Awards analysis is provided by Sean from @MathTeacherMovies.
The genre of the musical is no stranger to the Oscars. This year, there are five notable musicals being released and it’s very likely that one or two of them will enter the Oscars race, but which ones have the best shot?
The two musicals most likely to receive the most Oscar buzz are In the Heights and West Side Story. In the Heights, an adaptation of a Broadway play, is the only musical that’s been released as of the date of this column and it has received high critical and audience praise. The low box office numbers could hurt its Oscars-win narrative, but one has to keep in mind that it was released on HBO Max at the same time it debuted in theaters, so many would-be moviegoers chose to watch it from home. Further, In The Heights does not have the name recognition of a play like Hamilton, contributing to its less than stellar theatrical debut. It also has the potential to be held back by the controversy from its recent colorism scandal. It’s largest obstacle to get over is the June release which will leave it to be forgotten come nomination time in the winter, but will still give it enough time to run a good Oscars campaign.
In the Heights has quickly become a beloved film that has a large, beautiful canvas that is exactly what Best Picture was made for. This film’s chance of Best Picture will rise and fall with its technical awards consideration: it should have a shot at Best Sound, Production Design, Cinematography, and Costume. All of these are done by craftsmen and women who are mostly new to the business but still have established themselves by making a work of art like this movie. Anthony Ramos is proving that he can hold the lead down and is a long shot for a Best Actor nomination, but is a strong contender nonetheless. The nomination that has the best shot is Olga Merediz for Best Supporting Actress who had an emotional, memorable scene reprising the character she played in Heights’s Broadway run.
West Side Story will be a threat to all forthcoming Best Picture nominees, especially considering its December release date and that it was directed by Hollywood legend Spielberg. One trailer for the film has been released and it’s beautiful. One issue it might run up against is the fact that this film is a remake of a classic Best Picture winner and might leave a bad taste in many voters’ mouths if it does not do the original film justice. There is also the controversy surrounding the actor Ansel Elgort, who plays a leading role, which might diminish Story’s chances of winning as this is something that will continually be brought up during an opposing Oscar campaign.
Dear Evan Hansen looks beautifully filmed with great production quality and has a cast that is full of legendary talent that will definitely scoop some supporting nominations, especially Amy Adams. However, it will be interesting to see if they can all sing or if that will even matter. Other nominations do seem rare at this point mainly due to overproduction and a possible reliance on this being like the stage play.
Tick, Tick, Boom is easily the most unpredictable when it comes to its Oscar prospects. There isn’t even a release date but it will most likely be in the fall. This is led by Andrew Garfield playing iconic Broadway figure Jonathan Larson which is a remarkable story and carries the chance of a possible Oscar nomination.
There is a lot of buzz around Tick, Tick, Boom being Lin Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut and this could easily go either way. The man is a complete genius with musical theater but an actual film that looks very ambitious has the potential to go either way.
Ironically, there is not a lot being said about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie yet but this is a British comedy that is acknowledging the LGBTQ culture and that can always be a beautiful story and might manage to sneak and grab the occasional fifth nomination in several categories.
Oscars and the musicals have had a weird relationship, in the past twenty years only La La Land, Les Miserables, Moulin Rouge and Chicago were films that got anywhere near the Oscar with only one of them winning the top prizes. The nineties and eighties were quite a drought for musicals when it came to the Oscars. In the seventies, there were more of the artistic, gritty musicals which were a part of the Oscar season, such as Cabaret and All that Jazz. The fifties and sixties were the golden age of the Hollywood musical with quite a few movies from this genre winning and coming close to movies. We will never get back to that time period, but this year might be the age of a new type of musical being honored.