Oscars Preview: 30 Movies to Watch Before the Nominations Come Out!

11 of 31

Image via Paramount Pictures

Florence Foster Jenkins

What it’s about:

Florence Foster Jenkins is a biopic of the heiress and singer of the same name. The wealthy Jenkins grew up with a passion for opera music. She used her money to found the Verdi Club and support other musical endeavors. As she progresses in age and illness, she decides to take up singing lessons again. The well-paid vocal coaches and pianists who surround her quickly become aware that she is a terrible singer, but spurred by compensation and by her husband St. Clair Bayfield, they act as though she is brilliant.

When she begins to give public performances, she gets rave reviews from people who believe her concerts to be comedic. Whether because she was funny or because she was sincere, Jenkins makes a career of singing opera badly. And, as she notes in the film (and in real life), “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”

Major Players:

Florence Foster Jenkins is directed by two-time nominee Stephen Frears and written by Nicholas Martin. Meryl Streep, the patron saint of the Academy Awards (2 wins, 19 nominations) plays Florence Foster Jenkins. Hugh Grant portrays St. Clair Bayfield and Simon Helberg plays Jenkins’s pianist Cosmé McMoon.

What the Critics are Saying:

While critics generally agree that the biopic is fairly safe, it is generally well regarded and has received an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. David Edelstein in Vulture perhaps says it best when he writes, “It’s a wobbly, uneven, ultimately wonderful film—its unevenness befitting its title character…” Anna Smith of Empire reflects the sentiment in her review: “A fizzy, funny, period dramedy with top-notch performances, Florence Foster Jenkins doesn’t take many risks but it’s a very entertaining experience.”

Possible Nominations:

Best Original Screenplay (Martin), Leading Actress (Streep), Supporting Actor (Grant)