Oscar Watch: In the Heights

Jon M. Chu’s musical drama In the Heights was originally slated to hit theaters last June, but the COVID-19 pandemic altered the plan. Based on the stage musical created by Quiara Alegria Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the film now dances into multiplexes and HBO Max on June 11. The review embargo lifted today and it appears we have a legitimate Best Picture hopeful before us.

The Rotten Tomatoes meter sits at 97% with many critics imploring audiences to see it on the biggest screen possible. Many reviewers also note that it’s the perfect tonic after a rough year. Heights has a sprawling cast and that ensemble stands a terrific shot at SAG recognition next year. It could perform very well in the Musical/Comedy categories at the Golden Globes… if there is a ceremony next year (and that’s a big if right now).

As for the Oscars, many possibilities exist. Director Chu’s previous effort was the smash hit Crazy Rich Asians, but it was completely ignored by the Academy. That’s unlikely to happen here. Best Original Song (with Miranda proving some new material) and Sound could certainly be in play.

When it comes to the big competitions, the feel good nature of Heights could absolutely lift it to a Best Picture nomination. It might be a bit more of a reach for Chu to make the final five in directing, but it’s at least feasible. Two cast members receiving immediate kudos are Anthony Ramos (in what could be quite a crowded Best Actor derby) and Olga Merediz in Supporting Actress.

Bottom line: expect this anticipated summer hit musical to be on the minds of voters in the forthcoming awards season. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

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