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For Your Consideration: How Much Does Oscar Love a Musical?

For Your Consideration: How Much Does Oscar Love a Musical?

With Rob Marshall’s “Into The Woods” about to hit theaters and Will Gluck’s “Annie” freshly in them, it’ll definitely be a big Christmas for the movie musical. But will they continue on their merry way into Oscar season? The history of musicals both at the Oscars and the box office is a complicated one. There were five musical Best Picture winners out of eight nominees between 1958 and 1969, one of which – “The Sound of Music” – grossed the present day equivalent of $1,022,542,400 dollars. While the 1970s and early 1980s brought a few notable examples (“Grease” wasn’t exactly an Oscar favorite, but it grossed over $500 million when adjusted for inflation), between 1984 and 2000, only one live action musical (“Evita”) received an Oscar nomination or grossed over $15 million domestically.

But then came the 2000s. First, two innovative indies – Lars Von Trier’s “Dancer In The Dark” and John Cameron Mitchell’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” – drew international acclaim and managed to rake in reasonable specialty box office dollars. Then there was Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!,” which managed a $57 million gross – the highest any musical had seen since 1982’s “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” – and received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Hollywood took notice, and from that point forward, big-budgeted, star-studded musical “events” seemed to meet us nearly every year. However, they definitely didn’t always work out. For every “Chicago” or “Les Miserables” there was a “The Producers” or a “Rent,” but the overall success rate has been high enough to help mark 2014 as fifteen years of pretty consistent song-and-dance additions to studio release slates. So let’s look back at that decade and a half, and take a guess as to where this year’s offerings will fall when it comes to big awards.

Dancer In The Dark (2000)

Director: Lars von Trier
Cast: Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse, Peter Stormare
U.S. Distributor: Fine Line
Domestic gross: $4,184,036
Golden Globes: In one of their classier moves, the Globes double-nominated Bjork for Best Actress and Best Original Song.
Oscars: In one of their stupider moves, Oscars snubbed Bjork’s performance. Her song – co-written by Lars von Trier and Sjón Sigurdsson – got a nomination (yes, Lars von Trier is an Oscar nominee), only to become a legendary Oscar joke due to Bjork’s swan dress.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Cast: John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask, Michael Pitt, Andrew Martin
U.S. Distributor: Fine Line
Domestic gross: $3,067,312
Golden Globes: In another uncharacteristically awesome move, Cameron Mitchell got a Best Actor nod at the Globes in the Comedy/Musical category.
Oscars: Shamefully but unsurprisingly, nothing.

Moulin Rouge (2001)

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, John Leguizamo
U.S. Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Domestic gross: $57,386,369
Golden Globes: With one of its two primary categories half-dedicated to the musical, the Globes have always gone gaga for the genre. But with little outside of Disney to reward, it hadn’t gotten a chance to show that love for some time. That changed with “Rouge!,” as the Globes began a decade-long tradition of pretty much every musical that got released (with a few exceptions noted below). “Rouge!” made one of the biggest showings, taking six nods and 3 wins.
Oscars: Eight nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress (Nicole Kidman), and wins for Art Direction and costume design. They snubbed Luhrmann’s direction and the screenplay, though, which showed they weren’t entirely ready to re-embrace their old friend.

Chicago (2002)

Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly
U.S. Distributor: Miramax
Domestic gross: $170,687,518
Golden Globes: Received eight nominations, the second highest total for a film ever (after “Nashville”), including Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Director and acting nods for its entire principal cast. Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger and the film itself all ended up winning.
Oscars: Gives the film the same distinction as the Globes with a whopping thirteen nominations (less than only “Titanic” and “All About Eve”). Six of them were winners, including Best Picture – the first musical to take that prize in 35 years.

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Gerald Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson
U.S. Distributor: Warner Brothers
Domestic Gross: $51,268,815
Golden Globes: Despite very tepid reviews, Joel Schumacher’s “Opera” still got nods for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Actress and Best Original Song.
Oscars: Three nods here as well, for Art Direction, Cinematography and Original Song.

Rent (2005)

Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Rosario Dawson, Jesse L. Martin, Taye Diggs
U.S. Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Domestic Gross: $29,077,547
Golden Globes: Somewhat surprisingly, zilch. That makes it the only one of just a few musicals noted here to not receive a Golden Globe nomination.
Oscars: Also nada.

The Producers (2005)

Director: Susan Stroman
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Will Ferrell, Uma Thurman
U.S. Distributor: Universal
Domestic Gross: $19,398,532
Golden Globes: Despite being worse received than fellow-2005er and Globes shut out “Rent,” “The Producers” got nominations for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Actor (Nathan Lane), Best Supporting Actor (Will Ferrell) and Best Original Song.
Oscars: Not even for the song. People started wondering if the musical was dying yet again, and all eyes were placed on the next one…

Dreamgirls (2006)

Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, Danny Glover, Anika Koni Rose
U.S. Distributor: Paramount/Dreamworks
Domestic Gross: $103,365,956
Golden Globes: Five nominations, with wins for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy, and both supporting acting categories (for Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson). Condon doesn’t manage a Best Director nod, though.
Oscars: Gets eight nominations, the most of any film that year. Except… none of them are for Best Picture. Some call it one of the decade’s biggest snubs (I call it reasonable), but it ends up winning for Hudson’s supporting performance and sound mixing, and its $100 million+ gross signals that the genre is far from financially dead, Oscars be damned.

Hairspray (2007)

Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Queen Latifah
U.S. Distributor: New Line
Domestic Gross: $118,871,849
Golden Globes: Three nominations – for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Actress (Blonsky), and Best Supporting Actor (Travolta).
Oscars: Despite being very well-received financially and critically, “Hairspray” doesn’t get an Oscar nomination.

Across The Universe (2007)

Director: Julie Taymor
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson
U.S. Distributor: Sony
Domestic Gross: $24,343,673
Golden Globes: The Beatles-inspired musical competed against “Hairspray” with its lone nod for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.
Oscars: Just a Costume Design nomination.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen
U.S. Distributor: Paramount/Dreamworks
Domestic Gross: $52,898,073
Golden Globes: Completing 2007’s triple-threat, “Sweeney” was one of a whopping three musical nominees in the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category, and won. It also won for Depp’s performance, and received nominations for real-life couple Burton and Bonham Carter.
Oscars: Like “Dreamgirls” before it (and “Nine” and “Les Miserables” after it), “Sweeney Todd” was the big December release with high Oscar hopes. While some predicted it would make the final cut up to the last moment, in the end it only managed nods for Depp, Costume Design and Art Direction (the latter of which it won).

Once (2007)

Director: John Carney
Cast: Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova
U.S. Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Domestic Gross: $9,437,933
Golden Globes: Somehow, not even a song nomination. The Globes gave three best picture nods to musicals during this landmark year for the genre, but failed to recognize the best one.
Oscars: Nothing short of a miracle, “Once” track “Falling Slowly” made it through wacky Oscar rules and won Best Original Song.

Mamma Mia! (2008)

Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård
U.S. Distributor: Universal
Domestic gross: $144,130,063 (worldwide it grossed $465,711,574, and became the highest grossing film ever in the UK)
Golden Globes: Two nominations for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy and Meryl Streep’s performance.
Oscars: None, but who needs an Oscar when you have that kinda cash.

Nine (2009)

Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren
U.S. Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Domestic gross: $19,676,965
Golden Globes: Before Rob Marshall went “Into The Woods,” he stumbled with this star studded musical, which was a critical and financial dud. But that didn’t matter to the Golden Globes, which gave it 5 nominations including Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy.
Oscars: Penelope Cruz managed the film’s sole acting nod, while it took three others for Art Direction, Costume Design and Original Song. But it was widely seen as a Best Picture contender, until people, well, actually saw it. “Nine” started a bit of a slump for the movie musical.

Burlesque (2010)

Director: Steven Antin
Cast: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Cam Gigandet, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Alan Cumming
U.S. Distributor: Sony/Screen Gems
Domestic gross: $39,440,655
Golden Globes: The HFPA gave “Burlesque” two Best Original Song nominations, one of which (for “You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me”) resulted in a win. They also gave it a Best Picture nomination, which caused some serious eyerolls given the film is really campy fun at best.
Oscars: Even the songs couldn’t manage to make the cut, which actually was somewhat questionable when it came to “You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me,” which was much better than a lot of what actually did get nominated.

Rock of Ages (2012)

Director: Adam Shakman
Cast:
Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bryan Cranston, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise
U.S. Distributor: Warner Brothers
Domestic gross: $38,518,613
Golden Globes: A definite low point for the genre, “Rock of Ages” didn’t even manage a Globe nomination.
Oscars: Fourteen nominations including Best Picture! (If you need to read this note that we’re kidding, you need another cup of coffee).

Les Miserables (2012)

Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen
U.S. Distributor: Universal
Domestic gross: $148,809,770
Golden Globes: “Les Miserables” overcame somewhat mixed reviews to manage major box office and awards notice, ending the mini-slump. At the Globes, for example, it won three of the four awards it was nominated for — including Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and acting prizes for Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
Oscars: A whopping eight nominations including Best Picture, the most for a musical since “Dreamgirls” and the first to get a nod in the big category since “Chicago.” It won three, including a trophy for Anne Hathaway (if anything, the Best Supporting Actress category loves a musical).

Jersey Boys (2014)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast:
John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken
U.S. Distributor: Warner Brothers
Domestic gross: $47,047,013
Golden Globes: It’s easy to forget that 2014 actually had three big movie musicals, with Clint Eastwood directing “Jersey Boys” earlier in the summer. Golden Globe voters certainly were quick to forget — it didn’t get any nominations.
Oscars: It’s technically still possible, but definitely don’t hold your breathe.

Annie (2014)

Director: Will Gluck
Cast: Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Tracie Thoms
U.S. Distributor: Sony
Domestic gross: $17,100,000 (and counting — its only been open for a few days)
Golden Globes: It’s been nominated for Wallis’ performance and a song by Sia, despite some pretty negative reviews.
Oscars: A long shot to be sure, the only real chance the Oscar sun will come out for “Annie” is in the Best Original Song category.

Into The Woods (2014)

Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: 
Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp
U.S. Distributor: Disney
Domestic gross: Opens Christmas Day.
Golden Globes: Three nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and acting bids for Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep.
Oscars: Definitely this year’s MVP when it comes to musicals at the Oscars, “Into The Woods” is pretty much guaranteed a couple artistic and technical nominations, alongside yet another one for Ms. Meryl Streep. Best Picture is considerably more iffy, but it’s possible.

READ MORE: For Your Consideration: Breaking Down the 2014 Oscar Race, Distributor by Distributor

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