BWW Exclusive: The 101 Greatest MOVIE MUSICALS of All Time

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BWW Exclusive: The 101 Greatest MOVIE MUSICALS of All Time

"What good is sitting alone in your room...?" --from Cabaret

Since most of us are indoors in these uncertain times, appropriately quarantining, there have been a lot of lists, including on Broadway World, of various movie musicals to watch on Netflix or Hulu or your channel of choice. Unlike those lists, this list--of my selection, based on a rubric, of the GREATEST movie musicals of all time--is in order, from the bottom of the list to the top. And we're counting 'em down Casey Kasem AT-40 style.

Like my 101 show tunes from last week, I again used a rubric this time, but a much shorter one...

  1. Artistic Merit: Songs in the movie (music and lyrics). [20 points]
  2. Artistic Merit: Performances (Singing and dancing) in the movie. [20 points]
  3. Artistic merit: Acting; cinematography; editing. [10 points]
  4. Artistic Merit: Direction of the movie. [10 points]
  5. Commendation by critics: How was the film received by critics (Rotten Tomatoes)? [10 points]
  6. Overall popularity over time. Is it beloved by audiences? Has the movie musical been seen and endeared by nearly everyone, and has it lasted for more than a generation, or will it potentially? [10 points]
  7. Innovation. A movie musical's impact through innovation and groundbreaking achievement. [10 points]
  8. Historical & Cultural significance. A movie musical's mark on society in matters of style, substance and historical importance. [10 points]

The highest scoring film received a 98.5 rating; the lowest on the list, 78.6. Some beloved films did not make the cut, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Sweeney Todd, Jumbo, Hit the Deck, The Phantom of the Paradise, and Pitch Perfect. The film that would have been #102, based on its score, was the Monkees' psychedelic Head from 1968.

Unlike other movie musical lists, this one includes an array of movie types...classic musicals, cult movies, animated works, dance films, and nonfiction musicals (such as biopics, rock documentaries and mockumentaries). The earliest on the list is from 1933; the most recent, from 2019.

Some of the results may surprise you--Gimme Shelter and Nightmare Before Christmas rank higher than My Fair Lady, for example. Some films work better in their stage adaptations than in their original cinematic incarnation (think Newsies, Thoroughly Modern Millie or Xanadu) and are nowhere to be found. Groundbreaking stage musicals (like Oklahoma) that become movies may be represented, but they are not nearly as innovative on film and do not rank nearly as high on the list. Performance documentaries are allowed, but films that are driven by music but are not performance oriented (like The Graduate, American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused) are not. There are naturally some surprises, but that's part of the joy of an enterprise like this. To cause light (fun) debates, but mostly to introduce you to some movies that you maybe haven't thought of in a long while or have never even heard of. If that turns out to be the case, if it's a movie on this list that is unfamiliar, then I urge you to check it out while you're doing the right thing and staying home.

Hopefully a list like this will get your minds off the current uncertain times, where you are hunkered down and find yourself binge-watching something like Tiger King. As you can see by the 101, there are a lot of great musical films out there for you to discover, works so much better than the misadventures of Joe Exotic.

So, here's the list, starting at 101 and counting down to the #1 selection (yep, you have to scroll all the way down to find the best of the best). See how your favorites fared...and enjoy!

THE GREATEST MOVIE MUSICALS OF ALL TIME

101. MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN. [2018; directed by Ol Parker; starring Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep and Cher; includes the songs "Thank You for the Music," "Waterloo," "The Name of the Game," "Mamma Mia," and "Super Trouper."]

One of the few sequels that's actually better than the original; in some ways this structurally acts as sort of an ABBA-esque Godfather Part 2, going back and forth between the past of the parent and the present of the son or daughter. MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN is a harmless throwaway, shallow fun, and who isn't happy to see Cher back onscreen strutting her stuff? OVERALL SCORE: 78.6

100. FOOTLOOSE. [1984; Herbert Ross; starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer and John Lithgow; songs include "Footloose," "Let's Hear It for the Boy," "Almost Paradise," "Dancing in the Sheets," "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)," and "Never."]

How would you react in a town that bans dancing? An iconic 80's staple with an iconic 80's soundtrack, it's up there with The Breakfast Club and parachute pants when it comes to all things Eighties. And what a title song! Also, without FOOTLOOSE, which would be the vehicle that would make Bacon a star, you would never have been able to play "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." OVERALL SCORE: 80.0

99. HELP! [1965; directed by Richard Lester; starring the Beatles; songs include "Help," "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," "Ticket to Ride," "The Night Before," "I Need You," and "You're Gonna Lose That Girl."]

The Beatles at their quirkiest. It's tons of fun, especially with George Martin's fake James Bond music, but it's nowhere close to their motion picture masterwork, A Hard Day's Night. OVERALL SCORE: 80.4

98. FAME. [1980; directed by Alan Parker; starring Irene Cara, Paul McCrane, Barry Miller, and Boyd Gaines; songs include "Hot Lunch Jam," "Our Here on My Own," "Fame," and "I Sing the Body Electric."]

Some great moments, fun songs, and really depressing storylines centered around the New York High School of Performing Arts. It's all forced depression, peppered with some spot-on performances and songs; the appreciative nod to the Rocky Horror cult works. OVERALL SCORE: 80.3

97. GUYS AND DOLLS. [1955, directed by Joseph Mankiewicz; starring Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons; features songs like "Fugue for Tinhorns," "Bushel and a Peck," "Adelaide's Lament," "Luck Be a Lady," "I'll Know," "Sue Me," and "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat."]

On stage, this masterpiece based on the Damon Runyon stories is considered one of the all-time great musicals; on the silver screen, it turned out only pretty good. Sinatra and Brando may be the stars, but Stubby Kaye, who played the part of Nicely-Nicely onstage, saves the day here with "Fugue for Tinhorns" and the rollicking "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat." OVERALL SCORE: 80.4

96. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS. [2013; directed by Joel and Ethan Coen; starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, and Justin Timberlake; songs include "Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song)," "The Last Thing on My Mind," "Five Hundred Miles," and "The Shoals of Herring."]

The Coen Brothers surreal dive into the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960's, right as Bob Dylan began to make his folkie splash. The faux folk songs are a riot. This is a work as odd as it gets (and it's the Coen Bros., so it gets pretty odd), and there is no film quite like it. OVERALL SCORE: 80.5

95. SCHOOL OF ROCK. [2003; directed by Richard Linklater; starring Jack Black and Joan Cusack; songs include "School of Rock" and "It's a Long Way to the Top (if You Wanna Rock n Roll)."]

Jack Black, playing a substitute in a snobby-rich private school, is an administrator's nightmare but a child's dream teacher. He preaches the true rebel spirit of rock n roll. Imagine Bon Scott meets Mr. Keating, or the melding of Axl Rose, Mr. Chips and Ignatius Reilly. OVERALL SCORE: 80.5

94. LOVE AND MERCY. [2015; directed by Bill Pohlad; starring Paul Dano and John Cusack; includes the songs "In My Room," "God Only Knows," "Sloop John B.," "Don't Worry Baby" and "Good Vibrations."]

The quirks of the greatest American songwriter of the 1960's, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, whose breakdown during the creation of Smile is chronicled here. OVERALL SCORE: 80.5

93. SWEET CHARITY. [1969; directed by Bob Fosse; starring Shirley MacLaine and John McMartin; includes songs "(Hey) Big Spender," "Rich Man's Frug," "If My Friends Could See Me Now," "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This," "The Rhythm of Life," and "I'm a Brass Band."]

Based on Fellini's Nights of Cabiria, this would be Bob Fosse's film-directing debut. It's truly dated, with too many groovy Sixties techniques and even an entire Frug section. And Fosse tries way too hard before truly finding his style three years later with Cabaret. But Sammy Davis Jr., in a cameo as Big Daddy in "The Rhythm of Life," is astounding. Also look for Ben Vereen as a background dancer throughout it. OVERALL SCORE: 80.7

92. SOUTH PACIFIC. [1958; Directed b Joshua Logan; starring Mitzi Gaynor, Rossano Brazi and Juanita Hall; songs include "Some Enchanted Evening," "Bali Hai," "I'm Gonna Wash That man Right out of My Hair," "Younger Than Springtime," "Happy Talk," and "This Nearly Was Mine."]

Of all of the major Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals transplanted from the stage to the screen, this one may have suffered the most in the transition. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the first and foremost is...Mitzi Gaynor is no Mary Martin. OVERALL SCORE: 80.7

91. ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS. [1983; Directed by D.A. Pennebaker; documentary starring David Bowie; songs include "Ziggy Stardust," "Moon Daydream," "Space Oddity," "White Light/White Heat," and "Changes."]

The ultimate David Bowie movie, taking place the final night in 1973 of his blazing-haired androgynous persona, Ziggy Stardust, in concert. Forget the quality of the sound here; this is the snapshot of an era, capturing for eternity why Bowie remains one of the masters of classic rock and why a new generation needs to discover him. OVERALL SCORE: 81.1

90. WAITING FOR GUFFMAN. [1996; Christopher Guest; starring Christopher Guest, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Eugene Levy and Fred Willard; songs include "Nothing Ever Happens on Mars," "Stool Boom," and "A Penny for Your Thoughts."]

"Everybody dance!" If you have not seen WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, then make sure to see it NOW; this is one of the funniest, most biting looks at community theatre. The production of Red, Hot and Blaine-in honor of Blaine, Missouri-is horrifically on-target. And Christopher Guest makes the flamboyant director-choreographer, Corky St. Clair, one of the great characters of 90's cinema. OVERALL SCORE: 81.2

89. 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE. [2002; directed by Michael Winterbottom; starring Steve Coogan; includes the songs "24 Hour Party People," "Anarchy in the UK," "Atmosphere," "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "Temptation," and "Blue Monday."]

An underrated classic, following the exploits of Manchester's own Tony Wilson and the creation of Factory Records and the club-to-end-all-clubs, the Hacienda. It's an entertaining lesson on the history of punk and New Wave, starting on the day the Sex Pistols played Manchester in 1976. Steve Coogan beautifully underplays Wilson, who understands that he's the right man in the right moment. Although much of it deals with such bands as New Order and the Happy Mondays, the scenes recreating the suicide of Joy Division's Ian Curtis are heartbreaking. OVERALL SCORE: 81.3

88. OLIVER! [1968; directed by Carol Reed; starring Mark Lester, Jack Wild, Ron Moody and Oliver Reed; songs include "Food, Glorious Food," "As Long as He Needs Me," "Reviewing the Situation," "Who Will Buy," "Oom-Pah-Pah," and "Oliver!"]

Academy Award winning musical. Lots of vibrant fun for the whole family, with top-tiered performance by Moody as Fagin. But there's a reason it doesn't hover near the top of the list--it doesn't hold up, not nowadays, though "Good, Glorious Food" will get stuck in your head for weeks if you're not careful. OVERALL SCORE: 81.3

87. A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. [1966; directed by Richard Lester; starring Zero Mostel and Phil Silvers; songs include "Lovely," "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid," and "Comedy Tonight."]

One of the most hilarious films ever, based on one of the most hilarious musicals. The songs, by Stephen Sondheim, are stellar, and this, along with The Producers (see below), is one of the rare chances to see Zero Mostel's larger-than-life persona on film. Quite a funny thing. OVERALL SCORE: 81.3

86. THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT. [1956; directed by Frank Tashlin; starring Tom Ewell, Jayne Mansfield, Fats Domino, Little Richard and the Platters; songs include "The Girl Can't Help It," "Ready Teddy," "be Bop a Lula," and "The Girl Can't Help it."]

Features some of the most iconic early rockers, including Little Richard tackling his title song. The film was intended as a Jayne Mansfield star vehicle, but it wound up being one of the most powerful rock n roll movies of all time. OVERALL SCORE: 81.4

85. CAROUSEL. [1956; directed by Henry King; starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones; songs include "The Carousel Waltz," "You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan," "If I Loved You," "June Is Bustin' Out All Over," "Soliloquy," and "You'll Never Walk Alone."]

A stalwart recreation of the incredibly powerful stage show. It succeeds only because it features some of the best songs in the Rodgers & Hammerstein canon. OVERALL SCORE: 81.4

84. THE PRODUCERS. [1968; directed by Mel Brooks; starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder; songs include "Love Power" and "Springtime for Hitler."]

Unlike the hit stage show that this spawned, this contains only a handful of numbers. But the hilarious and zany "Springtime for Hitler" is such a marvelous, tasteless take-off on big Broadway numbers that it must be included here. And "Love Power," not in the stage musical, has some of Brooks' most brilliantly inane lyrics: "I give a flower to the garbage man/He stuffs my girl in the garbage can/And I give it to the landlord, when the rent comes 'round/He throws it in the toilet and he flush it down/It goes into the sewer with the yuck running through her/And it runs into the river that we drink/Hey world, you stink!" OVERALL SCORE: 81.5

83. PINK FLOYD THE WALL. [1982; directed by Alan Parker; starring Bob Geldof and Bob Hoskins; includes the songs "Another Brick in the Wall," "Run Like Hell," and "Comfortably Numb."]

I had a college friend who dared watch this while tripping on acid and wanted to jump out a window afterwards. Funny, but I had the same reaction even without the LSD. OVERALL SCORE:81.7

82. MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE. [1983; directed by Terry Jones; starring John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam; songs include "Every Sperm is Sacred," "The Galaxy Song" and "It's Christmas in Heaven."]

Is this a musical? It's certainly the most musical of all Monty Python movies, with Eric Idle's "The Galaxy Song" a Milky Wayian highlight. OVERALL SCORE: 81.9

81. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. [1986; directed by Frank Oz; starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Green and Steve Martin; songs include "Skid Row," "Grow For Me," "Somewhere That's Green," "Be a Dentist," "The Meek Shall Inherit," and "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space."]

An endearing ode to the early 1960's, from the Roger Corman B-movie clichés to the girl groups of the time (the Greek Chorus in Little Shop are three girls named Chrystal, Ronette and Chiffon...get it?). "Somewhere That's Green" is masterful in Green's hands, and "Mean Green Mother" gets The Four Tops treatment with Levi Stubbs providing the voice of the plant, Audrey II. But it's Steve Martin's sadistic dentist that takes this musical to a new level of insanity. Watch for a very jittery Bill Murray as one of Martin's more creepily enthusiastic patients. OVERALL SCORE: 81.9

80. ROCKETMAN. [2019; directed by Dexter Fletcher; starring Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell; songs include "The Bitch is Back," "Your Song," "Tiny Dancer," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Rocket Man," "I'm Still Standing," and "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again."]

Entertaining biopic on Elton John, with an incredible Taron Egerton performance shining in its center. OVERALL SCORE: 81.9

79. DREAMGIRLS. [2006; directed by Bill Condon; starring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson; songs include "Move," "Fake It to The Top," "Cadillac Car," "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going," "One Night Only," and "Listen."]

Entertaining look at the Supreme-like Dreams, with Jennifer Hudson's glass-shattering rendition of "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" carrying the show and rightfully earning her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. OVERALL SCORE: 81.9

78. THE MUSIC MAN. [1962; directed by Morton DaCosta; starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones; songs include "Rock Island," "Ya Got Trouble," Pick a Little, Talk a Little," "Marian the Librarian," "Gary, Indiana," "Till There Was You" and "76 Trombones."]

Beloved Meredith Willson masterpiece that pales in comparison to its stage version. It's Preston's show, and he's hard to beat as the charismatic con man Harold Hill. In modern times, "Rock Island" is now looked on as early proto-rap, almost two decades prior to the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight." Look for a young Ron Howard singing the lisping heck out of "Gary, Indiana." OVERALL SCORE: 81.9

77. GIGI. [1958; directed by Vincent Minnelli; starring Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan, and Maurice Chevalier; songs include "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," "I Remember It Well," and "Gigi."]

GIGI won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It's amazingly directed, with wonderful songs and enchanting performances. You may adore it, but it bores me to tears. OVERALL SCORE: 82.4

76. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. [1977; directed by John Badham; starring John Travolta; songs include "Stayin' Alive," "Night Fever," "If I Can't Have You," "More Than a Woman," "You Should Be Dancing," and "How Deep Is Your Love."]

Is this movie, the start of BeeGeesMania, really a musical? I say yes, because it involves disco dancing and amazing songs by the Brothers Gibb. I know it was later a stage musical, but no one else can capture the Travolta excitement of just strutting down the street to the tune of "Stayin' Alive." OVERALL SCORE: 82.4

75. HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH. [2001; directed by John Cameron Mitchell; starring John Cameron Mitchell; songs include "Tear Me Down," "Wig in a Box" and "Exquisite Corpse."]

Another cult classic, with writer-director John Cameron Mitchell owning the title role and proving that "Wig in the Box" probably should have made my list of the top 101 Broadway songs. OVERALL SCORE: 82.5

74. LADY SINGS THE BLUES. [1972; directed by Sidney J. Furie; starring Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor; songs include "Lady Sings the Blues," "Taint Nobody's Bizness if I Do," All of Me," "Them There Eyes," "I Cried For You," "Our Love Is Here to Stay" and "God Bless the Child."]

LADY SINGS THE BLUES may not succeed artistically, but it does showcase the incredible Oscar-nominated performance of Diana Ross as tragic blues goddess, Billie Holiday. And if Liza Minnelli hadn't been in the running that year for Cabaret, then Ms. Ross, so good here, may have walked home with an Oscar. OVERALL SCORE: 82.6

73. THE BLUES BROTHERS. [1980; directed by John Landis; starring John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd and a number of soul and blues legends; songs include "Shake a Tail Feather," Think," "Minnie the Moocher," "Gimme Some Lovin'," and "Jailhouse Rock."]

The song "Jailhouse Rock" (see below) is the final number in THE BLUES BROTHERS, which features a brilliant (but much too brief) performance by Aretha Franklin. I know that I am not alone in protesting the lack of Ms. Franklin in American musicals. Diana Ross appeared in many (some good, like Lady Sings the Blues, some not-so-good, like most everything else), but Aretha was sadly neglected. If you doubt me, then watch her rip through "Think" in this joyous ode to the blues. You will realize that the Queen of Soul could also have been the Queen of the Movies, but that was not to be. Her section is one of three that I cherish from this movie that's really just two hours of car crashes. The other two? One features the Blues Brothers in a country and western bar, playing the theme to "Rawhide." The other highlight occurs near the end, when two Nazis are in their automobile falling to their deaths, and one of them turns to the other (Henry Gibson), and says, "You know, I have always loved you." The look on Gibson's face just moments before his demise is priceless. OVERALL SCORE:82.6

72. PENNIES FROM HEAVEN. [1981; directed by Herbert Ross; starring Steve Martin, Jessica Harper and Bernadette Peters; songs include "The Clouds Will Soon Roll By," "I'll Never Have to Dream Again," "I Want to Be Bad," "If Life is a Bowl of Cherries," and "Pennies from Heaven."]

The actors in this purposely lip-sync the songs from the 1920's and 1930's, nightmare lives surviving in the dreamworld of the radio. Although the film failed at the box office at the time, it is now considered a cult classic. It's unsettling, to say the least, and unlike any other film on this list. OVERALL SCORE: 83.0

71. JAILHOUSE ROCK. [1957; directed by Richard Thorpe; starring Elvis Presley; songs include "Young and Beautiful," "I Want to Be Free" "Treat Me Nice," and "Jailhouse Rocks."]

There are individuals who call JAILHOUSE ROCK the greatest of all rock movies, but they are obviously Elvis people. (Beatles fans would have a differing opinion.) OVERALL SCORE: 83.2.

70. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. [2017; directed by Michael Gracey; starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, and Za Efron; songs include 'The Greatest Showman," "Come Alive," "This Is Me," and "From Now On."]

Rousing musical extravaganza about the like of PT Barnum, with "This Is Me" becoming one of the finest songs of the past several years. OVERALL SCORE: 83.2

69. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. [2018; directed by Bryan Singer; starring Rami Malek; songs include "Somebody to Love," "Killer Queen," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "We Are the Champions," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Don't Stop me Now," and "The Show Must Go On."]

Rami Malek is astounding in his Oscar-winning turn as Queen's front man, Freddie Mercury, but the film tries too hard and is all over the place. Great music makes it feel like a "Best of" soundtrack rather than an in-depth, emotionally fulfilling biopic. OVERALL SCORE: 83.3

68. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. [1975; directed by Jim Sharman; starring Tim Curry, Richard O'Brien, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick; songs include "Scien Fiction - Double Feature," "Damn it, Janet," "Sweet Transvestite," "The Time Warp," "Hot Patootie (Bless My Soul)," "Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch Me," and "I'm Going Home."]

There are few greater memories than going to a movie theater in the early Eighties and seeing this cult sensation, with rice and squirt guns in hand (although the audience screaming "Where's your f**king neck!" at the Narrator got old way too quickly). But recalling those days makes me want to take "just a jump to the left" and do "The Time Warp" again. Right now. OVERALL SCORE: 83.3

67. HAIR. [1979; directed by Milos Forman; starring Treat Williams, John Savage and Beverly D'Angelo; songs include "Aquarius," "Easy to Be Hard," "I Got Life," "Hair," "Where Do I Go," "White Boys/Black Boys," "Walking in Space," "Good Morning, Starshine," and "The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)."]

Making sense of the hippie-dippy Broadway rock classic seemed an impossible task, but this film captures it as sort of a time capsule. It works these days better than when first released (just ten years after the Age of Aquarius). Highlights include a rousing "Easy to Be Hard" (hit out of the ballpark by Cheryl Barnes); male army personnel excitedly singing "White Boys"; and a dramatic ending that will break your heart. OVERALL SCORE: 83.4

66. SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS. [1954; directed by Stanley Donen; starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell; songs include "Wonderful, Wonderful Day," "When You're in Love," and "Barn Dance (Bless Yore Beautiful Hide)."]

The plot certainly doesn't work in this day and age, but the physical barn raising dance is one of moviedom's great ensemble dance sequences, up there with the ending of An American in Paris and "America" from West Side Story. OVERALL SCORE: 83.5

65. THE Buddy Holly STORY. [1978; Directed by Steve Rash; starring Gary Busey; songs include "Rave On," "It's So Easy," "Maybe Baby," "Well All Right," and "Everyday."]

Classic biopic about Buddy Holly and the day the music died in February of 1959. This and La Bamba should be shown on a double feature, but Busey is a revelation as the bespectacled Holly here, a powerful Oscar-nominated performance. OVERALL SCORE: 83.7

64. ONCE. [2007; directed by John Carney; starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova; songs include "Falling Slowly," "If You Want Me, "All The Way Down," and "Once."]

A lovely heart-tugging Irish romance, with the exquisite "Falling Slowly" rightly earning the Oscar for Best Song. OVERALL SCORE: 83.8

63. SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT. [1999; directed by Trey Parker; starring Matt Stone and Trey Parker; songs include "Mountain Town," "Uncle F*cka," and the Oscar-nominated "Blame Canada."]

The South Park movie, one of the great animated musicals containing more curse words than even most Quentin Tarantino films, paved the way for the creators to later write the brilliant Book of Mormon. OVERALL SCORE: 83.8

62. A STAR IS BORN. [2018; directed by Bradley Cooper; starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga and Sam Elliott; songs include "Maybe It's Time," "Shallow," "Alibi," "Music to My Eyes," and "I'll Never Love Again."]

Although not up to the quality of the 1954 version (see below), it perfumed the stink left by the Barbra Streisand 1976 version. (I know so many of you not only like but worship that earlier Jon Peters' yawner, but with the exception of the lovely "Evergreen" and riveting "With One More Look at You/Watch Closely Now," it seriously tanks). But the Bradley Cooper version taught us two very key lessons: 1) Lady Gaga could act as well as sing, and 2) "Shallow" is one hell of a song, no matter how overplayed. OVERALL SCORE: 83.9

61. THE JUNGLE BOOK. [1967; directed by Wolfgang Reitherman; starring the voices of Phil Harris, Louis Prima, Sterling Holloway and George Sanders; songs include "The Bare Necessities," "Trust in Me," and "Colonel Hathi's March."]

THE JUNGLE BOOK is decent but not a great stop-the-presses Disney animated classic. But it contains some very memorable tunes, including the Oscar-nominated "Bare Necessities." George Sanders is especially scary as the stalking tiger, Shere Khan, and the vulturous Beatles are a nice touch. OVERALL SCORE: 83.9

60. WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. [1971; Mel Stuart; starring Gene Wilder and Jakc Albertson; songs include "The Candy Man," "Cheer Up, Charlie," "I've Got a Golden Ticket," "Pure Imagination," "I Want It Now," and various Oompa Loompa songs.]

Forget the 2005 Tim Burton version, this is the Willy Wonka that comes closest to the Roahl Dahl book. And Gene Wilder, so good in The Producers and Young Frankenstein, gives the finest, most unpredictable performance of his life here. The hallucinatory boat trip down the chocolate river as Wonka recites a grisly poem is a dandy of a psychedelic horror show, complete with images of a worm crawling over a man's upper lip and the beheading of a chicken. This is one children's film with bite. OVERALL SCORE: 84.1

59. ROYAL WEDDING. [1951; directed by Stanley Donen; starring Fred Astaire, Jane Powell and Peter Lawford; songs include "How Could You Believe Me," "The Happiest Day of My Life," and "You're All the World to Me."]

Lovely, simply lovely, with Astaire's dancing on the ceiling during "You're All the World to Me" being the second greatest solo dance routine in movie musical history. (Gene Kelly's gleefully sloshing in stormy weather in Singin' in the Rain would be the top pick.) OVERALL SCORE: 84.1

58. THE BAND WAGON. [1953; directed by Vincent Minnelli; starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse; songs include "That's Entertainment," "Dancing in the Dark" and "Louisiana Hayride."]

An underrated classic. Now, that's entertainment! OVERALL SCORE: 84.2

57. SUMMER STOCK. [1950; directed by Charles Walters; starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly; songs include "If You Feel Like Singing, Sing," "Get Happy," and "Howdy Neighbor (Harvest Time)."]

Forget your troubles with this Judy Garland favorite. For its cult, the song "Get Happy" will turn even the dourest of days into a pantheon of pep. OVERALL SCORE: 84.3

56. VICTOR VICTORIA. [1982; directed by Blake Edwards; starring Julie Andrews, James Garner and Robert Preston; songs include "Gay Paree," "Le Jazz Hot" and "The Shady Dame from Seville."]

Julie Andrews plays a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. It comes across like a gay pride sit-com set in 1934 Paris, with a flamboyant Robert Preston easily stealing the show. OVERALL SCORE: 84.3

55. HAIRSPRAY. [2007; directed by Adam Shankman; starring John Travolt and Nikki Blonsky; songs include "Good Morning, Baltimore," "The Nicest Kids in Town," "Miss Baltimore Crabs," "I Know Where I've Been," "Cooties," and "You Can't Stop the Beat."]

Delightful musical based on the 1988 John Waters film, with John Travolta as big-girl Traci Turnblad's even bigger mother, Edna. Travolta certainly does well, but, alas, is no Divine (who is?). OVERALL SCORE: 84.5

54. MOULIN ROUGE! [2001; directed by Baz Luhrmann; starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor; songs include "Lady Marmalade," "Sparkling Diamonds," "Your Song," and "One Day I'll Fly Away."]

Daring and hypnotic, this jukebox romantic musical throws everything in the mix, including the oddest version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" you will ever encounter. Some people mark the 2001 release of this movie as one of the key components to young people suddenly loving the musical genre--a genre that they had sadly dismissed years before this glitzy rollercoaster ride. OVERALL SCORE: 84.5

53. LA BAMBA. [1987; directed by Luis Valdez; starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales; songs include "La Bamba," "Come on, Let's Go" and "Donna."]

Ritchie Valens perished in the same plane crash that ended the lives of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. A classic biopic about an early Hispanic star and role model who left us too young to ever know his influence. Esai Morales gives one of the Great Performances of the 1980's as Valens' explosive brother. OVERALL SCORE: 84.5

52. NASHVILLE. [1975; directed by Robert Altman; starring Henry Gibson, Lily Tomlin, Keith Carridine and Ronee Blakely; songs include "200 Years," "Keep A-Goin'," "Rolling Stone," "The Tractor Song," "My Idaho Home," "I'm Easy," and "It Don't Worry Me."]

One of the most influential ensemble movies of all time, clearing the way for such cinematic gems as Robert Altman's Short Cuts and PT Anderson's Magnolia. This one deals with a week in the life of the Country Music Capitol of the World, complete with a shockingly violent finale. If there's a criticism, it's in some of the songs. Sure, it was quite ballsy of director Robert Altman having his cast write and perform their own songs, and some of them ("It Don't Worry Me," "My Idaho Home," and the Oscar-winning "I'm Easy," in particular) are inspired. Others seem more lackluster (Karen Black's "Memphis") and sound like bad karaoke night at Sonny's Barbecue. But maybe that's the point. OVERALL SCORE: 84.5

51. ON THE TOWN. [1949; directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen; starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin, Betty Garrett and Ann Miller; songs include "New York, New York," "Come on up to My Place," "On the Town," and "Count on Me."]

Gabey, Ozzie and Chip, Three Sailors, are on shore leave for a day in New York City. It's exciting stuff, with amazing Leonard Bernstein-driven music. But the neutering of lyrics originally in the stage show hurts the film for modern viewers ("New York, New York it's a wonderful town" instead of "New York, New York it's a hell of a town"). OVERALL SCORE: 84.6

50. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY. [1942; directed by Michael Curtiz; starring James Cagney; songs include "Harrigan," "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Over There," and "Give My Regards to Broadway."]

James Cagney gives one of the cinema's Great Performances. Here, he plays legendary entertainer George M. Cohan, a man filled with so much charisma and electric energy, a living spark plug. OVERALL SCORE: 84.6

49. KISS ME KATE. [1953; directed by George Sidney; starring Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson and Ann Miller; songs include "Too Darn Hot," "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," "Tom Dick or Harry," "Another Op'nin, Another Show," and Wunderbar."]

One of the few early musicals filmed in 3D, this one actual works in the rarely used medium. Watch for a young Bob Fosse as one of the key dancers in the jazzy "From This Moment On." An interesting side note: For some reason, there is no comma in the film's title (KISS ME KATE), but there is in the stage show (KISS ME, KATE). OVERALL SCORE: 85.1.

48. SWEET DREAMS. [1985; directed by Karel Reisz; starring Jessica Lange and Ed Harris; songs include "Sweet Dreams," "Crazy," "Walking After Midnight" and "I Fall to Pieces."]

One of the finest of all music biopics. Country star Patsy Cline lived a hard life, horrifyingly so, but her music is so glorious, only something that grand can come out of so much tragedy and heartache. Jessica Lange gets inside Cline's skin, and correctly lets Cline's actual singing voice (as opposed to hers, a la Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in The Doors) tell the stories of some of country music's greatest singles. The airplane crash that killed Cline comes so sudden, as in life, that it had me screaming out, even though I knew it was coming. OVERALL SCORE: 85.1

47. OKLAHOMA. [1955; Directed by Fred Zinnemann; starring Gordon McRae an Shirley Jones; songs include "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "I Cain't Say No," "People Will Say We're in Love," and "Oklahoma."]

You're probably surprised seeing a musical juggernaut like OKLAHOMA this low on the list. But the stage show was groundbreaking, the film much less so. But it has many goodies to offer, not the least of which are some of the most iconic musical numbers in the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein songbook. OVERALL SCORE: 85.3

46. ANIMAL CRACKERS. [1930; directed by Victor Heerman; starring the Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont; songs include "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" and "Hello, I Must Be Going."]

Underrated Marx Brothers classic, based on their 1928 stage musical, usually overshadowed by the likes of Duck Soup or A Night at the Opera. It contains what would become Groucho's signature musical number, "Hooray for Captain Spaulding." OVERALL SCORE: 85.6

45. THE HARDER THEY COME. [1972; directed by Perry Henzell; starring Jimmy Cliff and Bob Charlton; songs include "You Can Get It If You Really Want, "Many Rivers to Cross," and "The Harder They Come."].

What A Hard Day's Night is to rock, this gritty Jimmy Cliff movie is to reggae. A cult masterpiece. OVERALL SCORE: 86.0

44. PURPLE RAIN. [1984; directed by Albert Magnoli and Prince; starring Prince, Apollonia and Morris Day; includes the songs "Let's Go Crazy," "Take Me With U," "Darling Nikki," "I Would Die For You," "When Doves Cry," and "Purple Rain."]

Prince is immortalized with this, one of the greatest of all rock films. Although the Purple One is a great screen presence, Morris Day of the Time runs away with the film. OVERALL SCORE: 86.0

43. THE MUPPET MOVIE. [1979; director James Frawley; starring Kermit, Miss Piggy and Charles Durning; songs include "The Rainbow Connection," "Never Before, Never Again," and "Can You Picture That?"]

A cross country comedy, where the Muppets went from TV sensations to big-time movie stars. Nothing beats a long-legged Kermit riding a bike or singing one of the sweetest dreamer anthems ever written, "The Rainbow Connection." OVERALL SCORE: 86.1

42. MY FAIR LADY. [1964; directed by George Cukor; starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn; songs include "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "I'm an Ordinary man," "The Rain in Spain," "I Could Have Danced All Night," "On the Street Where You Live," and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face."]

Just becomes a film wins a Best Picture Oscar does not mean it's actually a great movie. This is the case with MY FAIR LADY, a polished, lovely-to-look-at re-creation of the Broadway classic. Yes, so many people adore it, point it out as one of the best movie musicals of all time, but that doesn't catapult it to Great Movie status. (Some of these individuals may be horrified that Straight Outta Compton ranks higher on the list.) MY FAIR LADY is a fine film, with some great songs and performances (by Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, the latter whose songs were dubbed), but it's nothing more than that. Conventional and at times dull and certainly old-fashioned. Even though I have friends who disagree, Stanley Holloway steals the whole affair with his big "Get Me to the Church on Time" number. OVERALL SCORE: 86.5

41. EASTER PARADE. [1948; directed by Charles Walters; starring Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Ann Miller; songs include "Steppin' Out with My Baby," "A Fella with an Umbrella," "A Couple of Swells," and "Easter Parade."]

Marvelously entertaining film, the highest grossing of 1948 and the biggest money-making movie for Astaire and Garland. And is there a more endearing musical number than Garland and Astaire as sweet hoboes in "A Couple of Swells"? OVERALL SCORE: 86.6

40. SWING TIME. [1936; directed by George Stevens; starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; songs include "Pick Yourself Up," "The Way You Look Tonight," and "Never Gonna Dance."]

Fred and Ginger in another timeless classic. The unforgettable "Pick Yourself Up," with their glorious dancing, should be an anthem for our own uncertain times. OVERALL SCORE: 86.7

39. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. [2015; directed by F. Gary Gray; starring Oshea Jackson, Jr., Coery Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, and Paul Giamatti; songs include "Straight Outta Compton," "Gangsta Gangsta," "F**k the Police," and "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang."].

In a list of movie musicals, it's hard to find a ton of hip-hop classics in a world of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Astaire-Rogers dance classics and Disney animated features. This biopic about the gangsta rap group NWA and its members--Eazy E, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre-is the one that stands out, one of the coolest history lessons on celluloid. OVERALL SCORE: 86.7

38. FUNNY GIRL. [1968; William Wyler; starring Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif; includes the songs "I'm the Greatest Star," "His Love Makes Me Beautiful," "People," 'Don't Rain on My Parade," and "My Man."]

"Hello gorgeous!" Pauline Kael was right when she said of Streisand, "Talent is beauty." And the diva got to showcase that talent here, especially with her rollicking "Don't Rain on My Parade." The film turned Barbra Streisand, already a Broadway legend, into a film star. She would garner the Best Actress Oscar, tying with Katherine Hepburn (in Lion in Winter) for the gold statuette. Let's assume Barbra voted for herself, because it she didn't, then Hepburn would have won by herself and Streisand's future would have been, at the very least, much sketchier. OVERALL SCORE: 86.8

37. THIS IS SPINAL TAP. [1984; directed by Rob Reiner; starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Rob Reiner; songs include "Hell Hole," "Big Bottoms," "Sex Farm" and "Gimme Some Money."]

The first of the great faux documentaries--or mockumentaries--this one focusing on a hapless heavy metal band with such songs as "Big Bottoms" and "Hell Hole." There are so many tidbits to adore, from the perfect re-creation of hippie-dippy pop songs ("Flower People"); to the title of Nigel Tufnel's serenely beautiful piano composition ("Lick My Love Pump"); to the mysteriously exploding drummers; to the "Smell the Glove" album cover; and to the John/Yoko dynamics of David St. Hubbins and his significant other, Jeannine. But moviedom has no funnier sequence than "Stonehenge," which has me laughing even now just writing about it. Since I work with a rubric here, the score is the score, though I wish THIS IS SPINAL TAP landed at "11." OVERALL SCORE: 87.2

36. THE KING AND I. [1956; directed by Walter Lang; starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner; songs include "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Hello Young Lovers," "Getting to Know You," and "Shall We Dance."]

One of the best of the filmed Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, arguably even besting The Sound of Music (though The Sound of Music's popularity shoved it much higher on the list). It was nominated for nine Oscars and won five of them. The gorgeous score and Yul Brynner, in his Oscar-winning role as the King of Siam, should not be missed. OVERALL SCORE: 87.3

35. FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. [1971; directed by Norman Jewison; starring Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey and Paul Mann; songs include "Tradition," "Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man," "Tevye's Dream," "Sunrise, Sunset," and "Anatevka."]

Possibly the closest a movie has ever come to the original Broadway musical. John Williams, famous for the Star Wars and Jaws themes, would win his very first Academy Award for scoring this film. OVERALL SCORE: 87.5

34. A STAR IS BORN. [1954; directed by George Cukor; starring Judy Garland and James Mason; songs include "It's a New World," "Someone at Last," "Here's What I'm Here For," and "The Man That Got Away."]

Of all of the versions of this popular storyline, the 1954 version is considered the best, with Judy Garland singing her signature song, the torchy "Man That Got Away," the epitome of lost hope. And James Mason gives perhaps his finest performance. OVERALL SCORE: 88.0

33. MONTEREY POP. [1968; directed by D.A. Pennebaker; a documentary featuring the Mamas and the Papas, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Country Joe, the Who, the Jefferson Airplane and Otis Redding; songs include "If You're Going to San Francisco," "Creeque Alley," "Wild Thing," "My Generation," "Ball and Chain," and "I've Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now)."]

"If you're going to San Francisco, make sure to wear some flowers in your hair..." So many fantastic performances pepper this rock concert flick, the prelude to Woodstock. The film is an outta-sight time capsule of the Summer of Love, with flower children parading around, smiling and groovin' on the music. There's such a good feeling to the whole experience, a feeling that would end years later, as we would sadly witness in Gimme Shelter. This is a snapshot to that moment before...before so many of these acts would became famous. Otis Redding, who would perish in a plane wreck one year later. Jimi Hendrix, who would die three years after. Even the Who, whose bruising "My Generation" defined the era. Best of all is Janis Joplin, whose performance of "Ball and Chain" here caused Mama Cass to shout out "Wow!" afterwards; this electric performance would make Joplin a star. And Ravi Shankar's last sitar jam at the end blew the crowd away and deserved that prolonged ovation. If only the vibes stayed this good over the next few years... OVERALL SCORE: 88.5

32. THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG. [1964; directed by Jacques Demy; starring Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo; songs include "Scene du Garage," "Dans Le Magasin de Parapluies," "Recit de Cassard," and "Guy au Café."]

Fascinating film with sung-through dialogue (recitative), one of the key La La Land influences. But don't hold that against it. OVERALL SCORE: 88.5

31. CHICAGO. [2002; directed by Rob Marshall; starring Renee Zellwether, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, and John C. Reilly; songs include "All That Jazz," "They Both Reached for the Gun," "Mr. Cellophane," "Cell Block Tango," and "Nowadays."]

The last musical to win the Best Picture Oscar, this was ingeniously realized onscreen, sort of a Cabaret Lite. The whole cast soars, but John C. Reilly is a perfectly heartbreaking schlub in his "Mr. Cellophane" solo, ironically standing out in a song about being so unmemorable that he's not even there. OVERALL SCORE: 89.1

30. KING CREOLE. [1958; directed by Michael Curtiz; starring Elvis Presley, Carolyn Jones and Walter Matthau; songs include "King Creole," the #1 hit "Hard Headed Woman," "Trouble," "Don't Ask me Why," and "New Orleans."]

The character Danny Fisher would be Elvis Presley's favorite role, and this would turn out to be his greatest film (yes, even stronger than Jailhouse Rock, his other quality cinematic work...not that there's a lot). But this is what you get when a top-flight director (Michael Curtiz, who also did Casablanca) and screenwriters (including Michael V. Gazzo, playwright of A Hatful of Rain but best known for playing Frankie Pentangeli in The Godfather Part 2) get together with the King of Rock N Roll. Astonishing. OVERALL SCORE: 89.3

29. THE LION KING. [1994; directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff; animated film featuring the voices of Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, and Nathan Lane; includes the songs "Circle of Life," "I Just Can't Wait to Be King," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," and "Hakuna Matada."]

A clever Disney retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, with Simba as Hamlet, Scar as Claudius, Mufasa as the Ghost of Hamlet's Father, and so on. Not to be confused with the recent "live action" version. OVERALL SCORE: 89.6

28. THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT. [1979; directed by Jeff Stein; starring the Who; songs include "My Generation," "Pinball Wizard," "Magic Bus," "Pictures of Lily," "Can't Explain," "Baba O'Reilly," "A Quick One," "Who Are You?" and "Won't Get Fooled Again."]

Fun compilation of the extraordinary early years of The Who, manic and crazed but vastly entertaining. And Keith Moon is a dynamo, perhaps rock's greatest drummer, who's too much of a Tasmanian Devil, too hyperactive, to be satisfactorily contained within the confines of the screen. OVERALL SCORE: 89.7

27. 42nd STREET. [1933; directed by Lloyd Bacon; starring Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers; songs include "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me," "It Must Be June," "Young and Healthy," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," and the title tune.]

This classic of the early sound years made an instant name for choreographer Busby Berkeley, known for his extravagant dance numbers, some of them looking overhead Kaleidoscopically. 42nd STREET also features music by one of the unsung heroes of songwriting, Harry Warren. The ultimate backstage musical, it became such a success that it not only saved Warner Brothers from financial ruin, but it saved the movie musical, which was on a downslope since 1930. When it comes to importance, it ranks quite high. OVERALL SCORE: 90.0

26. THE LAST WALTZ. [1978; directed by Martin Scorsese; featuring the Band, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Neil Young, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan; songs includes "Forever Young," "Caravan," "I Shall Be Released," "Such a Night," and "Mannish Boy.]

Scorsese doc on The Band's final 1976 performance at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom. There are a lot of great stories and marvelous footage, my favorite performances belonging to Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell, the latter who scores big with her biting "Coyote." OVERALL SCORE: 90.2

25. STOP MAKING SENSE. [1984; directed by Jonathan Demme; featuring the Talking Heads; songs include "Psycho Killer," "Burning Down the House," "Life During Wartime," "Girlfriend Is Better," and "Once in a Lifetime."]

"Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was..." Is this the finest concert film featuring a single band? Director Demme's terrific look at the geeky new wave act, The Talking Heads, which received raves from the critics, including Pauline Kael who said STOP MAKING SENSE "makes perfect sense." It's a neato concept, starting with a lone band member (David Byne) onstage, and then more and more Talking Heads join him throughout the show. Byrne's oversized white suit never really became a fashion trend, but it is one of the more memorable images from 80's cinema. OVERALL SCORE: 90.5

24. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. [1951; directed by Vincent Minnelli; starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron; songs include "'S Wonderful" and "Love is Here to Stay."]

I know, I know. This Gene Kelly classic seems too low on the list, even behind the killings of Gimme Shelter and the shenanigans of Lock, Shock and Barrel in Nightmare Before Christmas. But unlike Singin' in the Rain, which came out a year later, time hasn't been on its side. That said, the full ending spectacular with the driving Gershwin score is one of the finest few minutes in movie history. Just ask Damien Chazelle. OVERALL SCORE: 90.5

23. NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. [1993; directed by Henry Selick; featuring the voices of Catherine O'Hara, Paul Reubens, and Ken Page; includes the songs "This is Halloween," "Jack's Lament," "Kidnap the Sandy Claws," and "The Oogie Boogie Song."]

Inspired by Rankin/Bass stop-animation classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS was unlike any other film at the time of its release. Nowadays we've seen similar outings with The Corpse Bride and Coraline, but NIGHTMARE was the first (and by far the best). A lovely Goth dream. And Ken Page as the bug-filled Oogie Boogie shreds his spooky-ooky solo to pieces. OVERALL SCORE: 90.6

22. GIMME SHELTER. [1970; directed by the Maysles Brothers & Charlotte Zwerin; a documentary featuring the Rolling Stones, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Jefferson Airplane, and Ike and Tina Turner; includes the songs "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "I've Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now)," "Wild Horses," "Brown Sugar," "Sympathy for the Devil," and "Under My Thumb." ]

The feel-bad flipside of Woodstock's groovy good vibes, this rambling documentary follows the events of the tragic Altamont free concert headlined by the Rolling Stones. It's truly disturbing, especially watching the Hell's Angels attacking concertgoers with pool cues, an audience that looks spaced out and lost. Nothing goes right, and no one seems to be having any fun. Lots of exciting concert footage, especially from a microphone-fellating Tina Turner. And Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane gets in a scuffle with the Hell's Angels during his band's set. And when the Stones are front and center, they can't do anything to stop the fevered fans and the dangerous madness that surrounds them. And yes, murder is captured on film (during the song "Under My Thumb"), making this like a rock n roll Zapruder film. OVERALL SCORE: 90.7

21. YELLOW SUBMARINE. [1968; directed by George Dunning; vocal work by Beatles impersonators (though the actual fab four appear at the end of the film); songs include "Eleanor Rigby," "Nowhere Man," "When I'm 64," "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," and "It's All Too Much."]

Perhaps the coolest film on the list, with so many diverse artistic styles from Peter Max to Toulouse-Lautrec and even Escher. The Beatles, arriving via an actual yellow submarine, are out to halt the Blue Meanies' Nazi-like authoritarian control of Pepperland. YELLOW SUBMARINE contains a menagerie of memorable creatures from Jeremy Hillary Boob Phd. to a beast with a vacuum cleaner nose that inhales the world through its long nostril, eventually even vacuuming itself, leaving nothingness. With Apple Bonkers, Butterfly Stompers, a giant evil-laughing Glove, it's a trippy Mop Top's Adventures in Wonderland, a colorful psychedelic splash that makes you feel like you've been chomping on one too many mushrooms. OVERALL SCORE: 91.1

20. DON'T LOOK BACK. [1967; directed by D.A. Pennebaker; a documentary featuring Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Donovan; features the songs "Subterranean Homesick Blues," "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," "All I Really Want to Do," "The Times They Are A-Changin'," and "Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word."]

The first official "rockumentary," DON'T LOOK BACK follows Bob Dylan during his 1965 tour of England, the year of Dylan's classic Bringing It All Back Home. It has everything you want in a rock doc: Handheld shaky camera, black and white film, limos, stalky girls, with a cool central figure seemingly disdainful of the entire process. And the scenes between Dylan and Scottish folkie Donovan underscore some sort of rivalry that are truly uncomfortable to watch ("Be groovy or leave!" Dylan exclaims to one Donovan acolyte, a quote that should have been on a bumper sticker). The "Subterranean Homesick Blues" opening, complete with the lyrics on cue cards that Dylan tosses away, is a stunningly brilliant opening sequence and much-parodied. OVERALL SCORE: 91.2

19. PINOCCHIO. [1940; directed by Ben Sharpsteen, Jack Kinney, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Norm Ferguson, T. Hee, Bill Roberts; featuring the voices of Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, and Mel Blanc; songs include "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "Hi Diddle Dee Dee."]

18. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. [1937; directed by David Hand, William Cottrell, David D. Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen, Dick Richard, Webb Smith, Dorothy Ann Blank, Merrill de Maris, Walt Disney, and Richard Creedon; songs include "Someday My Prince Will Come," "Heigh Ho," and "Whistle While You Work."]

17. FANTASIA. [1940; directed by Samuel Armstrong, James Algar, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Ben Sharpsteen, David D. hand, Hamilton Luske, Jim handley, Ford Beebe, T. Hee, Norman Ferguson and Wilfred Jackson; classical music includes "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," "Dance of the Hours", "Rite of Spring," and "Night on Bald Mountain."]

16. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. [1991; directed by Kirk Trousdale and Kirk Wise; animated film featuring the vocal work of Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Landsbury, Jerry Orbach and David Ogden Stiers; includes the songs "Belle," "Be Our Guest," and the title tune.]

These are the four fully animated Disney musicals that scored the highest on the list (Mary Poppins has only bits of animation mixed with live action sequences throughout it). The sweeps-you-off-your-feet BEAUTY AND THE BEAST would be the first ever animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. It remains the Valedictorian of the Disney animated class, with the brilliantly creative and classical FANTASIA acting as its Salutatorian. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS remains a groundbreaking masterwork, being the first ever full-length animated movie; how many kids were scarred for life after the mean queen turns into an old hag and poisons Snow? And who doesn't sing along to "Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho"? As for PINOCCHIO, with its scary Pleasure Island sequence and perhaps the most famous song in the Disney vaults, it must settle for fourth place in Walt's animated World. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST OVERALL SCORE: 92.6; FANTASIA OVERALL SCORE: 91.7; SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS OVERALL SCORE; 91.6; PINOCCHIO OVERALL SCORE: 91.3

15. ALL THAT JAZZ. [1979; directed by Bob Fosse; starring Roy Scheider, Ann Reiking, Leland Palmer and Ben Vereen; songs include "On Broadway," "Take Off with Us," "Who's Sorry Now," and "Bye Bye Love"]

"It's showtime, folks!" This Bob Fosse autobiographical death wish is so seedily succulent, the glamor of gloom and doom, that it's quite like 8-1/2 meets The Seventh Seal. Fosse makes death so alluring, a sexual show-bizzy dying-obsessed shadow dance, complete with a tip of the hat and a wave of the hand. The fake-Chicago "Take Off with Us" erotic ensemble dance number and the thrilling opening audition montage to the tune of George Benson's "On Broadway" contain some of the best work of Fosse's career. OVERALL SCORE: 92.6

14. GREASE. [1978; directed by Randall Kleiser; starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, and Stockard Channing; songs include "Summer Nights," "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," "Hopelessly Devoted to You," "There Are Worse Things I Could Do," "You're the One That I Want" and "We Go Together."]

The second most beloved of all musicals, and a true icon, but it's sort of junkily made, coming across like a dirty Fifties TV sit-com with middle-aged adults playing teenagers. But people have such a love for this, from all generations, that my reservations are kept in check. Also, it's good to see John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and especially Stockard Channing in their prime, and make no mistake, "Summer Nights" is loads of fun. The movie scored so high due to its popularity, and certainly not because of its questionable morals. In fact, GREASE preaches perhaps the worst lesson of all musicals--sweet Sandy becomes a slut, and T-Bird Danny becomes a jock, so that they can fall in love. Moral: In order to get the girl (or guy) of your dreams, don't stay true to yourself; instead, change who you are-your soul, your personality, your essence. Ugh! Am I the only one who finds this disquieting at best, repugnant at worst? It's everything we try not to teach our children. And I find it the worst theme of any work since the Scissor Man chops off Little Suck-a-Thumb's thumb in Strewwelpeter. No wonder our culture is, to quote Spring Awakening, totally f**cked. OVERALL SCORE: 93.2

13. LA LA LAND. [2016; directed by Damien Chazelle; starring Ryan Godling, Emma. Stone and John Legend; includes the songs "Another Day of Sun," "Someone in the Crowd," "A Lovely Night," "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" and "City Of Stars"]

Watching LA LA LAND, one thing is certain: Damien Chazelle has seen a lot of classic movies and decided to reference every one of them here. There's a moment when Ryan Gosling twirls around a lamppost in "A Lovely Night," a la Singin' in the Rain, as well as a collage of neon that brings to mind the "Broadway Ballet" from the same film. "A Lovely Night" also references the Astaire-Rogers musical, Swing Time, while "Someone in the Crowd" is like a less powerful version of Sweet Charity's "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This." And the starry dance in the epilogue between Gosling and Emma Stone is a retread of the Astaire-Eleanor Powell starry-night duet, "Begin the Beguine," in The Broadway Melody of 1940. But much of the epilogue is a long homage to the ending of An American in Paris. Also, look for the moment when Mia references the Casablanca window, and you can see a door with the word "Parapluies" on it, a not-so-subtle ode to the film's main inspiration--The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg). Watching LA LA LAND is like playing a game of Name That Movie Reference. OVERALL SCORE: 93.2

12. THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! [1974; documentary directed by Jack Haley, Jr.; narrated by MGM stars from Jimmy Stewart to Elizabeth Taylor, from Bing Crosby to Liza Minnelli.]

This is a sampler platter of the greatest song and dance moments from MGM's golden years, perfect for the novice who has never seen a classic MGM musical (other than The Wizard of Oz). Yes, it includes some of the usual suspects--Gene Kelly in the rain with his umbrella; Judy Garland yearning to reach the other side of the rainbow; Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy crooning the "Indian Love Call" from Rosalie; and Mickey Rooney, as Andy Hardy, putting on show after show in the barn. But the best parts of this compilation film are the rarities, the odd numbers, like "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" from The Great Ziegfeld; "The Varsity Drag" from Good News; Joan Crawford singing (quite awkwardly) "Got a Feelin' for You" from the Hollywood Revue of 1929; Clark Gable's not-quite-right "Puttin' on the Ritz" in Idiot's Delight; "Ol' Man River" from Showboat, powerfully sung by William Warfield; and so many more. The Esther Williams swimming pool montage is worth the price of admission. OVERALL SCORE: 93.7

11. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS [1944; directed by Vincent Minnelli; 1944; starring Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien and Tom Drake; includes songs "Under the Bamboo Tree," "A Touch of the Irish," "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"]

Such a lovely, vibrant film, underrated...until now. Yes, it beats out other Vincent Minnelli classics like Oscar winners Gigi and An American in Paris. The film inspired two songs that would make the AFI's 100 Greatest Songs list... "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" at #72 and the infectious Clang-Clang-Clang of "The Trolley Song" at #26. OVERALL SCORE: 93.7

10. THE SOUND OF MUSIC. [Directed by Robert Wise; 1965; starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer; songs include "Maria," "My Favorite Things," "The Lonely Goatherd," "Do-Re-Mi," "So Long, Farewell" and "Edelweiss."]

Here is a show that is certainly the most beloved of all musicals, where its many fans joyously and unapologetically feast on slices of its hokum pie. It has everything to make it as family friendly as possible: Sweeping views of the Bavarian Alps, a true-life romance, children singers, salty nuns, a teenage love subplot, Nazi villains, and a little girl's hurt finger. All that's missing is an injured puppy. Although at the time of its release, THE SOUND OF MUSIC represented the last gasp and grasp of saccharine musicals, it has since overridden that cynical outlook and is now a proud favorite of several generations. But where does that leave those of us who like our musicals the way we like our Sumatra Satin Coffee: extremely black? And where does that put the late great Pauline Kael, who may have lost her job as a critic for giving THE SOUND OF MUSIC a bad review in 1965? I think we must take our lumps, acknowledge the film's likability and classic songs (and as a bonus, that it's the very last collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein), and move on. There's no way we can dismiss it from the list, not a work so adored by millions. So, it ranks a respectable #10, which may sour its many fans who think it should be crowned at #1, but at least keep those of us anti-SOM curmudgeons in check. OVERALL SCORE: 93.7

9. WOODSTOCK. [1970; directed by Michael Wadleigh; documentary featuring Richie Havens, Joan Baez, CSN, The Who, Ten Years After, Joe Cocker, Country Joe and the Fish, Santana, Sha Na Na, Sly & the Family Stone, the Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix]

If A Hard Day's Night is the Citizen Kane of rock films (the best), then WOODSTOCK is the Gone with the Wind (the biggest). A sprawling documentary from the August 1969 legendary rock festival, the movie's musical acts all turn in top performances--from a riveting Santana to a harmonic if not completely tight CSN; from Joan Baez's a cappella "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" to Country Joe's "Fish Cheer" ladened with the f-word. But the rain-soaked hippie audience and the confused townsfolk are the true stars of this five-hour epic. Although many aficionados pick Ten Years After's sweaty "I'm Goin' Home" as their choice for Best in Show, that number doesn't even enter my top three: The Who's fine Tommy medley; a pounding "I Want to Take You Higher" by Sly and the Family Stone; and Jimi Hendrix's guitar-screeching "Star Spangled Banner"-the perfect end not just to the movie, but to the spirit of the entire Sixties. OVERALL SCORE: 94.2

8. MARY POPPINS. [1964; directed by Robert Stevenson; starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke; songs include "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)," "Let's Go Fly a Kite," and the Oscar-winning "Chim Chim Cheree."]

Author P.L. Travers may have hated this Disney classic, but its stature in moviedom has less to do with her wonderful creation, Mary Poppins, than with the actress playing the part. This was Julie Andrew's first feature-length role, even though she had spent many years on Broadway in My Fair Lady and Camelot. But the My Fair Lady producers passed over Andrews and hired Audrey Hepburn instead; Disney lucked out and tapped Andrews to be his Mary...and a star was born. In fact, MARY POPPINS boasted the last laugh-it grossed $30 million more at the box office than My Fair Lady. And even though My Fair Lady went on to win the Best Picture Oscar, Julie Andrews nabbed the Best Actress award as the world's most famous nanny. These days MARY POPPINS has far surpassed the stodgy My Fair Lady as one of the greatest film musicals of all time, as you can readily see by this list. OVERALL SCORE: 94.6

7. WEST SIDE STORY [1961; directed by Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins; starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno and George Chakiris; songs include "The Jet Song," "Maria," "Tonight," "Gee, Officer Krumpke," "I Feel Pretty," "Cool" and "Somewhere."]

When I was a teen, WEST SIDE STORY was it, the coolest gang film of all time. Snapping fingers, switchblades, violent death, great music...what wasn't to like? But decades pass, and whenever I showed the classic to my students, they inevitably would start laughing at the Jets and Sharks sashaying down the New York streets. As I once mentioned in a review, the Jets come across about as threatening as hamsters in a pet store. The recent Broadway revival and perhaps Steven Spielberg's upcoming filmic re-creation may fix that issue; otherwise a tepid group of Jets (like in the movie) makes no sense and is about as edgy as a high school Key Club meeting. But the music galvanizes, and with the exception of "I Feel Pretty," the lyrics walk a razor's edge, a young Stephen Sondheim making his mark. And the dancing is impressive (especially during the Mambo dance in the gym sequence). It may not hold up anymore as a classic of classics, but it's still quite a moving experience and strong enough to crack the Top-10 of greatest musicals of all time. OVERALL SCORE: 94.6

6. TOP HAT [1935; directed by Mark Sandrich; starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; songs include "No Strings," "Cheek to Cheek," "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" and "The Piccolino."]

"Heaven, I'm in heaven..." Astaire and Rogers are the ultimate screen duo, appearing as dance partners in ten motion pictures (TOP HAT was their fourth), and this class act of a film is the perfect Astaire-Rogers vehicle (yes, besting even the critically-beloved Swing Time). Effervescent. OVERALL SCORE: 95.1

5. A HARD DAY'S NIGHT. [1964; directed by Richard Lester; starring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr; includes the songs "If I Fell," "I Should Have Known Better," "Can't Buy Me Love," "And I Love Her" and the #1 title tune.].

Reporter: "How did you find America?" John Lennon: "Turned left at Greenland." Called Quatre Garcons Dans Le Vent (Four Boys in the Wind) in France and Os Reis do le-le-le (The Kings Of Yeah-Yeah-Yeah) in Brazil, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT is one of the mayhem-laced blisses of the cinema. Beatlemania proved so big that it was fated to spawn some movie, any movie, but who knew that the finished film, a mere throwaway, would turn out to be so good? A lively snapshot of 1964, the year the Fab Four invaded America, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT has demonstrated over time to be one inarguable thing: The greatest rock n roll film of all time. OVERALL SCORE: 96.7

4. THE RED SHOES. [1948; directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger; starring Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook; and Marius Goring; music includes "Transformation" and "The Red Shoes Ballet."]

The ultimate dance movie, having inspired generations of young girls to a life of ballet (just ask Sheila, Bebe, and Maggie in A Chorus Line). It also stirred the souls of musicians (like Kate Bush, who titled her 1993 album The Red Shoes) and a plethora of filmmakers, including Gene Kelly, who often showed the film to his producers of An American in Paris before cameras would roll. Damien Chazelle was also obviously inspired by it as you can see in his musical, La La Land. And then there's the great Martin Scorsese, who calls The Red Shoes "one of the true miracles in film history." And when it comes to the movies, nobody but NOBODY can argue with Mr. Scorsese. OVERALL SCORE: 96.8

3. CABARET [1972; directed by Bob Fosse; starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York, and Joel Grey; songs include "Wilkkommen," "Two Ladies," "Money," "Mein Herr," "Maybe This Time," and the memorable title tune]

Not only is CABARET incredibly bleak at times and frightening (as well as entertaining as hell), it is hands down the gold standard of musicals based on Broadway shows. Under the decadently dark guidance of director-choreographer Bob Fosse, the brilliant stage musical became one brilliant motion picture (earning eight Oscars, the most ever for a film that did not receive a Best Picture Academy Award). And Liza's version of the title tune, her finest four minutes as a performer, is only overshadowed by Joel Grey's puckish clown-faced Master of Ceremonies and the innocent-looking blonde boy leading a group singalong to a Nazi anthem ("Tomorrow Belongs to Me"). OVERALL SCORE: 98.2

2. THE WIZARD OF OZ. [1939; directed by Victor Fleming; starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan and Margaret Hamilton; songs include "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead," "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," and "If I Only Had a Brain"]

Welcome back from Neptune if you've never heard of this one. It works on different levels depending on your age and experience. For children & teens, they see themselves as Dorothy, small town dog lovers dreaming of life in the big city. For members of the LGBTQ community, Dorothy's journey mirrors their own-trying to find themselves, not a search for home as much as a search for self ("come out, come out, wherever you are," Dorothy says). But for other adults (okay, boomer), it means something entirely different. Watching it, it makes some of you wonder...Why can't we stay young and innocent forever? We know what happened to Judy Garland, the real-life Dorothy, when she grew up and became the goddess of Hollywood (Oz) tragedy. Watching THE WIZARD OF OZ is like stopping time, seeing Judy in her purest glory, before being stalked by her own wicked witch (drug abuse). Like Dorothy, we yearn for those simpler pleasures of home and family, the black and white world of the past versus our colorful present, the drab reality of life overshadowing any search for that scarily exciting "somewhere" over the rainbow. OVERALL SCORE: 98.3.

And finally, the #1 selection, the greatest musical of all time...

1. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN [1952; directed by Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly; starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor and Jean Hagen; includes the songs "Singin' in the Rain," "Fit as a Fiddle," "Make Em Laugh" and "Good Morning"]

There's nothing not to love about SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, the greatest movie musical of them all. Who can forget its iconic moments-the still-hilarious "Make Em Laugh" number; Gene Kelly's singin' and dancin' up a storm during a storm; the entire "Broadway Ballet" storyline; and Jean Hagen's incredibly funny, scene-stealing performance as Lina Lamont? This is the show to watch whenever you're down, or when you're quarantined without anything to do. It's joyousness exemplified. Pure escapism, and yet with a deeper meaning (the changing of times, a Hollywood seismic shift, from the silent era of filmmaking to the advent of sound). I first saw SINGIN' IN THE RAIN in August of 1981 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, the day before I went off to college, and I look at that movie as my last grasp of childhood before venturing off into the wild blue yonder of adulthood (or at least university life). Exiting the theatre that night, I wanted to skip down the aisles, euphoric. I've seen it dozens of times since, and after each viewing, I find myself with the same temptation to skip down the aisles in pure elation. What a glorious feeling! OVERALL SCORE: 98.5

If you have a question on the list, or if your favorite musical masterpiece seems to be missing, then please feel free to email me. But mainly, stay safe and keep washing those hands!


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From This Author Peter Nason