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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?

 

Terrence.

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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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Of course, Catherine Zeta-Jones won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as Velma Kelly in CHICAGO. I believe that Queen Latifah and Renee Zellweger were nominated as well...too lazy to go look it up!

 

Sandy K

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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:

 

2005:

Joanquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon Walk the Line

 

2001:

Nicole Kidman Moulin Rouge

 

1999:

Sean Penn and Samantha Morton Sweet and Lowdown

 

1986:

Dexter Gordon Round Midnight

 

1984:

Tom Hulce and F. Murray Abraham Amadeus

 

1983:

Amy Irving Yentl

 

1982:

Charles Durning The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

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

 

1979:

Roy Scheider All That Jazz

Bette Midler The Rose

 

1977:

Mikhail Barishnikov The Turning Point

 

1972:

Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli Cabaret

Diana Ross Lady Sings the Blues

 

1971:

Topol and Leonard Frey Fiddler on the Roof

 

1968:

Ron Moody and Jack Wild Oliver!

Daniel Massey Star!

Barbra Streisand and Key Medford Funny Girl

 

1967:

Carol Channing Thoroughly Modern Millie

 

1965:

Julie Andrews and Peggy Wood The Sound of Music

 

1964:

Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway My Fair Lady

Julie Andrews Mary Poppins

Debbie Reynolds The Unsinkable Molly Brown

 

1961:

George Chakiris and Rita Moreno West Side Story

 

1959:

Jack Lemmon Some Like It Hot

 

1956:

Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr The King and I

 

1955:

Eleanor Parker Interrupted Melody

Peggy Lee Pete Kelly's Blues

 

1954:

James Mason and Judy Garland A Star is Born

Dorothy Dandridge Carmen Jones

 

1953:

Leslie Caron Lili

Marjorie Rambeau Torch Song

 

1952:

Susan Hayward and Thelma Ritter With a Song in My Heart

Jean Hagen Singin' in the Rain

 

1948:

Dan Dailey When My Baby Smiles at Me

 

1945:

Gene Kelly Anchors Away

Cornel Wilde A Song to Remember

 

1944:

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

 

1942:

James Cagney and Walter Huston Yankee Doodle Dandy

 

1939:

Mickey Rooney Babes in Arms

 

1938:

Miliza Korjus The Great Waltz

 

1937:

Alice Brady In Old Chicago

 

1936:

Spencer Tracy San Francisco

Stuart Erwin Pigskin Parade

Luise Rainer The Great Ziegfeld

 

1934:

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.

 

Terrence.

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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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