Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Will "Moana" Make Lin-Manuel Miranda the Latest EGOT Winner?

Scene from Moana
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, it is likely that you are familiar with the Broadway smash hit Hamilton, which focuses on the life of Alexander Hamilton through a blend of musical styles such as hip-hop. This past Sunday, it won 11 Tonys, including for its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. While I don't cover theater, it is likely that Miranda is a name that will become recognizable to audiences by the end of this year if just because of the amount of projects his success has granted him. Among the most promising is Disney's new film Moana, which conveniently enough premiered its teaser trailer during Hamilton's big night. While the question could just be if this movie will be great, there's another question about Miranda becoming an EGOT: an impressive feat that he's one Oscar away from completing. While there's not much to go off of, it does look like there's at least a nomination in his wake.

If one were to tally up Miranda's awards, which includes a Pulitzer, he may be one of the most impressive artists currently working in any medium. While he's racking up more awards for Hamilton, his work for his previous production In the Heights started him down this road in 2008 with a Best Original Score Tony win as well as a Best Musical Theater Grammy. Add in that he won an Emmy for writing music for the 2013 Tonys, and you'll find those wanting to dedicate this potential EGOT largely to Hamilton to be needing to do their homework. Nevertheless, Miranda's work is impressive and it does seem likely that he'll continue to dominate the theater world. However, his branching into doing music for Disney's Moana may get him an Oscar nomination.

It hasn't been long since writing for Disney has earned someone an EGOT. In 2014, Robert Lopez became the most recent recipient of this small but prestigious group for writing the Frozen hit "Let It Go." He also earned acclaim for his work on The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. Even then, the coveted Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony quadruple threat win hasn't been given out too many times. Most people likely couldn't name the 12 current recipients, let alone the work that they did. Still, it's a testament to craft that artists have won awards that represent the best in each fields. 

If you've had the pleasure of listening to any of the few dozen Hamilton tracks or enjoyed the music of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it is likely that you are hyped on Miranda's choice to pen the music for Moana. His work manages to be ear worms with such lyrical dexterity that it almost seems unfair that he exists. It's a fact that likely overshadows certain people's opinion of the first trailer, which also features Dwayne Johnson and Alan Tudyk. Nevertheless, Moana is likely going to show up big at The Oscars next year if it ends up being as good as many claim it to be (Best Animated Film and Best Original Song" at least). 

Here's the trailer:

Looks pretty good. Here's the plot according to IMDb:
A young woman uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui.
Not a lot is offered besides the fact that it is released on Thanksgiving and has a snippet of what is sure to be one of the featured songs. Still, it looks to be fun in the way that most Disney films are fun. There's playful animation and a sense of purpose in the teaser. We understand what's going on, and the humor works. If nothing else, it succeeds in properly teasing audiences with enough details to keep them interesting. I admit that it's not one that I have high desire to see, but I'm hoping that it will have something more to offer. 

Otherwise, prepare for this year's Best Animated Film category to light up. Along with Moana, there's this weekend's Finding Dory, which may break the curse of being the first Oscar-nominated sequel since Toy Story 3. Based on reviews, it seems very likely. However, Disney Animation has put up a legitimate threat in recent years, winning more times in the past few years than Pixar. It's still a little too early to speculate which animated film will be the best, but it does seem likely that we're primed to have a conversation about hailing the next EGOT in Miranda. The only hope is that he can get there with grace.

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