Welcome to the 2019 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you in the coming year (at least at this time of writing). The series analyzes the films and their awards season potential, most notably for the Academy Awards, based on the talents attached, filmmakers involved, and story and source material.  Monday through Friday until mid-May, AwardsCircuit will bring you a new and exciting project and discuss its chances for success.  If you have a suggestion for a movie we should cover, include it in the comments section below.  If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”

FILM: “ROCKETMAN”

DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures
DIRECTOR: Dexter Fletcher
PRODUCERS: Adam Bohling, David Furnish, Michael Gracey, Diane Hendricks, Elton John, Karine Martin, Italo Marzotto, Tommaso Marzotto, Brian Oliver, David Reid, Claudia Schiffer, Steve Hamilton Shaw, Matthew Vaughn
WRITER(S): Lee Hall
CAST: Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jamie Bell, Tate Donovan, Gemma Jones
SYNOPSIS: A musical fantasy about the uncensored human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. (IMDB)

SCHEDULED RELEASE: May 31, 2019

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS:

People love music biopics. At one point, it seemed like that was a relic of mid-2000s Oscar bait (“Ray,” “Walk the Line”). However, the genre came back to life in a major way with “Bohemian Rhapsody” this past year. The film grossed over $850 million worldwide and won four of its five Oscars, including Best Actor for Rami Malek. “Rocketman” shares more in common with “Bohemian Rhapsody” than just crazy costumes and musicians from a similar era. Director Dexter Fletcher was brought on board to salvage “Bohemian Rhapsody” once its original, problematic director Brian Singer was asked to leave.

Much like Oscar winner Rami Malek, Taron Egerton is a star on the rise. If Egerton hits it out of the park with his portrayal of Elton John, it’s hard to see him have a similar awards trajectory. Already, footage confirms that Egerton does his own singing in the film. Conversely, Malek’s vocals were dubbed by original Queen recordings. Elton John has blessed Egerton’s performance of him, which shows confidence in the star. The supporting cast is also filled with big names. Jamie Bell could earn his long-awaited first nomination for playing Elton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin. Also looking for their first nomination is Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Shiela Eileen, Elton’s mother. Lastly, “Game of Thrones” star Richard Madden could be the key breakout as John Reid, Elton’s lover, and manager. 

“Rocketman” definitely believes the old adage that bigger is better. The stills and trailer both highlight the larger than life costumes. This flamboyance propels Julian Day to the top of the list of Costume Design contenders. Along those same lines, the movie also finds itself in the hunt for a Makeup & Hairstyling nomination. Multiple wigs transform Egerton to Elton at various different stages of his career. From here, the film stands to stack up even more tech nominations. Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing all seem possible, given “Bohemian Rhapsody’s” wins in those categories. Additionally, Production Design and Cinematography nominations may follow if the period sets and performance sequences are impressive enough.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

“Bohemian Rhapsody” walked away with more than just four Oscar nominations. The film continues to carry a massive amount of controversy. Allegations against director Brian Singer were made public during the film’s release. Additionally, many LGBTQ+ critics were uncomfortable with how Freddie Mercury’s same-sex attraction was dealt with in the film. Not only did some feel the film sanitized his romances, but amending the point at which Mercury contracts AIDS also drew ire. “Rocketman” will have to navigate similar topics as it deals with Elton John’s sexuality. One hopes it will be able to celebrate Elton’s homosexuality and tell his story accurately and with a great heart. However, if it courts similar controversy, it may be harder for the film to find “Bohemian Rhapsody’s” same level of success. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Similarly, will there be music biopic fatigue? If “Rocketman” bears too close a resemblance to “A Star is Born” or “Bohemian Rhapsody,” voters and audience may not be as excited to champion the film. Director Dexter Fletcher notably helmed the second half of production for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” However, does he possess a strong enough vision to have “Rocketman” all to himself? His most prominent credited work prior to this was “Eddie the Eagle,” also starring Egerton. This speaks well to their actor-director collaboration. However, this makes Fletcher’s Oscar track record a bit hazier. Could this make the film more of an acting and craft play, rather than a Best Picture contender?

POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (Adam Bohling, David Furnish, Michael Gracey, Diane Hendricks, Elton John, Karine Martin, Italo Marzotto, Tommaso Marzotto, Brian Oliver, David Reid, Claudia Schiffer, Steve Hamilton Shaw, Matthew Vaughn)
  • Director (Dexter Fletcher)
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Taron Egerton)
  • Actor in a Supporting Role (Jamie Bell, Richard Madden)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role (Bryce Dallas Howard)
  • Original Screenplay (Lee Hall)
  • Production Design (Marcus Rowland)
  • Cinematography (George Richmond)
  • Costume Design (Julian Day)
  • Film Editing (To be announced)
  • Makeup and Hairstyling (To be announced)
  • Sound Mixing (To be announced)
  • Sound Editing (To be announced)
  • Original Score (Matthew Margeson)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble (SAG Awards): How did “Bohemian Rhapsody” get nominated for Ensemble? Spillover love for Rami Malek of course. However, “Rocketman” has more of a stacked ensemble and it seems they will have more to do, particularly Bell and Howard. If it gets in here, the Best Picture nomination seems secure.
  • Best Lead Actor, Musical/Comedy (Golden Globes): The movie will live or die based on Taron Egerton’s performance as Elton John. The Globes will be the easiest place for his campaign to gain traction. Winning here could put him in the race to win the Oscars.
  • Best Picture (BAFTA): Being about Elton John, “Rocketman” should be as much a hit with BAFTA as “Bohemian Rhapsody” was. While Best British Film seems inevitable, if it gets into Best Picture, that could secure it as a real Oscar player.

Are you excited or skeptical about Dexter Fletcher’s “Rocketman?” Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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