Renée Zellweger‘s return to Hollywood glory (which has also been almost too obviously dubbed the “Renée-ssance”) is in full swing. Her turn in Netflix’s campy soap What/If may not be traditional awards fare, but it’s popularity certainly attests to the fact that audience have been craving more Zellweger on the screens. Though, it’s her upcoming turn as the legendary Judy Garland in Judy (somewhat unbelievably the first big screen biopic of the icon) that serves as the lynchpin of the comeback. There’s been a shroud of both mystery and buzz surrounding the film ever since it was first announced. Was this shaping up to be a true Oscar-worthy production, or a curiosity that we all forget about during the awards season rush? Could Zellweger really pull it off? Well, the first full trailer is finally here, and some of the mystery has been revealed (yes, it seems like Zellweger really does have a handle on the role), and the buzz has only intensified.
Though, tons of deserving films have gotten lost on their travels from “trailer with some buzz” to actual Oscar nominee. Does Judy have what it takes?
Judy Garland Nostalgia is High, and It’s About Time She Got The Prestige Biopic Treatment
Not only does this year mark the 50th anniversary of Garland’s death, but Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s recent remake of one of her most iconic films (and perhaps last greatest silver screen achievement), A Star is Born, only adds to the buzz.
Though Garland’s life story has been dramatized on stage (indeed, the film is based on the Tony-nominated play End of the Rainbow) and the small screen before (most notably with 2001’s Emmy-winning Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, which featured Judy Davis in the lead role), her story has never been adopted to the big screen before. Now certainly seems like the time for someone to try.
Finn Wittrock, Who Is a Secret Oscar Good Luck Charm, Is In It
Wittrock is still best known for his Emmy-nominated work across the Ryan Murphy Television Universe, though his leading roles in indie films haven’t lead to a major leading man breakthrough. However, in recent years he’s had smaller supporting parts in movies that have gone on to Oscar glory. Remember him as the guy Emma Stone briefly dated in La La Land? Or one of the sneaky investors in The Big Short? What about the lawyer in If Beale Street Could Talk? Yes, he was quietly in all of those movies, and at least one of his co-stars in each got an acting nomination (with two, Stone and Beale Street‘s Regina King going on to win). Now we find him here as one as Garland’s fifth husband Mickey Dean. Does the Wittrock good luck work when he’s practically the male lead, or does it only hold when he’s in a small role?
It’s Written By The Guy Who Created (check notes) Scrotal Recall
Yes, screenwriter Tom Edge’s most notable previous was creating Netflix’s Scrotal Recall, a TV series with a name so bad it was eventually repackaged as Lovesick for the second season. Though, the naming controversy tends to overshadow the fact that the series had a devoted fanbase and was beloved by critics (the final two season notched a 100 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes). He’s also written for The Crown if you need more proof he can probably handle material about the life stories of complicated women.
It’s Probably Headed to the Festival Circuit
For a film of this size, it’s route to the Oscars usually goes through the fall Festival circuit, and Deadline reports that Judy is very likely to make it’s world premier at the Venice Film Festival, which kicks of in late August. It’s there that critics will get their first look at the film, and better parse it’s awards chances.
Though, Garland’s Family Isn’t On Board
It’s not necessarily an awards hope killer, but it doesn’t help when a biopic’s subject’s living family doesn’t approve of the production. Perhaps especially so when that family is Liza Minelli, who has spoken out against the film. “I have never met nor spoken to Renée Zellweger,” she’s written on social media. “I don’t know how these stories get started, but I do not approve nor sanction the upcoming film about Judy Garland in any way.”
Come On, It’s Renée Zellweger!
Zellweger famously dropped out of Hollywood for six years in 2010, but has quietly made a comeback in recent years. Though, that post-hiatus movie work hasn’t quite lived up to her earlier highs. Which is a shame. The woman is not only a three time Academy Award nominations, but managed to score nominations with role in three different genres. She pulled off the rare feat of getting nominated in the Lead category for a comedy with Bridget Jones’s Diary, dazzled her way to a second nomination in the musical Chicago, and finally won Best Supporting Actress for the epic period piece drama Cold Mountain. Judy seems to wrap up all those strengths in a single production. There’s musical numbers (as we should expect from a Garland biopic), and the trailer, at least, is peppered with comedic zingers, but ultimately it’s a period piece focusing on the tragic final year of one of America’s most iconic entertainers (which is almost always awards bait in and of itself).
As long as the film manages to hold itself together otherwise, there’s a good chance Zellweger’s performance, already being buzzed about form the trailer alone, could very well lead her back to the Academy Awards. Plus, depending on how the genre politics play out, she’s almost certainly assured a nod at the Golden Globes in the Musical/Comedy category, right? It’s a category she’s won twice before after all. It only seems fitting.