West Side Story | 4 Reasons to Watch

Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter: Tony Kushner
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, etc.
Cinematography: Janusz Kamiński

Every so often, a film gets released at a certain time of year and generates little to no buzz. One of 2021’s prime examples of that is West Side Story. There could be several reasons for this. Maybe fans of the original just didn’t care to see Spielberg’s take on the beloved classic. Or, considering we’re still in a pandemic, film fans might not have thought it was worth it to press their luck. Whatever the case, the film bombed at the box office, bringing in a total of 70.7 million dollars against a 100-million-dollar budget.

Now that it is awards season, film fans are revisiting features they might have missed during the cold winter. And lately, West Side Story has been the talk around town. The American musical drama, which follows the forbidden love between Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) hits HBO Max today (March 2, 2022). Want to join in on the exciting conversations surrounding this film? Here are 4 reasons to watch Spielberg’s latest.

4) A five… six… a five, six, seven, eight!

As a musical theater nerd, I cannot express how important choreography is to a feature musical. Dance is a way to capture and express emotions through intricate movements and fluidic bodily poetry. And this statement remains true when it’s in film. Luckily for dance fans, choreographer Justin Peck knew exactly what to do. Blending movements and dance sets from American choreographer Jerome Robbins’s original numbers and choreography of his own, Peck delivers fantastic dance numbers. He captures the intensity, vibrancy, and beauty like the original while adding his own flair. What could be better than mixing a little old with the new?

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

3) Now THAT’s cinematography!

If you’re on Twitter, you might have noticed that this film has been generating quite the online buzz. Specifically, West Side Story’s “puddle shot” has become the standout scene of conversation. After learning that this was a last-minute suggestion made by cinematographer Janus Kamiński, I could not believe it. In fact, the team filmed it on the final day of principal photography. Talk about movie-making magic! Scenes like these are prevalent throughout Spielberg’s musical. And it’s exactly why it’s deserving of all the attention. Bravo Kamiński!

2) Ariana DeBose… need I say more?

On Sunday, February 27th, Ariana DeBose took home the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) award for an outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role. I cannot shout from the roof-top enough how well-deserved her nomination/win was. Ariana is a scene-stealer. I could not take my eyes off her, as she delivered THEE performance of this film. There are no limitations to what Madame DeBose will accomplish next. I know it!

1) Not his first rodeo…

I always get a chuckle out of commentary like “so-and-so has still got it.” This usually comes after said filmmaker has made a couple of films that are outside of their normal quality releases. Spielberg has definitely been in these conversations recently to which my reply is… he never lost it! That’s right folks… Steven Spielberg is one of the best filmmakers living today, and he even shows no signs of slowing down. And if his contributions to cinema keep going in this direction, I will continue to be a champion of his work!

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story was a remarkable entry into the American musical films. Through his direction and partnership with cinematographer Janus Kamiński, this is a must-watch for film fans. Ok, sure… it’s a remake of a film which originally adapted a stage musical. But trust me when I say that novelty exists throughout this lively and beautifully shot feature. So, what are you waiting for? Join the conversation today and watch the film–on HBO Max!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Check out the trailer for West Side Story (2021) directed by Steven Spielberg – now on HBO Max!

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

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