At this point, most can agree that Lin-Manuel Miranda is not human — he’s a songwriting machine churning out hit after musical hit. He will tickle your brain with the catchiest songs and not let you have a moment’s peace thanks to the major LSS it will give you. If you don’t know who he is, he is the genius behind your favorite Moana track “How Far I’ll Go” and Encanto song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and then some more. Miranda has also acted in a number of movies and directed musicals too. Here are just 8 films and musicals to watch if you love Lin-Manuel Miranda.
2021 was a busy year for Miranda. He made your current favorite tracks from Encanto. He wrote the lyrics and composed the songs including “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” “Surface Pressure,” “Family Madrigal.” Avid fans of the songwriter will recognize his unique mark in the songs like how he loves the challenge of mixing different character lines at the same time to create harmony. It’s the dinner portion in “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” where all the characters sing their individual lines at the same time (just like “96,000” in In the Heights). It should sound chaotic, right? But Miranda does this part with such ease! The king of giving everyone LSS.
Miranda doesn’t just sit on his desk and write songs, he does his research too. For Encanto, he and his all-Latino team listened to a lot of Colombian music to immerse him in the sound and feel. He doesn’t just create hits, he wants it to make sure he honors the culture too.
Tick, Tick.. Boom! (2021)
There was so much to love and praise for Tick, Tick.. Boom!, a semi-autobiographical musical based on Jonathan Larson’s life. Larson was the musical genius who wrote Rent but unfortunately passed away before he saw the Broadway success of his creation. In the 2021 musical drama, Andrew Garfield’s astounding portrayal of Larson deserves all the awards Hollywood can throw at him but we can wax poetic about how he gave life to the film some other time. The movie is Miranda’s directorial debut and his love letter to Larson. He said that watching Rent on Broadway all those years ago inspired him to write his first musical, In the Heights, which had similar themes. He might not have penned an original song in this film, but his work definitely made the movie one of the best ones of 2021.
Miranda voices the titular music-loving Vivo, a tropical rainforest mammal who is on a mission to deliver a love song. The film is an animated musical comedy by Sony Pictures Animation you can catch on Netflix. Miranda wrote 11 songs for the movie in his trademark catchy-and-emotional songwriting evident in crowd-favorite tracks “One of a Kind,” “Keep the Beat,” and “My Own Drum.” Add Vivo to your weekend watch list with the kids if you haven’t seen this already!
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
While Miranda didn’t pen lyrics or compose songs for this movie (props to the original composer Marc Shaiman who co-wrote lyrics together with Scott Wittman), he did perform them alongside Emily Blunt as Jack the lamplighter. Starring in the sequel to Mary Poppins (1964) was a dream come true for Miranda. He shares that he had always wanted to star in someone else’s musical, calling it “the fruit of the harvest.”
Remember the chokehold Moana songs had on the world when it was released in 2016? Miranda singlehandedly wrote and composed hit tracks Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go,” Maui’s “You’re Welcome,” and Tamatoa’s “Shiny.” He worked with Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina on Polynesian-influenced music for the rest of the Disney film’s beautiful soundtrack. Just like what he did with Encanto, Miranda made sure the movie’s setting (Pacific Islands) and culture were reflected in his music. He shared that during the entire process, they would “show every screening and play every song for [people from the Pacific Islands] to really make sure we got it right.” Miranda also got his first Oscar nomination thanks to the success of “How Far I’ll Go.”
Hamilton tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton through songs in hip-hop, rap, R&B, pop, soul, and show tunes. And yes, Miranda himself penned the phenomenal lyrics and made the music for the whole 2 hours and 45 minutes of the show. He was inspired after reading Rob Chernow’s 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton. It took him about seven years to finish writing this musical. Hamilton finally had its Broadway premiere in 2015. It went on to win awards including 16 Tony Awards nominations winning 11 in total including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
In the Heights (1999)
Miranda started writing his first musical, In the Heights, when he was a sophomore at Wesleyan University in 1999. It has a wonderful blend of hip-hop, salsa, and soul music sung by struggling characters in the neighborhood of Washington Heights, New York. Miranda got the opportunity to expand it into a Broadway show afterward where it debuted in 2008. Since then, In the Heights has been nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won four, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. In 2021, it had a film adaptation — every bit as musical, colorful, and fun — directed by Jon M. Chu and produced by Miranda.
Little Mermaid (2023)
Fun fact: Watching The Little Mermaid (1989) was a “life-changing” moment for then Miranda. Hearing the song “Under the Sea” triggered something in his brain that launched him on a creative musical career. Decades later, he has the pleasure of working on the live-action adaptation that’s set to release in 2023. Miranda will co-produce the film and will work alongside Alan Menken (the original composer of The Little Mermaid songs like “Under the Sea”) to write new songs. If Miranda’s previous work is anything to go by, we’re sure his original songs for this one will be as catchy and good.