The best musicals of all time, ranked
From “Swing Time” to “In the Heights” and everywhere in between, these films represent the pinnacle and incredible breadth of the genre.
The musical often looks like a relic of a long-dead Hollywood studio system, but it remains a genre that captures the ability of films to create worlds of stories that move freely between reality and fantasy. The worst examples come from filmmakers who license music, color and movement unleashed; the best musicals transcend artifice and incorporate songs that become the expression of pure emotion of character. It offers endless possibilities, but success requires complete mastery of the medium.
Very few current stars could learn the choreography of Busby Berkeley, Jerome Robbins or Bob Fosse, and adapting a developed medium most suited to the stage requires innovative direction. By translating the joy of a live musical to the magic of the cinema, some things easily get lost in the shuffle.
From “Swing Time” to “In the Heights” and everywhere in between, here are 50 musicals that represent the height and incredible breadth of the genre.
Eric Kohn, Anne Thompson, Ryan Lattanzio, Jude Dry, Kristen Lopez, Jenna Marotta, Jamie Righetti, Michael Nordine and Siddhant Adlakha contributed to this list.