Will Renée Zellweger's Portrayal of Judy Garland Win an Oscar?

David Hindley/Courtesy of LD Entertainment/Roadside Attractions
Renée-Zellweger in Judy.

Not to knock the EGOT, which is an endless source of fascination, but if one of the greatest performers who ever lived won only one of the four EGOT awards, it makes you wonder what it all means.

Renée Zellweger's portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy has won rave reviews, which raises the possibility that Zellweger may do what Garland never did: win an Oscar for best actress. (Garland famously lost the 1954 award that many thought she would win for A Star Is Born to Grace Kelly in The Country Girl. Groucho Marx sent her a telegram saying simply, "Dear Judy, this is the biggest robbery since Brink's.")

If Zellweger wins, this would be the second year in a row that a portrayal of a music legend has won an Oscar. Rami Malek took best actor in February for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Moreover, this would be only the second time in Oscar history that portrayals of music stars have won in back-to-back years. Jamie Foxx took the 2004 best actor award for playing Ray Charles in Ray. Reese Witherspoon took best actress the following year for playing June Carter Cash in Walk the Line.

In Oscar history, just six other actors -- three men and three women -- have won Oscars in leading roles for playing real-life music personalities. Marion Cotillard won best actress for playing French chanteuse Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose (2007). Geoffrey Rush won best actor for playing concert pianist David Helfgott in Shine (1996). F. Murray Abraham won best actor for playing composer and conductor Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (1984). Sissy Spacek won best actress for playing country legend Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter (1980). Barbra Streisand won best actress for playing vaudeville star Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (1968). James Cagney won best actor for playing entertainer and composer George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).

Garland won a special Academy Award in 1939 for her performance in The Wizard of Oz, but she never won an Oscar in competition.

Likewise, Garland never won an Emmy, though two actresses won Emmys for playing her in ABC's Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001). Judy Davis won outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or a movie; Tammy Blanchard won outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or a movie for playing Garland as a youngster.

The only EGOT-level award that Garland won was the Grammy. She won two Grammys (album of the year and best solo vocal performance, female) for her landmark 1961 album Judy at Carnegie Hall.

Not to knock the EGOT, which is an endless source of fascination, but if one of the greatest performers who ever lived won only one of the four EGOT awards, it makes you wonder what it all means.

Taron Egerton also received strong reviews for his portrayal of Elton John in Rocketman, so there's a possibility that portrayals of music legends could be recognized in both of the lead acting categories.


THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.