How Lin-Manuel Miranda Could EGOT for 'Encanto' This Year
But not for the song you expect.
At this point, it's pretty shocking that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the 21st-century showbiz jack-of-all-trades, has not achieved EGOT status yet. EGOT, of course, is the coveted crown of American entertainment, standing for the names of the four big awards: the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. To achieve EGOT, a term coined by Miami Vice star Philip Michael Thomas and further popularized by Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock, is meaningless in any practical sense, but tracking those who are close is very fun.
It seemed like Miranda might get his EGOT in 2016 when he was Oscar-nominated for the Moana ballad "How Far I'll Go," except he was thwarted by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who won that night for La La Land's "City of Stars." Now, Miranda is back in the Oscar race with Encanto, which has quietly become one of the biggest phenomenons in movies these days. He looks like he's on track to win—but not with the song you think.
Encanto has had a somewhat odd path to success. It didn't make much of an impact when it was released in theaters in late November, but as soon as it hit Disney+ around the holiday season, it exploded, presumably thanks to families who weren't quite willing to venture out to cinemas in the midst of a COVID outbreak but did need to keep kids entertained. The unexpected rise of Encanto makes sense with the movie, which is deceptively small-scale for a Disney adventure. Directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith, Encanto tells the Colombia-set tale of Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz), the only member of her family not blessed with superpowers. When the magic that fuels their casa and provides for their community starts to falter, she must dig into her history to uncover what it all means. The beauty of Encanto—in addition to the steps forward in representation and the astoundingly colorful animation—is that it all takes place in what is essentially one location. Mirabel doesn't go on an adventure like Moana or Anna from Frozen. Instead, she just explores the crevices of her home.
Miranda's songs, many of which allow the various Madrigals to introduce themselves and their various worries, are buoyant, but none has made a greater impact than "We Don't Talk About Bruno." In Encanto, Bruno (John Leguizamo) is the family outcast who disappeared after his premonitions about the Madrigals' future became too ominous. The song recounts how Bruno made it rain on a wedding day, announced the premature death of a fish, and has rats on his back. It's full of clever, amusing lyrical patter. Because of that, it has become the highest-charting Disney song in 26 years, beating the likes of "Let It Go," that icy juggernaut from 2013.
But there's a twist: "We Don't Talk About Bruno" will not win an Oscar. Why? Disney didn't submit it for the Best Original Song category. Instead, the studio picked "Dos Oruguitas," the Sebastián Yatra-performed tearjerker that appears at the end of the film. You can attempt to infer why Disney didn't choose "Bruno." After all, "funny" songs often don't win Oscars. In 1992, for example, both "Be Our Guest" and "Beauty and the Beast" were nominated from Beauty and the Beast—the latter won, even though I might argue that the former is the more technically skillful achievement.
Still, Miranda is in a good place to actually get his Oscar. While the nominations haven't been announced, the shortlist has, and none of the other songs—not even ones by Jay-Z and Beyoncé from The Harder They Fall and King Richard, respectively—have the cultural impact of anything from Encanto. After the year Miranda has had—which includes the movie version of In the Heights, his directorial debut with Tick, Tick…Boom!, and writing songs for both Encanto and Netflix's Vivo—it's likely that Academy voters will want to honor him. Just not for the song you might expect.