List

Movie Musicals of the 21st Century

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

These fun "new classics" musicals are one sure way to get your toes tapping. Recommended by Cecilia Cygnar.

  • Chicago

    2003

    I hadn't seen the stage production of this musical when I saw the movie in theaters. Since I loved the movie so much, I saw a stage production and have to admit I liked the movie more. It's the same songs and characters, but the film (directed by stage director Rob Marshall) does a fantastic job with casting (Queen Latifah, anyone?) and the story in a more logical way than the stage version. There is a reason this film won an Oscar for Best Picture, as well as five other Oscars. Talk about Razzle Dazzle!

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  • Dreamgirls

    2017

    Jennifer Hudson earned her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for giving her heart and soul to this powerful film version of the stage musical. Most people thought Beyonce was going to steal the show here, but Hudson steals every scene she's in from Queen B. Directed by Bill Condon, who wrote the script for Chicago.

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  • Into the Woods

    Another movie musical adaptation directed by Rob Marshall. Like he does in Chicago, Marshall excels in compiling an all-star cast, which alone makes this one worth watching. Based on a Stephen Sondheim musical, Into the Woods greatly benefits from Marshall's stellar and meticulous direction for stage musicals, which really propels what could have been just an ordinary film adaptation to a new level of movie magic.

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  • La La Land

    2017

    One of the biggest issues with this wonderful film is that, for a story where one character is an aficionado of jazz, it's not a very diverse cast. Maybe that's why this one was only an "almost" Best Picture winner, rather than the actual winner. That being said, director Damien Chazelle earns his Best Director Oscar for creating a film filled with magic, joy, love, and fantastic musical numbers. Just, sadly, not a lot of color.

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  • Mary Poppins Returns

    2019

    If you are looking for "A Spoonful of Sugar," you need to watch the original, because here director Rob Marshall creates an entirely new world filled with new songs and new passion. At first, I was longing for some of the old favorites, but as I got more into this new version, I quickly forgot about the past and was able to immerse myself into a world without Julie Andrews as the iconic nanny.

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  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

    2018

    If you notice, I'm citing the sequel here, not the original film starring Meryl Streep. Well, here's one of the rare cases where I prefer the second over the first. It has nothing to do with Ms. Streep's fantastic performance in the first film. She, as always, was flawless. I just prefer the story and the frivolity of the second film over the first. Regardless of which one you watch, both are filled with highly charged musical numbers where I dare you not to sing along with the ABBA classics.

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  • Nine

    2010

    I promise this is the final movie musical on this list directed by Rob Marshall. Can I help it that he's directed some of the best recent film musicals of this era? In this musical retelling of director Federico Fellini's classic 8 1/2, Marshall once again gathers an all-star cast, led by Daniel Day-Lewis in the role of a film director who spends more time in his fantasy world than in reality. Yes, the man who played Lincoln sings! It's worth watching for that reason alone.

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  • Oklahoma!

    2003

    Ok, this one is a little bit of a cop out. It's a filming of a stage production. But, since it has Hugh Jackman in it, in his star-making role, let's overlook that, shall we? And when I say star-making role, I mean that this is the part that X-Men producers noticed him in and decided to give him a try. Jackman as Curly will put a little extra fringe on top of your surrey and make your mornings even more beautiful!

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  • Once

    2007

    A sweet film that comes out of nowhere and hits you with all of its emotional power. And that power is mostly manifested through song. Different from most others on this list (except for La La Land), this is a truly original story filled with original songs that will fill your heart with joy. There are no stars here, just two main characters who share their love of music with the camera and, in turn, their love for each other.

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