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    A Ranking Of The 100 Best Musical Moment In Films Since 2000

    Which song will "bop bop bop, bop to the top"?

    Images from Hairspray, Black Swan, The Greatest Showman, Enchanted, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Mean Girls, and Dreamgirls

    100. Cats (2019) — "Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat"

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    Song(s) used: "Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat"

    Performed by: Steven McRae and Robbie Fairchild

    Let us begin with perhaps the most cursed film of our generation. While Cats is actively one of the worst, most misguided, and stupidest movies I have ever seen, thanks to Rebel Wilson scratching her kitty cooch, James Corden rolling in trash, and Taylor Swift's dousing everyone in cat LSD (not to mention Jason Derulo's smaller fake penis) there is exactly one good scene buried in the monstrosity. One of the film's few non-celeb castings was for the tap-dancing railway cat, and Steven McRae steals the whole goddamn show. It's the catchiest song with the least cringe acting, and I've re-watched this clip on its own just to make sure I didn't get Stockholm Syndromed into thinking it was great just because it was better than the fresh hell that was the rest of this film. Long live Skimbleshanks and long live the butthole cut

    99. The Bling Ring (2013) — Nicki Dances At A Club

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    Song(s) used: "Levels"

    Performed by: Avicii

    The power of a gif. And this gif in particular. While The Bling Ring is an incredible movie by my favorite director, Sofia Coppola, this scene, in which the sticky-fingered high schoolers hit up a club, is not particularly pivotal to the plot, it will live on forever, even for people who have never seen the film, because of Emma Watson bouncing with her tongue out gif. Watson, who is delivering the best work of her entire career here as a version of the delusional Alexis Neiers, also delivers one of the internet's most used gifs, and we must praise that. The slo-mo and Avicii's "Levels" only add to the aura. Nothing to do with this list, but I also constantly quote "I wanna rob" which in my mind is even more iconic than her various Hermione lines. 

    98. Marry Me (2022) — "Church"

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    Song(s) used: "Church"

    Performed by: Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez will always 1) look amazing, 2) turn out the choreo, and 3) give you a bop. Marry Me, J.Lo's pop star rom-com is packed with bangers made just for the film, but the one that showed up on my Spotify Wrapped is this religious tribute to pop perfection. Surrounded by latex-costumed priests and nuns, Lopez proves why her character, Kat Valdez, is an international superstar in the film. This song, early in the film's lineup, sets the stage for her great work to follow. Skip communion, watch this instead. 

    97. Spring Breakers (2012) — "Everytime"

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    Song(s) used: "Everytime"

    Performed by: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine before the Britney Spears version comes in

    I was obligated to include this scene from Harmony Korine's ode to spring break debauchery simply because of how bizarre it is. In this hazy fever dream of a movie in which college girls are enticed to join a crime ring by James Franco, perhaps the weirdest scene is this one where they all sing Britney Spears around a grand piano outdoors while wearing matching ski masks and carrying guns. Why exactly is this scene in the film? Not a clue. Is it memorable? Hell yes. 

    96. The Country Bears (2002) — "Kick It Into Gear"

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    Song(s) used: "Kick It Into Gear"

    Performed by: Jennifer Paige

    To look at the animatronic theme park attraction Country Bears Jamboree and decide to make a live-action film about it starring a combination of real humans and people wearing bear costumes is SHOCKINGLY bold. The audacity of this film is like none other, and its tanking at the box office, and with critics, sort of makes sense. If you can get past the weird premise, however, the film is a delightful Daisy Jones and The Six-esque get-the-old-band-back-together story. Plus, the vocal talent of the cast, including John Hiatt, Don Henley, and Bonnie Raitt, created a beautiful folk soundtrack that would have been more appreciated if you didn't know it was sung by bears. I listened to this CD on repeat growing up, and this diner scene starring Jennifer Paige is one of the more electric in the film. I may be the only person saying it, but this film is way better than the ride. 

    95. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020) — "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"

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    Song(s) used: "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"

    Performed by: Vocals by Maxayn Lewis, but lip-synced by Viola Davis

    Viola Davis shines in absolutely any role she gets, as evidenced by her spectacular action hero turn in The Woman King this year. In 2020, she delivered the polar opposite performance as a 1920s jazz singer in the film adaptation of an August Wilson play. While Davis didn't do her own singing, her acting during the musical scenes including this one helped earn her an Oscar nomination for the role. Plus Maxayn Lewis's raspy voice reverberating through the recording studio is as mesmerizing as they come.

    94. We're the Millers (2013) — "Waterfalls" Sing-A-Long

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    Song(s) used: "Waterfalls"

    Performed by: TLC on the radio, and Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, and Will Poulter singing along

    No better way to bond with family (even if your family is actually a ramshackle group of drug smugglers) than by singing loudly off-key to the radio. This moment from We're the Millers is made all the better by Will Poulter nailing Left Eye's rap verse much to the delight and surprise of his new mother, father, and sister. The way this scene tells us everything we need to know about his character. The type of person who knows the full "Waterfalls" rap verse is a specific type of lovable. 

    93. Legally Blonde (2001) — Opening Credits

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    Song(s) used: "Perfect Day"

    Performed by: Hoku

    Our first opening credit sequence on the list! (Don't worry there are many more on the way). For whatever reason, many films opt out of an opening credits moment, but when implemented well, they can really set the tone for the entire film. In Legally Blonde, the perky, upbeat "Perfect Day" underscores Elle Woods's (Reese Witherspoon) optimistic, effervescence in a way that launches this perfect film to a pitch-perfect start. It's a great montage (another way to expertly introduce music into a film), and I defy you not to have the chorus stuck in your head for the rest of this perrrrrrfeeeeect daaaaaaaayyyyy. (It should also be noted that the pink font in the credits was another stroke of genius). 

    92. Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009) — "Hoedown Throwdown"

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    Song(s) used: "Hoedown Throwdown"

    Performed by: Miley Cyrus

    While some may argue that Hannah Montana: The Movie's "The Climb", the climactic ballad performed after Hannah takes off her wig *gasp* and reveals that she's actually Miley Stewart, is the most culturally resonant moment from the film, I respectfully disagree. "Hoedown Throwdown" was the TikTok dance before we had TikTok, it was the descendent of the Macarena. For Miley to combine "hip-hop" with country and form a ludicrous line dance that an entire hootenanny's worth of locals immediately pick up is iconic. I learned this dance off of YouTube tutorials when it came out, and we performed it at school dances. While Hannah Montana's real cultural legacy will forever be "you get the limo out front oo-aa-oo", as far as the film goes it will be "boom-de-clap boom-de-clap-de-clap." 

    91. Jackie (2016) — Last Night in the White House

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    Song(s) used: "Camelot" (Original Broadway Cast Recording) 

    Performed by: Richard Burton

    For every ten snoozy, poorly constructed, paint-by-numbers biopics we get every year, there is one of genius, and 2016's perfect entry was Pablo Larraín's Jacqueline Kennedy biopic with Natalie Portman at its center. The film, constructed around an interview Kennedy gave days after her husband's death that described his presidency as "a Camelot", is a captivating portrait of grief. In one of the film's most memorable moments, Jackie plays the Broadway recording of "Camelot" while she packs on her final evening in the White House. A tribute to memory and melancholy endings, the scene perfectly melds history and fiction. "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot." 

    90. The Pink Panther (2006) — The Presidential Ball

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    Song(s) used: "Woman Like Me" 

    Performed by: Beyoncé

    Sorry not sorry, but this Beyoncé song is a BOP, and the fact it isn't on Spotify is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. Every music megastar, at some point or other, attempts to launch a career in film. In 2006, Beyoncé was in the thick of her pre-pivot to visual albums and the wonders of Beychella. She plays Xania, a pop star who becomes a suspect when her boyfriend (Jason Statham) is murdered while in possession of the Pink Panther diamond. The film as a whole is okay, but the scene in which Steve Martin and Jean Reno pretend to be her backup dancers while infiltrating a presidential ball is made great by a masterful performance from the Queen B. 

    89. Cold War (2018) — An Evening in Paris

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    Song(s) used: "Rock Around the Clock"

    Performed by: Bill Haley & His Comets

    2018's haunting Polish romance is one deeply rooted in music. Wiktor Warski (Tomasz Kot) is a musical director and Zula Lichon (Joanna Kulig) is a singer, he meets at an audition, beginning a tragic love story that will last for decades in Cold War Europe. While the couple weathers many storms during their on-again-off-again saga, one high point is in a Parisian jazz club where Zula starts to dance exuberantly with strangers in order to draw Wiktor's attention away from a meeting he's having. The jaunty "Rock Around the Clock" is a departure from the film's generally somber tone, and Kulig's dancing on the bar and flinging her blonde mane is an image that stays with you (as it stayed with Wiktor). 

    88. Juno (2007) — "Anyone Else But You"

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    Song(s) used: "Anyone Else But You"

    Performed by: Michael Cera and Elliot Page

    Juno is the first film on our list of a very important genre I like to call "the soundtrack movie." These are non-musical films that go out of their way to deliver a music-filled experience with a highly curated soundtrack rather than relying mostly on a score as most films do. Juno comes from a wealth of such indie films in the aughts that relied on alternative music. While the Belle & Sebastian-laden soundtrack provides plenty of great musical scenes in the film, the closing scene in which Michael Cera and Elliot Page play guitar and sing to each other is especially notable. It's the perfect way to close the Best Picture nominee and finish off the soundtrack. 

    87. Drumline (2002) — Fighting for the Field

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    Song(s) used: N/A

    Performed by: N/A

    There is a SHOCKING dearth of marching band films in the world. I'm sorry to say this is the only one that made the list. The Nick Cannon-helmed film about a boy in the drumline of a fictional HBCU delivers plenty of band hierarchy drama along with a number of incredible drum performances. My favorite comes early in the film when Sean (Leonard Roberts) challenges Devon (Cannon) to a mid-performance battle (something I didn't even know you could do). Of course, Devon hands Sean's ass to him and proves he's more than just your average freshman, setting up the tension for the rest of the film. While the film did get a sequel, I think this is a concept that should be returned to. Give me a Drumline reboot, please.

    86. Bridesmaids (2011) — Wilson Phillips

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    Song(s) used: "Hold On"

    Performed by: Wilson Phillips

    A running plot point through the entirety of Bridesmaids is that Annie (Kristen Wiig) and Lillian (Maya Rudolph) love "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips (as we all do). In the squabble between Annie and Helen (Rose Byrne) for Lillian's attention, Annie keeps coming back to how they have more history. After all of the hilarity and in-fighting is resolved, Bridesmaids delivers the perfect button to the joke with the wealthy Helen paying to have Wilson Phillips make a surprise appearance at Lillian's wedding. It also gives us the perfect background song for a montage of life going on well for all our favorite ladies. One of the best pop star cameos in recent memory. 

    85. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) — Eggsy vs. Gazelle

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    Song(s) used: "Give It Up"

    Performed by: KC & The Sunshine Band

    Don't get me wrong, I love movie scores, but for better or worse they often go completely unnoticed, especially in an action sequence. That's what makes the final battle scene of the first Kingsman film stand out. Rather than a dull score, it's set to the backdrop of an '80s pop hit (and one that keeps coming in and out as the speakers malfunction. The boppy track brings a burst of energy to Eggsy's  (Taron Egerton) fight with the knife-legged Gazelle (Sofia Boutella). The prequel's Rasputin fight scene is also a great musical action sequence but doesn't quite live up to this one. 

    84. High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008) — "A Night to Remember"

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    Song(s) used: "A Night to Remember"

    Performed by: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Chris Warren, Olesya Rulin, Ryne Sanborn, and Kaycee Stroh

    As with most of the musicals on this list, choosing just one number from HSM3 became incredibly difficult, especially since no single song really jumps out of this, the doofiest of the trilogy. This prom-theme number, however, is a blast and recently earned a resurgence on TikTok. Part of the film's ludicrous "we're doing a play about OURSELVES" plot line, this song features the characters pretending to be themselves going to prom in a (fully costumed) rehearsal for the school play about their senior year. While the script is enough to drive you batty, the staging here is a lot of fun with the cardboard sets and extended dance choreography. While I love a number of HSM3's selection, this one feels the most show-stopping and unique to the third installment. Also, I defy anyone to find an uglier set of prom dresses. Truly HIDEOUS especially Monique Colemans.

    83. 8 Mile (2002) — Ending Rap Battles

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    Song(s) used: N/A

    Performed by: Eminem, Anthony Mackie, Gerald L. "Strike" Sanders, and Nashawn "Ox" Breedlove

    If you are asking yourself, "Why didn't he pick 'Lose Yourself'?" That would be because that is actually the end credits song of 8 Mile and not one performed during the film. While "Lose Yourself" is the enduring legacy of the film, and would have placed much higher had it been eligible, Eminem's freestyle rapping (as B-Rabbit) is not something to scoff at. Obviously, the freestyle rapping is scripted (this is a movie), but Eminem is a talented wordsmith and he's at his best in the film when he's getting to rap rather than act. His final battles against a trio of challengers is certainly a shining moment. 

    82. The Santa Clause 2 (2002) — "Man! I Feel Like Some Christmas!"

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    Song(s) used: "Man! I Feel Like Some Christmas!" a parody of Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" 

    Performed by: Molly Shannon

    This quick moment from The Santa Clause 2 (which is actually good unlike the third film or the new TV series) is an outlier on the list for really no production value at all. Molly Shannon as a terrifying Christmas-obsessed first date for Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) starts singing a Christmas-themed rendition of Shania Twain's song at a packed restaurant, bursts from the table for everyone to see, and then stalks off when Scott isn't into it. It is honestly the high point of the film, and Molly Shannon's delivery proves just how incredible she is. 

    81. Crazy Rich Asians (2018) — The Proposal

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    Song(s) used: "Yellow" by Coldplay in Mandarin

    Performed by: Katherine Ho

    Crazy Rich Asians's soundtrack really shows you what a smart film this is. Not only did they stack the set list with money-themed tunes, but they also went out of their way to record versions of those songs sung in Asian languages rather than English. Another brilliant choice made by the music team was to snag Coldplay's song "Yellow", a move that took much cajoling and explaining from the filmmakers as Coldplay was initially hesitant given the word's derogatory past with the Asian community. The Mandarin version, however, is stunning and its use over the film's final scenes leaves the audience in the perfect state. If only the team behind this incredible soundtrack could get the sequels up and running. We've been waiting too long for the sequel!

    80. Baby Driver (2017) — Opening Heist

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    Song(s) used: "Bellbottoms"

    Performed by: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

    Due to the inclusion of both Ansel Elgort and Kevin Spacey in the cast, Baby Driver is a little bit of a cursed film at the moment, but its music choices are impeccable. Elgort's character, Baby, a getaway driver for a band of thieves, suffers from tinnitus, and so listens to music nearly constantly to keep the ringing at bay. To correspond with this, Baby usually has headphones in and the soundtrack (which plays over most of the film) corresponds to whatever he's listening to. The opening chase scene set to "Bellbottoms" worked out perfectly as a musical action sequence and sets the stage for all the good tunes to come. 

    79. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) — Opening Credits/Star-Lord's Walkman

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    Song(s) used: "Come and Get Your Love"

    Performed by: Redbone

    Somewhat similar to Baby, Chris Pratt's Star-Lord is also obsessed with listening to music on his headphones. And like Baby Driver, Guardians of the Galaxy is then soundtracked with the main character's music. In Guardians, that music is from the '60s and '70s because that's what his family listened to back on Earth, and the oldies do a great job of differentiating this Marvel superhero flick tonally from the dozens of others scored mostly with superhero-y orchestral numbers. The soundtrack of the film became an instant hit, and its sequel followed the same playbook. While there were lots of fun numbers to choose from for this list, I opted for the opening credits scene as it's fun and also establishes the concept. 

    78. Call Me by Your Name (2017) — End Credits

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    Song(s) used: "Visions of Gideon" 

    Performed by: Sufjan Stevens

    As with choosing the rap battle over "Lose Yourself" in 8 Mile, this is certainly not the most well-known song from the Best Picture nominee. Sufjan Stevens' "Mystery of Love" was the Oscar nominee and the more lauded piece. HOWEVER, that song plays over a travel montage, and for me, while the song is great, I think the scene as a whole doesn't stand out as much as the extended take of Timothee Chalamet sobbing over the end credits to "Visions of Gideon" (also a great song). The party scene where Elio and Oliver (Armie Hammer) dance to "Love My Way" is another strong contender. The ode to the potency of young queer love really was boasting a killer soundtrack. 

    77. Trainwreck (2015) — Amy Performs with the Knicks City Dancers

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    Song(s) used: "Tambourine", "Let's Get Ridiculous", "Uptown Girl", "I Think I Love You", and "B.o.b."

    Performed by: Eve, Redfoo, Billy Joel, The Partridge Family, and Outkast

    I love a rom-com. I love a choreographed dance. I love a grand gesture. This scene, in which Amy (Amy Schumer) performs a choreographed dance with the New York Knicks' dance team in order to declare her love for Aaron (Bill Hader), delivers on all three. Trainwreck is so delightful because neither Hader nor Schumer seem like traditional rom-com leads and both are playing quirkier humans than we typically see in these roles. This over-the-top, odd-but-sweet ending feels just right for the pair, and Schumer's dancing, a half step behind feels so relatable to anyone who's ever struggled through a dance workout class. This is the perfect end to this film even if it does leave Amy injured. 

    76. Freaky Friday (2003) — House of Blues Concert

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    Song(s) used: "Take Me Away"

    Performed by: Christina Vidal and Lindsay Lohan

    For most of the scenes so far, the music has been either set-dressing on an already good film or one of many musical numbers in a musical. Freaky Friday levels up, however, by weaving music into its climactic moment, forcing the body-swapped mother and daughter to come to terms with each other at a concert for Anna's (Lindsay Lohan) band while Anna is filled with the consciousness of Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis). The garage band-style performance perfectly juxtaposes the rock-n-roll aesthetic of Anna with the up-tight vibe of Tess. The guitar solo moment is incredible, and watching Lindsay Lohan look so incredibly awkward with a guitar demonstrates yet again that she is an incredible actor. (Watch Falling for Christmas if you haven't already.) (I really wanted to include The Parent Trap on this list but realized it was too old.) (This is not the last Lindsay you will see on here.) (I get that the fortune cookie bit is slightly racist, but I can NEVER eat one without thinking of this movie.) 

    75. The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021) — The Mitchells Fight the Machines

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    Song(s) used: "Live Your Life" 

    Performed by: T.I. and Rihanna

    Polishing off the bottom quarter of this list with a great moment from one of last year's under-appreciated Best Animated Feature nominees. The Mitchells vs the Machines is a delightful post-apocalyptic comedy in which ruthless AI Olivia Colman attempts to take over the world. The dimwitted Mitchells are fighting back with not much skill but a lot of heart, and the father/daughter combo both love "Live Your Life" by T.I feat. Rihanna (because they have great taste, IMHO). In the film's climactic battle scene, they blast the bop and whoop ass. Maya Rudolph is also incredible voicing the mother of the family because Maya Rudolph has never given a bad performance. 

    74. Skyfall (2012) — Opening Credits

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    Song(s) used: "Skyfall"

    Performed by: Adele

    Adele took home an Oscar for her theme song from the (quote me) best Daniel Craig Bond film. In fact, the song was so good, they accidentally gave Sam Smith an Oscar for his (quote me) sucky theme to Spectre just remembering the high of "Skyfall". While the James Bond opening credit sequences are a trademark of the series, they aren't always the most compelling bit of viewing. Adele's powerful voice, however, elevates the ho-hum graphics to a place of magic, and launches the film on an upward trajectory. Adele having an Oscar feels right and good in the world, and every Bond singer from now to eternity will be living in her shadow. 

    73. Rocketman (2019) — "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)"

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    Song(s) used: "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)"

    Performed by: Taron Egerton and Kit Connor

    FIRST. Did you realize that Heartstopper's Kit Conner played baby Elton John in Rocketman? Because I did not until rewatching this scene for the article. But moving on, Rocketman, while struggling under many of the usual music biopic tropes (evil manager, drug binge, rehab, epic concert), breaks out of the genre when it moves into fantastical numbers like this one. While young Elton is performing, we see him imagine leaving the bar, attending a carnival, and watching all passersby participate in an elaborately choreographed routine. The one-shot take is a standout moment from the film with both Egerton and Conner able to demonstrate their charisma. Plus I'll always be a sucker for group choreo. I've been listening to this song on runs ever since. 

    72. Straight Outta Compton (2015) — Recording "Fuck tha Police"

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    Song(s) used: "Fuck tha Police"

    Performed by: N.W.A

    Because N.W.A is a group rather than an individual, their biopic differs a bit from Rocketman and the other solo acts on this list. There is inherently more drama because of competing egos, and, set against the '80s LA gang scene, the film has got a lot more grit to it. What the film lacks in splashy dance numbers, it makes up for in powerful performances from the ensemble cast. The recording of their hit "Fuck tha Police" is one of the film's high points, especially as the performance of the song will become a controversial sticking point with the local governments of the towns they perform in. It should be noted that Ice Cube is played in the film by his own son, who is starring in the most deranged film of 2023, Cocaine Bear

    71. The Great Gatsby (2013) — Gatsby's Party

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    Song(s) used: "Bing Bang" and "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)"

    Performed by: Will.I.Am. and Fergie, Q-Tip, and Goonrock

    One of the key details of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel is the outlandish parties that Gatsby throws. In order to live up to what Fitzgerald describes, Baz Luhrmann was given a nearly impossible task when recreating the Roaring Twenties' most wild and lavish extravaganzas. Swapping out old jazz staples for modern pop/R&B hits, Luhrmann infuses the film with energy, and the signature party scene surpasses every expectation. Never has there been a party in real life that is this fun. Never has everyone dressed so well. The Black Eyed Peas-fueled rager is exactly what the novel demanded of the film, and it remains a musical highpoint of Luhrmann's musical cinematic journey. (Sorry Elvis, you will not be making this list.) 

    70. Miss Congeniality (2000) — Miss United States Opening

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    Song(s) used: "One in a Million"

    Performed by: Bosson

    The premise of Miss Congeniality is one of the all-time greats: a boorish FBI agent has to go undercover as a beauty queen because a terrorist is going to attack the Miss United States pageant. And while the film is endlessly quotable ("harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan"), it also hits every beat of the schlocky '90s beauty pageant circuit from the bizarre talents and weak sauce Q&A to the bewildering opening group performance. "Gracie Lou Freebush" (Sandra Bullock with the best fictional name ever devised), is a klutz but must perform a Statue of Liberty-themed number with her 49 competitors. The look is instantly iconic, the song is catchy, and it's the perfect bit of musical pizzazz to pump up the grand finale. 

    69. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) — Homecoming

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    Song(s) used: "Come On Eileen" 

    Performed by: Dexy Midnight Runners

    The PERFECT film adaptation of Stephen Chbosky's coming-of-age novel is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to a non-musical film. There's the Rocky Horror Picture Show sequence, there's the Fort Pitt Tunnel scene with Sam (Emma Watson) sticking out of the car, and then there's the homecoming dance. This is the scene where Charlie (Logan Lerman)  goes from being a wallflower to a main character, and arguably the turning point of the entire film. "Come On Eileen" starts to play, Sam and Patrick (Ezra Miller) start dancing as if their life depends on it, and then as the song builds into its final chorus, Charlie slowly walks to the center of the dance floor and joins in. Pure magic, and proof AGAIN that Emma Watson can deliver in a dance sequence. 

    68. Vox Lux (2018) — Celeste's Concert

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    Song(s) used: "Wrapped Up", "Blinded by Lov,e" "Firecracker," "Sweat and Tears," "Private Girl", and "EKG"

    Performed by: Natalie Portman

    Vox Lux is actually one of the most recklessly unhinged films to have ever been made. Starting with a school shooting scene, and then following survivor Celeste (Raffey Cassidy/Natalie Portman) through her life as a heavily accented pop star, the film was divisive and seen by almost no one in theaters. Portman is giving a balls-to-the-walls performance that, IMHO, should have landed her an Oscar nomination, but alas. The film is capped off, however, with an extended concert sequence in which Portman performs a series of six auto-tuned songs as if she is a Britney Spears-esque pop star. It is a testament to Portman's commitment and talent, and the songs are honestly catchy. Give us more films about fictional pop stars, please. 

    67. The Lego Movie (2014) — Emmet Brickowski Goes To Work

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    Song(s) used: "Everything Is Awesome" 

    Performed by: Tegan and Sara and The Lonely Island

    "Everything Is Awesome" is one of those...awesome...songs that have become synonymous with a film in pop culture. It is impossible not to think of The Lego Movie when you hear the song or to start humming the song when you think about the film. It's used in the opening, throughout the film, in the credits, in the sequel. Truly anywhere they could cram it in. Because of that, there isn't one particular scene that stands out as strongly (and that's why this isn't ranked higher), but the opening "on my way to work" montage is where the song is first introduced, so I selected that scene for this list. The Oscar performance is also a high point in Lego-related content that year. 

    66. High School Musical 2 (2007) — "Fabulous"

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    Song(s) used: "Fabulous" 

    Performed by: Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel

    Nearly twenty slots up from HSM3, HSM2, while working with a smaller budget, is delivering more full-blown iconic numbers. OBVIOUSLY, I was going to put at least one Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) song on this list, and while this is not her best song (that would be "I Want It All" from HSM3) it is certainly her most well-known. ("Turkey imported from May-e-a-e-aine" COME ON!) It's Sharpay's country club, and it's Sharpay's film, so "Fabulous" feels like THE song to represent the film. While "I Don't Dance" and "Gotta Go My Own Way" are equally noteworthy, they feel less connected to the HSM2 summer break ethos, and the openers and closers of HSM2 definitely pale to those of its prequel and sequel. I would also like to say that HSM2 also boasts the worst song of the franchise, which is obviously "Work This Out" (and which Ashley Tisdale wisely opted out of). 

    65. Gloria (2013) — The Wedding Reception

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    Song(s) used: "Gloria"

    Performed by: Umberto Tozzi

    Oh, to have a theme song all to yourself! In Sebastian Lelio's Chilean film about a middle-aged woman trying to determine what to do with her life, Gloria (Paulina Garcia) after dealing with a whole film's worth of shit, attends a wedding and hears "Gloria" being played on the dance floor. Reluctant at first, she starts dancing her heart out by the end, throwing her problems aside and just vibing. Such a joyful way to end a film, and one that the American remake, Gloria Bell, also uses, subbing in Julianne Moore as Gloria. (The Nest also tries something similar with Carrie Coon.) IDK if the song came first or the name of the character, but melding the two is brilliant. 

    64. Us (2019) — The Tylers' Murder

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    Song(s) used: "Good Vibrations" and "Fuck tha Police"

    Performed by: The Beach Boys and N.W.A

    After the prolonged horror which is the attack on the Wilson family by their doppelgängers, we get a brief moment of comedic (if still bloody) reprieve that is their white friends, the Tylers, getting offed in a much less suspenseful fashion. While the Beach Boys play on an Alexa-wannabe called "Ophelia" Elisabeth Moss and Co., are quickly dispensed with, but as Moss is bleeding out with her scissor-wielding assailants closing in for the final slice, she attempts to get Ophelia to call the police. In an incredible gag, the useless AI plays "Fuck tha Police" instead, and she dies to N.W.A. Another incredible example of how music can be expertly utilized in films that aren't giving high kick-fueled musical numbers. 

    63. Tangerine (2015) — Alexandra's Performance

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    Song(s) used: "Toyland" 

    Performed by: Mya Taylor

    Tangerine is one of my favorite films of all time and follows a pair of trans sex workers around Los Angeles for a day as they attempt to track down a pimp, stumbling into a series of misadventures along the way. In one of the film's sweetest moments, Alexandra (Mya Taylor) performs at a local bar. Her bestie Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is the supportive friend, appearing at the gig as her only fan and dragging her prisoner (the pimp's new girlfriend) in tow. The musical number is a beautiful tribute to trans artists and gracefully depicts the dreams and heartbreaks of so many trans people who desire to be loved and appreciated in the same way their cis peers are. If you haven't watched the film (and this scene), I cannot recommend it enough. 

    62. Booksmart (2019) — The Swimming Pool

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    Song(s) used: "Slip Away"

    Performed by: Perfume Genius

    This scene is way longer than it has any right to be. It's nearly an entire song's length spent just watching Kaitlyn Dever swim around underwater in a swimming pool. It should have been trimmed, and yet it works in its long, unwieldy glory. Dever's Amy follows the girl she has a crush on to the pool of a house party, strips, and submerges herself into the euphoria of being young and cool and in love. After basking in this revelry (and "Slip Away" by Perfume Genius) for nearly two minutes, she emerges to find her crush making out with her best friend's crush, ensuring a horrible night for them both. The song's arc is PERFECTLY paired with the emotion of the sequence and letting it build for so long just makes the resolution all the more sickening. Plus it's shot so well, you forget the pool is probably full of beer, and piss, and several STIs. 

    61. Spencer (2021) — Driving Away from Sandringham

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    Song(s) used: "All I Need Is A Miracle" 

    Performed by: Mike + The Mechanics on the radio, Kristen Stewart, Jack Nielen, and Freddie Spry singing along

    Like Booksmart, last year's Princess Diana biopic also relies on the perfect song to carry off the climactic scene. In Spencer, Lady Di (Oscar nominee Kristen Stewart) spends Christmas with the royal family, suffering under the burden of fame, scrutiny from the Windsors, and her husband's infidelity. Resolving to divorce, she flees the palace with her sons in the film's final moments, driving her convertible back to London while singing "All I Need Is A Miracle" at the top of her lungs with her two boys. They end up at KFC, she gives the name "Spencer" for the order, and they munch on chicken while overlooking the Tower Bridge. What more could one ask for? 

    60. RRR (2022) — "Naatu Naatu"

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    Song(s) used: "Naatu Naatu"

    Performed by: Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava

    For those unfamiliar with Tollywood and Bollywood cinema (Indian films made in the Telugu and Hindi languages, respectively), action films and full-out song-and-dance musicals may seem to be two completely different categories. In films like this year's smash success, RRR, however, two kick-ass action leads, who save people from train crashes and fight with wild tigers, can also deliver impressive choreographed musical numbers. In an especially joyous moment in this film about two Indian revolutionaries, the leads participate in a dance battle against the stuffy Brits. The song made the Oscar shortlist for Best Original Song, and is certainly one of this year's standouts. I'm praying it gets nominated so we can see a reenactment of this number on the Oscar stage. 

    59. The Phantom of the Opera (2004) — "Masquerade"

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    Song(s) used: "Masquerade" 

    Performed by: The cast of The Phantom of the Opera 

    With the notable exception of Cats, we have not gotten into the Broadway juggernauts-turned-movies just yet. Of recent adaptations, Phantom is one of the least beloved, perhaps because the theater-set musical isn't helped that much in becoming a film (still set on a stage), and perhaps because the vocally difficult numbers suffered from a cast of actors not quite up to the task. The biggest spectacle of the film, and the number most aided by a film transfer, is Masquerade which can be much bigger in film and is bolstered by a strong ensemble of voices. The costumes and choreography are exquisite, and the Phantom's entrance at the end of the song is a marvelous juxtaposition of the frivolity. Phantom is sort of an icky story when you think about it, but BOY ARE THOSE SONGS GOOD. Andrew Lloyd Weber sure as hell can write. 

    58. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) — Song-a-Long

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    Song(s) used: "Believe", "Ray of Light", "Waterloo," "Ne partez pas sans moi," and "I Gotta Feeling"

    Performed by: John Lundvik, Anna Obobescu, Bilal Hassani, Loreen, Jessy Matador, Petra Nielsen, Will Ferrell, Jamala, Erik Mjones, Molly Sanden, Elina Nechayeva, and Conchita Wurst

    While Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (yes, we must use the full title) has one of the most stacked soundtracks in recent years, it was a no-brainer to me to include the Song-a-Long as my entry on this list. While songs like "Husavik" (the Oscar nominee) and "Double Trouble" (the radio hit) played larger roles in the film's plot, the real tribute to the lunacy of Eurovision is this mashup of songs performed by actual past contestants. It's sort of like "We Are the World" meets Pitch Perfect but with Will Ferrell just randomly popping up in the mix. It perfectly encompasses the joy of this fantastic film, and I will be listening to the soundtrack on repeat for the rest of the day. 

    57. Rent (2005) — "La Vie Boheme"

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    Song(s) used: "La Vie Boheme" 

    Performed by: The cast of Rent

    As with The Phantom of the Opera, the Rent film adaptation is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality. Some of the original Broadway cast appear alongside some newbies, and while some of the numbers go big with the larger scope a film provides, some felt a bit wobbly. This big restaurant number however features the entire ensemble and is endless amounts of fun to watch as the cast performs chaotic choreography with a messy vigor that a stage just can't provide. 

    56. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) — "Please Mr. Kennedy"

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    Song(s) used: "Please Mr. Kennedy"

    Performed by: Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver

    The Coen Brothers' musical/comedy/drama about a folk singer fighting against malaise provides a wealth of melancholy guitar-heavy numbers, and the soundtrack was the first album I ever bought on vinyl. While Oscar Isaac's solo crooning on "Fare Thee Well" and the Justin Timberlake/Carey Mulligan number "Five Hundred Miles" are both well worth a listen, I opted to include the scene in which Isaac's Davis, in need of cash, sells out to perform a pop jingle with Timberlake and Adam Driver instead. The song is annoyingly catchy, Driver's weird sound effects are a joy to behold (especially since he was just an unknown character actor when I saw this originally), and Isaac is great playing a man whose joy is draining from his eyes in real-time. 

    55. Jojo Rabbit (2019) — Jojo and Elsa Dance

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    Song(s) used: "Heroes" 

    Performed by: David Bowie

    Getting back to non-musicals, Taika Waititi's Best Picture nominee certainly knows how to use music, weaving together a Michael Giacchino score with classical music and more recent pop songs. In the film's final moments, when Jojo and Elsa realize that World War II has ended and they have nowhere to go, the pair stare at each other and start slowly to dance. While neither of them are playing music within the film's story, David Bowie's "Heroes" kicks in ending the often heartbreaking moment on a hope-filled note. Between this scene and the car scene in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, "Heroes" is one of the most well-utilized songs in recent film history. 

    54. White Noise (2022) — End Credits

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    Song(s) used: "New Body Rhumba" 

    Performed by: LCD Soundsystem

    The White Noise end credit song is the entire impetus for this list. Upon watching it on opening day of the New York Film Festival, I began plotting how to build a whole list of magical musical moments like this one. Armed with an exquisite grocery store set of production design splendor and an original song from LCD Soundsystem (both of which should be winning Oscars this year), the film delivers the most entertaining end credits I've ever seen. The whole chaotic, stylized, post-apocalyptic fever dream of a film, based on Don DeLillo's famous novel, is wonderful, but the choreographed end credits are next-level genius. Watching the entire cast and dozens of well-costumed extras prowl around aisles of soap and potato chips is something I will do for years to come. If this clip is ever removed from YouTube, I will need a prescription for Dylar. 

    53. V for Vendetta (2005) — Parliament's Bombing

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    Song(s) used: Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture 

    Performed by: London Symphony Orchestra

    While I am purposefully not including scenes that rely on the score of the film (and therefore orchestral music has largely been left off this list), V's repeated use of classical music as an element of his theatrical undermining of the fictional, post-apocalyptic, Fascist government, utilizes the genre perfectly. In the film's final moments, after V himself has died, Natalie Portman's Evey watches as Big Ben explodes, perfectly timed to Tchaikovsky. V for Vendetta is a tribute to art, to queerness, to the triumph of goodness and truth over hatred, and of course to music. This scene encapsulates it all in a powerful ending that gives me goosebumps every single time I watch it. 

    52. Captain Fantastic (2016) — Leslie's Cremation

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    Song(s) used: "Sweet Child O Mine"

    Performed by: George MacKay, Viggo Mortensen, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Kirk Ross, and Philip Klein

    I have watched dozens, if not hundreds, of cinematic funerals over the years and this is perhaps the most memorable and magical one of the lot. After his wife Leslie dies, Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his hoard of children, who live off the grid in a radical alternative lifestyle, attempt to honor her wishes to be cremated and flushed down a toilet. When her family refuses and gives her a Christian burial, the Cashes dig up the body, and perform a beautiful lake-side tribute to their mother including a performance of Guns N Roses' "Sweet Child O Mine." It's moving, celebratory, and prompted me to text my friends and say "if I ever die I too need to be cremated and sang to."

    51. Pitch Perfect (2012) — The Finals

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    Song(s) used: "Price Tag," "Don't You (Forget About Me)," and "Give Me Everything"

    Performed by: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Kelley Jakle, Wanetah Walmsley, Shelley Regner, Caroline Fourmy, and Nicole Lovince

    Love them or hate them, it's hard to find a more popular series of musicals in the 2000s than the Pitch Perfect films (except of course for HSM). While all three films dole out fun pop-infused, a cappella numbers, the first film is definitely the strongest when it comes to the script (apologies to the exploding boat in PP3). While the original includes a number of iconic moments, they all culminate in the Barden Bella's final performance which mashes up songs from throughout the film and remixes their signature flight attendant look. Pitch Perfect will never not be an exquisite plane movie as well, IMHO (but perhaps that's just the neckerchiefs speaking). 

    50. Girls Trip (2017) — Dance Off

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    Song(s) used: "Bling Bling," "Bad Chick," "Bad Bitches," and "She's a Bitch"

    Performed by: B.G., Brittany B and Chizzy, Lil Jon, Keno, Kronic, Onderkoffer, and Missy Elliott

    Bringing us into the top half of the list, we have a dance battle, because WHO DOESN'T LOVE A DANCE BATTLE? The film about four college besties (the Flossy Posse) who reunite in New Orleans is a wealth of hilarity (Kate Walsh drinking the candle wax sends me every time), but one of the most memorable scenes happens when the Posse runs into the girlfriend of Ryan's (Regina Hall) cheating husband in a club. Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish bring out some old-school moves (and colored wigs) in an attempt to school the young new twerkers. And since peeing from a zipline on Bourbon Street didn't qualify as a musical number, this is Girls Trip's magnificent entry. 

    49. (500) Days of Summer (2009) — Walking to Work

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    Song(s) used: "You Make My Dreams" 

    Performed by: Hall & Oates

    Like Juno, this rom-com falls squarely in the realm of "soundtrack movie", but much to the delight of viewers, this Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle upped the whimsey. The film, which flashes back and forth in time to detail a fraught relationship (between two flawed individuals audiences love to call villains), changes its tone depending on whether Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is in a good mood or not. In one particularly euphoric moment, he heads to work in a full musical number (complete with Cinderella-esque animated birds). It's so inventive and out of left field that you can't help but let it live rent-free in your mind. While the film has grown consistently more divisive in recent years, everyone seems to love this scene. 

    48. Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004) — G7 Summit

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    Song(s) used: "War" 

    Performed by: Alfie Allen

    Don't remember this scene? Think Agent Cody Banks 2 has no cultural relevance? Think I'm stupid for listing it so high? Well tough luck, buttercup, because this is my list, and this IS one of the greatest music-infused fight scenes of our generation. First, the whole scene is set up nicely to work within the plot as Cody (Frankie Muniz) is sent undercover to a teen orchestra that is going to be playing for the G7 Summit. Primed with a relevant backstory, the orchestra is tasked with vamping to keep the world leaders in the dining room while Cody faces off against the big bad. Having run out of material, the orchestra prompts Alfie Allen (yes Theon Greyjoy himself) to perform the Motown hit "War". While the orchestra plays a vamped-up version of the score that somehow meshes perfectly with "War" (a song not meant for the orchestra), Cody does back flips, swings nunchucks, and battles with an elephant tusk. The whole scene is set to the music perfectly. Don't believe me? Ask the Queen Elizabeth impersonator who is VIBING to the beat. 

    47. Easy A (2010) — "Pocketful of Sunshine"

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    Song(s) used: "Pocketful of Sunshine"

    Performed by: Natasha Bedingfield

    Ah, the phenomenon of the musical birthday card. Are these still a thing? I have not got one in a while, but back in 2010, they were all the rage. Olive (Emma Stone) receives a greeting card that plays "Pocketful of Sunshine" from her grandmother in the opening credits and quickly finds out it's an earworm (something we knew already). Spending her whole weekend listening to THE CARD (get this woman an iPod shuffle), Olive runs the card's battery out (something I don't think has been done intentionally in the history of greeting cards). The scene perfectly sets up the hilarious twist on The Scarlet Letter and launched Emma Stone to stardom. 

    46. The Greatest Showman (2017) — "This Is Me"

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    Song(s) used: "This Is Me"

    Performed by: Keala Settle

    Here's another of those movies you had to know was going to pop up somewhere on this list. The Greatest Showman is one of the most recent truly great, completely original movie musicals, and even though the historicity of its circus plot line is dubious at best (I cannot for one second believe P.T. Barnum was this altruistic) the songs are bops. While I could have selected the Zac Efron x Zendaya collab, "Rewrite the Stars," the big belter, "Never Enough," or my personal favorite, "Come Alive," I ultimately opted for that year's Oscar-nominated track instead. Built on the tremendous voice of bearded lady Keala Settle, the self-empowerment anthem starts quiet and builds into a raucous dance number. This is certainly the film's showstopper, and its cultural resonance is well-earned. 

    45. After Yang (2021) — Opening Credits

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    Song(s) used: "Welcome to Family of 4"

    Performed by: Aska Matsumiya

    If White Noise is taking the prize for 2022's best end credits musical moment, then this futuristic film wins the best opening credits. The family of four participates in a Just Dance-esque game in which they can win money as the credits roll, but even though we begin with Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith (who incidentally is also in White Noise), Justin H. Min, and Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, the film's whole cast quickly gets involved. We swap between the families for several minutes of uninterrupted dance moves until Jake (Farrell) finally screws up the choreography and eliminates his clan. I have watched this sequence dozens of times and have been playing the song on runs since last spring. 

    44. Big Fat Liar (2002) — Marty Wolf Turns Blue

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    Song(s) used: "Hungry Like the Wolf" and Jaws score

    Performed by: Duran Duran and John Williams

    Well, wouldn't you know? Another Frankie Muniz film has made the list. (Can you tell who my favorite actor as a tween was?) I do unironically think that this film about best friends who fly to Hollywood to prove they actually wrote a script for the summer blockbuster is one of the greatest films of my lifetime. I have watched this movie more than any other. I know most of the dialogue by heart. Amanda Bynes is at the peak of her game. The soundtrack is fire. The supporting cast (including John Cho, Taren Killam, and Sandra Oh) is iconic. And the pool scene that turns Paul Giamatti's Marty Wolf (Pictures. Please hold.) is the stuff of legends. Jason and Kaylee (Muniz and Bynes) dye the pool water. Wolf comes out in his speedo, starts blaring Duran Duran, dances with his towel, and finally swims laps. The transition of "Hungry Like the Wolf" (such a perfect song selection) into the Jaws score is also brilliant given the movie-themed film. Really I could make a list of just the best 100 moments from Big Fat Liar without breaking a sweat, but this is top of the heap. 

    43. Shrek (2001) — Opening Credits

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    Song(s) used: "All Star"

    Performed by: Smash Mouth

    Despite being an animated fairy tale that's heavy on the music, Shrek is not really a musical in the way its Disney counterparts are. And while the characters do sing a collection of hits at the end of the film (and in the sequel's American Idol bit), the music is mostly just used as a stellar soundtrack. While the "I'm a Believer" scene at Shrek's end is wonderful, I opted to include the opening credits instead. While Smash Mouth's "All Star" was certainly a hit before its use in Shrek, it became ubiquitous in pop culture because of this film. Whether you love the song or it makes you want to tear your hair out, you're always going to associate it with your favorite ogre. 

    42. Hairspray (2007) — "Welcome to the 60's"

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    Song(s) used: "Welcome to the 60's"

    Performed by: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Tanee McCall, Nadine Ellis, Arike Rice, and Jerry Stiller

    Another of the 2000s Broadway adaptations, Hairspray, like those who have come before it on this list, presented me with a wealth of songs to choose from. I ultimately opted for this upbeat, set piece that features the film's two leads Nikki Blonsky and John Travolta singing together while buying new dresses. The song is so catchy, and the dancing so fun that I naturally assumed that this was the Act I closer on Broadway. I was SHOCKED to find out five minutes ago that it ludicrously ends with "Big Blonde and Beautiful" instead, a song that is entirely forgettable, IMHO. For all of Travolta's weird roles as of late, he is perfect casting in Hairspray and this is his best moment in the film. 

    41. Burning (2018) — Hae-mi Dances

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    Song(s) used: "Generique"

    Performed by: Miles Davis

    Burning, the South Korean Oscar submission from 2018, is a perfect film. A romance, a mystery, a twist ending. Every time you think you know where it's headed, the film takes an about turn. The love triangle between Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), and Ben (Steven Yeun) reaches its climax when the trio visits a farmhouse and Hae-mi dances topless while staring into the setting sun. The gorgeous moment (and the whole film is gorgeous) is haunting and becomes an image cemented in the viewer's mind as you dive into the film's second half. Not every musical moment needs to be a bombastic, choreographed number. Sometimes music can be employed in quiet ways that are just as effective. 

    40. Elf (2003) — "Baby It's Cold Outside"

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    Song(s) used: "Baby It's Cold Outside"

    Performed by: Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel

    Shocking given the ubiquitousness of Christmas music and the seemingly thousands of new Christmas movies that arrive each year that this is only the second Christmas film to make the list (unless, of course, you count Spencer). I think this speaks to the larger issue, which is that very few actually solid holiday films have been released since the '90s. Elf, however, is a cold stone (coal?) classic, and this creepy-yet-hilarious scene where Buddy (Will Ferrell) wanders into the women's locker room at Macy's (which like why is that a thing?) is iconic. While "Baby It's Cold Outside" itself has had a rebrand in recent years as the original was a bit rapey, its call-and-response structure works perfectly here and sets up the Buddy/Jovie romance. Also, Zooey Deschanel is clearly good casting for musical movies, FYI. 

    39. Coco (2017) — "Remember Me"

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    Song(s) used: "Remember Me"

    Performed by: Anthony Gonzalez and Ana Ofelia Murguia

    Welcome our second Oscar winner (and fourth nominee) to the list. While "Remember Me" is certainly one of the most sedate songs to crack this list, I can't think of a track that packs more of a punch. Its simplicity is part of its charm and when Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) sings it to his grandma Coco, the whole film coalesces in a gut punch that will leave you sobbing. I don't know if a dry eye has ever passed through a screening of this film, and it is this tender, intergenerational moment that is almost sure to bring on the waterworks. 

    38. Tick, Tick...Boom! (2021) — "Sunday"

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    Song(s) used: "Sunday" 

    Performed by: Andrew Garfield, Andre De Shields, Bebe Neuwirth, Beth Malone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Chita Rivera, Chuck Cooper, Howard McGillian, Joel Grey, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Phylicia Rashad, Bernadette Peters, Adam Pascal, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, and Lin-Manuel Miranda

    If you're looking for a number that screams BROADWAY louder than all others, you've found it in this beautiful brunch-themed number. Despite the stage version of Tick, Tick...Boom! never having made it to Broadway (something that needs to be rectified in the near future, IMHO), it's based on a show created by Broadway legend and Rent creator, Jonathan Larson. The film is directed by Broadway legend and Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and this particular number is BURSTING with other Broadway legends playing diner goers. Andrew Garfield (who plays Larson) is joined in this dreamy number by the most spectacular line of cameos the theater world has ever seen. The only real omission from the lineup was Milky White

    37. 13 Going on 30 (2004) — "Thriller" Dance

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    Song(s) used: "Thriller"

    Performed by: Michael Jackson

    We're moving into increasingly iconic territory as we reach the top of this star-studded list, and 13 Going on 30 is an iconic film for us millennials who watched it for the first time in our early teens and have now passed the line of demarcation into our thirty-somethings. While I shudder to promote Michael Jackson too openly, his "Thriller" music video, and especially the choreography, is a cultural touchstone. How many of us have learned (or at least attempted to learn) the choreo over the years? In this joyful scene from the body-swap rom-com, Jennifer Garner's Jenna drags Mark Ruffalo's Matt onto the dance floor to perform the dance before being joined by everyone at the event (who really pull off an excellent impromptu flash mob). It encapsulates the child wonder that we often forget as adults, and creates the most memorable scene in the film. 

    36. Marriage Story (2019) — Charlie Performs "Being Alive"

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    Song(s) used: "Being Alive"

    Performed by: Adam Driver

    Company just might be my favorite musical of all time. The songs are SO GOOD and the story of a single 35-year-old coming to grips with his life is all too relatable. Noah Baumbach (who always uses music well in his films) deploys the musical's closing number perfectly here as Charlie (Adam Driver) newly single grapples with what life looks like for him as someone unmarried. Driver is not delivering the most vocally stunning performance of this song, but he's giving a glorious karaoke version of it that includes him singing all of the ensemble parts of the song and not just the Bobby bits. If only Patti LuPone could have shown up to perform "Ladies Who Lunch" directly after he'd finished. 

    35. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) — "Super Trooper"

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    Song(s) used: "Super Trooper"

    Performed by: Cher, Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Andy Garcia, Josh Dylan, Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner, Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, and Alexa Davies

    Mamma Mia (and don't you worry she's coming) is a nearly perfect movie (the nearly is mostly a result of Pierce Brosnan). So why even attempt to make a sequel, especially when most of the good ABBA songs had been plucked for the first? The second, however, is bigger, campier, and more ridiculous than the first, leaning into exactly what fans loved about the original. And the biggest, campiest, and most ridiculous moment in the sequel is when the entire cast (timelines, aging, and death be damned) appear together for the final closing number. They're all wearing matching outfits. They're singing with the younger/older versions of themselves. And they're all in one place in a way that other ensemble numbers of recent memory, stitched together with CGI, could only dream of. I'm waiting for Mamma Mia 3, and will immediately update this list to include when I get the first teaser poster. 

    34. Aftersun (2022) — "Under Pressure"

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    A24 / Via

    Song(s) used: "Under Pressure" 

    Performed by: Queen

    Aftersun is easily one of 2022's best films. Don't believe me? Check out our list of the best films of 2022 (which I also happened to write). And while the film as a whole, is not a particularly musical one (although there is a great karaoke scene), it uses an otherworldly dream sequence at the film's climax to examine how we process grief. I don't want to give away anything more about the plot or the musical moment, as you may not have seen this indie film yet, BUT you definitely need to check it out. 

    33. Les Miserables (2012) — "I Dreamed a Dream"

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    Universal Pictures / Via

    Song(s) used: "I Dreamed a Dream" 

    Performed by: Anne Hathaway

    We land on another Broadway staple turned cinematic hit, and OBVIOUSLY, I chose the Anne Hathaway number for this list. First, Anne won an Oscar for this scene specifically, and there are very few people on this list who can say that. Second, the cast of the film is a bit flimsy, IMHO, and so some of the musical's better numbers are handed to people who either a) sound like a frog (sorry Eddie) or b) can't sing to save their lives (sorry, Russell). Third, Anne Hathaway is my favorite actress of all time, so obviously she was going to be making an appearance on this list since she is a trained singer. (This is a side note, but I did convince my coworker to buy opening preview tickets to a new musical coming to Broadway that has no cast listed solely based on a rumor that Anne would be in it. So we're working on that level of unwellness. Y'all are lucky, I didn't slot her at number one.) 

    32. The Princess Diaries (2001) — The Ball

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    Buena Vista Pictures Distribution / Via

    Song(s) used: "Miracles Happen (When You Believe)" 

    Performed by: Myra

    Oh, look! More Anne! Honestly, I could have made a list of just musical moments that involve Anne Hathaway, and perhaps I still might! Princess Diaries is one of her best films and the fairytale happy ending scene set to this Myra song is how you perfectly execute a closing montage. The movie shows us how everything is wrapped up while giving us a fun dance scene where Anne does the robot, while also introducing the world to a bop. Even Fat Louie couldn't help but get excited!

    31. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) — End Credits

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    Pathe Distribution / Via

    Song(s) used: Jai Ho

    Performed by: Sukhwinder Singh, Tanvi Shah, Mahalakshmi Iyer, and Vijay Prakash

    Unfortunately, Anne Hathaway is not in the "Jai Ho" closing number, but I will say she does have a similar scene in Ella Enchanted that almost made the cut. But I digress. Slumdog Millionaire brings us our third Best Original Song Oscar winner with "Jai Ho" which plays over the film's credits accompanied by a Bollywood-style dance number. The film, set in India, pays homage to the genre with this incredible scene, and watching the cast dance with hundreds of extras on a train platform is so much fun to watch. The song went on to be a true radio bop (with the Pussycat Dolls involved no less), and how often can you say that for a movie song? Not nearly enough. 

    30. Lost in Translation (2003) — Karaoke

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    Focus Features / Via

    Song(s) used: "Brass in Pocket" and "More Than This" 

    Performed by: Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray

    Neither Scarlett Johansson nor Bill Murray are delivering spectacular vocals here. Nor is it a great dance scene or a montage or a credits song, which makes it an outlier on this list. However, this scene of late-night karaoke brings the two lost souls alone in Tokyo together, and when Scarlett, with her pink wig, leans on Bill's shoulder, you feel deeply that connection between strangers sharing a pivotal moment even though they just met. Karaoke is such a vulnerable activity. You have to sing (even if you aren't good). You put your music taste on display. It's the perfect place for a bonding moment, and Sofia Coppola knew that when she filmed this. Plus, no pink wig will ever be more iconic than this one. 

    29. Another Round (2020) — Martin Dances

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    Samuel Goldwyn Films / Via

    Song(s) used: "What a Life" 

    Performed by: Scarlet Pleasure

    Would life be better if you were always just a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiitle bit drunk? Thus is the premise of this Danish film about a group of school teachers who decide to start getting slightly drunk around the clock. The Best International Feature nominee is a celebration of life (and booze) that ends in a spectacular dance scene in which Mads Mikkelsen's Martin performs an energetic dance during the graduation festivities for his students. If only all high school teachers were this cool.  

    28. Hustle & Flow (2005) — "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp"

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    Song(s) used: "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp"

    Performed by: Three 6 Mafia

    Welcome to the stage, Oscar winner number four! While the Academy is usually tremendously stuffy, every now and again they make a wild swing and award an incredibly unexpected nominee. At the 2006 Oscars, "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp" was not only performed on national television but also took home the top prize. In the film, Terrance Howard's DeeJay, a drug dealer and pimp, wants to become a rapper. This is one of the tracks he records along with Taraji P. Henson, who plays his pregnant prostitute. The song is certainly an earworm, and the fact that it won an Oscar at the same ceremony as March of the Penguins is wild. 

    27. CODA (2021) — Ruby's Audition

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    Apple Studios / Via

    Song(s) used: "Both Sides Now" 

    Performed by: Emilia Jones

    Speaking of the Oscars, let's take a moment to acknowledge last year's Best Picture winner. While this song, an old staple, was not eligible for an Oscar, this climactic scene was surely part of the reason that the film was the night's biggest award. The entire film, in which Emilia Jones plays Ruby, the only hearing child in a deaf family, is focused on sound and music (and the sound of music if you will). Ruby dreams of attending college for music, something that her family doesn't quite understand and which will leave them without an interpreter. The push-and-pull however culminates in Ruby's audition in which she not only sings but signs, "Both Sides Now" as her family hides in the balcony watching. You won't make it through with a dry eye, I promise. 

    26. Encanto (2021) — "We Don't Talk About Bruno"

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    Song(s) used: "We Don't Talk About Bruno"

    Performed by: Adassa, Stephanie Beatriz, Mauro Castillo, Rhenzy Feliz, Carolina Gaitan, and Diane Guerrero

    Shockingly, this pervasive bit of culture (also from last year), did not even get an Oscar nomination despite being played absolutely everywhere (including I will say from personal experience, gay nightclubs). Disney (IMHO, mistakenly) submitted "Dos Oruguitas" instead, which lost to "No Time to Die" from the James Bond film. "We Don't Talk About Bruno," the show-stopping ensemble number in which Mirabel tries to figure out what happened to (queer-coded) Bruno, is a bop and a half that even the most anti-Disney individuals will fall for. The scene is the high point of the film and brings together the whole Madrigal family to this bop by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda (who will make another appearance later on this list). 

    25. Twilight (2008) — Baseball Game

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    Song(s) used: "Supermassive Black Hole"

    Performed by: Muse

    We've reached the Top 25, and if you thought I wasn't going to include the ULTIMATE soundtrack film, then you are dumb dumb dumb. The Twilight films may be low-brow and campy as hell, but the filmmakers opted to soundtrack them all with great lineups of 2000s alternative music. While the soundtracks to all five films are great, the most iconic scene of the franchise is this baseball game set to Muse (although the final battle fakeout in Breaking Dawn: Part 2 and Slurpee cup of blood in Part 1 are close runners-up). From Alice's incredible toe-pointed pitch to Emmett's hat on sideways, the scene is exactly what the film needed. I'm going to just say that this is the greatest teen fantasy film franchise (sorry Harry Potter) and is a work of art. Plus K. Stew and R. Pats are two of the world's greatest actors. 

    24. Once (2007) — "Falling Slowly"

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    Song(s) used: "Falling Slowly"

    Performed by: Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

    Hello, Best Original Song Winner Number Five! "Falling Slowly" became an international phenomenon in 2007 completely due to word of mouth. The tiny, independent Irish film, got a very limited release, but just kept on growing and growing in popularity. The romance about a musician and a flower seller includes a number of songs, but "Falling Slowly", which he teaches her in a guitar shop, became the runaway hit from the film. The song not only became a radio hit, but was nominated for a Grammy and went on to win the Oscar. 

    23. Hustlers (2019) — Usher in the Club

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    Song(s) used: "Love in this Club"

    Performed by: Usher

    Speaking of Oscars, I will NEVER get over the fact that Jennifer Lopez was not nominated for her incredible performance as stripper/con artist/Old Navy salesperson in Hustlers. And while the film, which stars musicians Cardi B, Lizzo, Keke Palmer (long live "Jumpin"), and Lili Reinhart (long live the Carrie episode of Riverdale), the musical scene that stands out above the rest is the Usher Scene TM. In the pre-recession heyday of their strip club Moves, the girls all rush the stage when they learn that Usher has arrived to the club. Watching them dance in glee to "Love in this Club" is the most joyful scene in the movie, and Usher's cameo is one of the best celeb cameos in the film. 

    22. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) — Opening Credits

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    20th Century Fox / Via

    Song(s) used: "Suddenly I See" 

    Performed by: KT Tunstall

    We haven't had an opening credits song on the list since Shrek back at 43, so I figured it was time for another. The jaunty, getting-ready-for-the-day opening montage from The Devil Wears Prada is a perfect example of how integral music can be for a film. While the concept (girls going to the office) is fun, it's not particularly mind-blowing or original. What makes it pop is KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" playing over shots of high heels, lipstick, and manicured coffee hands. The Devil Wears Prada is jam-packed with iconic scenes, and the opening starts the whole thing off correctly. 

    21. Moulin Rouge! (2001) — "El Tango de Roxanne"

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    Song(s) used: "El Tango de Roxanne"

    Performed by: Ewan McGregor, Jose Feliciano, and Jacek Koman

    Moulin Rouge!, a jukebox musical of seemingly every genre from the demented musical mind of Baz Luhrmann, became a massive hit despite (or perhaps because of) how incredibly unique it was. The romantic drama set in the French Cabaret scene of 1900 but filled with modern music, the film includes plenty of magical moments, but none so striking as the tango instruction scene utilizing Sting's song "Roxanne". The passion. The jealousy. The angst. It so fully embodies the tone and message of the film, and the music is so evocative that even though it wasn't eligible for an Oscar, it (sort of) earned a Gold Medal at the Olympics

    20. Vanilla Sky (2001) — Empty Times Square

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    Song(s) used: "Everything In Its Right Place" and "From Rusholme with Love"

    Performed by: Radiohead and Mint Royale

    Vanilla Sky is not a good movie. I would not recommend you watch it. BUT it does contain one masterful scene in which Tom Cruise (in a dream?) arrives in Times Square to find it completely empty and proceeds to sprint (as he loves to do) through the abandoned wasteland of bright lights and neon signs. The start visuals paired with the pumping music makes the scene one that sticks in your mind for years (even as you try to purge the rest of the convoluted film). Even during the dark days of COVID, Time Square wasn't quite this empty, and imagining the work that went into clearing it so completely is stupefying. 

    19. Frozen (2013) — "Let It Go"

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    Song(s) used: "Let It Go" 

    Performed by: Idina Menzel

    I apologize to every parent out there who had to listen to this song approximately seventeen thousand times when the film came out (and then again when the sequel hit theaters). While "Let It Go" may have reached the point of oversaturation, there is no denying that the Oscar winner (this list's sixth) is, without a doubt, a cultural touchstone. Idina Menzel's masterful vocals as ice queen Elsa make the song a one-of-a-kind belter and the greatest triumph of the modern era of Disney. I sort of wish I never had to hear it again, BUT we can't take away points for people liking it TOO MUCH. 

    18. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) — Live Aid

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    Song(s) used: "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Radio Ga Ga," "Ay-Oh," "Hammer to Fall," and "We Are the Champions"

    Performed by: Queen

    If you are searching lists of "The Greatest Concerts of All Time", you will undoubtedly find Queen's Live Aid performance in nearly every single one. And while other masterful concerts (such as Lady Gaga's Superbowl set and Beychella) have not been fictionalized yet, Bohemian Rhapsody recreated the Live Aid concert in a spectacular set piece to close the film. While there are plenty of holes to poke in the film as a whole, this sequence and Rami Malek's performance as Freddie Mercury are unimpeachable. The slew of musical biopics since have not yet reached this height despite trying over and over again. 

    17. Enchanted (2007) — "That's How You Know"

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    Song(s) used: "That's How You Know" 

    Performed by: Amy Adams and Marlon Saunders

    The genius of this number from Disney's Enchanted is how it lightly jabs at all of the Disney films that have come before it. Giselle (Amy Adams) is an animated Disney princess who has fallen out of her magical fairytale world and into New York City. She stumbles around realizing that Disney tropes don't really work in Manhattan, but that doesn't stop her from trying. The most glorious moment from the film is this massive song-and-dance number set in Central Park where Giselle is joined by seemingly half the city to sing about love, turning New York into a modern-day Disney fantasy. As far as Disney princesses go, this is as good as it gets. 

    16. Black Swan (2010) — Swan Lake Finale

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    Song(s) used: Swan Lake 

    Performed by: London Symphony Orchestra

    As a film about a ballet dancer, Black Swan spends plenty of time detailing Nina Sayers's (Natalie Portman) interactions with music. She's rehearsing, she's auditioning, she's performing, and the entire time all sorts of dark thoughts are crowding in on her mind. The film's final sequence, which intertwines Nina's full mental break with her achievement as the lead in Swan Lake is masterful. The mystery of the dance is infused with the anxiety regarding Nina's possible backstage murder of a rival and her quest for perfection. When she finally finishes and whispers, "I was perfect," the audience can't help but ask, "At what cost?" 

    15. La La Land (2016) — "Another Day of Sun"

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    Song(s) used: "Another Day of Sun"

    Performed by: The Cast of La La Land 

    The most recent musical to win Best Picture (even if it was just for about 40 seconds) is this ode to Los Angeles. La La Land, which eventually lost to Moonlight for the Oscar, is one of our great original modern movie musicals. While "City of Stars" which won Best Original Song may be the better song, it's undeniable that the best scene in the film is the opening in which hundreds of actors sing and dance on top of their cars in the LA traffic gridlock. I would have been FURIOUS if I was trying to get to work that morning, but as with Vanilla Sky,, the sheer spectacle of shooting on location is worth something. 

    14. Shrek 2 (2004) — "Holding Out for a Hero"

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    Song(s) used: "Holding Out for a Hero" 

    Performed by: Jennifer Saunders 

    Shrek may have figured out how to utilize music in the animated series but Shrek 2 perfected it. The extremely campy number that scores the film's climax in which the evil Fairy Godmother croons (very sexily) about needing a man is ART. Shrek and co. are storming the castle to rescue Fiona, so the song choice is on point for several reasons, but slutty Fairy Godmother laying on the piano while her son woos his bride-to-be takes it to a whole other level. This franchise has been defined by its canny use of songs and the sequel pulled off the impossible by topping its predecessor. 

    13. Chicago (2002) — "Hot Honey Rag"

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    Song(s) used: "Hot Honey Rag" 

    Performed by: Instrumental 

    Sorry La La Land, but Chicago is ACTUALLY the last musical to win Best Picture, and boy did it deserve it. (This city we call) Chicago is a breathtaking work of cinema that takes a hit Broadway musical and makes it better (something few films on this list can boast doing). Nearly every number is dialed into perfection so it was hard picking the finale number of "All That Jazz," "Cell Block Tango," "When You're Good To Mama," or "Roxie," but ultimately this is the number where both Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones and Oscar nominee Renee Zellweger both get to shine. They are perfectly in sync with the choreography while they perform head-to-toe for the camera without any place to hide. The music is electric, the dancing infectious, and it is the perfect high energy closer to a perfect film. ALSO, I went to see Chicago on Broadway for the first time this year, and not only was it bad in a dozen different ways, but this number was completely ruined for me by the fact that the backdrop for the dance is not lightbulbs, which would be easy enough to rig up, but just some Party City-esque silver streamers taped to a wall. I was embarrassed for all involved. 

    12. Mean Girls (2004) — "Jingle Bell Rock"

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    Song(s) used: "Jingle Bell Rock" 

    Performed by: Gina Rene and Lindsay Lohan

    This list's most iconic Christmas moment isn't even in a Christmas movie. But it's from Mean Girls, which might as well be a holiday movie because a large swath of the general public watches it at least once a year. The "Jingle Bell Rock" number is one of the film's, at least 100, memorable scenes, and includes among other great things, Amy Poehler with her camcorder, the group thigh slap, an old fashioned CD player, said CD player being kicked into someone's face, Lindsay Lohan singing a cappella, Tina Fey wearing a hideous scarf, and several actors who would eventually come out as gay. The whole thing is well, dare I say, fetch. 

    11. In the Heights (2021) — "Paciencia y Fe"

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    Song(s) used: "Paciencia y Fe" 

    Performed by: Olga Merediz 

    Returning to Lin-Manuel Miranda for the third time on this list, and yet again to the Broadway musical-turned-movie, we have this number from his Washington Heights-set Tony-winner In the Heights. The film is a gorgeous rendering of the stage musical, is packed with incredible numbers, and was one of 2021's best films. The fact that it stumbled at the summer box office and didn't garner a single Oscar nomination is laughable to me, and one of the Academy's biggest missteps in recent years. In addition to the large-scale dance numbers like "In the Heights," "96,000," and "Blackout", the film also gives us this unforgettable tribute to an older generation of immigrants to America. As she's passing away Abuela Claudia, walks through the revelry of her past, telling her story while moving through a gorgeous, ever-changing subway set. Olga Merediz, who was nominated for a Tony in the same role, sings her heart out, and on a list of musical moments, this one stands out as completely one-of-a-kind. 

    10. A Star Is Born (2018) — "Shallow"

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    Song(s) used: "Shallow" 

    Performed by: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

    TOP TEN BABY! And to start it off, all I have to say (i.e. wail) is AAAAAAAAAAAAAA--AAAAAA--AAAAAA--AAAAAAAAAAAAA! Our seventh (and final) Best Original Song winner is this hit from Lady Gaga (with a light assist from Bradley Cooper), and as I said when I ranked all the nominees since 2000, it's the best. 

    EVERYTHING. That is what this song is delivering. Tens, tens, tens across the board. It's a catchy earworm that builds, placing perfectly crafted vocal brick on top of brick. Whether it be the opening, "Tell me something girl," or, "In the shallow, sha-a-a-low," or Gaga's wailing over the bridge, this is a perfect piece of music. From the first trailer, where we saw Gaga bursting onto the stage to sing along, we KNEW this was the moment. It's a meme. It's a Billboard #1. It's a Grammy winner. It's an Oscar winner. It's a great karaoke song. It's one of the most memorable Oscar performances of all time. Everyone knows this song. Lady Gaga is an absolute legend (who should have been nominated again this year for House of Gucci). I'm telling this scene, I just want to take another look at ya. 

    9. Climax (2008) — Dance Rehearsal

    A24 / Via

    Song(s) used: "Supernature" 

    Performed by: Cerrone

    I think readers will be surprised to find Climax, a French A24 film that didn't even recoup its budget, here in the rarified air of the top ten, but what this scene lacks in notoriety, it makes up for in spectacle. The horror film, which finds a dance troupe trapped in an abandoned rehearsal space during a blizzard only to find that one of their members has spiked the punch with LSD, is all about music and movement. Starring a posse of trained dancers without much acting ability, one of the earliest scenes is a lengthy single-shot extravaganza where the camera follows these masterful humans as the vogue, krump, and duck walk to a pulsing beat. It's mesmerizing to watch and the meticulous choreography here carries into the rest of the movie as the camera swirls around the set watching the troupe devolve into all manner of horror. 

    8. Mamma Mia! (2008) — "Dancing Queen"

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    Song(s) used: "Dancing Queen" 

    Performed by: Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, and Christine Baranski

    Mamma Mia! may be named after "Mamma Mia" but the song at the heart of the musical has always been "Dancing Queen". It's infectious, it's empowering, and it's a hell of a good time to dance to. Watching Meryl Streep belt it out while dancing her way around a Greek island is the cure to depression, and her overalls are goals. Plus you add in Christine Baranski and Julie Walters in ridiculous costumes, every village woman they can find, and choreography that involves skipping. What else could you want? I will also shout out that the sequel (correctly) brings back the song for a whole new number, which I almost included on this list as well, but felt it might be overkill to use the same song twice when both films contain DOZENS of other great numbers. And then Meryl does a cannonball off a dock. The stuff of legends. The Prom could never. 

    7. Ocean's Eleven (2001) — Fountains of Bellagio

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    Song(s) used: "Clair de Lune"