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

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

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