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Globes should put dra­matic mu­si­cals in drama cat­e­gory; ‘A Star Is Born’ is will­ing

Variety - - Top Billing -

et’s face it: The “mu­si­cal” el­e­ment of the Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press Assn.’s best pic­ture, mu­si­cal or com­edy cat­e­gory at the Golden Globes is a holdover from a dif­fer­ent era, when films that fea­tured pro­duc­tion num­bers were a sta­ple of the busi­ness.

The cat­e­gory was ini­ti­ated in 1951, the year of “An Amer­i­can in Paris,” and its early days hon­ored ac­claimed films in­clud­ing “The King and I,”“MY Fair Lady” and “The Sound of Mu­sic” as well as stars like Don­ald O’con­nor in “Sin­gin’ in the Rain.” Lately, how­ever, it has be­come a repos­i­tory for crit­i­cal duds that would oth­er­wise have no lane to swim in — films such as “The Phan­tom of the Opera,” the 2005 re­make of “The Pro­duc­ers,”“nine,”“bur­lesque” and “The Great­est Show­man.”

Mean­while, mu­si­cal dra­mas like “Dream­girls” and “Les Misérables” have at times boxed out true come­dies in the cat­e­gory, to say noth­ing of dra­matic biopics that have used mu­sic to scam their way into the mix — “Ray” and “Walk the Line” among them. That’s done a real dis­ser­vice over the years to a field that has an an­nual op­por­tu­nity to spot­light com­edy film­mak­ing.

Hap­pily, there’s a whiff of change in the air this year.

Warner Bros. and di­rec­tor Bradley Cooper made the de­ci­sion early on to have “A Star Is Born” com­pete — or at least at­tempt to com­pete (the HFPA has fi­nal say on cat­e­go­riza­tion) — in the drama field. An­gling for the same hon­ors is “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody,” the life story of Queen front­man Fred­die Mer­cury, told with Broad­way verve and Rami Malek in the lead role. It’s the right call for both films, and it also raises a ques­tion: Why bother with a sep­a­rate mu­si­cal des­ig­na­tion in ei­ther of the two cat­e­gories any­more? There are mu­si­cal come­dies, and there are mu­si­cal dra­mas. Let them fall where they may.

This year the mu­si­cal pack in­cludes Dis­ney’s “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns,” star­ring Emily Blunt, and Univer­sal’s “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” with Cher, each look­ing to score in the wake of Globe-nom­i­nated

Se­ri­ous Mu­sic Fox biopic “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” is eye­ing the drama cat­e­gory at the Golden Globes.

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