Rocketman, the fantastical musical biopic on Sir Elton John, started streaming on Showmax on Monday, 10 February 2020, the same day the film won the Oscar for Best Original Song for I’m Gonna Love Me Again, co-written by Elton and his long-time lyricist Bernie Taupin.
This was Bernie’s first Oscar nomination and win, and the fourth nomination and second win for Elton, after his 1995 Oscar for Can You Feel The Love Tonight from The Lion King.
I’m Gonna Love Me Again had already won the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Award, among other accolades.
Rocketman is the story of how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop culture, of how shy piano prodigy Reginal Dwight transformed into international superstar Elton John.
This rapid transformation came at a high price: while Elton has been sober for over 28 years now, the opening scene of Rocketman is set in an AA meeting, where he admits, “My name is Elton Hercules John and I am an alcoholic, and a cocaine addict, and a sex addict, and a bulimic, and also a shopaholic who has problems with weed, prescription drugs and anger management.”
Beyond the music, Rocketman is also the story of Elton’s friendship with Bernie, which helped him through. Accepting the Oscar, Elton praised Bernie as “the constant thing in my life, when I was screwed up, when I was normal.”
At the Oscars press room afterwards, Elton dedicated the award to Bernie. “This is for him. This is for my partner of 53 years. Without him, I wouldn’t be here. He starts the process. He gives me the lyrics. Then I go ahead. Without the lyrics, I’m nobody.”
“What you see in the film is what you get,” said Bernie in the press room afterwards. “The basic theme of the whole movie is love and trust and believing in the person you’re working with. It’s like a marriage – it really is – and one of the things that makes it work is being different, having different lives and leading different lives. But we always come back together for the music and the music is the thing that has run through our veins ever since we first met.”
As Elton, Taron Egerton won the Golden Globe and was nominated for BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, People’s Choice and Teen Choice awards. Even Elton himself is a fan. “Taron Egerton, what a performance,” he said, accepting the Oscar.
In the press room afterwards, Elton called out Taron’s Oscar snub. “He should have been, I think, nominated as one of the best actors. For me, he was the best performance this year.”
Rocketman also stars BAFTA winner Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool) as Bernie; Golden Globe winner Richard Madden (Bodyguard, Game of Thrones) as Elton’s first manager, John Reid; Golden Globe nominee Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) as Elton’s mother Sheila Farebrother; and BAFTA winner Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones’ Diary) as his grandmother Ivy.
Rocketman was the 39th biggest box office hit of 2019 globally, raking in over $195m. The film was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy, as well as a People’s Choice Award for Best Drama. And on Rotten Tomatoes, the musical has an 89% critics score. As the Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus puts it, “It’s going to be a long, long time before a rock biopic manages to capture the highs and lows of an artist’s life like Rocketman.”
Elton also dedicated the award to everyone who worked on the film, especially David Furnish, who produced Rocketman. “David, my husband, has been on and on for about 12 years trying to get this made,” Elton said in the Oscars press room afterwards. “In the end, we got it made the right way, the way we wanted to make it, and I’m so thrilled for him, because I love him so much.”