Trophy Talk

Mary Poppins Returns Could Be a Late-Season Awards Spoiler

Mary Poppins has returned to shake up the awards landscape, and it may just pull off an upset or two.

by | December 4, 2018 | Comments

Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

This month, Mary Poppins Returns has the Herculean task of recapturing the magic and music of the beloved original. Not possible, right? Well, according to many of the critics and industry folks who saw it at last week’s premiere, it might just come close. Early social reactions saw the majority of critics praising the film and Emily Blunt in particular, for her turn in the iconic blue coat. Germain Lussier of i09 was typical of the praise thrown her way and the movie’s way when he tweeted: “Mary Poppins Returns is an exquisitely made film with delightful music, excellent performances (especially by Emily Blunt) & contagious optimism.” But, could the movie – like its predecessor – be an Oscar contender?

There is no Tomatometer score as of yet – reviews will release soon on December 12th, and as you know, anything can happen – but reading the tea leaves, Mary Poppins Returns looks to be a perfectly timed holiday hit, and one that has shot to the top of many Oscar prognosticators’ lists. And not just for Blunt. Variety‘s awards editor Kristopher Tapley set the tone a few weeks back following a very early screening, going as far as to say, “Mary Poppins Returns will be a massive hit, which will drive the point home all the more: Audiences want a movie like this right now. Critics, even the most cynical of them (whether they admit it or not), want a movie like this right now. Surely, Oscar voters want a movie like this right now.”

As we enter December, with Golden Globe nominations just days away and Oscar ballots almost on their way to voters, let’s take a look at the competitive awards categories for Mary Poppins Returns and why this unlikely late-season entry could just shake things up.

It’s the Film We Need Right Now

Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

We hate the “thing we need right now” hot-take framing as much as you do, but in this case, there’s some truth to it. Like a high-flying kite – scratch that: a balloon – Mary Poppins Returns has brought a huge dollop of joy to a pretty dour awards-season field. Of all the major contenders – think Roma, If Beale Street Could Talk, Vice, The Favourite, or Green Book – Poppins is the most unapologetically joyful film, which might be exactly what audiences and voters are drawn to in the dying days of 2018. Despairing at the state of the world? Then perhaps you want to see Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda singing and dancing around London more than another dark examination of the nature of humankind. Just saying. Director Rob Marshall seems to have tapped into something that’s hard to quantify yet wholly disarming, especially for adults. As Dame Angela Lansbury says towards the end of the film, most grownups “forget what it’s like… to be a child.” Don’t think that’s enough to convince voters? It’s the same kind of infectious optimism that La La Land inspired in Academy voters back in 2016.

Below the Line, Poppins is Tops

Walt Disney Studios

Ryan Fujitani

Looking for nomination sure bets? Look straight to below-the-line categories like costumes, make-up, visual effects, and production design. But you already knew that from the trailers. Having seen the film, we would add Best Editing and the sound categories to that list. One sequence that takes place on the surface of a porcelain bowl highlights the best elements of all of the aforementioned trades: careful sound mixing and effects seamlessly integrate the characters into a delicate ceramic and animated world, while Sandy Powell’s costumes for the sequence are a mix of materials and appear as a blend of soft fabrics and watercolor paints that would crumple upon touching. Powell could go up against her contemporary rival Colleen Atwood for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Black Panther costume designer Ruth E. Carter, and, in an interesting wrinkle, herself; Powell has a second bite at the Oscar apple with her equally impressive work on Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite.

To achieve the vivid 2-D animation sequences that are a particular highlight of the porcelain bowl scene, Marshall went to painstaking lengths. These days, Disney animators work primarily in the digital format — the studio’s last hand-drawn animation was back in 2004, long before most of the current crop of animators joined the company. It required calling former animators out of retirement to achieve the signature mix of live action and 2-D animation, while implementing innovations for both formats. Marshall had to merge two animation mediums that were never intended to coexist; the results could earn the movie consideration in the effects categories.

“Shallow” May No Longer Be a Lock for Best Original Song

Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” from A Star is Born has seemingly been a lock for the Best Original Song Oscar for months. A bona fide chart-topper that has been streamed over 10 million times since its September 27th release, it has long looked unstoppable. But last week “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” sung by Blunt, and “Trip a Little Light Fantastic,” sung by Miranda, were released, marking them as the two songs Disney seems to be backing for the category – and they may just cause an upset.

As in recent years, the “hit” may not prove to be the eventual winner come ceremony time. Back when Sam Smith won for Spectre’s “Writing’s on the Wall,” he beat The Weeknd’s “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey – which people had actually, you know, heard of. Everyone remembers La La Land being favored with “City of Stars,” but do you remember that in the same year it beat out Trolls’ infectious four-time platinum smash “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake? Keeping with the trend, last year the quiet and sentimental “Remember Me” from Coco won over The Greatest Showman’s “This is Me,” a song that is still charting as part of the film’s soundtrack more than a year after the movie exited cinemas. So don’t be surprised if Blunt’s “The Place Where Lost Things Go” topples the Gaga-liath “Shallow.”

Acting Nods and (Maybe) A Best Picture Chance 

Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

For acting, it’s all down to Miranda and Blunt. They get the lion’s share of screen time and perform the narrative heavy lifting. At the Globes, Miranda has more than a decent shot of a nomination, with the categories being split between Comedy and Drama, but it’s unlikely he will prove a challenge to Christian Bale and Viggo Mortensen. Blunt fares slightly better in the Best Actress – Musical or Comedy race. It will likely be a three-way race between Blunt, Constance Wu for Crazy Rich Asians, and Olivia Colman for The Favourite, and while most think Colman is a shoo-in, Blunt has a history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that shouldn’t be dismissed (she is a five-time nominee and one-time winner). Even Mary Poppins herself would have a hard time magicking an Oscar nomination for Miranda, but Blunt has the pedigree and delivers a performance that may squeeze her into contention before the Academy announces its nominees.

For Best Picture, things will likely come down to how many nominees we get. At least five percent of first-place votes must go to a particular film in order for it to contend for Best Picture as one of the final nominees. With the race still wide open, it’s not unreasonable to think the Academy could have a strong preference for more than five films; Mary Poppins Returns will stand a strong chance if the Best Picture field stretches to eight or ten nominees.

Tag Cloud

Nominations Comedy Central television American Society of Cinematographers Election WarnerMedia Lionsgate kids National Geographic obituary based on movie Film Festival cancelled TV series Sci-Fi NBC DC streaming service latino disaster sequels ghosts adaptation Mudbound sports PlayStation superman elevated horror Martial Arts mutant Peacock TV movies news zero dark thirty Crunchyroll The Arrangement breaking bad Interview 99% dceu theme song Women's History Month Star Trek romance USA Network worst movies deadpool USA rotten political drama DC Universe Teen The Witch Comedy book dark christmas movies Trailer HBO Max Rocky YouTube Marvel Television boxing comic what to watch Emmys space Broadway 4/20 2019 The Purge comic books Tumblr Box Office Fox Searchlight Certified Fresh Mary poppins basketball Elton John reviews TBS spain Fantasy Academy Awards hist Crackle First Reviews Pride Month Song of Ice and Fire Paramount Plus docudrama cooking Reality Wes Anderson Musical Music Chilling Adventures of Sabrina know your critic Emmy Nominations series dragons History Trophy Talk BAFTA Logo dc E3 CW Seed Podcast game of thrones kong chucky Adult Swim Extras Best and Worst Pop TV war BBC FX on Hulu Acorn TV criterion japanese Disney Channel 72 Emmy Awards witnail scorecard reboot NYCC hidden camera halloween Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt trailers Rocketman 2020 revenge Amazon Super Bowl Apple The Academy Winter TV historical drama Paramount YouTube Red remakes stoner BET Awards ViacomCBS Sony Pictures YouTube Premium cancelled television Superheroes Kids & Family Calendar telelvision Hallmark Christmas movies Television Academy Hulu 2017 Grammys finale Family The CW Infographic a nightmare on elm street Tarantino directors foreign psychological thriller crime Fox News godzilla WGN SDCC Syfy critics police drama emmy awards renewed TV shows dogs Holiday CMT nature Lifetime Christmas movies Musicals all-time binge Shondaland justice league Rock Spectrum Originals Walt Disney Pictures comics ITV golden globe awards cinemax facebook black President TLC OneApp canceled TV renewals golden globes stop motion 24 frames Pixar quibi french screenings Black Mirror Fall TV Warner Bros. sitcom FXX monster movies CBS venice sequel E! movies Tubi Mystery canceled TV shows Biopics green book scary movies comiccon Legendary ABC award winner CNN pirates of the caribbean women Masterpiece asian-american Schedule Freeform hollywood Stephen King Spring TV anime Pirates Bravo Captain marvel Image Comics Film Binge Guide spider-man Comics on TV australia TCM toy story Marvel Studios Universal Turner japan OWN MSNBC Watching Series ESPN Amazon Studios thriller saw New York Comic Con cults FOX cancelled TCA Winter 2020 Exclusive Video politics richard e. Grant medical drama Epix festivals jurassic park fresh razzies target cars screen actors guild Countdown Mindy Kaling The Walking Dead festival A&E Disney+ Disney Plus Anna Paquin game show miniseries franchise NBA documentaries spy thriller Turner Classic Movies FX biography 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Netflix Christmas movies independent Character Guide GoT Pet Sematary Television Critics Association Comic-Con@Home 2021 DirecTV Cartoon Network Shudder serial killer Holidays free movies docuseries Apple TV+ San Diego Comic-Con diversity composers 93rd Oscars marvel cinematic universe Vudu See It Skip It prank nfl Mary Poppins Returns toronto Columbia Pictures Alien CBS All Access Mary Tyler Moore Lucasfilm Christmas AMC king kong Disney Plus aliens children's TV Hear Us Out TV One Disney aapi YA concert book adaptation indie Food Network Dark Horse Comics italian die hard Funimation vampires Animation Summer Horror joker Creative Arts Emmys A24 Tokyo Olympics scene in color video Marathons live action GIFs dramedy travel documentary BBC America olympics nbcuniversal Tomatazos werewolf Chernobyl RT History teaser jamie lee curtis 20th Century Fox Thanksgiving comedies suspense unscripted Amazon Prime 2015 crossover Awards Tour halloween tv Discovery Channel Ovation cops stand-up comedy high school robots 2016 Apple TV Plus Britbox rotten movies we love DC Comics new york Arrowverse Quiz Classic Film 21st Century Fox Premiere Dates technology Drama doctor who Sundance Now rt archives 71st Emmy Awards singing competition Cosplay Avengers Marvel animated PaleyFest The Walt Disney Company SundanceTV new star wars movies tv talk satire name the review superhero TV Land spanish IFC TNT discovery Red Carpet Country IFC Films Nat Geo VH1 boxoffice Paramount Network APB rom-coms X-Men Oscars science fiction Amazon Prime Video Black History Month blockbuster ID sag awards VOD adventure laika lord of the rings TCA 2017 1990s Sundance TV spanish language 90s First Look Travel Channel Star Wars psycho crime thriller ABC Family VICE Sundance Starz streaming movies mockumentary Lifetime LGBT LGBTQ zombie social media Superheroe Reality Competition HBO Opinion TruTV new zealand ratings worst harry potter PBS Winners Netflix casting BBC One Ellie Kemper spinoff Cannes best GLAAD crime drama kaiju Showtime Endgame Brie Larson BET Comic Book Baby Yoda Photos archives video on demand cartoon period drama Ghostbusters 2021 Hallmark child's play Spike blaxploitation transformers fast and furious ABC Signature romantic comedy TCA Pacific Islander batman slashers parents TIFF 45 Writers Guild of America international anthology talk show natural history adenture twilight south america 007 Valentine's Day Toys movie universal monsters Trivia TCA Awards zombies cancelled TV shows classics supernatural Awards Disney streaming service Rom-Com Video Games Heroines Sneak Peek cats strong female leads 2018 Esquire MCU Pop El Rey football heist movie popular hispanic DGA true crime films Action Western RT21 Nickelodeon HBO Go Year in Review blockbusters mission: impossible indiana jones versus streaming james bond MTV SXSW Polls and Games TV Set visit