'Straight Outta Compton' Could Win An Oscar, If History Is Any Indication
Straight Outta Compton has been destroying the box office and wowing critics since its surprise monster debut on Aug. 14, with a box office take of $119 million (on a $28 million budget) after just two weeks and a certified fresh 89 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, which chronicles the lives of influential rap group N.W.A. and its members during the '80s and '90s, has been shutting down doubters and surprising audiences during its run, but does the movie still have one more giant trick up its sleeve? In other words, could Straight Outta Compton win an Oscar?
It's definitely a possibility. So far, 2015 has not been a year filled with the types of movies that win Academy Awards. In fact, non-traditional films like Inside Out and Mad Max: Fury Road are seen as the frontrunners for Best Picture right now by many critics, and either of those films winning would mark a major departure for the sometimes stuffy Academy. So it definitely looks like an open field for Straight Outta Compton to swoop in and nab some hardware, at least until the traditional fall Oscar-bait releases arrive. But there's also another factor in Straight Outta Compton's favor: The fact that it's a music biopic. The Academy loves music biopics, and a number of them have won statues in the past. So even though I can't say for sure that Straight Outta Compton will win an Oscar, these nine films sure make it look like a real possibility.
Jamie Foxx took home the Oscar for Best Actor for his 2004 performance as Ray Charles (and got a music career out of it), and the film also won for Best Sound Mixing.
2. Walk The Line
The mid-2000s were a good time for music biopics. The year after Ray won, Reese Witherspoon won the Oscar for Best Actress for playing June Carter Cash. Joaquin Phoenix was also nominated for Best Actor for his role of Johnny Cash, but went home empty-handed.
3. The Buddy Holly Story
Only a music biopic could make Gary Busey an Oscar-nominee. The outlandish actor didn't win for his role as the late bespectacled rocker, but the film did win for Best Adaptation Score.
4. Coal Miner's Daughter
This Loretta Lynn biopic was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Sissy Spacek was awarded Best Actress for her portrayal of the country crooner.
5. La Vie En Rose
Marion Cotillard scored a major upset when she took home the Best Actress Oscar for playing French singer Edith Piaf. What was so shocking about her win? The movie's in French and few Americans had seen it. That's how much the Oscars love music biopics.
Clint Eastwood's picture about the life of jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker won the Oscar for Best Sound, while lead actor Forest Whitaker was snubbed by the Academy despite earning a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
7. Bound For Glory
This film about legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie brought home two Oscars in 1977: One for Best Cinematography and one for Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score. Catchy award title!
Geoffrey Rush took home the Best Actor Oscar, one of seven nominations for the film, after playing troubled Australian concert pianist David Helfgott. It's a far cry from Straight Outta Compton, but a music biopic nonetheless.
This one is very different, since Mozart was a classical composer who lived hundreds of years ago and not a modern popular musician like most of the others on this list, but still, Amadeus is the only music biopic to win Best Picture, so it bears mentioning. The film won a total of eight Oscars, including biggies like Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham and Best Director for Milos Forman. If Straight Outta Compton wants to aim high, this is the top shelf for music biopics.
Will Straight Outta Compton see its name added among the ranks of these other music biopics Oscar has smiled upon? It should, as the movie's cultural impact is tough to ignore, and it is a music biopic. Come on, Academy, you know you want to shower it with awards!
Images: Universal Pictures