My List Of 10 Must-See Musical Feature Films.

If you can't head to the theatre to watch a musical then watching a musical feature film is probably the next best thing. The 2017 feature film The Greatest Showman is probably the most popular one to surface recently (I'm still in love with the soundtrack 8 months after seeing the film for the first time). However, there are many others out there that you need to definitely watch! I know some people compare musical feature films to the stage productions but I think they have their own qualities that make them enjoyable to watch.


I've put together the 10 musical feature films I recommend that you watch if you haven't already done so. Get yourself some popcorn, your best singing voice and your girl pals round for a movie night like no other with my list of 10 must-see musical feature films.

The Sound Of Music (1965)
This musical tells the story of Maria (played by none other by Julie Andrews), who takes on the job as governess to a large family while she decides whether she wants to become a nun. Of course, it doesn't come without obstacles and she doesn't just fall in love with the children but their widowed father Captain von Trapp. The Captain is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide to flee from Austria with the children. The soundtrack to this film is pretty damn lovely, So Long Farewell, Do Re Mi and Edelweiss.

Chicago (2002)
Chicago is such a sexy musical that has also returned to the West End stage! This film came after the excitement of Moulin Rouge so came with some high expectations. It's everything you want from a song and dance extravaganza, it's very fast paced. The film also comes with quite the star-studded cast with Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones setting the bar as the lead characters, it's also great to see a musical where it's mainly women. I love the choreography in this film as it's very Bob Fosse-esque and makes you want to dance around the room! Of course, it has a great soundtrack too, Cell Block Tango and We Both Reached For The Gun are two of my favourites to listen too.

West Side Story (1961)
West Side Story is a musical take on Romeo and Juliet. Set on the harsh streets of the upper west side, two New York street gangs battle for control of the turf. The situation becomes complicated when a gang member falls in love with a rival's sister (Maria). I think the wow factor of this musical isn't just the ability to create a musical around Romeo and Juliet but it's the breathtaking choreography throughout which makes it such a fantastic film to watch!

Moulin Rouge (2001)
I've been massively in love with this movie ever since I saw it for the first time, how is it like 17 years old already?! The movie comes from director Baz Luhrmann so this makes it a spectacle alone. It follows Christian (played by Ewan McGregor), who comes to Paris to seek his fortunes in the bohemian underworld in the late 1890s. He meets the absinthe and alcohol-addicted artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who introduces him to a world of sex, drugs, music, theatre and the scandalous dance known as the cancan, all at the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge is a decadent dance hall, brothel and theatre that's the brainchild of Harold Zidler. Christian also meets and falls into a doomed romance with the courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman) who becomes the star of the play he's writing. Aesthetically the musical feature is stunning and the soundtrack brings together some modernistic takes on music from the likes of Queen and Madonna too.

Grease (1978)
Of course, Grease was going to meet the cut on my list! Grease is the most successful movie musical of all time and it's definitely one that sticks in my head. It's full of friendships, romances and adventures of a group of high school kids in the 1950s. A sweet and wholesome exchange student called Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and a leather-clad Danny (John Travolta) have an unforgettable summer romance, but when Sandy turns up at Danny's school its a journey of fitting in and trying to win the heart back of the boy she met over the Summer. The soundtrack is unforgettable from this musical and you'll be singing it for days afterwards.




Mamma Mia (2008)
Everyone is obsessed with Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again still after it's Summer 2018 release but there's nothing like the classic Mamma Mia film from 10 years ago. The film takes part in the beautiful Greek islands where Donna (Meryl Streep), an independent hotelier who is preparing for her daughter's wedding with the help of two old friends. Meanwhile, spirited bride Sophie has a plan. She has secretly invited three men from her mother's past in the hope of meeting her real father and having him escort her down the aisle on her big day. With the help of ABBA classics, Mamma Mia is a visual delight that will make you want to hop on a plane to the Greek Islands pronto!

Annie (1982)
Annie was the first musical feature I watched in my bedroom and the first musical soundtrack I ever purchased. I feel sorry for my parents who had to endure listening to it on repeat whilst I acted out the many scenes from the film in the comfort of my bedroom. Annie is an orphan who she thinks has been left held up in a facility run by the mean Miss Hannigan by mistake. When a rich man named Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks decides to let an orphan live at his home to promote his image, Annie is selected. Whilst Annie gets comfortable and used to living in Warbucks' mansion, she still longs to meet her parents. So Warbucks announces a search for them and a reward, which brings out many frauds, including Miss Hannigan. This musical is a classic for me and definitely one to enjoy in the Winter months.

Dreamgirls (2006)
This film is centred around a music trio called the Dreamettes, formed by Deena (Beyonce Knowles), Effie (Jennifer Hudson) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose). When an ambitious manager Curtis Taylor Jr. spots the act at a talent show, he offers the chance of a lifetime, to be backup singers for a national star played by Eddie Murphy. The manager takes creative control of the group and eventually pushes the singers into the spotlight. However, one becomes the star, forcing another out, which teaches them the high cost of fame. This musical feature for me is a rollercoaster of emotions and I think this is easily some of the best characterisations I've seen. This film is Jennifer Hudson at her best and And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going is hands down one of the best songs in musical history.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
If you're looking for a musical film to watch at Halloween then The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the one! In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad and Janet, stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a transvestite scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker (Meat Loaf) and a creepy butler (Richard O'Brien). Through elaborate dances and rock songs (including the infamous Time Warp), Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: a muscular man named "Rocky". This film is our ultimate go to during Autumn and we love how most productions or showing of this film have the audience dressing up as the infamous characters! It's so much fun!

Rent (2005)
My first encounter with this musical was through the feature film when a college friend introduced me to it and I have been in love with it ever since. (It's probably my most favourite of all time!) Rent is set at the dawn of the 1990s, we follow a group of New Yorkers who are struggling with their careers, love lives and the effects of the AIDS epidemic on their community. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, and Roger, an HIV-positive musician, scramble to pay rent to their landlord and former roommate, Benny. Meanwhile, their friend Tom a professor has fallen for Angel who is slowly dying of AIDS. The use of sub-plots in this musical feature works effectively and results in a gorgeous narrative helped with it's soundtrack too. It's one musical feature film I will always recommend for people to watch for themselves.

Do you have any Musical Feature film favourites?

If you enjoyed reading this post then you may also enjoy reading my discussion on What is Theatre Ettitqute?

5 comments

  1. I love a good musical. My absolute faves are Cabaret and The Greatest Showman x

    Rhi | www.rinkydinkyrhi.com

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  2. I love a good musical! I grew up watching a few of the ones listed in theatres but I love when films do the shows justice too like these ones above. I still am yet to see The Sound Of Music all the way through! I need to get around to doing so because I always hear great things about it :D xx

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  3. I've tried watching Annie, Chicago and West Side Story, but I've never really been interested for some odd reason! I have started Mamma Mia on Netflix and hoping to get back into that soon. My all-time favorite is Dreamgirls though! I love Grease too, but I actually know all of the words to the songs in that movie. Thank god for closed captions!

    gotmeghan.wordpress.com :)

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  4. These are some of my favourite films and I still have all the soundtracks on repeat lately - especially The Greatest Showman/Rocky Horror And Mamma Mia...I just go in circles with them all. I've not watched West Side Story or Rent and now I really want to give them both a chance.

    Sarah x

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  5. Loved this! Surprisingly there are still some on this list that i'm yet to see! Will definitely be sitting and watching all these on our next rainy day. Thank you for sharing x

    Jess || www.secretdiaryofjess.com

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