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The Ultimate Movie Musicals Bracket - Round One, Day Fourteen
I think by mere chance, today’s set of matchups in the first round of the Ultimate Movie Musicals Bracket could best be categorized as Problematic. We have some notable and beloved films here, but we also have a lot of films — some including the notable and beloved ones! — that are not without their share of uncomfortable content or problematic aspects.
And before we dive into that, did you know that today is Monday? Well, of course you did. But did you remember that each Monday, I also post a new essay on this here newsletter for paid subscribers? It’s true! Why would I lie about that? Today, in my Disney100 essay series, I’m diving into one of the most remarkable and strange fims the Disney studio has ever produced, and naturally it’s one you can’t stream on Disney+. It’s a WWII documentary called Victory Through Air Power, and I will let you figure out its plot. Read on!
Now, with the shameless self-promotion out of the way, let’s get into today’s votes, huh?
(7) Grease vs. (58) Across the Universe: When I was in middle school, one of my teachers played Grease for us on VHS. I also recall seeing the film in theaters during its 20th-anniversary re-release. I also remember very vividly how much my mom disliked the film, and by connection, its stage-show inspiration. I remember just as vividly why she disliked it — the big finale, in which the charming and innocent Sandy undergoes a makeover to look as vivacious as the other Pink Ladies, essentially junking the personality she had when Danny Zuko fell for her in favor of something a little less flattering.
Now, I get it. And as much as I admit “You’re The One That I Want” is an earworm, I cannot deny how icky the ending feels. However. In this specific matchup, I am voting for Grease. I’ve seen Across the Universe, and it remains one of the most painful cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. Talented actors? Sure. Unique stagings? Yes. But it’s all pretty misbegotten, even if it is unique. It doesn’t help that some of the sequences are headache-inducingly literal. Just…I cannot stand that movie. For today, I think Grease indeed is the word.
Across the Universe
(26) Oklahoma! vs. (39) Gigi: I suppose each of these films is problematic, if not a wee bit dubious. I shouldn’t say “suppose”. They are problematic, whether it’s in the casting of characters of color in Oklahoma!, or the age gap in Gigi. That aside, I will vote here for Oklahoma!, partly because Shirley Jones is one of my favorite musical leading ladies and partly because of the CinemaScope cinematography.
How do you vote?
(10) West Side Story (2021) vs. (55) Into the Woods: I will not bend over backwards here defending Ansel Elgort from allegations that arrived not long before the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story. I won’t defend him at all! But I will say two things. First, Spielberg’s film was my favorite of 2021. Second, in case you have forgotten, we as a society need to rise up and stop Rob Marshall from directing a movie ever again.
Vote for West Side Story.
West Side Story (2021)
Into the Woods
(23) Top Hat vs. (42) Bedknobs and Broomsticks: This is a toughie for me if only because I do adore Angela Lansbury as a performer, and think she makes Bedknobs and Broomsticks a special and enjoyable film even now. But Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were also icons, and “Cheek to Cheek” is maybe their most quintessential song. I gotta go with Top Hat.
How about you?
Bedknobs and Broomsticks