10 movie musicals to watch after La La Land | Virgin Media

10 movie musicals to watch after La La Land


By now you've probably already seen La La Land several times, booked your tickets to Hollywood to try and break America, tried and failed to learn tap dancing and booked yourself in for piano lessons. All perfectly natural responses to watching one of the great modern movie musicals. But don't stop now! Keep the music going! The musical genre is practically bursting with similar delights: here are 10 absolute bangers of the genre, all available on demand from Virgin Movies now, that will keep your feet itching and your heart pounding...


1.  An American In Paris (1951)

Gene Kelly is truly a remarkable performer: as an ex-WWII soldier turned painter trying to make a living in a thriving, technicolour Paris, Kelly glides around the city of love with extraordinary grace and rhythm – often it's as though he defies gravity. The dance choreography is to die for and the songs aren't bad too, but it's Kelly's boundless charm that radiates off the screen – witness how deftly he plays off a bunch of raucous school-kids during the infectious 'I Got Rhythm' without ever missing a step. La La Land's final fantasy sequence owes a debt to the finale here; an incredible 17-minute ballet set against a cartoonish backdrop to the flawless sounds of George Gershwin. Just magic.


2.  Les Miserables (2013)

It's a tale as old as time, but Tom Hooper's 2013 take on the Victor Hugo lung-buster can rightly lay claim to being the best, thanks not just to a game cast – including the more-than capable Hugh Jackman, the effervescent Anne Hathaway and the honking goose that is Russell Crowe – but to a unique method of performance that saw the players actually sing their lines into radio mics in scene. With no dubbing involved, the emotions felt on set remain raw on screen: Hathaway's performance of 'I Dreamed A Dream', shot in close-up with Hooper's camera trained on her wobbling bottom lip, won her the Oscar all by itself. Movie musicals are rarely this rousing: you'll want to stand up and cheer come the credits.


3.  Moulin Rouge (2001)

Baz Luhrmann certainly knows how to put on a show: the all-singing, all-dancing spectacular that is Moulin Rouge is one of modern Hollywood's most flamboyant, most joyful musicals. Statuesque goddess Nicole Kidman was a solid hire as Satine the courtesan, but Ewan McGregor was a masterful choice to play Christian, the Bohemian writer who falls for the wrong girl. Luhrmann's eye for a scene is unparalleled (costumes and production design both won Oscars), but his ear isn't bad either: the jukebox musical approach of using modern tunes in a period setting reaps plentiful rewards – frankly Elton John's 'Your Song' has never sounded better.


4.  Singin' In The Rain (1961)

Happiness in cinematic form: it is scientifically impossible to be sad while watching Singin' In The Rain. Go ahead, try not to enjoy it. Try not to tap your feet during the audio sunbeam that is 'Good Morning'. Try not to fall in love with Debbie Reynolds. Try not to marvel at the acrobatics of Donald O'Connor as he runs up the wall during the exhausting 'Make 'Em Laugh'. Try to wipe the smile off your face as Gene Kelly splashes in puddles to his heart's content in the beguilingly goofy title song. Actually, don't bother. Watching Singin' In The Rain is like falling into big hearty bear-hug from Hollywood. If you cannot bring yourself to enjoy this classic, you are clinically dead.


5.  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

Those Frenchies sure know how to move, huh? Jacques Demy's 1964 musical romance aches with Parisian chic – it might just be the most vividly realised and spectacularly staged movie musical ever. Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo play star-crossed lovers whose paths cross not once, not twice but thrice over the course of six years, and their story is backed by an ever-present score from composer Michel Legrand. Uniquely, all dialogue is recited as song verse, giving the plot a playful pulse. It's little wonder it scored Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Film, Best Song and Best Soundtrack.


6. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Straight up, real talk: Pierce Brosnan can't sing. If you can blot out the sight of the former Bond belching words hopelessly into the wind, then there's lots to enjoy in this ABBA musical, the kind of film which practically invites audiences to stand up in the aisle and dance. How could you refuse when the soundtrack – all ABBA, all the time – contains such peerless floor-fillers as 'Waterloo', 'Gimme Gimme Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)' and 'Dancing Queen'? Mamma Mia! is a camp classic par excellence that politely requests you check your brain at the door before leading you on an Uzo-soaked conga line through some of the greatest pop songs ever written.


7.  West Side Story (1961)

Shakespeare might have known his way around a lute, but even the Bard couldn't have dreamed of writing tunes this catchy. A finger-snapping adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, set on the West Side of Manhattan, the musical – directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins – scored a record 11 Oscar nominations and won 10 of them, finishing the year as the second highest-grossing movie in America. It doesn't matter if you side with the Jets or the Sharks, there are musical gems here for all to enjoy: tunes don't come much more likely to tap toes than this.


8.  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Stephen Sondheim is a musical genius of stage and screen, so the thought of his melodies being brought to life by visual mastermind Tim Burton was almost as salivating as one of Mrs Lovett's meat pies. Yes, we're essentially asked to entertain Johnny Depp in pale-faced make-up once more (stop me if you've heard this one), but Sweeney Todd represents arguably the best of his collaborations with Burton: the vim and vigour with which he sings Sondheim's timeless tunes represents the peak of his career. Dark, smart and with a bleeding satirical edge, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street is as sharp as a razor.


9.  The Sound Of Music (1965)

Billed as 'The Happiest Sound in All the World' upon release in 1965, it's tough to argue with that boast even now, 50 years on. Rodgers and Hammerstein songs don't grow old after all: the sweeping melodies of songs like 'Maria', 'So Long, Farewell' and 'The Sound of Music' are ear-worms for the ages. A never-better Julie Andrews gives the movie life, bursting with positivity, but Christopher Plummer is no slouch either. Really though, even someone as tuneless as Russell Crowe couldn't ruin music this timeless – The Sound Of Music remains one of the most iconic and beloved movie musicals in cinematic history.


10.  Rock of Ages (2012)

An unconventional choice perhaps, but one that proves that movie musicals don't have to stick to the tunes of yesteryear – who needs Rodgers, Hammerstein and Gershwin when you've got a shortless Tom Cruise in a wig rocking out to Guns and Roses? Yes, we're dealing with rock of the cock variety, with esteemed luminaries like Journey, Poison, Foreigner and Pat Benatar providing the tunes, while a cast including Cruise, dancer Julianne Hough and a prim-and-improper Catherine Zeta-Jones understand that their tongues belong stuck firmly in their cheeks. You'll either love it or hate it.  We love it!

Find all these toe-tappers in On Demand > Movies > Virgin Movies > May Musicals