7 Modern Musicals That Have Taken Oscar Gold | Playbill

Lists 7 Modern Musicals That Have Taken Oscar Gold

With Ariana DeBose's West Side Story Oscar win, we took a look at other recent movie musicals that have done well at the Academy Awards.

Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago, Ariana Debose in West Side Story, and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls

Movie musicals tick, tick... BOOM! and West Side Story were among the big screen titles vying for Oscars at the 94th Academy Awards ceremony, having garnered nominations for their leading stars and the behind-the-scenes magic.

Although a fan-favorite finalist, tick, tick... BOOM!—Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda's film directorial debut—did not provide a win for its single nominee (Andrew Garfield for Best Actor), another stage favorite left with a statue Sunday night. Tony nominee Ariana DeBose had a monumental win for Best Supporting Actress, earning the accolade for her portrayal of Anita in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story remake—an award that was also won by Rita Moreno, who played the same role in 1961 film adaptation. Both versions of the movie were both nominated for Best Picture at their respective ceremonies, with the predecessor taking home the gold.

The success of musicals in the Hollywood industry often ebbs and flows, as we saw with the short-lived glory of the the movie adaptations of Dear Evan Hansen and Cats (which both lacked in box office sales and critical reception). However, over the last two decades, many movie musicals have won over audiences and Academy voters. Here are seven live-action musical films from the 21st century that won an Oscar or two (or six).

Moulin Rouge 20th Century Fox

Moulin Rouge!
The 2001 jukebox musical by Baz Luhrmann not only won two Oscars, but also sparked the creation of a Broadway adaptation, which is currently playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Nominated for eight awards, the movie received accolades for Best Costume Design for Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie and Best Art Direction for Martin, with Brigitte Broch. Moulin Rouge! follows the ill-fated love story between writer Christian and star performer Satine. It features the original song “Come What May” as well as several top hits "Like A Virgin," "Your Song," "Roxanne," and "Lady Marmalade."

The 2002 crime musical starring Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere was well-received by critics and audiences, winning six Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Zeta-Jones. Based on the 1975 Kander and Ebb stage musical, it tells the story of performers Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly and their headline-breaking murders. The movie was filled with big name celebrities, from stage and screen, including John C. Reilly as Amos Hart and Queen Latifah as Matron "Mama" Morton (both nominated for their performances), and Taye Diggs as The Bandleader.


Adapted from the Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen Broadway musical with the same name, the Dreamgirls film starred Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. The 2006 musical flick won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress for Hudson and Best Sound Mixing. Not only did Hudson win an Oscar for her debut performance, but she also performed “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” at the ceremony. The musical follows the rising girl group "The Dreamettes" and their journey to fame in a difficult industry.

Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in "Sweeney Todd." Photo by Leah Gallo

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
The 2007 movie adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's musical won one Oscar (Best Art Direction) from its three nominations (which also included Best Actor and Best Costume). The horror musical follows a barber-turned-serial-killer whose victims end up as the filling in the meat pies served at his landlady's pie shop. The film starred Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter as the gruesome duo, Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett.

Les Misérables
The 2012 movie adaptation of the illustrious French musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Jean-Marc Natel, made a splash at its respective Academy Awards ceremony. Not only did the cast perform the large ensemble number "One Day More," showcasing the voices of Broadway favorites Hugh Jackman and Samantha Barks, but the flick also left with three awards including Best Supporting Actress for Fantine actor Anne Hathaway.

La La Land
Damien Chazelle’s star-studded musical took home six Oscars at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Emma Stone, Best Director for Chazelle, and Best Original Score for Justin Gabriel Hurwitz. The musical follows aspiring actress Amelia Dolan and her budding relationship with pianist Sebastian Wilder, a struggling jazz pianist. It features the popular songs “Another Day of Sun” and “City of Stars”, the latter of which won multiple awards, including an Oscar, a Critics’ Choice Award, and a Golden Globe Award for its writers, Dear Evan Hansen scribes Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

West Side Story
Despite receiving seven nominations at the Oscars, the 2021 movie adaptation of West Side Story only took home one: a Best Supporting Actress nod for Hamilton and A Bronx Tale's Ariana DeBose. Led by Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, the musical featured supporting performances by DeBose, Tony winner David Alvarez, and Tony nominee Mike Faist. While accepting her award, DeBose thanked her movie predecessor, Moreno. She tearfully said, "I'm so grateful. Your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me, and I love you so much."

READ: Watch Ariana DeBose, Troy Kotsur's History-Making Oscars Acceptance Speeches

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