Hollywood’s biggest night of the year has arrived, and a few Academy Award nominees with Philly-area connections are up for Oscars at tonight’s ceremony.
Ardmore’s Benj Pasek and his writing partner Justin Paul are up for best original song for “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, about the life of P.T. Barnum. The film, which faced criticisms of white-washing Barnum’s history during its theatrical run, was not nominated for any other awards.
The pair previously won an Oscar last year for best original song with “City of Stars” from La La Land. A repeat this year would make them the first songwriters to have back-to-back Oscar wins in that category since 1992, and the third to accomplish that feat overall, according to award season prognosticators Gold Derby.
Pasek and Paul are also an “E” away from an EGOT — otherwise known as a collection of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards — thanks to a Grammy win for best musical theater album with Dear Evan Hansen in January. The show also won the pair a Tony for best original score last year.
“Thank you so much to the Academy for recognizing ‘This is Me’ with a nomination. We are honored to be included in such great company with our fellow nominees. We share this nomination with the amazingly talented creative team behind this movie,” Pasek said of his nomination this year.
Bala Cynwyd native Kobe Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” is nominated for best animated short film. Based on his 2016 retirement from the NBA, the six-minute short was written and narrated by Bryant, and directed by Glenn Keane. Bryant’s nomination earlier this year was a controversial one thanks to the rise of the #MeToo movement and the sexual assault accusations the basketball star faced back in 2003.
The Disaster Artist, cowritten by Margate’s Scott Neustadter, is up for a best adapted screenplay Oscar. The film is a biopic of Tommy Wiseau, who infamously directed 2003’s The Room — considered by movie fans to be one of the worst films ever made. James Franco directs and stars.
“This is an incredible honor. We were inspired by the story of two friends who went after their dreams. Now the Academy has made our wildest dream come true,” Neustadter said of his nom. “We are grateful to everyone who made The Disaster Artist and thankful to those who supported us along the way.”
One snub, however, was for Steven Spielberg’s The Post. Cowritten by Ambler’s Josh Singer, the film, which follows Washington Post journalists as they work to publish the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s, was nominated for best picture, but was skipped over for best original screenplay. Singer, however, previously won a best adapted screenplay Oscar for Spotlight in 2016.
The 90th Academy Awards air live from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre starting at 8 p.m. on Sunday on ABC. Returning for the second consecutive year as host is Jimmy Kimmel.