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Movie musicals are a significant part of film history with the works of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Judy Garland to consider. In all of film history, however, only ten movie musicals have ever won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The first film to win was in 1929, and the last to win was in 2002. From the streets of New York to a courtroom in Chicago, read on for every movie musical to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
The Broadway Melody (1929) – The Broadway Melody was the first musical to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The story is a standard New York City romance with vaudeville performers trying to get their big break on Broadway.
The Great Ziegfeld (1936) – Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. became famous for his Ziegfeld Follies, and The Great Ziegfeld, a musical about the life and career of Ziegfeld, won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Going My Way (1944) – Going My Way won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and the film’s star Bing Crosby also won Best Actor in a Leading Role. The musical is based on a short story by Leo McCarey, who also directed the film, and it follows a young priest coming into a church in New York City and clashing with an older, more traditional priest.
An American in Paris (1951) – Gene Kelly’s musical masterpiece about an American falling for a young Parisian woman who happens to be dating his best friend. The film also earned Gene Kelly an honorary Academy Award, his only Oscar win, for achievements in singing, dancing, acting, and specifically choreography. The “American in Paris” ballet sequence is an extraordinary achievement in dance, storytelling, and cinema.
Gigi (1958) – Gigi has not aged as well as some of the other musicals on this list. However, this musical about a courtesan in training is still very well-liked, so much so that a revival opened on Broadway in 2015 starring Vanessa Hudgens.
West Side Story (1961) – One of the most popular re-imaginings of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet changes the rival houses into rival gangs and swords into switchblades. West Side Story captured Oscar voters hearts with its unforgettable soundtrack and iconic finger-snapping choreography.
My Fair Lady (1964) – Julie Andrews famously beat out Audrey Hepburn for Best Actress at the Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, but My Fair Lady took home the big prize of the night. This musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is still incredibly popular today with memorable songs like “The Rain in Spain,” “On the Street Where You Live,” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.”
The Sound of Music (1965) – Only a year after Mary Poppins, another Julie Andrews musical won big at the Academy Awards. The Sound of Music, based on the true life events of the Von Trapp family, was also a huge success at the box office and the highest-grossing film of that year.
Oliver! (1968) – The big-screen musical adaptation of Oliver Twist didn’t only win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It won five Academy Awards plus an additional Honorary Academy Award for Onna White’s choreography work on the film.
Chicago (2002) – On stage, Chicago is the longest running revival in Broadway history. On film, Chicago is the last musical to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. This brilliant musical satire on crime and celebrity first opened on Broadway in 1975, but it was just as fresh and relevant when the film was released in 2002.
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