Friday, March 7, 2014

Favorite Movie Musicals

10. Pitch Perfect (2012)
This one was a great surprise.  The best way to describe this movie is infectious.  It really makes you want to sing and dance.  The a cappella arrangements make this much more energetic than the usual coming of age comedy.  The likable cast is lead beautifully by Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Anna Camp and the breakout Rebel Wilson.  This movie has hit multiple demographics and has a sequel coming next year.

9. Moulin Rouge (2001)
This movie has a huge cult following, coupled with a contrarian critical backlash.  I don't think it is the greatest movie ever, but it is a great movie musical.  Really the first modern movie musical, it is from back when arrangements of pop songs were a rare thing.  The arrangements are memorable and Baz Luhrmann's visual style is appropriately flashy.  The cast is great with Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor and Jim Broadbent.  It is both theatrical and cinematic all while being incredibly overdramatic.

8. Annie (1982)
These musical blogposts were inspired by the trailer for the Annie remake.  I grew up with the 1982 Annie and still love it.  Sure it is a corny kiddie musical, but that really is what makes it so great.  It goes for the heartstrings and is just fun.  This film has an incredible cast with hammy performances from Albert Finney, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters and especially Carol Burnett who is one of the greatest kid movie villains of all time.  The Disney TV version from 1999 is just as good too with another great lineup featuring Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Audra McDonald, Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenoweth.  It unfortunately looks like the upcoming remake will not allow much room for great character actors though.

7. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Both hilarious and uncomfortably dark, this adaptation of the Menken/Ashman show is one of the best horror comedies.  Frank Oz utilizes his comedy and puppeteering expertise as the film's director.  The movie has some impressive puppeteering.  Highlights from the great cast include a hilarious Bill Murray cameo and a tour de force performance from Steve Martin.  Even with studio interference this remains one of my favorite movie musicals.

6. Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997)
This has to be among the best TV movies of all time.  The sets and costumes are great along with Rob Marshall's choreography.  The movie adds new songs to Rodgers and Hammerstein's TV classic.  The cast is diverse with Brandy, Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg and more all having a lot of fun.  This is one of the best adaptations of Cinderella and a really sweet love story.

5. The Sound of Music (1965)
A classic movie that has immortalized a classic show.  Julie Andrews is pitch perfect as Maria and there are so many iconic moments from this film.  This is one of the few classic movies that still does well with primetime TV airings.  People love this and it just can't be topped.

4. Les Miserables (2012)
People are really split on this movie, I understand how it does not live up to the stage show for many.  But this is as good of a film adaptation as this show was going to get.  Tom Hooper took a lot of risks to make this work on the screen.  I know that the close-ups bother many, but they really allow the stars to really emote in a way they can't on stage.  The cast is great for a movie, even if Russell Crowe's vocals are not great he has a great presence for Javert.  The cast is great with Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Tveit and Colm Wilkinson all impressing.  I cried several times in this movie and that is enough of a reason to recommend it.  The finale with Jean Valjean going to Heaven is a beautiful image that has stuck with me.

3. Mary Poppins (1964)
One of the best Disney movies of all time and a huge achievement in film making.  It is a perfect combination of live-action and animation.  The writing and characters are top notch with great performances from Julie Andrews, Ed Wynn and the underrated David Tomlinson.  Dick van Dyke has gotten a poor reputation for an inaccurate dialect, but honestly that makes the character of Bert more iconic and fantastic.  The score and songs from the Sherman Brothers are wonderful and still inspiring.  Last year's Saving Mr. Banks is a terrific love letter to this amazing film.

2. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Of course this needs to be mentioned.  Not a Broadway style musical, but the best movie musical of all time.  A movie that is an excuse for talented singers and dancers to just sing and dance.  A great movie with many iconic numbers and an incredibly clever plot.

1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
This is not only one of the best movie musicals of all time, it is one of the best family movies of all time, one of the best fantasies of all time and just simply one of the best movies of all time.  It is completely accessible and timeless.  People enjoy it as much now as they did when it first came out.  It still captures people's imaginations and never gets old.

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