Kemit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the rest of the Muppet crew have been part of pop culture for almost four decades starring in their own TV series, dropping albums and headlining hit movies. They are the epitome of Hollywood insiders. However, despite all their success, they have never been able to bag moviedom’s biggest prize — the Oscar.
I grew up on “The Muppet Show” re-runs and “The Muppet Movie” remains one of my favourite films. Now call me a lover or a dreamer but I have some hope that with the release of “The Muppets” this week perhaps this showbiz wrong can be set right.
And hey, isn’t “The Muppets” pure Oscar bait? The story of trying to save their old tinseltown theatre is pure showbiz. It’s being released during awards campaigning. And they’ve recruited Oscar champ Chris Cooper and three-time nominee Amy Adams to star.
However there’s more than bad reviews from Statler and Waldorf standing in the way of the frog in green getting the man in gold. The behind-the-scenes talent have largely worked in TV not film. The only film Amy Adams seems to have been snubbed for in recent years was her critically praised turn in another Disney family comedy, “Enchanted.”
The best chance for “The Muppets” to contend at the Oscars may be in those music categories where they have contended already. In 1979, “The Muppet Movie” was nominated for Best Original Song — “Rainbow Connection” lost to “It Goes Like It Goes” from “Norma Rae” — while “All That Jazz” beat it for Best Song/Adaptation Score. In 1981, “The Great Muppet Caper” tune “The First Time it Happens” lost Best Original Song to “Arthur’s Theme” from the comedy “Arthur.” And in 1984 “The Muppets Take Manhattan” was bested for Best Song Score by “Purple Rain.”
In the new film, “Life’s a Happy Song” and “Pictures in My Head” are just two of the original tunes that could contend. The score is by Emmy-winning composer Christophe Beck (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”).
Despite their run of bad luck at the Oscars, the Muppets have enjoyed success at other top industry awards. Over the years the Muppets have been nominated for 40 Primetime Emmys, winning six of them. In 1977, Rita Moreno won Guest Comedy Actress for her turn on “The Muppet Show” which won Best Variety Series the following year. In 1980 the show won for editing and in 1981 they won for writing. In 1991, “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson” won an editing award. In 1996 “Muppets Tonight” won an art direction award and in 1998 it claimed the Children’s Series prize.
In 1978, “The Muppet Show” won Best Recording for Children at the Grammys. Then in 1979, “The Muppet Movie” soundrack won the same award. They have had 4 other Grammy nominations.
So 12 years after their last feature film, the Muppets are back to try and claim the award that has so far eluded them. Only time will tell if they can pull it off … for the lovers, the dreamers and me.