''Memphis'' and ''Moulin Rouge!'' are among MY favorite recent Best Musicals, but I agree with Chazwaza's premise that ''context is important.''
When it comes to picking weak seasons, of course, it's subjective. My general critieria is: How strong was the Best Musical winner? What's its legacy, and does anyone do it anymore? And what was its competition? So I agree with Chazwaza, basically, about the 2009-10 offerings. At least ''Memphis'' is original, and by my count, won over a field of 9 new shows, which included ''American Idiot'' and ''Fela!,'' which got N.Y. Times raves.
I agree with ShowGoer about 1985 and 1995 being pretty paltry. And here are a few more seasons that I consider weak and wanting.
1959: Best Musical nominees - ''Redhead,'' ''Flower Drum Song,'' ''La Plume da Ma Tante.'' Is there a less-revived Best Musical trio?
1974: Best Musical nominees - ''Raisin!,'' ''Over Here!'' ''Seesaw.'' (And a stage version of ''Gigi'' won the Tony for Best Score.)
1999: Best Musical nominees - ''Fosse,''''It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues,'' ''Parade'' and ''The Civil War'' (which I actually enjoyed).
And I loved ''Jerome Robbins' Broadway'' (1989), but it's a sad & skimpy season when the Tonys drop the Book, Score & Choreography categories.