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.
Starting off our stage productions is the retelling of The Wizard of Oz, we have another triple-adaptation! Wicked is a stage adaptation of the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel of the same name, which is an adaptation of the 1900 L Frank Baum novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Originally released in 2003, this stage production was popular enough to have several tours. In 2013 and 2017, Wicked toured the United Kingdom and Ireland. These tours were sandwiched by a 2009 United States tour and multiple international productions.
Considered one of Broadway’s most popular shows, Wicked is one of the most well-known productions. Whether you’re watching out of a love for Oz or rooting for the witch, this production is a great story of sisterhood.
Chicago is a timeless classic that first hit the stage in 1975. Set in jazz-age Chicago, the production is based on a fictional 1926 play of the same name. The original production ran for more than 900 shows over two years and was adapted several times.
One of the most popular revivals of the show was the 2018 West End revival. This play-within-a-play follows a murder mystery, a crime story, and several more story threads that all come together.
If you’re looking for a legendary story, Chicago is a boundary-pushing play that you can’t skip.
Hamilton is one of the plays that everyone knows. Released in 2015, this historical play brought new attention to the Founding Fathers through a lens that nobody had ever thought of.
Written and directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical brings singing, rapping, and more. Based on two acts of Alexander Hamilton’s life, Miranda refers to the story as “America then, as told by America now.”
Winning a record-breaking 16 nominations, 11 awards, and a Pulitzer Prize, Hamilton is a force of nature. The 2010s saw so much success for the musical that it was translated into German for a 2022 show. If you’re enjoying musical theater, you can’t miss out on Hamilton.
Hamilton has gone on several world tours. Since 2015, they’ve played Broadway, North America, West End, Hamburg, and Manila. 2018 and 2019 saw two more North American tours. If you prefer to watch on television, Disney+ also presents a recorded version of the play.
Not all musical adaptations are fun romps through lovely, heartwarming songs. One adaptation brings horror to the theater stage. Another triple-adaptation, this 2012 musical adapts the 1990 film Misery, based on Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name.
Misery follows the story of a novelist that has an automobile accident in a secluded area. Saved by a local woman, Annie Wilkes, novelist Paul Sheldon finds himself captive by his savior and fan.
There are several twists to this gruesome story, and the adaptation does them phenomenal justice. We won’t spoil the story for you, but you should do your best to get in the seats for this show’s production!
5. Dear Evan Hansen
Dear Evan Hansen recently had a 2021 film adaptation that didn’t receive the best reviews. But the 2015 theatrical production that made the story famous is still popular and well-loved.
Dear Evan Hansen follows the story of a bullied teenager whose bully takes their life. In the aftermath, Evan lies to take advantage of the tragedy and garner the sympathy of others. Throughout the story, his lies continue to pile up to a breaking point after becoming close to his late bully’s family.
With a moral gray area that’s difficult to grasp and iconic songs, this stage production has become iconic. While some write the stage production off after only seeing the film, we wholeheartedly endorse the fantastic stage production.
6. School of Rock
School of Rock is a musical production based on the famous mid-2000s movie of the same name. Bringing the renowned Andrew Lloyd Webber, this musical follows out-of-work singer Dewey Finn.
Impersonating a substitute teacher for a local school, Dewey realizes that his students all have musical talent. Noting this, he forms them into a band to win an upcoming Battle of the Bands contest.
Having earned a quick audience from fans of the original movie, School of Rock opened to solid reviews. Premiering on Broadway before moving to a West End production and a North American tour, School of Rock was as popular in the 2010s as it was in the 2000s.
Hadestown originally premiered in 2006 in Vermont with a reception that led the musical’s creator, Anais Mitchell, to pivot to a concept album. Releasing this album in 2010, Mitchell would later meet director Rachel Chavkin who helped them rework the stage production.
This new version of the musical premiered Off-Broadway in 2016 to incredible acclaim. Moving from New York to Edmonton, London, and Broadway properly, Hadestown amassed an enormous following.
Telling the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, Hadestown’s Broadway production received numerous awards. By the end of the 73rd Tony Awards, Hadestown had received 14 nominations and won eight.
Based on the 1989 film of the same name, Heathers tells the story of Westerberg High School’s vicious social hierarchy. Following several characters named Heather, the story tackles bullying, suicide, violence, and sexual assault through the lens of black comedy.
With a 2009 Workshop premier, Heathers had a lengthy run in American theaters. From a 2010 New York concert to Los Angeles in 2013, 2014 Off-Broadway, and 2018 Off-West End and West End, the 2010s ended with a trip to Brazil in 2019.
Heathers continues to see enormous success. Still one of the 2020s most popular productions, Heathers is an icon of the 2010s that you can’t go without seeing.
9. Frozen Live
The 2013 animated Disney film Frozen is one of the most well-known movies of the last decade. Frozen received such phenomenal attention that Disney chose to develop a Broadway stage show.
Following the movie’s plot, Frozen looks at the princesses Elsa and Anna. Elsa’s magical powers lead her to freeze everything around her uncontrollably. Eventually leading to almost killing Anna, Elsa tries to live in seclusion before coming to terms with the need to face her powers.
Frozen opened on Broadway in 2018 after a 2017 tryout show in Denver. 2019 showed a successful US Tour, but COVID-19 forced the show to postpone in March 2020. As of 2021, the show continued for a 2021 West End production.
10. Moulin Rouge!
The 2001 film Moulin Rouge, is usually stylized as Moulin Rouge! opened to widespread acclaim. By the time the film was taking over movie theaters, 2002 was filled with rumors of a stage musical. The scene remained quiet until the musical was announced in 2016.
Moulin Rouge! is set in 20th-century Paris, telling the story of a young composer. Falling in love with a cabaret actress, the musical takes a jukebox form. The musical would have productions in Boston and Broadway to see out the 2010s. More shows continued in the 2020s, with the production having netted 10 awards at the 74th Tony Awards.
Best Musicals From The 2010s, Final Thoughts
Whether you prefer the big screen or the stages of Broadway, these musicals are a great place to get started. If you aren’t a fan of musicals, we suggest any of the productions from our two lists here! You can get a great look at history with these 2010 productions.
For more lists about music you can’t miss out on, be sure to browse the rest of our site.