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Musicals and the Oscars


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For some reason, it seems to be very difficult for an actor to be nominated for an Oscar for a musical. Of course, there have been exceptions, such as Topol, Debbie Reynolds, Ron Moody, Jean Hagen, and James Cagney. But there are so many others that I feel should have been nominated. Two that come to mind are Audrey Hepburn for "My Fair Lady" and Ava Gardner for "Show Boat." Who are some of your favorites that you feel should have received a nomination?



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"...there are so many others that I feel should have been nominated. Two that come to mind are Audrey Hepburn for 'My Fair Lady' and Ava Gardner for 'Show Boat'...


Theory 1: I wonder if these two were ignored because they didn't sing for themselves? Both lip synched to the playbacks of other singers (Marni Nixon and Annette Warren, respectively). Would they have gotten it if they had beautiful voices that were used? Theory 2: I wonder if they were ignored because Hollywood sentiment wished that Julie Andrews would have been cast as Eliza Doolittle, and Lena Horne as Julie LaVerne?


Interesting that Debbie Reynolds' foray to the Oscar circle was beat out by another musical actress: Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins.

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You're correct SKP: Catherine Zeta-Jones won the Supporting Actress award for playing Velma Kelly. She was up against Queen Latifah, also from Chicago. Other Chicago actors that were nominated were John C. Reilly and Ren?e Zellweger.


Other Oscarites:



Joanquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon Walk the Line



Nicole Kidman Moulin Rouge



Sean Penn and Samantha Morton Sweet and Lowdown



Dexter Gordon Round Midnight



Tom Hulce and F. Murray Abraham Amadeus



Amy Irving Yentl



Charles Durning The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Robert Preston, Lesley Ann Warren and Julie Andrews Victor/Victoria



Roy Scheider All That Jazz

Bette Midler The Rose



Mikhail Barishnikov The Turning Point



Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli Cabaret

Diana Ross Lady Sings the Blues



Topol and Leonard Frey Fiddler on the Roof



Ron Moody and Jack Wild Oliver!

Daniel Massey Star!

Barbra Streisand and Key Medford Funny Girl



Carol Channing Thoroughly Modern Millie



Julie Andrews and Peggy Wood The Sound of Music



Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway My Fair Lady

Julie Andrews Mary Poppins

Debbie Reynolds The Unsinkable Molly Brown



George Chakiris and Rita Moreno West Side Story



Jack Lemmon Some Like It Hot



Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr The King and I



Eleanor Parker Interrupted Melody

Peggy Lee Pete Kelly's Blues



James Mason and Judy Garland A Star is Born

Dorothy Dandridge Carmen Jones



Leslie Caron Lili

Marjorie Rambeau Torch Song



Susan Hayward and Thelma Ritter With a Song in My Heart

Jean Hagen Singin' in the Rain



Dan Dailey When My Baby Smiles at Me



Gene Kelly Anchors Away

Cornel Wilde A Song to Remember



Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald (twice!) Going My Way



James Cagney and Walter Huston Yankee Doodle Dandy



Mickey Rooney Babes in Arms



Miliza Korjus The Great Waltz



Alice Brady In Old Chicago



Spencer Tracy San Francisco

Stuart Erwin Pigskin Parade

Luise Rainer The Great Ziegfeld



Grace Moore One Night of Love


These were just the competitive acting nominations (and award winners), of course. Special awards were given to other, such as the juvenile awards to Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, etc.

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There were some surprises for me as well. Stuart Erwin, for example, nominated for Supporting Actor in Pigskin Parade. I think this film is pretty much forgotten as a B-picture over on the Twentieth-Century Fox lot. It's primarily known as Judy Garland's first full-length picture, but had an amazing cast of characters who became very successful later: Ann Miller, Betty Grable, Tony Martin, Alan Ladd. I never knew it was nominated for anything.


Was also surprised that Dan Dailey was nominated.

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It's odd, isn't it? On the one hand, you get the impression that the Academy doesn't think of musicals as "real" award-worthy cinema, yet nominations are made in what may seem the most un-award-worthy places.


It's as they say: It's all politics. I stopped watching that farce decades ago.

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I'm pleased that so many had opinions on this subject. By the way, I've thought of a couple more that definitely should have been nominated. From "The Music Man": Robert Preston and Hermione Gingold. Two very funny performances. I hadn't thought about Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner not receiving nominations because of their singing being dubbed in. Perhaps that had something to do with it. One can only wonder. And poor Ava Gardner! "Show Boat" was one of the very few opportunities she had to prove that she really could act! Well, as they say, that's Hollywood.



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I tried to explain this to friends a long time ago, but they thought I was nuts so I'm going to state my views and see if any of you get what I'm trying to say.


To me there are two different kinds of musicals. One kind is a movie with songs in it just for the sake of having a song, it has nothing to do with the story, like all of Elvis' movies, or Yankee Doodle Dandy. To me this should be called a movie with songs or something similar.


The second kind is a true musical where the songs explain the scene, such as 'I'm Gonna Wash that man right Outta my Hair', When Nellie Forbush decides not to see the Frenchman again in South Pacific, or 'Getting to know You' when the teacher meets the Kings' children in The King and I. The songs in the latter are expressing feelings and plans in musical form instead of using words alone. If you think about the words of songs in the truly great musicals like West Side Story, Oklahoma, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, etc. you might get what I'm trying to say.


That's my explanation of the difference between a 'musical' and 'a movie with songs in it'. Does anyone have any opinions or other ideas?

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  • 1 month later...

This is actually in reply to the original post. Many people have been nominated and won for musical parts, but few movies themselves have been chosen for Best picture which I think is a shame. If you consider all that goes into a musical, not just acting, but choreography, music, sets, design for both streetwear and the musical spots, and so much more. Technically, I think musicals, especially ones like Moulin Rouge and Chicago (hated both) and the old ones, Oklahoma, South Pacific, Flower Drum Song etc. deserved a whole lot more attention from Oscar than they received, for the whole movie, not just one or two roles.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I couldn't agree more about the two different kinds of musicals. I think that it is a lot more difficult to have to sing, dance, and act all with the same emotion(s). If a whole cast can do this and make it believable then the movie deserves as much credit as possible.

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  • 5 months later...

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