Oscar Watch: Is ‘Rocketman’ the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ of 2020?

Dexter Fletcher’s “Rocketman,” a musical biopic centered on the life and times of Sir Elton John, received a surge on the Oscar buzz meter over the weekend.

The movie walked away from Sunday’s Golden Globes with two statutes, one for best song and another for best actor in a motion picture – musical or comedy.

John, who wrote the tune “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” for the movie, proved his prowess over Beyonce (for “The Lion King”) and Taylor Swift (for “Cats”) to take home the trophy. Likewise, star Taron Egerton bested category frontrunners Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”) to score the top prize.

So is “Rocketman” on track to be this year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody?”

The latter, released in November of 2019, raked in $903 million at the global box office. It won 41 awards from various organizations and guilds, including a best actor Oscar for Rami Malek, who portrayed Queen’s frontman Freddie Mercury.

The current worldwide box office for “Rocketman” stands at $ 195.2 million and, barely into awards season, it’s collected nine wins already. Both the film and Egerton received BAFTA nominations. Where it lands when the Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 13 remains to be seen.

John’s win this weekend most likely boosted his chances in the Academy Awards’ best original song category — a nomination is practically guaranteed. Whether Egerton follows in Malek’s footsteps and lands in the best actor race for an Oscar is a harder call. With a category stacked to its brim with stellar performances — among them: Joaquin Phoenix, Adam Driver and Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio — who gets that fifth slot? Is there room for Egerton?

With best actor usually tied to a best picture nomination, (“Rocketman” wasn’t voted by either PGA or DGA), it seems Egerton might slip by. Or will he defy stats and get a boost from the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations? Remember how the BAFTA win tipped voters to pick Olivia Colman over Glenn Close last year? Egerton’s odds are all over the place if we compare Gold Derby and Gurus of Gold.

While “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed the more linear narrative of “rise to the top” and “how we write hits,” “Rocketman” marries the musical fantasy elements in with hits, while tackling the more serious issue of John’s battle with addiction. The film follows the musical story with John’s most famous hits being sung by all its actors.

Elton John is on tour, a farewell jaunt he announced in 2018, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” also benefitted greatly from Adam Lambert and Queen being the road during the film’s release.

Elsewhere. John has actively supported “Rocketman,” campaigning during Awards season and often attending Q&As in support of Egerton. He also performed a “Rocketman” show at L.A.’s Greek Theater.

Another thing “Rocketman” has going for it: it’s loved by audiences and film twitter. Egerton’s performance received rave reviews, with John’s classic hits reaping the reward in introducing the canon to a whole new generation via the film.

As far as recordings are concerned: John has sold more in the U.S. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), combined album sales of his greatest hits collections top 32 million, compared to Queen’s Greatest Hits catalog selling 15 million. However, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” soundtrack has been certified gold and “Rocketman” isn’t there yet.

And none of this is to say that “Rocketman” isn’t a hit. It’s a huge one. The film has made more than its budget, and its wins this weekend are guaranteed to get more eyes on the film, but more importantly, more eyes on Elton John and Taron Egerton.

More Music

  • The Eddy

    'The Eddy': TV Review

    “Jazz is Paris and Paris is jazz,” spoke-sang Malcolm McLaren a quarter-century ago, though the statement is valid as ever today: Since the end of World War I, when a number of African American soldiers settled in Paris — and still others left their music behind — the city has become a kind of world [...]


    Green Day Cancels Tour Dates in Asia Due to Coronavirus

    Green Day has canceled scheduled tour dates in Asia due to the coronavirus epidemic. The band’s Hella Mega tour would have taken them throughout the continent in March — and in countries with confirmed cases of the virus — starting in Singapore and stopping in Bangkok, Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Seoul, Osaka and Tokyo. The [...]

  • Beyonce Kobe Bryant Performance

    Ken Ehrlich on the Kobe Bryant Memorial Service's 'Transcendent' Music Moments

    Ken Ehrlich produced his final Grammy telecast Jan. 26 … and, through the sad fluke of Kobe Bryant dying the day of the show, there was a direct segue to the first live broadcast of Ehrlich’s post-Grammys career, when his company was asked to assist with the Kobe Bryant memorial Feb. 24. The veteran is [...]

  • Editorial use only. Hand Out HANDOUT

    BTS Cancels Korea Concerts Due to Coronavirus

    BTS has canceled concerts planned for Korea, the group announced on Thursday, Feb. 27, due to concerns about the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. According to a post on an official BTS Twitter (@bts_bighit), “Map of the Soul” tour shows scheduled for April 11, 12, 18 and 19 at Seoul’s Jamsil Olympic Stadium have been called off, [...]

  • La Vita Nuova album Christine and

    Christine and the Queens' 'La Vita Nuova': EP Review

    With stellar albums from Charli XCX, Caroline Polachek, Selena Gomez and Grimes over the past few months, it’s been a hot stretch for the genre inaccurately but conveniently labelled “alt-pop” — and joining the group is this surprise release from France’s Christine and the Queens, who recently collaborated with two of the above artists. Her [...]

  • Former C3 Promoter Charlie Jones Launches

    Former C3 Promoter Charlie Jones Launches Four Leaf Productions

    Charlie Jones, a veteran producer who has worked extensively on the Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits festivals, is today officially launching his new venture, Four Leaf Productions, which is described as “a new company built on a foundation of creating live experiences that bring people together for a purpose.” Over the course of his [...]

  • Radio Placeholder

    Veteran KROQ Program Director Kevin Weatherly Exits Entercom

    Kevin Weatherly, who made his mark at L.A.’s leading alternative station KROQ and has been a renowned radio programmer for nearly three decades, is leaving his post as SVP programming at Entercom for a reported new post at Spotify, which a source suggests will likely be in an editorial capacity. Weatherly originally joined KROQ as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content