It’s that time of the year for being bombarded with chocolate, heart-shaped items, and lots of ballads, as Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Whether you’re a fan of this celebration or not, we can all agree on the vast influence musical films have had on our idea of romance, so it’s the perfect occasion for recognizing some of the most significant contributions.
If you’re looking for a movie musical to share with your partner, or just an epic love story you can enjoy on your own, then here you’ll find our pick of the top romantic musical films for every taste.
With a few exceptions, we’ll be narrowing it down to stories which focus mainly on the growth and vicissitudes of a couple, but with its own special twist.
Top Romantic Musical Films for every taste
For the Drama enthusiast: Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Directed by Baz Luhrmann, this extravagant musical film brought the genre back to life and found a way of connecting with the contemporary audiences that would soon be emulated by films and TV shows such as Happy Feet, Shrek 2, Glee and Smash.
The story focuses on the hopeless romance between Christian (Ewan McGregor), a young and naïve poet, and Satine (Nicole Kidman), a beautiful and coldblooded courtesan from the Moulin Rouge, a famous brothel that represents both a paradise and a prison for its inhabitants.
With elements of La Traviata and a decidedly kitsch aesthetic, Moulin Rouge! is the perfect pick for those who enjoy excessive and melodramatic stories, so get ready to shed a few tears to the tune of some of the most iconic pop songs.
Cabaret (1972), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), Across the Universe (2007)
For the Comedy enthusiast: Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
The renowned and timeless classic led by a young and handsome Gene Kelly is a great pick for a Valentine’s Day evening, with just the right touch of romance and comedy to suit everyone.
Following the conning Don Lockwood, played by Kelly, as he ventures into the world of “talkies”, and Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), a talented actress whom works in the lowest levels of the entertainment industry; the film presents an enjoyable love story in which two very different characters unexpectedly find the support and strength they need in each other.
The movie has also given us one of the most recognizable love scenes, when Don dances under a downpour as he croons the title song. If you’re looking for something witty and romantic, yet not too sweet, then this is it.
Hello, Dolly! (1969), Hairspray (2007), Mamma Mia! (2008)
For the Animated film enthusiast: Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Considering Disney has given us some of the most identifiable animated romantic couples of all times, it’s rather difficult to pick just one perfect musical pair of lovers. Still, due to its impeccable script and superb music -penned by the talented Alan Menken and Howard Ashman-, Beauty and the Beast might just be it.
In the tale, the beautiful and book-loving Belle (Paige O’Hara) wishes to escape the confinement of a simple and cautious life, and soon falls into an adventure of her own as she is imprisoned by a terrible Beast (Robby Benson). What follows is a wonderful love story in which both will learn that true beauty might not be that easy to perceive.
Disney has a great array of romantic titles, yet this is definitely the crown jewel of the animated musical films of the Disney Renaissance, so make sure you give it a try on this Valentine’s Day.
Sleeping Beauty (1959), Aladdin (1992)
For the Action-Adventure enthusiast: Les Misérables (2012)
Action and musical films might not be a frequent combination, and it’s difficult to imagine how such a mixture could work outside the realm of animated movie musicals. However, we’re picking the 2012 adaptation of the iconic Broadway show, Les Misérables, as a viable option.
Although Les Misérables concentrates on the life and perils of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), the romantic triangle between Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), Marius (Eddie Redmaine) and Éponine (Samantha Barks) is one of the main allures of the tale. Yet, since it’s presented as a secondary story to the main narrative, it’s the perfect option for those interested in something more than a lovey-dovey tale.
With a few battles and some larger-than-life scenarios, you’ll get enough tinges of action to satisfy your craving while also enjoying impressive music and heartfelt performances.
Into the Woods (2014)
For the Mystery-Horror enthusiast: Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Strange, fun and gory, this tale of a young man whom somehow befriends a murderous, human-eating plant, is perfect for those who want some romance tinted with a little bloodshed.
Little Shop of Horrors follows the shy and ungainly Seymour (Rick Moranis), a young florist with a crush on the beautiful but senseless Audrey (Ellen Greene). Yet, his love will face some hindrances, as two psychopaths stand before him and his dear one: Orin (Steve Martin), a sadistic dentist and Audrey’s boyfriend; and a homicidal plant called Audrey II (Levi Stubbs), who demands to be fed living people.
The movie is a crazy extravaganza with just the right amount of gore to keep you in your sit, making it a great choice for a couple who thrives on the creepy side, or a single musical-lover who wants to have a good time.
Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
For the Foreign movie enthusiast: Devdas (2002)
Thinking about enjoying something exotic to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Then perhaps a movie created by the masters of Asian musicals will fit you perfectly.
The ill-fated romance between Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan) and Parvati (Aishwarya Rai) has been retold many times in Indian cinema, yet the 2002 version directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali might be one of the most stunning audiovisual events you can experience.
With spectacular sets, rich music and wonderful performances, this is the perfect film for those who know little about Indian cinema and are interested in discovering what it can do.
Beware, though! Bollywood films can last up to 2 or 3 hours, so keep that in mind if you’re giving Devdas a try.
Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964)
Bonus pick – A Classic: West Side Story (1961)
Romance has played a dominant part in almost all musicals, especially those created before the late 60s, when the individualistic trends of European cinema began stimulating new and darker narratives.
It’s difficult to pick a classic amongst the many romantic musical films created in more than 40 years, yet West Side Story is definitely a milestone that marked the transition from the happy-go-lucky tales of the 40s and 50s, to the complex stories that would soon become the standard.
The film is a beautifully shot and choreographed musical which concentrates in a Romeo-and-Juliet type of romance led by Tony (Richard Beymer) and Maria (Natalie Wood), two members from rival gangs that will soon be put to the test by the hostility of their peers.
A classic love story, this is a wonderful Valentine’s Day pick for those who enjoy an oldie, but a goodie.
Top Hat (1935)
What’s your favorite romantic musical film to watch on Valentine’s Day? Which of these have you seen? Share your thoughts in the comments!