Could the sequel to Disney’s one and only live-action Best Picture contender sweep into the Oscar race?

It has been 54 years in the making. Its predecessor earned  13 Academy Award nominations – the most ever for a movie released by Walt Disney Studios – and it won  Best Actress for its star, Julie Andrews, along with trophies for editing, score, visual effects and best song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee. “

But will “Mary Poppins Returns,” with Emily Blunt taking over as the practically perfect flying nanny and Rob Marshall of “Chicago” and “Into the Woods” fame behind the camera,  land with the same sort of impact  at the box office  as well as on awards ballots when it opens Dec. 19?

Since the original musical fantasy based on P.L. Travers’ series of children’s books arrived in 1964, Disney’s only success with breaking into Oscar’s top category, beyond when the studio inaugurated its  Touchstone division for more adult films in the mid-’80s and owned Miramax from 1993 to 2010, was with its animated features – 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast,” 2009’s “Up” and 2010’s “Toy Story 3.”

Right now, “Mary Poppins Returns” isn’t exactly soaring on Gold Derby’s Oscar-ranking boards in the Best Picture category where Experts are giving a top-notch cast that features Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. the cold shoulder. Meanwhile, the combined odds rankings of 2,500 Gold Derby participants places it at No. 31  on the Best Picture list , with 74 placing the film in their top-10 and seven choosing the title to win.

At least “Mary Poppins” is settled into No. 4 among titles that are eligible for the musical/comedy category at the Golden Globes.

But don’t be too despondent. Disney just put out this week a heaping spoonful of sugar in the form of a new glimpse of the movie,  one that focuses more on the music, especially the new song  “Can You Imagine That” – complete with a dolphin in a bath tub —   by Marc Shaiman (a five-time Oscar nominee who is an “O” away from an EGOT) and Scott Wittman.

Another good sign?  Deadline’s Pete Hammond reported earlier this month that theater owners in Los Angeles for their annual conference were given an early look at the feature and couldn’t stop from gushing, despite signing non-disclosure agreements.  “It is (in all caps, no less) MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF THE YEAR. I grew up with “Mary Poppins” and love everything about the original, and the sequel met my high expectations. Loved!”

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We will see if Disney cranks up the film’s awards season push. Or will it put its backing behind “Black Panther,” which has the potential to become the first superhero film to compete for Best Picture?


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