On the last Show Your Work podcast, Lainey was matter-of-fact, if not ungentle, when she informed me that Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling from Trolls is more likely to win the Best Song Oscar than How Far I’ll Go from Moana. I’d have to go back and listen to the produced version of the podcast, but I’m pretty sure I sat there in a pout for a good 20-30 minutes when she said so.
Maybe. Maybe Timberlake has more name recognition and thus the song will win, or maybe it will be one of the La La Land songs, if those don’t cancel each other out, or maybe those cranky old white Academy voters from the New Yorker article Lainey linked to the other day will cause a swing towards Sting.
But it doesn’t matter because we will still get to watch Lin be at the Oscars for the first time, and unlike all the others in the category—hell, any category—he is going to be excited and charmed by the whole thing. You know how, when there’s a young kid who’s up for an Oscar, people kind of can’t stop talking about it and asking about it? Jacob Tremblay for Room got a lot of this in 2015, but it’s really best when the person is actually old enough to know what a big deal it is; Jennifer Lawrence the year she was nominated for Winter’s Bone is a gold standard here. Old enough to know it’s crazy, young or new enough not to be concerned with making a ‘cool’ impression.
LMM is neither new nor young nor green, but he is going to geek out about these Oscars as though he were. He’s bringing his mom, because he grew up watching the Oscars with her. He’s performing with Auli’i Cravalho, so we’ll have that patented performance energy, and he’ll beam through the whole thing.
Ask me how I know?
I mean sure, I’m a decent Lin-Manuel Miranda student. But this didn’t all come into perfect focus until I saw this BuzzFeed article that reminds us Lin Manuel-Miranda was seen in Britney's 2008 doc For The Record. I remember this actually. Brit was taken to see In The Heights on Broadway and I’m pretty sure she referred to it as a ‘dance show’, which is why I blame her for my not clueing into how amazing it was until a couple years later.
But look at his face:
It’s the greatest moment of his life. Until two minutes later, when this is the greatest moment of his life:
Someone like that is going to continue to have ‘greatest moments’ and be excited, and he’s had literally hundreds of ‘greatest moments’ since then but that smile has remained the same – it’s not like he’s gotten blasé.
So whatever happens Sunday night, he’s going to be the man to watch for exuberant red carpet clips, audience reaction GIFs, and, I assume, delicious party pictures. Which, well… I don’t want to say that would be enough, but it will be a delight, at minimum.