Earlier this week, British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed made history by being the first Muslim actor nominated for the Oscars in the “Best Male Actor" category for his film Sound of Metal. The film went on to get five other nominations including Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role, Original Screenplay, Best Sound and Best Film Editing. While the expectations are high with this film, we bring to you a list of six films that had previously won the Academy Awards for their musical theme.
The Broadway Melody (1929)
Back when The Broadway Melody won, the Best Picture award was known as Outstanding Picture awards. What’s more interesting is that this film was the first musical, and the first sound film to win an Academy Award. The film follows sisters Hank and Queenie Mahoney, who try to make it big on Broadway, but get stuck in the complicacies of love and relationships. The music of the film was given by Nacio Herb Brown, who is also known for his score in the 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain.
An American In Paris (1951)
It was nominated for as many as nine awards and ended up winning seven of them. The film follows three friends struggling to find work in Paris and is based on American composer George Gershwin’s 1928 orchestral composition of the same name. Gershwin’s brother Ira wrote the lyrics and additional music was provided by Saul Chaplin. The film’s climax is a very popular dance sequence of around 17 minutes.
West Side Story (1961)
One of the most remarkable films of all time, West Side Story won eleven Academy Awards, including the Best Picture, making it the only musical to win so many awards. It is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which is another adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It is based on the rivalry of two gangs from New York City and how two youngsters from the respective gangs manage to fall in love amid the existing tensions. The film also found its place in the National Film Registry in 1997, and Steven Spielberg is all set to release its adaptation in December 2021.
My Fair Lady (1964)
This musical drama is based on lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe’s adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion. It is based on poor girl Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn), and a snobbish professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) who bets that he could teach Eliza proper English and make her presentable in high society.
Some of the notable musical numbers include “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?", “With a Little Bit of Luck", and “The Rain in Spain". This film was also selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2019 for its cultural significance.
The Sound of Music (1965)
We have all sung along to “Do-Re-Mi", “Edelweiss", or “So Long, Farewell", and some might even remember the words by heart. Such is the significance of The Sound of Music which went on to become one of the greatest cinematic experiences of all time. Starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the film is an adaptation of the 1959 stage musical of the same name, which portrays the story of the Von Trapp family. Apart from the Best Picture Award, it also bagged the award for the Best Director, making it the second pair of awards for director Robert Wise who also won these accolades for West Side Story.
A list of musicals would be incomplete if a film on the prodigious Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart doesn’t find its way into it. This 1984 American period biographical drama is based on a fictional rivalry between Mozart and Antonio Salieri, an Italian composer. The music of the film was supervised and conducted by an English violinist, and one of the world’s most significant conductors Neville Marriner. The soundtrack of Amadeus also found its way to the top spot in the Billboard classical Albums Chart, and also ended up winning the Grammy award for Best Classical Album in 1984.