West Side Story is one of the most well-known musicals in Broadway and film history. The book-turned-musical has been a Broadway staple since 1957 and received a movie adaptation in 1961, which went on to win a record number of 10 Academy Awards. Both incarnations garnered all praise and acclaim any story could ask for, and even all these years later, visionary director Steven Spielberg has reinvented the tale for modern audiences.
2021’s West Side Story is one of the year’s best, and it only adds to the long list of romantic musicals. If you’re longing for more mesmerizing movie musicals or romance films that will make your heart melt, look no further. Here are seven movies to watch after West Side Story.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a revolutionary film and boasts one of the best movie scores to this day. A prince and his servants are cursed when visited by a sorceress. The prince is transformed into a hideous Beast, his servants turned into household objects, and he can only break the spell once he learns how to love and be loved by another. This tale is as old as time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth revisiting.
The movie is a timeless classic because it’s beautifully animated and has characters you fall in love with. Beast (Robby Benson) is rough and scary, but you see his softer side breakthrough. Belle (Paige O’Hara) is a wonderful, caring, and compassionate person, but not without her own flaws. Then there’s the villain, Gaston (Richard White), who might have the best villain song in all of Disney history.
Beauty and the Beast is a heartwarming love story that features great music and amazing characters. It’s not only one of the best-animated musicals but one of the best films ever made.
Director James Cameron’s hit movie Titanic is an epic that defined a generation. The doomed historical ship is the backdrop for a touching and heartbreaking romance between the upper-class Rose (Kate Winslet) and our lowly artist, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio). The budding romance between Jack and Rose is just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended) when it comes to Cameron’s masterful work.
He creates a touching emotional drama that leaves the viewer enamored by the film’s grand scale but still devastated by the heartbreaking tragedy. Titanic is a film that hits you on every single level. The cast, score, and scope make it one of the greats that stands the test of time. James Cameron and Steven Spielberg are two of the most beloved directors in Hollywood, mainly for their contributions to the sci-fi and adventure genre. However, Titanic and West Side Story show that the two legends can deliver iconic stories in any genre.
West Side Story (1961)
The first film adaptation of West Side Story is an obvious choice when looking for films similar to the 2021 film. However, the reason we suggest the 1961 version is for comparison’s sake. The 1961 film was directed by Robert Wise and starred Richard Beymer as Tony, Natalie Wood as Maria, and Rita Moreno as Anita, with dance choreography by Jerome Robbins. The film features the iconic songs and incredible dance numbers we’ve come to love, making for one the stables in movie history.
With that said, the film is also extremely dated and is a product of its time. A film about Purto Ricans moving to America features only one person of Purto Rican descent in its entire cast. Steven Spielberg took creative liberties and updated the film for modern audiences. Still, the 1961 film is a part of movie history and helped push the genre forward, even if it is problematic by today’s standards.
Romeo and Juliet (1968)
If you didn’t know, West Side Story is based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. A romance between two lovers caught in the middle of a war, leading to conflicts within their families. Featuring Nino Rota‘s (The Godfather) incredible score, Romeo and Juliet captures the tone and atmosphere of Shakespeare’s original play.
The film was shot on location in Italy, and that bolsters its beauty. Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey both star as our titular characters and deliver solid performances. This Shakespearian drama is one of the best on-screen retellings of the iconic story.
La La Land
Damien Chazelle’s Award-winning musical is an instant classic. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are two aspiring artists who fall in love. Seb is a musician who wants nothing more but to keep jazz alive, while Mia is an actress trying to make a career out of her passion. The two are the perfect pair but struggle to balance both their personal life and their ambitions.
La La Land is a film about people trying to live as one while also chasing their dreams and the sacrifices that must be made to pursue those dreams.
Featuring Justin Hurwitz’s Oscar-winning score and songs written by John Legend, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul; Chazelle’s direction pulls this film together to create one of his best musicals in the modern era.
Shakespeare in Love
Set in 1593, Shakespeare in Love is a film by director John Madden. The movie follows a young William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) trying to pen his next story, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) attempts to land a role in his play disguised as a male actor. Inspired by Viola, Shakespeare scraps his original play and gets to work on a new story, Romeo and Juliet.
While not a musical in its own right, Shakespeare in Love is a film that takes us into the heart and mind of the legendary playwright and the same story that inspired West Side Story.
An American in Paris
An American in Paris is inspired by George Gershwin’s musical piece of the same name. The film stars Gene Kelly in the leading role of Jerry Mulligan, a World War II veteran who is trying to establish a career as a painter. He falls for Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron), but the two might not be meant to be together.
The film is based on Gershwin’s work and features his music, including An American in Paris. The music, dance numbers, and the feel-good nature of the film make An American in Paris a delight. It, like West Side Story, is a Hollywood treasure.
Keep Reading:Every Live-Action Movie Musical of 2021, Ranked