The 20 greatest movie musicals of all time

From the heyday of Hollywood's Golden Age, to the Broadway adaptations and avant-garde boundary breakers, Clarisse Loughrey picks the very best the genre has to offer

Saturday 06 April 2019 14:45 BST
Musical magic: Scenes from Moulin Rouge!, The Wizard of Oz and La La Land (left to right)
Musical magic: Scenes from Moulin Rouge!, The Wizard of Oz and La La Land (left to right) (Rex Features)

No other genre of film can celebrate the magic of the movies quite like the musical. It demands audiences to free themselves from reality and enter the world of dreams, as the screen melts into a fantasy of song and dance, while characters are given the opportunity to belt out all their hidden desires.

1927’s The Jazz Singer was the first feature length musical ever released, while also officially heralding the end of the silent film era.

It immediately beckoned in a golden age of musicals, with talents like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, and Judy Garland helping to drive the genre’s popularity up until the early 1950s.

The next few decades saw production slow, as the musical’s appeal started to wane at the box office, although the 1980s and 1990s saw the rise of the Broadway musical adaptation.

Today, the genre has broadened, with jukebox musicals of popular artists like ABBA and The Beatles becoming a trend, while 2018’s The Greatest Showman – and its massive box office success – proved we may be in for a new musical renaissance.

It may be an expansive genre catering to many different tastes, but here are our top picks for the best of the best.

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