That is something I did not think I would be saying. West Side Story is a classic musical beautifully brought to the big screen in 1961 by Jerome Robins and Robert Wise. It had a stella cast, great dance routines and plenty of heart. Plus it was nominated for 11 Oscars and won 10.
Spielberg is undeniably one of the greatest directors ever, his ability to work as well on drama as high octane adventure films. When I heard he was doing a version of West Side Story, I did wonder why he would decide to choose an iconic film to remake, rather than to create an original one.
He pulled together an excellent cast that not only are talented actors but also sing and dance their own parts.
There were a lot of subtle changes to the original and a few major ones. Almost everything was improved. The dance numbers were, quite frankly, much better than the originals. I have always liked musical but have never been a fan of ‘dancey’ ones where there is a lot of emphasis on the dance and they go on too long. Until this film. Here the choreography is invigorated and the timing for the routines are flawless. The setting of ‘America’ is moved to the streets of New York, whereas the original movie felt at times, more like a stage play being filmed, the Spielberg version uses the freedom of film to incorporate many different settings and enhance the musical number tenfold.
Rita Morena is exquisite and even gets to sing ‘Somewhere’.
By rights there should be a number of Oscar nominations, it would be difficult for another film in 2021 to equal West Side Story and hopefully it will get some of the recognition is deserves.
It has so far, been nominated for 4 Golden Globes.
If I had to make one Oscar bet this year, it would be for Rita Morena as best supporting actress (Though not nominated for a Golden Globe) and maybe a little on West Side Story for best Picture. Here’s hoping it wins a lot more but we still have to contend with the politics of award ceremonies and making sure that as much talent as possible is recognised.
So don’t wait for it to be streamed, go to the cinema and see it in all its glory, the colours, the drama, the singing and the fantastic dancing.
You can see more about the Golden Globes Nominations.