With an influx of musicals becoming movies recently, I decided I wanted to take the films that I’ve seen and rank them.
Like I said I am only ranking films I have actually watched. So if you’re wondering why a certain movie isn’t on here, it’s because I haven’t seen it (for better or worse). Anyways, onto the ranking!
11. Phantom of the Opera
Phantom of the Opera was that gateway musical when I was in high school so I ended up watching the movie a lot. And at that time I liked it, but comparing it to every other musical adaptation I’ve now watched it definitely isn’t nearly as good. Compared to the stage adaptation, this movie is rather boring.
10. Les Miserables
When I first watched Les Miserables in the theater, I was crying and blown away. I was not emotionally prepared for that movie. But now that I’ve grown and learned the absolutely ridiculous way the director Tom Hooper handled the music, I have to admit that it is pretty awful in a lot of ways. There are some great performances but also some very terrible ones all because of the live singing. Les Mis is only above Phantom because I don’t find it boring.
9. Into the Woods
I still enjoy Into the Woods, but it could have been better. Having actors that can actually sing would be a good starting point. I also think Into the Woods is a little hard to turn into a film so it needed someone who really understands both stage and screen well to pull off.
Yes, Grease was on stage before the screen. And while I think the adaptation is decent, the show itself is very flawed. I honestly find it more annoying than anything else. But I do rank it above the others because I think the film is better than the stage version and is certainly more iconic.
I still believe that Dreamgirls is a good adaptation. Jennifer Hudson is the crown jewel of that film, Eddie Murphy also does a great job, and the cinematography is good. The only part I don’t like is Beyonce. She isn’t a good actress and I believe they could have found someone much better for the role.
Hairspray is actually a very faithful adaptation of the stage version. Some of the castings could have been improved, but overall it does a good job representing the original work and making it fit for film.
5. Little Shop of Horrors
The acting and singing in Little Shop of Horrors is what makes it in the top five for me. I think the casting is great and they all embody their character so well. I also think that, because of the source material already being kooky and a little weird, its cult classic nature aids the film.
4. West Side Story
I had a lot of trouble ranking West Side Story because I personally don’t like it very much. The film is way too long and it’s just Romeo and Juliet in New York. However, I do have to admit that it is iconic with commendable choreography and acting, and that outweighs my personal opinion in this instance.
3. In The Heights
Out of the wild assortment of musical movies we’ve had the last couple of years, In The Heights was a bright spot. It is a vibrant adaptation that embraces whimsy alongside the realism, thus making the fact they break out into song more fitting. It’s not the most faithful adaptation, but sometimes changes are necessary in order to take the stage to screen and make it feel natural.
The film version of Chicago is quite brilliant and deserves the best picture oscar it garnered. By capturing the vaudeville style of performances that the show originally had prior to the version we all know now and using that as a framing device to explain sudden song numbers is perfect. This film really is iconic and it is hard to top.
But one film does top this list and that is…
1. Tick, Tick… Boom!
I was honestly in awe of this film when I watched it. It’s a brilliant adaptation, especially given how the original stage version is done. By taking how the stage version is done and making it the framing device as we actually follow Jonathan’s journey with his first musical, it gives reason to the musical numbers in a beautiful way. Honestly, it is hard to explain why Tick, Tick… Boom is so good so I say you need to go watch it for yourself.
What would you choose as your number one musical movie adaptation? Tell me about it with a comment.
Great list! I also loved “Tick Tick Boom”. My favorite, not on your list, is “The Sound of Music”. Have you seen that?
Not all the way through I don’t think
Hard to choose- saw a lot of musical movies. A combo of both Disney and Non-Disney films.