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The 25 best movie musicals of all time

From the Sharks and Jets squaring off to Maria flinging her arms out as she twirls on a mountaintop, movies have long been full of stories in which characters suddenly launch into song. Which are the best ever made? The American Film Institute ranked its top 25. Here are their picks.

1. 'Moulin Rouge!'

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The 2001 film, directed by Baz Luhrmann, stars Ewan McGregor as a penniless writer who falls in love with the star attraction (Nicole Kidman) at the famous Paris cabaret. The movie uses songs by artists ranging from David Bowie to U2 to Dolly Parton, and the only original track is the lovers' anthem "Come What May," which was originally written for Luhrmann's 1996 modern interpretation of "Romeo and Juliet" titled "Romeo + Juliet."

The movie received mixed reviews. "What Mr. Luhrmann has done is take the most thrilling moments in a movie musical — the seconds before the actors are about to burst into song and dance, when every breath they take is heightened — and made an entire picture of such pinnacles," New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell wrote. "As a result every moment in the film feels italicized." He wrote that the film lacked a "coherent narrative."

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