Musical biopics: when the box office and critics go ka-chung!

With Baz Luhrman’s “Elvis” opening June 24, a look at the bubbling cauldron of charismatic performances and high drama that goes into making a successful musical biopic

With Baz Luhrman’s “Elvis” opening June 24, a look at the bubbling cauldron of charismatic performances and high drama that goes into making a successful musical biopic

With Elvis, based on the life of The King played by Austin Butler, and his thorny relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), Baz Luhrman is on familiar ground. The Red Mill! director is known for his extravagant musical numbers.

Elvis is the latest in a long line of musical biopics from 1968 funny girl that Barbra Streisand nailed with her portrayal of Fanny Brice as Jonathan Larson’s charming personification of Andrew Garfield in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut, Tick, tick… Boom! (2021) .

Reward the darlings

Music biopics, if done well, in addition to being top notch artists, are award magnets. Andrew Garfield’s Golden Globe win and Oscar nomination continue the tradition of recognition. George C. Wolfe Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020), which tells the story of blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and a busy recording session in 1927 Chicago, received five Oscar nominations and won two for makeup and makeup. hairstyle and costume design.

Chadwick Boseman’s incendiary performance as the hot-headed trumpet player Levee earned him a Best Actor nomination.

Taron Egerton’s performance as British singer and pianist, Elton John in Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman (2019) earned him a slew of nominations and a Golden Globe. As Judy Garland in Rupert Goold Judy (2019), Renée Zellweger won the Oscar for Best Actress, as well as the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG), BAFTA and Critics’ Choice.

by Peter Farrelly green paper (2018) set in 1962 detailing a tour by African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his driver and bodyguard Frank Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), won the Best Picture Oscar as well as the original screenplay. Ali, in addition to winning a supporting role at the Oscars, has also won the Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG.

They will rock you

Also in 2018, Brian Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody about the life of Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), lead singer of British rock band Queen. While there were murmurs against sidestepping the issue of Mercury’s sexuality and toning down some of the greatest excesses, Bohemian Rhapsody was a box office hit and a critics’ favorite.

Like Ali, in addition to winning the Academy Award for Best Actor, Malek has also notched wins at the Golden Globes, BAFTA, and SAG. Bohemian Rhapsody with its towering and anthemic numbers, won Oscars for Film and Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

Hugh Jackman earned a Best Actor nomination at the Golden Globes for his performance as artist PT Barnum, in Michael Gracey The greatest showman (2017). The film won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song for “This Is Me.”

In the 2000s, there was that of Taylor Hackford Ray (2004) about the life of R&B musician Ray Charles. For his performance as Charles, Jamie Foxx won all five major acting awards – Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG and Critic’s Choice, becoming the second actor to do so.

by James Mangold walk the line (2005) about the life of Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) focuses on the country music singer and songwriter’s relationship with singer June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) and his struggles with addiction. The film earned five Oscar nominations, including Best Actress for Witherspoon which she won.

Six actors in search of an icon

Although there are biopics that are straight-forward accounts, Todd Haynes I am not here (2007) should receive a medal for its unconventional character. Six actors – Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Ben Whishaw portray different sides of counterculture icon Bob Dylan.

For his portrayal of Jude Quinn, an androgynous version of Dylan from the mid-’60s with Wayfarers, a polka-dot shirt and long, pointy vampiric fingernails, Blanchett won the Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination.

Broadcast on

Small screens have become aware of the possibilities of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Peter Jackson’s 468-minute love letter to the Beatles, Come backis a documentary about the Fab Four collecting songs for the album, So be it, in the studio in January 1969.

by Robert Siegel Pam and Tommy— a mini-series on the relationship between Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and the sex tape they made on their honeymoon is captivating.

Lily James and Sebastian Stan as Anderson and Lee created living, breathing characters far removed from caricature. There’s also Danny Boyle’s six-part series, Gun, about the ’70s punk rock band Sex Pistols.

The music industry is an irresistible mix of talent, inspiration and rebelliousness. It’s no wonder, then, that the lives of the industry’s bad boys and bad girls translate so well on screen.

THE ESSENTIAL

Elvis is the latest in a long line of musical biopics from 1968 funny girl Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first film, Tick, tick… Boom! (2021) .

Taron Egerton’s performance as British singer and pianist, Elton John, in Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman (2019) earned him a slew of nominations and a Golden Globe.

Hugh Jackman earned a Best Actor nomination at the Golden Globes for his performance as artist PT Barnum, in Michael Gracey The greatest showman (2017).

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