Bohemian Rhapsody may not have taken home Best Picture at the Oscars this weekend, but the film won four out of five nominations. Moreover, many think if director Bryan Singer had not been fired partway through filming, it could have landed a Best Director nod as well, which could have put it over the top to win the big prize. That hope was on full display at the Oscar after parties as Rocketman began attempting to follow in the footsteps laid by the Queen biopic. This video of Taron Egerton and Elton John singing "Tiny Dancer" at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party suggests the upcoming film could be the darling of the 2020 Academy Awards.
The first trailer for Rocketman only arrived a few days ago, so the movie was fresh in the minds of members and party-goers this past weekend. Elton John's charity event has been one of the go-to party staples of the Oscar circuit for decades, and it was natural to use the occasion to remind everyone that while they were celebrating the late Freddie Mercury, his biopic would be next.
One of the items at the auction to raise money for AIDS research was a trip to the London premiere of the upcoming film. Star Taron Egerton was asked to sing a John standard to help the bidding along. He agreed, but only if the man himself would play the piano.
The result was magic.
Like Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman had a long and winding road from conception to the box office. John first announced the project back in 2012, with the express hope Justin Timberlake would star. Timberlake had played a young John in the video for "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" in 2010, which feels a bit like a four-minute version of Rocketman's overall plot.
However, the film had trouble getting off the ground, and actors and directors cycled through, not unlike the way Bohemian Rhapsody struggled. At one point, Tom Hardy was attached to star with Michael Gracey, of The Greatest Showman, to direct, but that fell apart. Finally, the film went into production two years ago with Taron Egerton as John and director Dexter Fletcher helming the project.
If the trailer feels familiar, it should. Fletcher took over for Bryan Singer on Bohemian Rhapsody, and the same style is notable. Also, this film takes place in the same 1970s UK rock and roll scene, with some of the same characters. For instance, Richard Madden plays John Reid, the man who signed Queen, played in the other film by Madden's Game of Thrones co-star Aidan Gillen.
Rocketman also has a few things going for it Bohemian Rhapsody didn't. John is still alive, for one thing. This performance suggests he will campaign hard for it. Also, the film is explicitly billed as a "fantasy musical," which shields it from charges of historical inaccuracy that plagued Bohemian Rhapsody.
Has a year-long campaign for Rocketman to get a Best Picture nomination just begun? Time and reviews will tell. The movie arrives in theaters on May 31, 2019.