It might seem unfair to wager on the awards prospects of the CGI phantasm that is the movie Cats considering that no one has seen the finished product, but the fact that the project remains unfinished may mean that the film will miss major awards consideration deadlines. Hopefully Taylor Swift is taking the news in stride, but we suspect her fans will be less than happy if they have to miss out on her trademarked "awards show face" come 2020.
While the film is still on schedule to be completed by its December 20th wide-release premiere, it may not be done in time to meet eligibility deadlines for major trophy shows like the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards.
See, when the Oscars say they're honoring the best in film from a certain year, they truly mean it. Technically, a film could premier in cinemas in Los Angeles and New York right up until the night of December 31st 2019 and still be eligible for the 2019 awards. Other awards bodies, like the Globes, SAG, and several other critics groups have different eligibility requirements (partially so they get ahead of the Oscars). Studios have to at least screen their films for voting members by a certain time, usually in early December, to be eligible.
According to IndieWire, members of the New York Film Critics group have been told that they shouldn't expect to see a cut of Cats before their December 4th screening deadline. The Golden Globes also maintains the same December 4th deadline. SAG's cut-off date is December 8th. Universal Studios hasn't commented on the matter, and there's no indication as to why the film may be running late. Though, we should add, the studio could still end up screening the film for the relatively small group that votes on the Globes, while forgoing qualifying for critics and union awards with larger voting bodies.
Based on the trailer, it's safe to say that no one is expecting Cats to be an artistic masterpiece. Lets be honest, the film is meant more for musical enthusiasts and families trying to find something to watch together over the holidays than it is for the critics. Just about no one was expecting the film to provide competition for, say, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Marriage Story in the Best Picture category.
But that's not to say the film shouldn't have any awards aspirations. The Globes, in particularly, divides many major film categories between dramas and musicals/comedies. It wouldn't be too much of a shock to see Cats nominated for Best Picture in the latter. The Greatest Showman picked up that nomination in 2018 despite mixed reviews. Then again, if the Globes wants to go big on an all-out musical, it does have Rocketman.
Jennifer Hudson, who has won multiple awards for a musical in the past, may be the film's best chance for acting recognition (doubly so as she gets to sing the film's best known song, "Memories".) There's also hope for the CGI-heavy film in multiple technical categories.
Though, perhaps the film's biggest awards hope lies with Swift. The singer has written a brand new song entitled "Beautiful Ghosts" for the film alongside original composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Even though no one has heard it yet, it's already part of the conversation in chat about Best Original Song. Despite awards shows being Swift's natural habitat at this point, the singer has never received an Oscar nomination.
Though, it could be a particularly hard year in that category. Frozen II is said to have a shot with "Into the Unknown", which apparently stands up to the legacy of "Let It Go." Beyoncé is very much expecting a nod for The Lion King's "Spirit." And Elton John also provided a new track for Rocketman.