The most exciting movies of 2020 – musicals

Spielberg retells West Side Story, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pre-Hamilton hit finally arrives, while Everyone’s Talking About Jamie transfers from the West End

West Side Story

The spectre of Cats looms large and rabid over 2020’s musical offerings, yet some of them are among the year’s most major hopes. One such key release is this second film version of the Bernstein/Laurents/Sondheim classic, directed by Steven Spielberg and written – apparently more faithfully to the original stage show than the 1961 movie – by Tony Kushner, with whom Spielberg previously collaborated on Lincoln. Ansel Elgort is a nagging concern as Tony; schoolgirl discovery Rachel Zegler plays Maria (having won the part via a Shallow audition tape).

In the Heights

While we wait for the Hamilton movie, here’s the long-gestating movie proper of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s previous hit, starring Anthony Ramos. It was supposed to have come out in 2011, but behind-the-cenes cast changes – including a Weinstein association – delayed first curtain.

A talent for drag … Max Harwood in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
A talent for drag … Max Harwood in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Photograph: imdb

Everyone’s Talking About Jamie

Billy Elliot meets Kinky Boots in this big-screen transfer for the West End hit about a Sheffield teenage boy with a talent for drag. The cast is mostly new to the production, from lead Max Harwood to supporting cast Richard E Grant, Sharon Horgan and Sarah Lancashire, but the show’s creator and director, Jonathan Butterell, retains the reins.

Prince of Cats

Here’s another loose spin on Romeo and Juliet, this time from Spike Lee, via Ron Wimberly’s graphic novel set in the 80s in “Da People’s Republic of Brooklyn”. Lakeith Stanfield was set to star as the rapping Tybalt but has since dropped out.


AKA Marriage Story: the musical. Adam Driver is husband to Marion Cotillard and father to their unusual daughter in this sung-through movie from Leos (Holy Motors) Carax. The film became famous after Driver helped publicise Carax’s missing dog when they were shooting in Brussels; Javelot was soon found at a nearby railway station.

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