Best Picture Nominees for People Who Love Choral Music

Every year, the movie awards season celebrates the best in film and acting. This year, we compiled our own list of nominations: the top films that should be on every choral music lover’s must-see list. The suggestions we received range from new releases to classic films and from light entertainment to inspiring stories. How many of these movies have you seen? What other titles do you think should make the list?

1.) Les Choristes (2004)

"Les Choristes is a charming and redemptive story about a boys reform school in France. A new, idealistic teacher decides to start a chorus from scratch with unpredictable results. Les Choristes was nominated for 2 Oscars in 2005 and songs from Bruno Coulais's soundtrack are accessible for beginning treble choirs through advanced."

- Jeff Van Hal, choir director at Morton Ranch Junior High School and singer in the Houston Chamber Choir

2.) The Music Never Stopped (2011)

"I recommend a movie called The Music Never Stopped, based on a true story about a man with brain damage who is brought out of a virtual coma by hearing a Beatles song when nothing else would work. It's not about singing per se, but about how music is processed in a completely different part of the brain from all other conscious thought. Fascinating."

- Abigail Millikan-States, singer, Marin Symphony Chorus and Marin Oratorio (The College of Marin)

3.) Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

"Moonrise Kingdom is a quirky and heartwarming film that flew under a lot of people’s radar, but definitely should not be missed. Set in the mid-1960’s, Sam and Suzy are two 12 year-olds living on an island off the coast of New England. Mature beyond their years, they quickly fall in love and run away from home together. Benjamin Britten’s music is so central to the film itself: Suzy and Sam meet during a local church production of Noye's Fludde and Suzy’s siblings frequently listen to The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. The film truly seems to be set to his music, aiding in the plot development while celebrating some of his most beloved works."

-Lauren Rosenthal, communications associate, Chorus America 

4.) Amadeus (1984)

"Historically it’s wildly inaccurate, Salieri was a decent man and a friend of Mozart’s, and Constanze was a serious musician who influenced her husband’s work. But the scene at the end, where they show Mozart composing the "Confutatis maledictis" section of his Requiem—even though that also didn’t happen as they depicted, the important part is that it did occur and this scene in the movie fully and astonishingly conveys a man-made miracle come into being. If you have ever sung it, it’s hard not to cry because you understand deeply the crushing beauty of it, but also at our loss because this was the last we’d ever have from him."

- Stacy Horn, author of Imperfect Harmony and choral singer

5.) As It Is in Heaven (2004)

"In As It Is in Heaven, Daniel, a famous international orchestra conductor, returns to his boyhood home as a broken man, both physically and spiritually. Soon Daniel is leading the local church choir along an uncustomary path to find their "true voice." This is a very poignant and sweet movie. You'll recognize your own choir in the characters--from the ingenues to the elders to the traditionalists. And there is a transcendent choral singing scene at the end that you won't soon forget."

- Kelsey Menehan, writer, psychotherapist, and choral singer

6.) Pitch Perfect (2012)

"Pitch Perfect is simply a fun, light, entertaining movie, with great a cappella choral music. Much of the music is well-known and upbeat, and I challenge anyone to watch that movie and not have one of the songs stuck in your head after it’s over."

- Matthew Arnold, marketing manager, Flying House Productions; board member, GALA Choruses

7.) The Mission (1986)

"The Mission has a classic score by Ennio Morricone and arguably his best featuring original choral music throughout the film. Amazing cinematography to boot."

- Michael Parker, singer, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus

 8.) Sister Act (1992)

"Look, it was never going to win an actual Academy Award and the music skewed more Beyonce than Beethoven. But Sister Act is a lot of fun. Underneath the layer of schmaltz, there are some truths about how singing and specifically singing in a choir brings people together and stretches individuals to be braver and better than they think they can. And of course, there’s a can’t-miss-sequel (aptly named Sister Act 2) that applies the same formula to school choirs and has been viewed in countless middle school music classes."

-Whitney McColley, development & membership manager, Chorus America 

While we won't actually be opening an envelope on Oscar night, we have a hunch that if we did, the name inside would be Frozen. Whether it's because the recent release was on people's minds or because it puts beautiful singing in front of a younger audience, this film was suggested more than any other.


9.) Frozen (2013)

"I loved the choral singing in the opening to Disney’s animated film Frozen. It was incredible! The movie even includes excerpts from the hymn 'Beautiful Savior.'  Kudos to Disney for opening their film with this!"

- Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, assistant artistic director, VocalEssence

"I would nominate Frozen - it certainly captured all my young singers’ imaginations and hearts over the winter break. The music features committed vocal characterizations by great musical theater performers, including the incomparably gifted Idina Menzel of the Rent and Wicked Broadway premieres."

- Justin Montigne, professional choral singer, voice teacher, and registered yoga teacher


For more recommendations, check out the following articles:

Choruses in the Movies: Part One

Choruses in the Movies: Part Two