Do you like movie musicals? Anyone who likes the classic mold will surely enjoy "Hairspray."
Maybe you like the classic mold twisted by a weird imagination. "Sweeney Todd" is in the classic musical mold, that is, if a somewhat flat musical about a serial killer can qualify as classic.
Maybe you want to see movie musicals but hanker for something other than cinema versions of Broadway shows. Bingo. "Across the Universe" lays its rainbow of Beatles songs onto an eye-popping movie mural.
As the Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture for those three films indicate, 2007 was a banner year for movie musicals, including a win for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."
Mind you, the Globes cheat the typical award nomination formula by having one category for Best Drama and another for Best Comedy or Musical. The last time three musicals were nominated in the Best Comedy or Musical category was 1977. None of those - "A Star Is Born," "Bugsy Malone" and "The Ritz" - were nominated for Oscars.
With Oscar nominations as the standard bearer, you have to go back to the 1960s to find the last movie musical heyday. In that decade, four films did more than get nominated - "West Side Story" (1962), "My Fair Lady" (1965), "The Sound of Music" (1966), and ugh, "Oliver!" (1969) all won Best Picture.
Oscar barely heard from this film genre again until the MTV pacing and garish styling of "Moulin Rouge!" resulted in a Best Picture Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win in 2002. When "Chicago" won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2003, it got movie producers chirping again.
It is more than a footnote to mention that "Chicago" was based on the Broadway show masterminded by Bob Fosse. Before the relative drought for movie musicals became severe, Fosse won Best Director for "Cabaret" in 1973 (lost Best Picture to "The Godfather"), and his "All That Jazz" earned an Oscar nod for Best Picture in 1980.
What made 2007 a banner year for movie musicals goes beyond the Golden Globe nominations and win. Disney added to the range of creativity with its perky, screwball fairy tale, "Enchanted." Then there was "La Vie en Rose," "I'm Not There," "Walk Hard," and "Once." It gets tricky with these four films because they are better described as movies using music as a thematic foundation rather than as musicals.
In a musical, characters break into song as an alternative to speaking their dialog. "La Vie en Rose" is about the achingly compelling singer from France, Edith Piaf. "I'm Not There" is about living legend Bob Dylan. More accurately, it risks melding six different deconstructions of an iconic figure that is unmistakably Bob Dylan. "Walk Hard" is the mocking fictional bio about Dewey Cox. These bio-pics showcase their singers singing.
"Once" sneaks a bit closer to the definition of a musical. The characters sing songs. The songs don't substitute for dialog, but they definitely intertwine two lives into a charming little romance.
What is so remarkable about this crop of films is how hugely different they are in style. This is good for movie-goers, especially if you're looking for variety, even experimentation,