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5 Musical Movies to Whet Your Appetite for ‘A Star is Born’

A Star is Born

I am a massive fan of musicals, and find myself lucky to have been privy to the visual and auditory spectacles that is The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Wicked. My intense and perhaps elusive hope is to someday see Hamilton, either when it graces the shores of Singapore or if I am lucky enough to chance upon it on my travels. Hence, it should come as no surprise that films which employ the musical genre are high on my to watch list, which is why I was psyched when I saw the trailer for A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

Both these individuals prove that talent allocation is not a fair thing. Not only is Lady Gaga a talented musician, she won a Golden Globe for her performance in American Horror Story. As for Bradley Cooper, is there anything this man can’t do? Oscar nominated actor, fantastic work as a sweet rabbit and now, a director. He also sings in this. So yes, the trailer for A Star is Born has me all kinds of excited. Alas, we have to wait till October for this movie to grace our screens, in the meantime, these are good options to spend your time on if you enjoy good music and a good narrative.

Begin Again

I never thought I would be watching a musical movie with Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. But somehow … it just works. The wonderful scenic shots of New York really cements it as a place to chase your dreams. There is this particular scene where they move through the sights of New York, listening to music together. It’s such a public yet private moment, lost in the picturesque sights of the city but also contained in their little musical bubble. I even bought an earphone splitter because I wanted to recreate that moment.

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Once

I discovered this gem of a movie when Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová performed their song “Falling Slowly” at the Oscars. The song left me awestruck. Their voices blend so well together, and they looked so … in love. I swear the chemistry swirled on stage in a magical dance as I watched them. So of course I had to watch the movie. It is so stripped down and ordinary, but this film proves that there is such beauty in ordinary life.

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Image via Pinterest

La La Land

I think everyone should have seen this movie by now, but believe it or not, it actually improves on multiple viewings. I know Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have been compared to Hollywood heavyweights Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and found to be lacking, but I honestly can’t subscribe to that view. There is something just so earnest and relatable about the both of them, and while they aren’t the best singers or dancers, they captured my attention every single moment they were on screen, together or apart. City of Stars still runs through my head on a regular basis.

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Image via Hollywood Reporter

Moulin Rouge

Baz Luhrmann is a genius. He has this amazing ability to transport the visual spectacle that is the Broadway stage into his films, and a knack for telling a good love story. As much as the purists hated his version of Romeo and Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, I thought it was bold and thrilling. The best way to sell Shakespeare in contemporary society is to adapt him, not mimic, and that’s what Luhrmann did. Moulin Rouge is no exception. Nicole Kidman has such an alluring beauty, and is the perfect choice to play the gorgeous Satine. Ewan McGregor compliments her perfectly, playing the giddy lovestruck poet to a T. The music is so memorable as well, with a mixture of old favorites as well as new additions. Come What May is one of my go-to karaoke songs, and I always weep a little when I listen to it.

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The Last Five Years

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When I was a broke, struggling student in University, I was consistently on the look out for cheap theater productions to attend. This is how I stumbled upon The Last Five Years, having no idea it was even a musical until it started. For the price I paid, it definitely felt like I had won the lottery as I watched Jamie and Cathy’s story unfold, not from the start, but from the moment of their parting. I think knowing how they end up makes this piece all the more affecting. As you watch them in all the happy moments before, it is so heartbreaking to know that all the attempts to fix, to reach a resolution, will come to naught.

Strangely, the film version, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, barely made a splash when it was released. I did not even know it existed till I saw the trailer on my YouTube recommendations page, a few years after it’s release. Kendrick and Jordan are both Tony nominees, so they more than carry their own musically. Kendrick delivers a more believable performance, in part because of her more subtle delivery of emotions and a more contemporary feel to her singing. While I love Jeremy Jordan and think he has a fantastic voice, he is a little too Broadway for me in this film, and his voice sounded too dramatic at times. Still, the music alone makes this worth the watch, especially Kendrick’s poignant rendition of I’m Still Hurting.


Thanks for reading!  What are your thoughts on A Star is Born and other musical movies?  Comment down below!

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Natasha Alvar

Natasha is an English Literature teacher. She believes that stories are the essence of being human, and loves sharing this world with her students. One day, she hopes to break into the literary world with an offering of her own, but for now, she finds enjoyment in writing plays for her students as well as penning content for Moviebabble. You can follow her @litmysoul on Instagram, if you want.

24 Responses

  1. I had the privilege of seeing a star is born at the venice film festival a few weeks ago, Lady GaGa was perfection and Bradley Cooper has remade it into a completely beautiful story, with a deep meaning. I can’t wait to see it again! – @Screentoseen

    • OMG! I am so envious! AHHHHH! Haha I wanted to review it but Nick beat me to it. I will still be seeing the movie nonetheless. While I wait for its arrival, I have been watching all the press Cooper and Lady Gaga have been doing, and I feel like they are so into each other? What do you think? I feel bad even insinuating this, since they are both attached, but my god the chemistry! I can just imagine how wonderful the movie is going to be.

  2. See, I like this list, but I disagree with The Last Five Years. That’s one movie musical that just doesn’t translate as well to screen. Some should just be left on the stage and that is one of them. All others I agree with, though. Especially Begin Again. I was pleasantly surprised by that film.

    • Natasha Alvar says:

      Hi! Thanks for the comment 🙂 I do think that The Last Five Years could make the leap to the film genre. It deals with a private, unfolding of a relationship, and a lot of the time, the subtleties of the film medium would lend itself well to the depiction of such an event. I think in this case, casting actors who are familiar with the stage version might have done the film a disservice. Look at La La Land, deals with very similar themes and yet does well as a film.

  3. lonelysoul says:

    Where is The Greatest Showman. Hugh Jackman was an absolute star in that movie. And the soundtrack is beyond amazing

    • Natasha Alvar says:

      Hi! The list deals more with musical movies that deal with similar themes to ‘A Star is Born’, and I don’t think ‘The Greatest Showman’ fits very well. Besides that, I think it was a bit of a mess if I am being honest. Hugh Jackman tries very hard with the material he got, and he really is the best thing about it. But other than that, besides historical inaccuracies that are quite an issue, the music was far too modern to suit the 19th century, the songs sounded very similar. The only one I can remember is ‘Never Enough’. Conflicts are never properly dealt with, everything seems so easily resolved. None of the characters were well-developed. Musical or not, a movie must deliver a proper narrative, and this one missed the mark in my opinion.

    • agree! was singing it round my house for weeks haha

  4. delaneyr10 says:

    I would add Rent, Les Mis (2012), and Newsies Live (for a “true” musical experience) to this list but all of these picks are great!

    • Natasha Alvar says:

      Hi! Thanks for the comment 🙂 I am not too sure about Les Mis. Don’t get me wrong, I love Les Mis, but on stage. It just comes across as more impressive, the way they create the whole starting scene at sea, the complexity of the set, Javert’s death. The 2012 version, while commendable, felt over-acted and overwrought.

  5. I would add in “Phantom of the Paradise” as well…..a complete blast and so many great songs written by Paul Williams,who wrote the songs for “A Star In Born” with Kris and Babs

    • Natasha Alvar says:

      Haha I just went to watch the trailer and I was ‘Omg what did I just watch?’ Hahaha! Looks like such a hoot! Gives me Rocky Horror Show feels.

  6. backuphill says:

    Begin Again was a good show! We got a text notification from AMC Theaters for a free showing one evening, so on a whim, knowing nothing about the film except the trailer, we threw our teens kids into the car and went to the theater. We all walked out pleased and enjoyed it. I even ended up downloading a few tunes from the soundtrack so I had them in my music collection.

    • Natasha Alvar says:

      i really do enjoy movies that surprise like that. I went into it knowing nothing as well, dragging my reluctant brother who doesn’t like musical movies, but ended up enjoying this one. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Well, I love musicals too and I started watching them in elementary school.

    Then at age 12, went to Broadway and saw Wicked, the show that sparked my love for musicals. That show was where I began to understand the emotional and complex side of musicals.

    In 2013, I fell in love with Les Mis, the show that turned my love of musicals into more of a passion. That challenged everything I once knew about musicals.

    Other musicals I love: Newsies, Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, Sound of Music, Annie, Pippin, Godspell, Man of La Mancha, Music Man, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Grease, among others

    • Natasha Alvar says:

      That’s a good list 🙂 I tried to list musical movies that had themes more similar to ‘A Star is Born’ as opposed to just musicals in general. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  8. Reenie says:

    The Last Five Years is one of those great gifts of musical theater. It’s such a beautiful, personal and heart breaking piece.

    I’ve actually always thought that Anna was TOO likable for Cathy. She’s excellent, she nearly always is, but you’re so on her side, which I think defeats the point. Jordan is great, but as I once said, “the problem with every guy who takes on Jamie is that none of them are Norbert Leo Butz.”

    • Natasha Alvar says:

      Agreed about Anna being too likeable. As the audience, it is inevitable that at the end we would either be on Cathy or Jamie’s side, and I tend to think a good presentation of it would have us swapping between the pair of them each time we watch it. I don’t think I could ever be on Jamie’s side in this version.

  9. Nick Kush says:

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  10. LAnthony says:

    Natasha I am very much looking forward to A Star is Born. I believe Bradley Cooper can pull it off. Hopefully Mamma Mia! Here we go again will be good too

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