It was a glorious return for the movie musical in 2021. From Steven Spielberg’s classic retweaking to Leos Carax’s truly bonkers rock opera, it was the year of the musical, and below are the ten best offerings.
Leos Carax’s distinctively original Annette has its apparent flaws, but what you can’t question is how ambitiously bonkers his musical experience can be. And a performance from Simon Hedberg that has been criminally underpraised this awards season.
Come From Away
Come From Away is not your typical Broadway musical because of its authentic style. Anyone who remembers where they were during that terrible day will connect with the musical. Sankoff and Hein’s work encompasses all of those emotions. They showed you how, sometimes, one empathetic hand reaching to another is all we can do for one another. That’s all you can do. And all that is needed, eh?
Peter Dinklage goes a soulful and stirring performance in Cyrano. A lavish and ravishing musical from Joe Wright.
Dear Evan Hansen
Do not let that overt social media cynicism mislead you — Dear Evan Hansen is for those in crisis and with nowhere to turn. A musical that makes use of empathy, compassion, and resiliency to battle overwhelming anguish, sorrow, and despair. Sensational and deeply felt.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Ready Steady Cut film critic Romey Norton said Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a musical she “…highly recommends. With glitz, glamour, and drama, what more do you need? I recommend this film if you’re a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Kinky Boots, The Full Monty, and anything with some true Yorkshire spirit.”
In the Heights
Ready Steady Cut film critic Michael Frank said of In the Heights, “…signifies the triumph existing in every corner of this city, the dreams that go unfulfilled, and the people who help their neighbors until their dying breath. It’s a musical that should push people back into theaters and back into the streets to dance their way to the next destination, to walk with a hop and a skip. In its purest form, Chu’s film lights up a room, a theater, and a city, bringing shameless excitement back into the movies.”
tick tick… BOOM!
I’m not sure how to tick tick… Boom! will play in mainstream America. It has a who’s who of Broadway royalty making cameos that I’m sure only the most ardent mesophiles will appreciate. What may be universal to everyone is the theme about never giving up on your dreams and Andrew Garfield’s poignant exploration of Jonathan Larson’s persona and professional struggles that is remarkable.
West Side Story
There isn’t a genre of film Steven Spielberg can’t master. The only two he hasn’t attempted have been a western and a documentary. For his first foray into the musical genre, he tries to remake a classic with a solid set of themes that were as timeless seventy years ago as they are today: Toxic racism, poverty, and immigration. His remake of West Side Story is a captivating experience.
Vivo hits all the right notes with an inclusive story about how love is never forgotten, loss is always deeply felt, and family is what you make it. Funny, adorable, and at times, very moving, this Netflix animated film’s heart marches to its unique beat.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas
A bittersweet send-off to a series whose time was unceremoniously cut too short. Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas is an endlessly creative musical with a performance from Jane Levy, a collective burst of fresh air that offers moments of touching closure.