Will Disney’s live-action ‘Mulan’ exceed the original animated classic’s awards haul?

Will Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” follow in the footsteps of the 1998 animated classic by equaling or exceeding its awards haul? It is entirely possible that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and motion picture academy might respond to Harry Gregson-Williamsrousing score. He’s already a 2006 Globe nominee for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” so he’s at least on the awards radar. Similarly, the original song from the film, “Loyal Brave True,” performed by pop star Christina Aguilera and penned by Gregson-Williams, Jamie Hartman, Rosi Golan and Billy Crabtree, might also score a nomination from both groups.

The $200 million China-set action drama was directed by Niki Caro (“Whale Rider”) and stars actress Liu Yifei in the title role and co-stars Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Jason Scott Lee as Bori Khan, Yoson An as Cheng Honghui, with Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor. The epic war film is a remake of the 1998 animated movie of the same name, dramatizing the folklore story of Hua Mulan, a girl warrior who masquerades as a man to serve in the Imperial Army defending the country from Northern invaders. Her inspiring journey sees her transform into an honored warrior, earning the respect of a grateful nation and a proud father.

SEE Exclusive Video Interview: Harry Gregson-Williams (‘Mulan’ composer)

After the film’s intended multiplex roll out was thwarted last March by the coronavirus pandemic, the studio shifted it to its Disney+ platform and started streaming it stateside last fall. Unlike many other “tentpole” action blockbusters that were shelved in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, “Mulan” was a commercial and critical success, positioning it for a run at a number of accolades this awards season, particularly below the line in recognition of its gorgeous visual and sound elements.

Back in 1998, the original animated film was awarded primarily for its music. Revered composer Jerry Goldsmith was nominated for Best Score at the Globes (losing to Burkhard Dallwitz for “The Truman Show”) and then followed that up with a nomination at the Oscars (losing to Stephen Warbeck for “Shakespeare in Love”). Songwriters Matthew Wilder and David Zippel also scored a nomination at the Globes for “Reflection” in Best Song (losing to David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Alberto Testa and Tony Renis for “The Quest for Camelot” classic “The Prayer”).

Besides music and song, the film should do well in other below the line categories, as its costume designer (Bina Daigeler) and visual effects team have already been cited by a smattering of critics and industry groups to date.

“Mulan” following in its original animated film’s footsteps isn’t unprecedented. Over recent years, Disney’s remakes have done well, particularly below the line at the Oscars. In 2010, “Alice in Wonderland” won two Oscars (for costume design and art direction) and was also nominated for visual effects. At the Globes, it was nominated for Best Comedy/Musical Film as well as for Johnny Depp‘s performance and for Danny Elfman‘s score. That set the scene for follow-up remakes, like “Cinderella” (2015), which was nominated for costume design, “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) nominated for both costume design and production design, “Maleficent” (2014) and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” (2019), nominated for costume design and makeup respectively. In 2019, while “Aladdin” was snubbed, “The Lion King” still managed to score a visual effects nomination and Golden Globe nominations for original song (“Spirit”) and Best Animated Feature.

Whether or not the Golden Globes respond to it when they announce their nominations on Wednesday morning, “Mulan” might pick up steam toward some Oscar love when the motion picture academy announces its nominations on March 15.

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