspiration from the story of P. T. Barnum’s creation of the circus and the lives of its star attractions, The Greatest Showman is truly a work of art. The movie takes its audiences through a high-flying tale of show business.

Fire breathing and acrobatics aside, it’s the show-stopping, catchy numbers that really make this movie pop. The songs are catchy earworms, enough to look past the many artistic licenses they take with Barnum’s history. 

Try not to cry when Keala Settle sings “This Is Me,” I dare you.

Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect Music Movie Poster

Laugh-out-loud comedy meets modern music in this wildly popular flick that follows college student Beca (Anna Kendrick) as she joins her school’s a cappella group. The plot is just perfect for a good sleepover watch or a random day flick.

Even if you haven’t watched the movie (or the two subsequent sequels), you’ll definitely remember the viral “The Cup Song” from its day.

A Star is Born

The fourth (and arguably the best) remake of the 1937 film is co-written and directed by Bradley Cooper and stars none other than Lady Gaga. It’s about a hard-drinking musician (Cooper) who discovers and falls in love with a young singer (Gaga), and her rise to stardom.

This is not the most “light-hearted” fare, relative to others on this list, but the music is good enough to look past that. 

The result is an emotionally powerful film that also earned Gaga her very first Oscar for her hit song “Shallow“.

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