My Fav Five: Movie Musicals

Story posted December 6, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Kaitlyn Murphy.

From “Hairspray” to “The Sound of Music,” movie musicals have the unique power to either deliver some of the most powerful performances in film history, or go down in a ceremonious dumpster fire (looking at you, “Cats.”)

That’s the fun of them – you never really know what you’re going to get. Some include actors straight off Broadway, and some cast Hollywood hotshots that never sang a day in their lives.

Movie musicals bring my love for movies and Broadway together, and these are, in my opinion, the best of all time.

5. The Greatest Showman (2017)

From the minute I saw Hugh Jackman’s majestic silhouette whisper “Ladies and gents, this is the moment you waited for” on the big screen, I knew this was going to be one of my favorite movies ever.

This is Pasek and Paul’s most genius lyricism and composition, and the A-list cast brings the musical numbers to life in the most extravagant way. I am a big fan of circus/carnival movies, and I absolutely love how I felt connected to every member of the “freak show” that became a family.

I stand by my statement that “Rewrite the Stars” is one of the greatest love duets ever written, and Zendaya and Zac Efron absolutely nailed the entire scene (while flying around on silks, might I add.)

4. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Ok, this is definitely an unpopular opinion. I like the “Mamma Mia” sequel better than the first, but hear me out.

Lily James was an absolute star in this movie playing young Donna. Her voice on Abba songs was pure magic, and her chemistry with all three love interests was off the charts. Were there a few teensy tiny plot holes… maybe. But somehow, this movie managed to bring even more joy and comfort to me than its predecessor.

“Why Did It Have to Be Me” would probably have to be my favorite number in the film, but Stellan Skarsgård and Colin Firth doing the Titanic pose on a yacht with “Dancing Queen” in the background is impossible not to mention.

3. La La Land (2016)

And the best movie musical of all time award goes to… “La La Land!” Oh sorry no, there’s been a mistake.

A little 2017 Oscars reference for you.

Completely ignoring the fact that neither Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling were strong singers in this movie, its impact in the genre cannot be overlooked. “La La Land” makes up for any musical weaknesses with some of the most impressive cinematography in movie musical history, and the electric chemistry between Stone and Gosling.

My favorite number is probably the jazzy “City of Stars,” or the breathtaking planetarium dance scene.

It is also on my list of movies that consistently makes me cry every time I watch it. That epilogue scene, wow.

2. tick, tick… BOOM! (2021)

My love for this film is no secret, and it completely took over my Spotify Wrapped this year. Andrew Garfield gave the performance of his career as theater legend Jonathan Larson, and gifted a whole new generation of fans with the genius of “tick, tick… BOOM!”

It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite number in this movie, but I’d have to go with the opening song “30/90” that tells a story of a man running out of time to create something that outlives him.

The “Sunday” diner scene was a theater kid’s “Avengers: Endgame” moment, with Broadway legends past and present making cameos. Just an incredible movie all around.

1. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the greatest movie musical ever created.

Moulin Rouge! Has everything I want in a movie musical – chaotic and fun dance numbers, a genuinely gorgeous soundtrack, strong chemistry between the lead actors and a tragic ending that gets me sobbing every time.

Similarly to how Andrew Garfield shocked the world with his voice, Ewan McGregor excelled in this fast-paced musical and made singing Elton John look like a piece of cake.

Hello there, Obi Wan. We were all impressed by your unexpectedly gorgeous singing voice.

My favorite number in “Moulin Rouge!” (and my favorite film scene of all time) is “El Tango de Roxanne” at the climax of the love triangle drama.

I don’t think any movie musical will ever top this one for me, but if they keep being made, I will eagerly watch.

Kaitlyn Murphy is a first-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email