Can ‘Burlesque’ seduce awards voters?

After a seven-year absence, Cher returns to the silver screen this week in “Burlesque,” joined by pop songstress Christina Aguilera in her film debut. The razzle-dazzle musical, which boasts plenty of original songs, sequins and spotlights, divided reviewers resulting in a score of just 51 at MetaCritic.

One can sense Razzie voters sharpening their knives. But did anyone really expect the critical establishment — dominated by stodgy straight guys — to dare to admit they might enjoy a movie toplined by Cher in all of her scenery-guzzling glory? This kind of cinematic bonbon could be just the antidote a recession-weary moviegoing public needs right now.

As for its awards pedigree, Cher snagged the Best Actress Oscar in 1987 for “Moonstruck,” preceded four years earlier by a Supporting Actress bid for “Silkwood.” However, musical turns such as in “Burlesque” rarely earn attention from Oscar (an exception being those “Chicago” dames  in 2002).

Academy voters generally prefer their female nominees and winners to be wreathed in misery, not squeezed into fishnets and stilettos. However, the “Burlesque” divas have a shot in the Comedy/Musical category at the Golden Globes. After all, Cher won that award for “Moonstruck.” 

The “Burlesque” soundtrack contains many original songs performed by Cher and Aguilera, with the latter even co-writing several of her numbers. The film’s writer-director, Steven Antin, is listed as a writer on one track. John Patrick Shanley — who won the Oscar for his “Moonstruck” screenplay — contributed to the title tune belted out by Cher in the video below while six-time nominee Diane Warren penner her power ballad “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.” It’s not yet clear which tunes will be submitted for consideration to the Academy by the deadline of Dec. 1.

Photo: Cher in “Burlesque” (Sony)

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