Special Report

The Best Musicals of All Time

Musicals are strange creations in the world of cinema. Their plots are often told with as much dialogue as music and an extra layer of suspension of disbelief is needed when intense scenes break down into all characters, friends and enemies alike, joining in together for song and dance. Despite all this, the greatest musicals are some of the most cherished creations in all of entertainment. They pull on heartstrings in ways that other movies just can’t do.

The films on this list fall into many different musical subgenres including comedy, romance and action. The Marx Brothers appear numerous times for their wacky comedies from the early days of movies with sound. “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” tells the fantastical tale of a young boy’s adventure into the strange world of an eccentric candymaker. 

There are also numerous movies about life in the entertainment industry and putting on stage musicals. But the most common theme of all is love. Several of the plots are about impossible or forbidden love and inevitable tragedy. Others are much warmer stories that leave viewers with hope and feelings of levity. Many of these classics are some of the greatest love stories in movie history.

Most of these films are in English and from the United States and United Kingdom. However, several of the top-rated films are Hindi-language movies from India and a few in French make the list. Musicals have played an important role in both cinema and music, pushing both mediums to new heights and creating timeless tales that hold up even today. (The 30 most inspirational movies of the last 100 years)

Click here to see the best musicals of all time

To determine the best and worst musical movies of all time, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on each film’s Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating, and Internet Movie Database average user rating. To be considered, each film needed to have at least 10,000 total user ratings between IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and 10 approved Tomatometer critic reviews. The “best” films had to have been classified as a musical or music film by IMDb and all the “worst” films fell only under musical. The “notable song” listed for each musical is either the film’s biggest single, a song that is culturally significant, especially important to the film, or especially popular.

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