7. “Les Misérables” (2012)
We couldn’t very well have a list without including the latest movie musical to rock the movie musical scene. “Les Miserables” has been to talk of Tinsel Town. The film is nominated for 8 Academy Awards and has already garnered a hefty list of accolades. It seems fateful that February 24 will only add to its success. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. Directed by Tom Hooper and scripted by William Nicholson, “Les Misérables” has already surged its way to the top in box office sales, surpassing “Chicago” and only falling behind “Mamma Mia” and “Grease” on the list of most successful movie musicals ever.
6. “Chicago” (2002)
Not much of Bob Fosse’s original Broadway choreogprahy was retained for the film and many of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s songs were cut. However, director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon were able to make a musical that is very much fixed on the stage work for film—no easy task. The movie features standout performances by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, Queen Latifa and John C. Reilly and there is plenty razzle-dazzling. The film was nominated for 13 Oscars and won 6, including Best Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones).
5. “My Fair Lady” (1964)
“My Fair Lady” got off to a shaky start with Julie Andrews being passed over for the lead, Audrey Hepburn not doing her own singing and then Julie Andrews winning an Oscar for “Mary Poppins” in the same year. However, if you can look past the fact that Marni Nixon is the one actually singing, Hepburn’s performance is utterly charming and Rex Harrison’s performance is iconic. The Lerner and Loewe songs are as good as it gets. The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.
4. “On the Town” (1949)
Three sailors, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin, have 24 hours to find love in New York City. Much of the original Broadway score by Leonard Bernstein and Comden & Green are cut from this film adaptation on account of its superior sophistication and, well, raunchiness. However, what was preserved and staged by musical director Stanley Donen and Mr. Kelly himself catapult On the Town to a movie musical classic. Highlights include the opening “New York, New York” number, which was filmed on location, and Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen’s Miss Turnstyles Ballet.
3. “Cabaret” (1972)
The movie is only loosely based on the Broadway show. Famed choreographer-turned-filmmaker Bob Fosse featured the songs by Kander and Ebb in scenes taking place on the cabaret stage itself, with Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey doing most of vocal work. It earned 8 Oscars, including Best Director, Best Actress (Minnelli), and Best Supporting Actor (Grey). Had it not been for “The Godfather,” the movie probably would have won Best Picture too.
2. “West Side Story” (1961)
All the songs written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim for the original Broadway production were kept in tact for the film version, with few alterations to appease Hollywood censors. Another bonus: Jerome Robbins’ choreography was also retained. “West Side Story” earned 11 Academy Award nominations and took home ten Oscars at the end of the night, securing its spot not only in musical history, but movie history as well. So what, Natalie Wood isn’t the most convincing Puerto Rican Juliet.
1. “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
Though the film was initially a box office bomb, it won two Academy Awards, one for Best song for “Over the Rainbow” and the other for Best Original Music Score. When it premiered, it was MGM’s most expensive film ever made. It has since been noted for its special effects and of course its fantastical characters and wonder world of Oz. It’s one of the most celebrated films of all time.
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