This week I am joined by one of my oldest and closest friends, Nye Rees (who you can find on twitter here https://twitter.com/Nye94 and on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/nyerees/). As he is a performing arts student Nye and me will be look at our top 5 musical films this week. I am excluding any Disney films, as that is a separate list in itself. As usual there are some great films that have just missed out on my list. Little Shop of Horrors is a great film, and I think the only reason that Grease hasn’t made it is the fact that I haven’t seen it in so long.
- Shuggie: Les Miserables – The cast of Tom Hooper’s Les Mis film is so stellar, Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean absolutely nails the main role. Anne Hathaway, whilst she may only be there briefly, steals those scenes with such a raw and vulnerable performance, while Eddie Redmayne steals the later part of the film with his rendition of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. Whilst Russell Crowe may have split opinions I like his performance as Javert. The rest of the cast also do a good job of bringing this classic musical to the big screen.
- Nye: West Side Story – This 1961 classic adaptation of Romeo & Juliet is one of my favourites, purely for the role it’s played in the wold of Musical Theatre; Jerome Robbins’ distinctively innovative style of dance, Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics (although he later confessed that as his first, this was his weakest body of work) and Leonard Bernstein’s music all combine to make a melting pot of genius – without sounding too pretentious). While Robbins, notorious for his precision and demand for it in others, was fired part way through the filming process for taking too long to call a wrap on each scene, there is no denying that the perfectionist in him made this film slicker than shit off a shovel. The Prologue sets the scene for the whole film wonderfully and remains epochal in the Musical Theatre world! With names in it like Natalie Wood there’s no surprise it won 10 academy awards!
- Shuggie: Pitch Perfect – This was a big surprise for me, I always thought Pitch Perfect looked a little like Glee the movie, however when I finally watched it I found it to actually be a brilliant musical comedy. Anna Kendrick burst onto the scene with this film, and she makes a likeable, funny extremely watchable lead. She is well supported by Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Skylar Aston and especially Rebel Wilson. The a cappella songs are catchy enough to entertain and the cast are all talented singers. Most importantly Pitch Perfect is funny and a big surprise success.
- Nye: The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Now, this one may come as a shock to many, but I have my own sentimental reasons for loving this so much. This film was one loved at a young age, although I was maybe a bit young to be watching it. The eccentricity of this film is still refreshing even this long after its release in 1975 and I remember seeing Rocky Horror as a kid and wanting to be ‘strong like him when I grow up’. Other than what I’ve said, there’s no other real reason that this is number 4 for me. It’s just a pure appreciation of its place in my childhood. Others must agree with me somewhere in the world; the live show is currently touring the UK and it even had its very own episode of Glee!
- Shuggie: Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog – This might be a musical that you have never heard of, but Dr Horrible is a genius idea from the mind of Joss Whedon. A real passion project for Whedon it is a three-part story where each section starts with a video blog from the main character Dr Horrible, played by Neil Patrick Harris. He is a super-villain who is constantly thwarted by his rival Captain Hammer, played by Nathan Fillion, whilst in love with Penny, a woman played by Felicia Day. The film is weird, funny, touching, and full of catchy songs.
- Nye: Bugsy Malone – Sir Alan Parker’s gangster musical satire is filled with iconic and catchy musical numbers, slapstick humour and the general charm of watching the younger generation of the time living the lives of adults. Telling the story of a mafia war in New York, 1929, this 70s film is one that was always a favourite of mine growing up and remains so today! Although the general standard of acting is inevitably not the greatest, Jodie Foster shows her promise as an actress with a brilliant performance as ‘Talulah’, the girlfriend of gang leader, ‘Fat Sam’. A light-hearted and youthful musical film that I consider a timeless classic!
- Shuggie: Rocky Horror Picture Show – a sci-fi, horror, comedy musical. That doesn’t sound like a recipe that would make for a hugely successful film, but the Rocky Horror Picture Show manages exactly that. Tim Curry as Dr Frank N. Furter is possibly the best cast character in a film musical ever and he steals every scene he’s in. The music is great, with songs like ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature’ and ‘Time Warp’. Rocky Horror is bizarre, dark, and a cult classic.
- Nye: Singin’ In The Rain – This couldn’t not go in my top 5! Gene Kelly, I consider to be one of the all time greatest Musical Theatre performers to have graced the screen; his ability never ceases to amaze me. However, this film doesn’t put him and him alone in the spotlight. With the support of Donad O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, this movie provides an absolute all star cast. It’s title song is a great example of Musical Theatre breaking out of its own bracket. It’s one of those that you will have heard somewhere at some point in your life regardless of whether you’re a fan of MT or not. This is without a doubt, one of the most timeless classics.
- Shuggie: South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut – I adore South Park. It’s absolutely one of my favourite animated shows ever, its level of satire and parody are far and away above any of its competitors. The film adaptation that they brought is something special. Not only does it work as social commentary but it’s parody of musical numbers is fantastic, there are classics like ‘Uncle F***a’, ‘What Would Brian Boitano Do?’, and best of all ‘Blame Canada’. The mix of comedy, music and satire is blended seamlessly and makes it easily my favourite musical film.
- Nye: Grease – The one and only Grease; I couldn’t not have this in my top 5. You don’t even have to like Musical Theatre to know and love this film. Although it was released in 1978, Grease was another one of my childhood favourites – even before I became interested in musical theatre. With songs that never grow old and characters (played by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John) that have since become icons of Musical Theatre, this film is the pure definition of ‘entertainment’. It even appears to have inspired Disney to write their own modernised version of the film, which they, so imaginatively, named High School Musical. I grew up with this film and it will always be my number 1. I’d like to conclude by saying that I understand this is all a matter of opinion and being limited to only five favourites, I’ve inevitably had to miss out some greats. However, nobody said anything about not giving shoutouts; If I didn’t, I’d feel as though I’d be doing a disservice to some absolutely classic films such as The Producers, Oliver, The Wizard Of Oz, Chicago, Little Shop Of Horrors and Cabaret. Of course there are many more, but you should go and see for yourself!!