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20 Best Modern Day Musicals Everyone Must See in their Lifetime

The Golden Age of Hollywood was characterized by over the top musicals starring the likes of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Marilyn Monroe. While modern day cinema is certainly grittier and more experimental, can it really live up to those golden days?

Well some are certainly trying. Here are 20 of the best modern day musicals (all made after 2000) to show you want contemporary Hollywood is truly capable of.

Moulin Rouge (2001)

IMDB Score 7.6/10

This Baz Luhrmann spectacular probably kicked off the 21st century musical revival. Starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor (who showed some impressive vocal talent), it is about a young man who finds his way to the Moulin Rouge, where he falls in love with a beautiful courtesan promised to another man. In order to delay her inevitable joining with him, they make a musical – naturally.

Chicago (2002)

IMDB Score 7.1/10

Definitely building on the hype of Moulin Rouge, Rob Marshall put some of our favourite stars of the day in the classic stage musical about two death-row murderesses and their sleazy lawyer. Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere all showed their singing and dancing chops alongside cameos from stars from the music industry.

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

IMDB Score 7.3/10

Joel Schumacher brought Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most popular opera to life. This story focusses on a young soprano, played by Emmy Rossum, who becomes the obsession of a disfigured, murderous and misunderstood musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opera House, played by Gerard Butler.

The Producers (2005)

IMDB Score 6.3/10

Matthew Broderick reprises his stage role for the screen in this film version of the Broadway hit. It features a producer who finds himself in a desperate situation after producing another Broadway flop. He and his timid accountant, played by Nathan Lane, then embark on a get rich quick scheme that involves putting on the world’s worst show. Also stars Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell.

Rent (2005)

IMDB Score 6.9/10

This is a film version of the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical about Bohemians living in the East Village of New York City living through the AIDS epidemic. They struggle with life, love and loss, all set to music. Stars Tay Diggs, Rosario Dawson and Wilson Jermaine Heredia.

Dreamgirls (2006)

IMDB Score 6.5/10

Yes we needed a Beyonce musical, and yes we were surprised when Jennifer Hudson pretty much stole the show. The film focusses on a trip of black female soul singers trying to break the charts in the early 1960s and both the industry and personal struggles that they faced along the way. The best known songs from the movie are Listen and You’re Gonna Love Me.

Enchanted (2007)

IMDB Score 7/10

Fairytale reality collide when a young maiden from the world of fantasy, preparing for the big wedding that will end her story, finds herself thrown into modern day New York by the evil queen. Thee she falls in love with a lawyer, bring a bit of sparkle to the lives of those around her, and learning that there might be more to her story than she thought. Starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and Susan Sarandon.

Hairspray (2007)

IMDB Score 6.6/10

A movie remake of the popular stage musical about a plump teenager living in 1960s Baltimore who wants to be a dancer on a local TV show. We were treated to another round of Zack Efron showing off his singing and dancing skills, and John Travolta in drag. The star Nikki Blonsky holds her own with the well-known, all-star cast.

Once (2007)

IMDB Score 7.8/10

Set over a period of one week in the Irish city of Dublin, a young busker and an immigrant find themselves thrown together. As they share their life stories they also write, rehearse and record songs as they fall in love Starring Glen Hansgard and Marketa Irglova.

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

IMDB Score 7.3/10

Tim Burton brought his dark humour to the musical genre by telling the story of Benjamin Barker, better known as Sweeney Todd a barber who killed clients, and Mrs Lovett, who made and sold pies with the leftover meat. Naturally Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter star, and deliver excellent performances, alongside Alan Rickman.

Mamma Mia! (2008)

IMDB Score 6.4/10

Another Hollywood version of a popular stage musical, Mamma Mia tells its stories using only the songs of the beloved band ABBA. It features Amanda Seyfried as a young bride trying to find her real father. It is fun to see Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgard in such different roles.

Fame (2009)

IMDB Score 5/10

An updated version of the 1980 film musical, the story follows students at a prestigious performing arts academy in New York as they try and develop their talent and break into the industry. Starring Kelsey Grammer (yes Fraser), Bebe Neuwirth and Megan Mullally.

Nine (2009)

IMDB Score 5.8/10

This is the story of film director Guido Contini and the women in his life, including his wife mistress, muse, agent and mother. Daniel Day Lewis stars opposite an impressive female line up including Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson, all showing surprising vocal abilities.

Les Miserables (2012)

IMDB Score 7.6/10

Set against the background of the French Revolution, this classic opera tells the story of Jean Valjean, an escaped prisoner trying to rebuild his life while being hunted by a ruthless policeman Javert. His life is made more complicated when he inadvertently causes the downfall of one of his factory workers and agrees to take on her child as his own, and when hell breaks loose in the streets of Paris. Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.

Pitch Perfect (2012)

IMDB Score 7.2/10

This movie, and its popular sequels, is about an all-girl acapella singing group at the fictional Barden University. In the first film new arrival Beca, played by Anna Kendrick, helps rejuvenate the group that has lost its spark. In this and subsequent films they are naturally involved in a number of life-and-death situation sing-offs, because that happens. These are the films that introduced us to the talent that is Rebel Wilson as well.

Rock of Ages (2012)

IMDB Score 5.9/10

Another rip-off of a popular stage musical, this is a typical story of boy meets girl while pursuing Hollywood dream. The show features an impressive cast including Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta and Alec Baldwin, as well as a memorable cameo appearance from Tom Cruise.

Begin Again (2013)

IMDB Score 7.4/10

Keira Knightley stars as a songwriter who finds herself stranded when her boyfriend, played by Adam Levine, makes it big and leaves her for another woman. Her timid character then tries to make it on her own, when she meets a down and out producer, played by Mark Ruffalo, who is willing to help her. They film a record in public spaces around the city, with each song moving their story forward.

Into the Woods (2014)

IMDB Score 5.9/10

One of the more welcome Hollywood versions of an award winning stage musical. This story plays on classic fairy tales as a farmer and his wife, steal magical items from various stories in order to lift a curse that stops them from being able to have children. Starring Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt and James Corden.

La La Land (2016)

IMDB Score 8/10

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in this musical about two young people who fall in love while simultaneously trying to make it big in Hollywood. This film was a reminder that Gosling actually started out singing and dancing as a young boy in the Disney Mouse House, alongside the likes of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

The Greatest Showman (2017)

IMDB Score 7.6/10

We all knew that Hugh Jackman could sing and dance (as well as mal people to death as Wolverine), abut we just didn’t get enough of him in Les Miserables, so this film showcases his talent. He plays a visionary who develops a circus spectacle that becomes a worldwide sensation. Also starring Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Zendaya.

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