Lin-Manuel Miranda is most well-known for his Broadway musical Hamilton, based on the story of the titular Alexander Hamilton, which was picked up by Disney+, but how do all of his other movie musicals rank? Hamilton is definitely the most popular of Miranda’s outings, but he has also written and starred in multiple musical films, including his most recent movie, Disney’s Encanto (2021). Miranda has collaborated with Disney on multiple occasions, but he has also helped write and/or starred in films with Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Imagine Entertainment.
Miranda is best known for his music writing, but he also stars in multiple films, playing Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton, and Jack in Mary Poppins Returns (2018). Miranda has also played multiple other roles in TV shows and non-musical movies. He is a singer, actor, playwright, composer, producer, and movie director. Both Hamilton, which contains 46 separate songs, and Miranda’s animated features are known for starring and centering around diverse casts of characters including (but not limited to) Moana (2016), Encanto, and Hamilton.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical films have largely garnered praise and respect. While some of his movies are better than others, all of his films are respected and viewers would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know at least a couple of his songs. Even audiences that don’t recognize his face will recognize his music. However, Miranda is not only known for writing music, he’s also known for filmmaking. With that in mind, here are all of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s movie musicals, ranked from worst to best.
7. Vivo (2021)
Vivo (2021) is the first-ever musical produced by Sony Pictures Animation. Vivo tells the story of a rainforest kinkajou, also known as a honey bear. Miranda voices the titular character Vivo, who plays music for street crowds in Havana with his owner Andrés (Juan de Marcos González). Andrés receives a letter from his old friend Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan) who tells him that she is retiring from her music career and wants to invite him to one last concert in order for the two to reconnect. Sadly, Vivo awakens the next morning to find that Andrés has passed away in his sleep. Vivo takes it upon himself to deliver a love letter that Andrés had written for Marts a long time ago but never gave to her. Vivo is joined on his quest by a young girl named Gabi (Ynairaly Simo) as they attempt to reach Florida and give Marta Andrés the letter. While Vivo is a family-fun adventure and is not a bad movie by any means, it isn’t as good as Miranda’s other outings.
6. Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Emily Blunt stars as the new Mary Poppins, the classic Disney character originally played by Julie Andrews. Mary Poppins returns to the Banks family several decades after her initial visit. Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) are now grown adults, and Michael is a widower who has children of his own. The family is facing hard times during the 1930s depression, and the beloved family home from the original film is facing foreclosure. Mary Poppins arrives to try and help the family, and she and Jack (a lamp-lighter played by Miranda) assist the Banks in rediscovering the happiness and wonder Mary Poppins initially brought to them years before. The sequel Mary Poppins Returns was fairly well-received as a reboot to the original in the midst of other Disney reboots that were primarily remaking and retelling animated classics through live-action films. Those who like the film seem to really, really like it, but the movie was not everyone’s cup of tea.
5. In the Heights (2021)
In the Heights (2021) takes place in Washington Heights, New York. It is a film version of the Broadway musical about a bodega owner who saves all of the money he can while singing about his wish for a better life. The movie centers around primarily a Dominican neighborhood in upper Manhattan. The story is about multiple characters who live in the neighborhood and focuses on the dreams each of them has. The bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) sings a song that mirrors Hamilton as he looks after an elderly Cuban woman next door, as he daydreams about the woman working at the beauty salon in the neighborhood, and as he wishes to win the lottery so he can return to the Dominican Republic and save his deceased father’s business. In the Heights is a wonderful musical and a worthy film, but it is one of Miranda’s lesser-known works, and it doesn’t quite stack up with the top four movies on this list.
4. Encanto (2021)
Encanto (2021) is Miranda’s most recent musical movie. The film, which is still in theaters, tells the story of the Madrigals, a family who lives in the mountains of Columbia. The place they live is called the Encanto. The Encanto is magical, and every child in the Madrigal family was granted a magical gift from living there. Every child, that is except Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). Encanto's ending rejects classic Disney films. The magic of the Encanto is put in jeopardy, and Mirabel goes on a journey of self-discovery as she attempts to save the Encanto’s magic and begins to realize that, even without magical powers, she is just as unique and extraordinary as the rest of her family. Encanto is one of Miranda’s best films, paying special attention to its Columbian roots. Encanto is not a perfect film, nor is it the best one on this list, but it is one of the best animated films to be released in 2021.
3. tick, tick...BOOM! (2021)
tick, tick...BOOM! (2021) stars Andrew Garfield as a theater composer named Jon who is about to reach his 30th birthday. The film which Miranda directed, takes place in 1990 and follows the true story of Jonathan Larson as he works as a server at the Moondance Diner in SoHo. tick, tick… BOOM! deals with the stress and pressure Jon is facing from his friends and family around him as he attempts to write the next great musical. The film also tackles the AIDS epidemic. Time begins running out as Jon must showcase his work, and he wonders what he should actually be doing with the time he has left. The movie is based on the Jonathan Larson musical of the same name. Audiences have liked the film for the most part, but critics of the film’s themes found frustration in the fact that Jon tends to use the people who are around him, and that the film approaches Jon’s flaws without committing to any criticism. Either way, Miranda’s feature directorial debut does crack the top three.
2. Moana (2016)
Moana (2016) centers around a Disney princess and is well-known for Miranda’s amazing soundtrack. Miranda received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for the films’ most popular song “How Far I’ll Go,” and many viewers were upset when it lost. The movie was also nominated for Best Animated Film. Moana is praised for bringing one of Disney’s few princesses of color to the screen, particularly because the actors actually share ethnicities with the characters they are voicing, which was not common with most of Disney’s previous princesses of color. Miranda may not have directed or starred in the movie, but Moana is widely considered to be one of Miranda’s best, thanks primarily to his original soundtrack. Moana is a fantastic entry and cannot be unlinked from Lin-Manuel Miranda. Whenever audiences talk about Moana, they talk about Miranda.
1. Hamilton (2020)
It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone to find Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton at the very top of this list. Hamilton took the world by storm, and even viewers who previously couldn’t name a single song from a Broadway musical were singing along to Hamilton. The musical was performed live on Broadway, and a recording was picked up by Disney, which added the musical as a feature film on its streaming service Disney+. While the musical has drawn a great deal of criticism over the past year for its mishandling of political conversations surrounding race and slavery in post-colonial America. While Hamilton addresses these topics in great detail, many audiences have since found that it still white-washes some of the history behind the true story. Regardless, Hamilton is Miranda’s best musical, and it is his highest-rated film on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, with an 8.4 and 97% respectively. Anyone who has seen (or heard) Hamilton, has likely walked away singing one of Miranda’s original songs, which is why Hamilton is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s best movie musical.
Next: Every Hamilton Actor In Tick, Tick...Boom!
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