I was hoping to get at least halfway through Cannes before we started talking about this year’s Oscar race, but Cannes doesn’t start for a week and here we are, talking about this year’s Oscar race. The subject: Renee Zellweger. A teaser for Judy, her biopic of Judy Garland has been released, and yes, it look incredible. Based on the first-look photo, I said this was “chumming the waters” for Oscar, and indeed, this is some hardcore bait. To quote Stefon, this movie has everything: romance, drama, drugs, a beloved actress playing an icon. And it’s not just that Zellweger kind of looks like Judy Garland or that this has the shine of a fancy British biopic—Judy is adapted by a writer on The Crown, from British playwright Peter Quilter’s play, End of the Rainbow, and it’s directed by Rupert Goold, a West End stage director—it’s also that Zellweger is singing in the style of Judy Garland, too. The Academy loves dramatic singing (see also: Jennifer Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Lady Gaga).
Of course, we don’t know who Zellweger’s competition will be, as it is still so early in the year, but it is obvious by this teaser that unless Judy absolutely sh-ts the bed, then Zellweger is going to be a heavy favorite going into award season. I still refuse to call this a “comeback” because I don’t like the implication of failure in that word, but the narrative for Zellweger is built in. She took a break, went away. Now she’s back, better than ever. And hey, she’s singing! She’s reminding us what we missed when she went away. They’ll call it a comeback, because we don’t have a word for “returning from a voluntary hiatus after earning some goddamn time off”, so you can see the headlines now. “Renee Zellweger’s Oscar comeback”: I guarantee one of the trades will run that headline. Another guaranteed headline, assuming the movie doesn’t suck: “Renee Zellweger’s triumphant return”.