The 2010s, like with previous decades, provided many great musicals. If you want to see the best of them, we’ve rounded up a list of musical movies and theater musicals for you.
Here are the best musicals from the 2010s.
Musical Movies of the 2010s
We’ll begin with the top musical movies of the 2010s, many of which have also been adapted to the stage or are adaptations of stage shows.
Starting off our list is one of the most iconic musical movies. Whiplash is a fantastic film, but we don’t suggest watching it with your family. This film tells the story of a strict, violent music teacher bringing a first-year musical school band into shape.
The movie's protagonist is a boy named Andrew, who has ambitions of becoming one of the greatest in music. The film stars J. K. Simmons as an abusive instructor that helps him along the way.
Full of profanity, verbal abuse, and phenomenal music, this film’s a can’t-miss. Just make sure all the kids are out of the movie before Fletcher begins any of his dialogue. Some scenes of abuse make for uncomfortable viewing, but the end product is a challenging piece of art.
2. La La Land
Veering to a more light-hearted depiction, La La Land is a beautiful love letter to classic musicals. Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the protagonists chase fulfillment in their art.
Gosling plays a struggling pianist while Stone’s character attempts to break into the acting scene in Los Angeles. The two fall in love as they try to accomplish their dreams together, helping each other to stardom.
Winning over half a dozen awards, including Best Film, this musical received a record-tying fourteen nominations at the Academy Awards. With a stage adaptation in the works, few films will push you forward, like La La Land.
3. Bohemian Rhapsody
Named after the iconic Queen song, Bohemian Rhapsody is a biographical re-telling of the life of Freddie Mercury. Dominantly, the film deals with how the band came to fruition and Mercury’s place in those events.
The movie had a complex production, originally starring Sacha Baron Cohen before Rami Malek took over. Changing directors, plots, and more, the film eventually found incredible success worldwide.
Whether you’re a fan of Queen or haven’t heard a song from the band, this film is a can’t-miss. Malek’s performance and the adaptations of Queen’s famous songs are breathtaking from start to end.
4. Pitch Perfect
Jumping back to the start of the decade, the film Pitch Perfect served as a love letter to choir kids everywhere. The musical comedy is an adaptation of a non-fiction novel of the same name.
Following a cappella troop in tatters at the start of the film, the comedy pits several collegiate groups against each other. On their journey for a cappella perfection, the musical adapts several songs and comes through with original tracks.
While a comedy, there are a few scenes that are hard to watch, such as several instances of projectile vomiting. The talents of Rebel Wilson, Anna Kendrick, and Adam DeVine are sure to keep you entertained.
5. Scott Pilgrim Versus the World
Some people need to remember that Scott Pilgrim Versus the World is a musical, but there are a few better examples! Adapted from Brian Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels, this musical contains gaming references and garage rock tracks.
It’s a strange watch in hindsight, as a large chunk of the movie’s cast became some of the 2010's most incredible talents. Chris Evans, Brie Larson, and Aubrey Plaza all-star in this hysterical film.
For film fans, Netflix recently announced an animated adaptation coming soon. The original cast will reprise their roles, so there’s no better time to re-watch this musical than now!
6. Baby Driver
When you think of musicals, action flicks often aren’t the first to come to mind. With Baby Driver, everything you know is challenged. The 2017 film is directed by Edgar Wright, famous for Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and Scott Pilgrim.
The star-studded cast includes Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and (unfortunately) Kevin Spacey. Focusing on a getaway driver trying to leave his life of crime, the film often synchronizes with the music the titular Baby listens to while driving.
Tragic, action-packed, and intense, this film brings an energy few other musicals to have. It’s a fantastic film for people of all tastes, whether musicals are your thing or not.
7. The Greatest Showman
For another film that mixes history and music, The Greatest Showman is top of the list. Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Zendaya, this film tells the story of P.T. Barnum.
Following the showman’s knack for marketing and creativity, the story shows Barnum’s circus being formed. Bringing in his iconic “freak show,” the film pivots to show the “freaks” accepting who they are.
Eventually winning awards for the film, The Greatest Showman received praise for the hit song “This Is Me.” Though some question the historical accuracy of many of the notes of the show, it remains an iconic and beloved musical. If you’re a fan of historical drama and circus acts, you should add this film to your watch party.
Similar to Bohemian Rhapsody, the film Amy is a documentary film that follows an iconic musician. Focused on singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who was found dead from alcohol poisoning in 2011, the film tells her story.
Starting with a home movie of the songwriter at 14 years old, the documentary begins from there. Following her story from her first and second albums, Frank and Back to Black, it tells the story of her downfall as well.
With Back to Black being her final piece, the rest of the movie shows her struggle with addiction, personal issues, and more. Receiving critical fame, the film led to Winehouse receiving a posthumous nomination for the best British Female Solo Artist in 2016.
9. Les Misérables
An adaptation of Victor Hugo’s widely-acclaimed 1862 novel of the same name, this 2012 film received international attention. This film is a triple adaptation, being an adaptation of a theatrical production that was, in itself, an adaptation of the novel.
Les Misérables, usually shortened to Les Mis, is set in the early 19th century in France. Following Jean Valjean, a parolee released after a 16-year sentence, the story shows the difficulty that life had in the time. It’s a deep, complex film that’s difficult to explain without ruining the beautiful story within.
Receiving nominations, awards, and international acclaim, Les Mis helped bring life back to the musical genre in the 2010s.
To now, we’ve mentioned some of the best and most iconic films. Unfortunately, the decade ended with a musical so poorly received that many used it as a sign the musical genre was dead.
Cats was maligned from the moment the casting dropped. The star-studded cast was difficult to explain, with Judi Dench, Idris Elba, and even Taylor Swift starring. James Corden and Rebel Wilson as Bustopher Jones and Jennyanydots were undoubtedly the most stomach-churning casting choices.
The movie wasn’t something a star-studded cast could carry. With horrific CGI, a shoehorned story, and a scene where Rebel Wilson eats a roach, Cats was a stupendous failure.
Still, it’s fun to hate-watch things now and then. If you’re a fan of the classic original, be sure to give this abomination a try!
Musicals in Theater During the 2010s
What if you want classical musical theater? If you prefer the stage, here are ten fantastic musical stage productions to add to your to-watch list.