A couple months ago, we got the first trailer for Judy, the Judy Garland biopic starring Renee Zellweger. At the time, I called it “hardcore bait” for Oscar. Now we have a second trailer for Judy, and I don’t just think this is Oscar bait, I think this movie lives inside Oscar’s gold ass. Like of all the possible groups to aim a Judy Garland biopic at—starting with Judy Garland fans—Judy is aiming squarely at Academy voters, first and foremost. This second trailer is really emphasizing the physical transformation of Zellweger, the dramatic singing, and practically every biopic cliché in the book. Hard times, pill popping, stylized weeping, someone telling the star to pull it together—check, check, check, check. Story-wise, Judy looks a little rote, so it’s going to come down entirely to Zellweger’s performance and how convincing she is.
She looks pretty goddamn convincing. And to see her go from something as absolutely bonkers as her Netflix show What If to Judy is a reminder of the tremendous range Zellweger commands. But will that be enough to put Judy over the top? I’m not even talking about with Oscar, I mean just in general. It’s been a rough year for indies. Have people missed Renee Zellweger enough to go see her return to form in cinemas? I honestly don’t know. There is a very real chance that the fall award season could be a bloodbath. Remember when First Man tanked last year and we were all like, What? How? We might be in for an entire season of First Mans. That movie might have been our canary in the coal mine. Judy is an early entry in award season. Normally, it would be a shoo-in for attention, audience, probably even awards. But now? The biggest sea change since the advent of sound has happened, and everyone is floundering in its wake (except Disney). A movie like Judy is no longer a sure thing. It has pedigree, it has star power, it has slick trailers. But will Judy have enough to thrive?