Bradley Cooper is Leonard Bernstein

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

Although he had already won for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe Awards, members of the Academy Awards still chose to pass up nominating Taron Egerton for Best Actor at the Oscars. This is disappointing because Egerton did a great job portraying pop star Elton John in Rocketman. And he did his own singing, too.

Maybe it was because last year’s Academy Award for Best Actor went to the lead in a biopic about pop stars, Rami Malek who played Queen frontman Freddy Mercury in the picture Bohemian Rhapsody. Malek lip-synched his way through the whole movie and copied every well-known Mercury stance down pat.

This reminds me of the time in the past when I thought that Joaquin Phoenix was unjustly deprived of his Best Actor Oscar win for playing the legendary country music star Johnny Cash in Walk the Line in 2006. He did his own singing, too. It was said then that Phoenix lost because last year’s award went to an actor, Jamie Foxx, in a biopic movie about a soul and country legend, Ray Charles. It was Ray Charles, who did the singing for Foxx.

Anyway, I hope that Egerton gets another chance at the Academy Awards. Look at what has happened to Phoenix. I also hope that upsets such as this one will not dampen the enthusiasm of audiences for biopics about music stars. And we have some really big ones coming up.

Leading the pack is Bernstein, the biopic of the legendary conductor, composer, music director Leonard Bernstein that is co-produced by Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Among his best known works are the magnificent Bernstein Mass, the memorable score for On the Waterfront, great MGM musicals like On the Town and Wonderful Town and the stunning music for West Side Story. A man of incredible talent, Bernstein was also tabloid fodder for his mercurial behavior and homosexuality. Bernstein’s biography reads like a perfect movie script geared towards big box-office and awards. 

Now set to play him as well as co-write and direct the biopic simply titled Bernstein is Bradley Cooper. I had wondered a few times over what Cooper would do next after his excellent debut as director in A Star is Born. He also played the lead role opposite Lady Gaga, and was unjustly not nominated for actor and director at the Oscar. Although he did bag a trophy for his first attempt at singing and writing the theme song, Shallow with Gaga. And now, here he is with a project that can elevate him to greatness.

I guess we can trust Cooper to come up with a portrayal that is close to the truth but also commands respect. I am sure that he will. This guy has already proven himself as an actor. He has a Tony for Elephant Man. He is good at doing anything, comedy, Wedding Crashers, The Hangover, drama, Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper, even action, A-Team. Why he even gave voice to an animated racoon named Rocket and emerged believable. He will do a wonderful job with Bernstein. He is now also an Oscar-nominated producer. Cooper is one of the people behind Phoenix’s Joker.

Also to watch out for this year is 20 years in the life of the king of rock ‘n roll, Elvis Presley in Elvis, which is directed by Baz Luhrmann who also did Moulin Rouge and Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet with Austin Butler as Elvis, Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla Presley and Tom Hanks as Presley’s manager, Col. Tom Parker. 

There are also Respect about Aretha Franklin starring Jennifer Hudson who does her own singing; Celine: the Power of Love about Celine Dion directed by Valerie Lemercier who also plays the title role, I do not know if she sings like Celine; plus biopics about the Bee Gees, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Teddy Pendergrass and Carole King which is based on the musical Beautiful. 

And because the biopic market is making huge demands, would you believe there are producers who are even making one about Billie Eilish? She is only 18 years old and has one No. 1 selling album to brag about. Wonder how this movie will turn out.

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