"Elvis," Australian director Baz Luhrmann's painstaking, impressionistic, sincere and sometimes almost surreal biographical motion picture about the King of Rock 'n' Roll, has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor (Austin Butler) at the 95th annual Academy Awards.
Embraced by audiences (its $151 million North American box-office take made it the top film of the year that wasn't a sequel) and by most critics (its Rotten Tomatoes rating is 77% "fresh"), "Elvis" also earned Oscar nominations in the categories of Cinematography; Film Editing; Sound; Makeup and Hairstyling; Production Design; and Costume Design. Catherine Martin, nominated for her costume and production design, is Luhrmann's wife, and a previous winner in those categories for her husband's films "Moulin Rouge!" and "The Great Gatsby."
The triumph of Tuesday morning's Oscar announcements came less than 48 hours after the sadness of the Graceland memorial service for Lisa Marie Presley, which brought Luhrmann, Martin and Butler back to Memphis. Luhrmann spent many weeks here researching the film, and Lisa Marie (Elvis' only child) and her mother, Priscilla Presley, had become two of the movie's most devoted and apparently earnest champions. The Presleys and the film team forged a strong connection while promoting "Elvis" on the festival circuit and elsewhere, and they convened in Memphis last June for the movie's Graceland premiere, an event arranged for the international press.
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"Elvis" was filmed in 2020, on elaborate sets that recreated Graceland, Beale Street and other locations in Memphis, Hollywood, Las Vegas and Tupelo, Mississippi. The fantasy representations apparently inspired many people to seek out the real thing. In addition to making movie theater owners happy, "Elvis" has been a boon for tourism and the Elvis industry: Graceland officials credit the film with boosting attendance at the mansion and quadrupling social media mentions of Elvis Presley in the past year.
The movie's eight nominations put "Elvis" near the head of the Oscar pack. "Everything Everywhere All at Once" — the antic multiverse comedy that is likely to inspire at least one pair of celebrity presenters to wear "hot dog fingers" during the awards ceremony on March 12 — earned a leading 11 nominations, while "The Banshees of Inisherin" and the "All Quiet on the Western Front," from Germany, scored nine each.
In any event, "Elvis" did something Elvis didn't: The King starred in 31 feature films, but none of them earned an Oscar nomination. In addition, Butler is the first person to be nominated for acting as Elvis. (Not that he had much competition; Bruce Campbell was wonderful, but did anyone expect him to earn Academy Award recognition for playing a nursing-home Elvis who battles a resurrected Egyptian mummy in 2002's "Bubba Ho-Tep"?)
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Oscar nominations 2023: 'Elvis' gets 8 nods, including Best Picture