Musicals are not known for being Oscar contenders, but some have gone on to win the top prize at the Academy Awards in the past.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story is nominated in seven categories at the upcoming Oscars, including Best Picture. Featuring Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, and David Alvarez, Mike Faist, and Rita Moreno, the film is the second adaptation of the 1957 musical of the same name. The story is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet.
West Side Story‘s nomination comes four years after the last nod for musicals at the Oscars, in 2018. Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born were both nominated for Best Picture that year.
A recurring genre at the Oscars during the 1950s and 1960s, musicals winning the top prize became a thing of the past after movies on wars, history, and epics took the centre stage. While 21st century films like La La Land and Moulin Rouge! did manage to grab a spot in the top five or 10, Chicago was the last musical to win the Best Picture award, in 2002.
Here, Silverscreen India brings to you a list of famous musicals that have won the Best Picture award at the Oscars.
The last musical to win an Oscar, Chicago is directed by Rob Marshall and is based on the 1975 stage musical by the same name. Led by Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere, the film revolves around two murderesses (Zellweger and Zeta-Jones), who find themselves in jail together, while awaiting trial in Chicago, set in the 1920s. Aside from the Best Picture award, the film also earned Zeta-Jones an Oscar for her performance in the Best Supporting Actress category.
The Carol Reed-directorial is an adaptation of Lionel Bart’s 1960 stage musical of the same name and is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel Oliver Twist. It features actors Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Harry Secombe, Shani Wallis, Jack Wild, and Mark Lester in prominent roles. Aside from Best Picture, the film also earned Reed an Oscar for Best Direction.
The Sound of Music (1965)
The film is an adaptation of the 1959 stage musical of the same name, which was based on the 1949 memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp. Directed and produced by Robert Wise, the film revolves around a young Austrian woman, Maria, who is sent to a widower’s residence to governess his children. It features actors Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood, Charmian Carr, and Eleanor Parker, in prominent roles. The film holds the record of being one of the most commercially successful films of all time, while its soundtrack held the number one spot on Billboard 200, back then.
My Fair Lady (1964)
The George Cukor-directorial is based on a 1956 stage musical, which is adapted from the 1913 stage play Pygmalion. It features a cast that includes Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, and Stanley Holloway in pivotal roles. The story deals with Henry Higgins (Harrison), who plays a phonetics professor and takes it upon himself to reform Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn), a Cockney flower woman, into a presentable member of London’s high society. The film won eight Oscars, including for Best Picture, Best Actor for Harrison, as well as Best Director.
West Side Story (1961)
Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, the film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which was inspired by William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. It stars actors Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris. The film had won 10 Oscars, including for Best Picture, Best Director, and the Best Supporting Actor/Actress awards for Chakiris and Moreno. A second adaptation of the film by Steven Spielberg is also nominated in the Best Picture category. Interestingly, Ariana DeBose, who reprises Moreno’s character Anita in the 2021 version, is also an Oscar frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actress category, and has won the BAFTA, Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award, as well as the Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance.
Directed by Vincente Minnelli, Gigi is based on Colette’s 1944 novella of the same name. The romantic comedy features actors Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold, and Eva Gabor, among others. The film had won in all the nine categories that it was nominated for, including for Best Director and Best Picture.
An American in Paris (1951)
Also directed by Minnelli, An American in Paris was Leslie Caron’s debut film, in which she featured alongside actors Gene Kelly, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, and Nina Foch. The story revolves around three friends who struggle to find work in Paris, two of whom fall in love with the same woman. The film had won six Oscars, including for Best Picture.