It's potentially a big day for India in the context of nominations for the 95th Academy Awards, to be announced later today. Indian films with Oscar chances number four – official entry Chhello Show, documentaries All That Breathes and The Elephant Whisperers, and global juggernaut RRR which won a Golden Globe recently. The first three films are on the Oscar shortlist for their categories – Best International Feature Film, Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short. The real excitement, however, may be generated by RRR which has swept across the world gathering adoring fans in its wake.
Fans of the film, and they are boundless, were shocked and disappointed when director Pan Nalin's Gujarati-language Chhello Show, or Last Picture Show, was announced as India's official entry for Best International Feature over RRR. Regardless, the film conducted its Oscar campaign independently, submitting itself for consideration in various categories. While these categories have not been revealed, RRR likely entered itself for as many as it could.
The shortlists for 10 categories have been revealed and so far, RRR is a contender for one nomination slate at least an no prizes for guessing which – Best Original Song for Naatu Naatu, the same award it won at the Golden Globes. 15 songs out of a long list of 81 will advance to the nominations. In addition to Naatu Naatu are the four songs it beat at the Golden Globes – Ciao Papa from Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, Taylor Swift's Carolina from Where The Crawdads Sing, Rihanna's Lift Me Up from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Lady Gaga's Hold My Hand from Top Gun: Maverick. The remaining 10 songs on the shortlist are – Time from Amsterdam, Nothing Is Lost from Avatar: The Way Of Water, This Is A Life from Everything Everywhere All At Once, Til You're Home from A Man Called Otto, My Mind & Me from Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, Good Afternoon from Spirited, Applause from Tell It Like A Woman, Stand Up from Till, Dust & Ash from The Voice Of Dust And Ash, and New Body Rhumba from White Noise.
The shortlists revealed include the categories Best Sound and Best Visual Effects and while we don't know if RRR had entered itself for either, it hasn't made it. Other technical categories it may possibly be eligible for a nomination in include Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography – shortlists for these have not been announced and so RRR is not eliminated.
It seems unlikely that Naatu Naatu, a favourite around the world, will not score an Oscar nod. How about the other categories though? USA Today sent Indian social media into meltdown recently by urging for a Best Actor nomination for one of RRR's two stars - Jr NTR. In a list of 10 performances USA Today thinks deserve nominations, writer Brian Truitt named both Ram Charan and Jr NTR from RRR, picking the second actor as the one with an edge over the first. "Academy, is it possible to go halfsies on a best actor nod? Because this action-packed musical adventure's two Indian mega-stars are what makes "RRR" such an audience-friendly powerhouse: Ram Charan's British army soldier and Rao's loyal warrior become friends, butt heads as foes and then come back together as a fighting force, with an all-time bromance and an amazing dance-off along the way. If we have to pick, though, the charismatic Rao has the edge for leading an army of wild animals and juggling a motorcycle with ease," he wrote.
Lest fans lose their minds entirely, it should be noted that USA Today's list of nominee predictions in the major categories, published yesterday, does not include Jr NTR in the Best Actor slate. Most international publishers on Oscar watch also do not rate RRR's chances of being included in the Best Film category – the film's popularity could still see it edge its way in. A Best Director nod for SS Rajamouli is also possible though unlikely though he won the prize at the New York Film Critics Circle awards; at least four of the five slots in the Best Director slate will likely be filled by Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans), Martin McDonagh (The Banshees Of Inisherin), Todd Field (Tar), Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once). One slot remains and could be taken by either James Cameron (Avatar: The Way Of Water) or Baz Luhrmann (Elvis).
The Oscar nominations will be announced by actors Alison Williams and Riz Ahmed. The award show will be held on March 12 and will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.