P.T. Barnum was renowned as one of the greatest entertainers of the 19th century. Widely known as the founder of the modern circus, he devoted his life to bringing spectacle and grandeur to audiences around the world.
Now said spectacle will be captured in the upcoming big screen biopic The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman. But can it capture the attention of the Academy Award voters? We think it might and here’s a few reasons why...
It's a biopic
We all know the Oscars love a biopic. Spotlight, Lawrence of Arabia, Braveheart – and that’s just the Best Picture winners. Any story based in real life tends to be billed as an Oscar contender and this will be no different.
Barnum’s life was a rags-to-riches story of entrepreneurial adventure, a self-made man who built an entertainment empire, who ended up crafting the most famous circus company in the world. It’s got all the ingredients a good biopic needs: struggle, success, and an engaging character to follow.
It's got Hugh Jackman
Famed for his portrayal of Wolverine, there’s more to Jackman than just claws and snarls. Great comedic timing, dramatic flair and an astounding singing voice make Jackman a versatile character actor who can bring any role to life.
He’s also no stranger to awards buzz, either. He’s won a Tony and an Emmy and was Oscar nominated for his role in musical sensation Les Miserables. Could it be first time lucky for Hugh in the Oscar stakes? Maybe it’s the power of his voice that the awards community loves so much? Whatever it is, we’re willing to bet it’ll be on show for this movie.
There's stellar support
A great movie is nothing without great performances and, as good as Hugh Jackman is, no one can carry a movie to Oscar glory by themselves.
Luckily, he has an excellent cast behind him that can add some weight of their own. First up is Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife, Charity. Williams is no acting slouch, and has been in Oscar winning films such as Brokeback Mountain and the recent Manchester by the Sea, gathering Oscar nominations for both.
As if that wasn’t enough the rest of the cast has plenty of star power too. Former High School Musical heartthrob Zac Efron brings the showmanship with his role as Phillip Carlyle, Mission: Impossible's Rebecca Ferguson stars as Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, and Spider-Man: Homecoming's Zendaya lights up the screen as trapeze artist Anna Wheeler.
The Oscars do love a musical
2002’s Chicago garnered itself 12 Academy Award nominations, winning six. 2009’s Nine was nominated for four awards and, just last year, La La Land received 14 nominations and won six of them (it was nearly seven, but we all know what happened there!)
Of course we already mentioned Les Mis, which received eight Oscar noms and won a much-deserved Best Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway. Musicals aren't released as frequently as they were back in Hollywood's Golden Age but when they do turn up, more often than not they dazzle the Oscars.
Cineworlder Marvyn Wilson is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.