This year has been a pretty great year for musicals, and for Lin-Manuel Miranda in particular. I’ve not seen as many musicals as I probably should have, but I’m working on watching some of the classics. I have thoroughly enjoyed this year’s releases with some of them being among my favourite films of the year.
5 – Dear Evan Hansen
I did enjoy Dear Evan Hansen, but at the same time I had a lot of issues with the narrative. Evan lies a lot and he’s possibly responsible for Connor’s death. I don’t think the film really deals with that enough and it bothered me while I was watching it. There is some good songs, but nothing that I’ve ever felt the need to go back to. I’ve heard that the stage show is better, and maybe one day I’ll go to see that.
4 – Annette
This time last year I didn’t know who Sparks were, and now there’s a documentary out about them and the musical they helped write. It’s a much darker and more ‘art-house’ approach to the music. Adam Driver is excellent, and ‘So may we Start’ is an exceptional opening song that’s been on my Spotify playlist since before I saw the film. I feel that the music outshines the lyrics, which are often repetitive. I especially enjoyed my mum’s extremely negative reaction as we walked out of the cinema – so much anger.
3 – West Side Story
I really liked the 1961 version of West Side Story, and I was cautiously optimistic about this retelling of that story. There are some things I really liked about it, most of the cast were excellent, there are some improvements on the original, and the visuals are simply stunning. The only reason I didn’t love this completely is because I think Ansel Elgort was miscast. I mean, he’s fine, but that’s just not good enough. Richard Beymer is a much better Tony. Still a great adaptation and if there was a stronger leading man it might even be the better version.
2 – In the Heights
I loved this film so much that I went to see it twice in the cinema. It’s grand and sweeping and I’ve listened to the soundtrack a ton at home while writing. It’s great, energetic and just feels like summer. The first time I saw it, we were in an incredibly hot cinema with no air conditioning, I was stuck to my seat, which made the heatwave sequence even better. It’s a magical film and I’m sure it will be something that I return to time and time again.
1 – Tick, Tick… Boom!
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut in film is stunning. Andrew Garfield is absolutely brilliant in it and I can’t overstate how much I connected with this film. I knew next to nothing about Jonathan Larson before watching it, and I want to learn so much more about him. There’s an anxiety about time moving to quickly and not enough is being achieved and that’s something that I really struggle with at points. I’m 28, so I’ve still got a year and a bit until I turn 30, but I completely feel the pressure that Larson is presenting in the musical. It’s an absolutely stunning film and everyone should watch it. I’ve listened to the soundtrack on repeat while working, writing and just going about the house doing daily chores. It’s without a doubt my most listened to album of the year.
2021 has been an incredible year for musicals, what’s been your favourite of the year? Let me know in the comments. If it’s something I haven’t listed, maybe it’s something I should check out.
Thanks for reading and until next time,