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VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
The movie musical was alive and well in 2021. For this list, we'll be looking at our favorite musical theater-inspired flicks from 2021 that had us singing and dancing in the aisles. Our countdown includes "West Side Story," "Encanto," "Cyrano," and more!

#10: “Respect”

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If you’re a fan of The Queen of Soul, you probably couldn’t wait for this musical biopic to drop back in August. It features some of Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits as well as one new song. Its timeline takes place between Franklin’s childhood, and her 1972 double-platinum “Amazing Grace” album. Handpicked by the Queen herself, Jennifer Hudson stars as the legendary singer. She’s joined by a star-studded cast, including Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, and Mary J. Blige among others. Critics were divided, but ultimately many felt that if categorized as a jukebox musical rather than a biographical drama, then it’s in a league of its own.

#9: “Dear Evan Hansen”

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After “Dear Evan Hansen” opened on Broadway in 2016, it took the theater world by storm. It won six Tony Awards, three Olivier Awards, and a Grammy. Despite its contentious storyline, its sincere message and unforgettable soundtrack won over audiences. Sadly, many felt the heart of the show was lost in translation to the silver screen. Even if audiences were able to look past a now 27-year-old Ben Platt reprising the titular role, the story’s shortcomings were more easily exposed. Nevertheless, the cast’s performances were applauded and many of our favorite songs remained intact. If you ask us, we still believe that it makes an enjoyable and stirring watch and that’s why it made the list!

#8: “Cyrano”

One for the non-theater fan in your life, “Cyrano” is anything but your standard musical. It’s a romantic drama, centering on a love triangle between the titular character, his distant cousin Roxanne and his close friend, Christian. It bypasses your typical flashy show stopping numbers, for brilliantly crafted songs that convey a wide plethora of emotions. Two songs from the unique score may even be possible contenders for Oscar nods The principal cast includes Haley Bennett as Roxanne and Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Christian. “Game of Thrones” fans will probably get a kick out of watching Tyrion Lannister sing his heart out as the titular character as well.

#7: “Vivo”

As we’ll soon see, 2021 was a rather busy year for Lin-Manuel Miranda. Collaborating once more with Quiara Alegría Hudes, “Vivo” is an adorable animation full of heart, humor, and 11 original songs penned by the maestro himself. He also voices the titular Vivo, a musical kinkajou who embarks on an epic adventure. After an unexpected tragedy, Vivo travels from Havana to Miami with something very important for singer Marta Sandoval, voiced by Gloria Estefan. Addressing love, loss, and friendship, this story will hit you in the feels. As for the music, well, as one of its stars might say, the “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”.

#6: “Encanto”

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Well, wouldn’t you know it, our second dose of Lin-Manuel Miranda already! This time he collaborated with the team behind “Zootopia” on this magical Disney flick. We head deep into the Colombian mountains to meet the Madrigal family. They all have magical gifts, except Mirabel, who’s voiced by Stephanie Beatriz. But when their magic’s in danger, it’s up to her to save the day. Miranda wrote the movie’s soundtrack, which features songs in both English and Spanish. Magic aside, it’s a feel-good celebration of Colombia’s diverse culture supported by an incredibly A-List cast. This is one of those movies that will enchant audiences for generations.

#5: “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”

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Based on a documentary turned stage musical and now film, “Jamie” is a story of love, acceptance, and pride. Jamie New dreams of being a Drag Queen, however, it’s an uphill battle out of the darkness and into the spotlight. Living in Sheffield, England with his mom, Jamie must overcome plenty of obstacles and prejudices to achieve his dream. The film received positive reviews thanks to its enthralling soundtrack and uplifting morals. It might be a British story, but its message is universal. Plus, if you liked the movie, you’ll be happy to know that the stage show is set to cross the pond now too.

#4: “Tick, Tick...Boom!”

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While Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” changed the face of musical theatre, “Tick, tick… Boom!” has always lived in its shadow. But now thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda making his directorial debut, it’s finally getting its chance to shine. The biographical musical follows the struggling composer, who’s trying to make a name for himself as his 30th birthday looms ever closer. It boasts an epic cast and more cameos than we can count. Miranda’s love and admiration for the late composer is present throughout and each moment serves as a perfect homage. Miranda is just missing the O from PEGOT; could this be the movie to get him there?

#3: “Come From Away”

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Although a stage-to-screen adaptation is in the works, in 2021 we could enjoy the original Broadway show from the comfort of our own homes. Well, at least you could if you had Apple TV Plus. Based on true events, this heartwarming story takes place in the days following 9/11 after 38 planes were redirected to Gander, Newfoundland. The writers compiled over 16,000 accounts from that time and shared those stories through a stirring soundtrack. Audiences fell in love with the show and how it highlighted the best of humanity in the worst of times. It’s so uplifting and there’s really nothing quite like it.

#2: “West Side Story”

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1961’s “West Side Story” won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Talk about massive shoes to fill. Nevertheless, with Steven Spielberg at the helm, an immensely talented cast, and the return of Rita Moreno, this is one remake that doesn’t disappoint. It’s still faithful to the story we all know and love, but also an adapted score and reconceived musical numbers that easily hold their own - not to mention one powerhouse performer after another. If you were skeptical about this new version, we’re here to tell you that you can lay your woes to rest. We feel that “Something’s coming, Something good,” perhaps even an Oscar… or several. Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions. “Annette” Adam Driver & Marion Cotillard’s World Gets Turned Upside Down by Their New Arrival “Robin Robin” An Adorable Story about a Robin Adopted by a Family of Mice from the Studio That Brought Us Wallace and Gromit “Cinderella” If You’re After Feel-Good Cheesiness, This Is the Movie for You “Diana” A Musical Reimagining of the Late Princess’ Life

#1: “In the Heights”

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It was a long wait, but in June of 2021, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut musical finally hit our screens. Using Latin and Hip Hop music, the plot follows three days in the mostly Latin American neighborhood of Washington Heights. With relatable characters, endearing stories, and a soundtrack that makes you want to dance, this was just the summer vibes we needed. Not to mention, Christopher Scott’s choreography and Jon M. Chu’s direction and cinematography are nothing short of perfection. The Tony Award-winning show first debuted on Broadway in 2008, so naturally, some updates were required. Even so, the heart of the movie remains and we couldn’t love it more.