There’s this one part in the movie Once where the Guy and the Girl visit a music shop and play “Falling Slowly” together. Everything about this scene is perfect, from the song itself and the way Glen Hansard teaches it to Marketa Irglova, to the slight glances the two sneak at one another and the burgeoning attraction between them. It’s pure movie magic and one of my all-time favourite film scenes.
That alone would be enough to make Once a serious contender for this spot. Fortunately, the rest of the film is great enough to cinch it. Using a very realistic tone compared to most musicals, it tells a moving story about love, music and the ways the two can intersect. There are no spontaneous extravagant glittery song performances filled with well-choreographed dance routines. Instead, there are normal people playing songs when it makes sense for them to do so, with no frills attached. Hansard and Irglova are themselves musicians, not actors (though the former had a prior supporting part in The Commitments), yet everything about their acting here rings true.
In short, this is an absolutely lovely film. So while I do love the musical genre and many of the films that inhabit it, this is still a fairly easy choice for me.