The Version Used in the Film (ending 1):
The Alternative Ending (ending 2)
I prefer the alternate ending for a number of reasons. Besides providing a great framing device for the movie (the film opens with the cast on the bare stage singing "Seasons of Love"), the alternate ending is also far truer to the play than the version Columbus opted to use for the film. In the play, the entire cast sings the song and is rejoined by Angel at the very end. Although Angel is present in ending 1 (through Mark's movie), he doesn't have the same presence that he does in ending 2.
I also find that Columbus's rationale for using ending 1 is a cop-out and underestimates the audience's intelligence. According to his director's commentary, he decided to use ending 1 because the beginning of the film seemed so distant from the end and asking people to make that connection took them out of the moment. However, I think that most people are cognizant enough to remember something that happened less than two hours before. Furthermore, the image of the cast standing on the stage in their individual pools of light is so striking that it is an image that most people would remember.
Finally, there are so many small, nuanced moments in ending 2 that makes it the better choice. From Mimi's look of joy when Angel enters to the small touch of the hand between Angel and Collins to the beatific light that surrounds the characters, it is considerably more memorable and poignant than Mark's grainy, Baz Luhrmann/ Oliver Stone-esq video footage.