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  • David Osgar

Is Jennifer Hudson the perfect Aretha Franklin?

While cinema releases may be delayed, that's not stopping Hollywood from starting to turn the wheels of awards season with Respect...

July last year, and one of the early Oscar contenders to be heavily advertised was Judy starring Renée Zellweger. Though not strictly a biopic on Judy Garland's entire career, the film and advertising used classics such as Over the Rainbow to tantalise fans, eventually leading Zellweger to win a Golden Globe and Oscar for her performance. So can we expect the same for Jennifer Hudson as she plays the "Queen of Soul"?

Respect comes from MGM and Bron Studios, the latter of which helped to bring about other awards contenders such as 2019's Joker and Bombshell. The film promises to tell the real-life story of R&B singer Aretha Franklin, which is no small task considering the many aspects of her career.

Judy (2019) while generally praised faced much criticism over its lack of detail in portraying the famous performer's life. Zellweger and the film both performed admirably, but neither shook the industry as other Oscar winners have in the past (perhaps a common trend of actors and films which portray real-life figures). The Oscar win was seen largely as a safe bet, and awarded for Zellweger's admiration in the industry, and her accuracy in portraying Judy Garland.

The same narrative could very well unfold for Jennifer Hudson and Respect, which like Judy and its song Over the Rainbow will use its titular song to lure in audiences.

Renée Zellweger eventually looked the part of Judy Garland, but her casting seemed somewhat surprising considering her signature blonde locks and recent affiliation with Bridget Jones. Hudson however, immediately makes sense as Aretha Franklin.

A well known, and accomplished singer with a history in musical theatre, and on-screen singing roles in Dreamgirls and Hairspray Live! Jennifer Hudson has had a very similar career to Franklin as an R&B singer and performer of famous big note songs (if Franklin had risen to fame in the noughties she'd likely have been a judge on The Voice too).

Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson in Respect (2020)

The burden of portraying Franklin's life of singing, family, and her health problems will all fall on the filmmakers and Hudson to walk in the footsteps of films like Ray, La Vie En Rose, and Rocketman to give a in-depth look at this famous musician.

The teaser trailer already portrays her struggles as an artist and her dedication as a civil rights activist. So can Jennifer Hudson mimic Zellweger in topping her Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to that of a lead? But perhaps more importantly, can she rid herself of that terrible cat smell?

Soon to be a bad memory we hope...

If history is anything to go by, she definitely has a good shot of a nomination, with her similarity to Franklin as a singer already putting her in good favour.

Respect hopes to be released in cinemas this December.

#RespectMovie #Arethafranklin #Jenniferhudson

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