childhood films

Lin-Manuel Miranda on His Lifelong Oscars Obsession and Why the Show Still Matters (Guest Column)

The Hollywood Reporter
February 20, 2017

During college, Lin-Manuel Miranda and a friend used to improvise interpretative dance tributes to best picture nominees at their annual Oscar party. “It was a lot of breathing and rolling around,” recalls the creator of the Broadway smash Hamilton. “We had a great Seabiscuit dance one year.”

For the New York-born son of Puerto Rican parents — his father a political consultant, his mother a psychologist — it was just another phase of a lifelong fascination with the Oscars that began when he was growing up in the Inwood section of Manhattan, playing and replaying the telecasts that his family recorded on their VCR. At 37, Miranda is about to cross the threshold from superfan to participant: “How Far I’ll Go,” which he wrote for the Disney film Moana, is nominated for original song, and on Feb. 26, Miranda (with his mother) will attend his first Academy Awards.

It’s an auspicious step in a career that will see him star with Emily Blunt and Colin Firth in Disney’s 2018 Mary Poppins Returns and collaborate with composer Alan Menken on the studio’s live-action The Little Mermaid, one of Miranda’s favorite films and, he reveals here, the gateway to his Oscars obsession.

My brain is a compendium of Oscar moments: Tom Hanks’ beautiful acceptance speech when he won best actor for Philadelphia in 1994. Roberto Benigni climbing over chairs and wanting to make love to everybody in the world when Life Is Beautiful won best foreign-language film in 1999. Kim Basinger presenting in 1990 and telling the audience that one of the best films of the year, Do the Right Thing, was not nominated. For her to take a stand, 25 years before #OscarsSoWhite, was incredible — and impressive because time has shown the prescience of that film.

I expect we’ll see more of that this year. It’s a political time, so I imagine the Oscars will look exactly like your Twitter or Facebook feed. Why should we ignore for three hours what we’re talking about 24 hours a day?

The Oscars were always a family affair when I was a kid. One sort of unintentional tradition we had every year was during the “In Memoriam” part of the show. My family called it the “She died?” section because my dad, who is pop culture-oblivious, would always go, “She died? He died? She died?!” the whole time. So, it was very sad and yet also very funny watching my dad catch up.

When I was a kid, the Oscars felt like this impossibly larger-than-life thing. The first time I felt like I had a horse in the race was in 1990. I was 10, and The Little Mermaid was up for best song and best score. They did that crazy “Under the Sea” number with the late, great Geoffrey Holder and dudes in scuba outfits tap-dancing with flippers. We had a tradition of recording the show on our VHS, and I must have watched it a million and a half times.

There was also an amazing Chuck Workman montage at the beginning of the show that depicted 100 years of filmmaking with classic scores. I was already in love with movies, but this was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life.

That was the period when Billy Crystal was hosting, and I would memorize his musical spoofs of the year’s top films. He did them with Marc Shaiman, whom I’m working with right now on Mary Poppins Returns… I was a huge fan of those moments and musical numbers — they showed a genuine love of movies while still poking fun at them. I may also be the only person in America who laughed his ass off to “Uma, Oprah. Oprah, Uma.” David Letterman’s commitment to that bit was enough to put it over the top for me. He didn’t care if no one got it. In his head, it was funny.


Hosting the Oscars is not a thing I would ever want to do… You always have to do this dance as a host: You’re playing to a billion people at home, and you’re playing to anxious contestants in a room, and that’s an insanely hard thing to divide. It’s the most thankless task in the world. I have a pretty healthy ego, but it does not extend in that direction. I’d much rather be the guy writing the opening tune than having to deliver it.


Another Oscar moment that really stuck with me was when Whoopi won her best supporting actress for Ghost. I’ll never forget, at the top of her acceptance speech she said, “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted this,” which is so rare. Then she said, “As a little kid, I lived in the projects, and you’re the people I watched. You’re the people who made me want to be an actor.” For me, it was like she was saying, “If you want this, you can get it, too. I’m proof that you can.”

I had been seeing myself in this world since I was old enough to do anything, and it was as if she reached through the screen to talk to me. I was that kid. Even my mother used to say, “Remember what Whoopi said.”

That speech was the inspiration for the opening song I co-wrote for Neil Patrick Harris, “Bigger,” for the 2013 Tony Awards:

There’s a kid in the middle of nowhere sitting there, living for Tony performances singin’ and flippin’ along with the Pippins and Wickeds and Kinkys, Matildas and Mormonses / So we might reassure that kid and do something to spur that kid  / ‘Cause I promise you all of us up here tonight, We were that kid and now we’re bigger


Another of my favorite moments was in 2005, when they had Antonio Banderas sing “Al Otro Lado Del Rio” from The Motorcycle Diaries, which was nominated for best song. And then when Jorge Drexler, who composed it, won, he went onstage and sang it, like, “This is how it really goes.” It was so funny and ballsy and great. I’m happy whenever Latinos win anything, so I was thrilled by both performances.

I can’t tell you what it feels like in that room because this will be my first time at the Oscars, but I can tell you why the Oscars matter. It’s a night when the arts and artists are formally honored, and this recognition is seen by millions of people across the country and around the world. The show inspires people to keep pursuing their craft, or to seek out the nominated films or the overall body of work of the nominees, and through that exposure, people gain a greater appreciation of what the art of filmmaking brings to our culture.

ITS BACK!!! movie night masterpost! all links work as of august 11, 2014 (if you want to request/recommend movies here) I’m reposting this because it was highly requested and it got deleted for the second time, I also added more films!!

  • 10 Things I Hate About You
  • 13 Going on 30
  • 17 Again
  • 21 Jump Street
  • 22 Jump Street
  • 27 Dresses
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • A Cinderella Story
  • Aquamarine
  • Bride Wars
  • Bring It On
  • Bring It On Again
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Clueless
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic
  • Confessions of a Teenage Dramaqueen
  • Crazy, Stupid Love
  • Disturbia
  • Donnie Darko
  • Easy A
  • Ella Enchanted
  • Forrest Gump
  • Freaky Friday
  • Friends with Benefits
  • Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
  • Girl, Interrupted
  • Great Gatsby
  • Grown Ups
  • Grown Ups 2
  • Jennifer’s Body
  • John Tucker Must Die
  • Juno
  • Just My Luck
  • Labour Pains
  • Leap Year
  • Legally Blonde
  • Legally Blonde 2
  • LOL
  • Lolita
  • Maid in Manhattan
  • Mean Girls
  • Mean Girls 2
  • Miss Congeniality
  • Miss Congeniality 2
  • New Year’s Eve
  • New York Minute
  • Pitch Perfect
  • Princess Diaries
  • Princess Diaries 2
  • Project X
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  • She’s the Man
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Stuck in Love
  • Submarine
  • Sucker Punch
  • Switch
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • The Heat
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Last Song
  • The Notebook
  • The Parent Trap
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • The Proposal
  • The Tourist
  • The Virgin Suicides
  • The Vow
  • Titanic
  • V for Vendetta
  • Warm Bodies
  • Water for Elephants
  • What Happens in Vegas
  • Yes Man

Final Destination:

  • Final Destination
  • Final Destination 2
  • Final Destination 3
  • The Final Destination
  • Final Destination 5

Harry Potter:

  • Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone
  • Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
  • Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
  • Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
  • Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince  
  • Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows Part 1
  • Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows Part 2

Men in Black:

  • Men in Black I
  • Men in Black II
  • Men in Black III

Pirates of the Caribbean:

  • The Curse of The Black Pearl
  • Dead Man’s Chest
  • At World’s End
  • On Stranger Tides

Star Wars:

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • The Clone Wars

Saw:

  • Saw
  • Saw II
  • Saw III
  • Saw IV
  • Saw V
  • Saw VI
  • Saw 3D (7th Movie)

Step Up:

  • Step Up
  • Step Up 2
  • Step Up 3
  • Step Up Revolution

The Hangover:

  • The Hangover
  • The Hangover 2
  • The Hangover 3

Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit:

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Twilight Saga:

  • Twilight
  • New Moon
  • Eclipse
  • Breaking Dawn: Part 1
  • Breaking Dawn: Part 2

Marvel:

  • The Amazing Spider-man
  • The Avengers
  • Captain America
  • Fantastic Four
  • Hulk
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Iron Man 3
  • Spider-man
  • Spider-man 2
  • Spider-man 3
  • Thor
  • X-Men
  • X-Men First Class
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • X-Men The Last Stand

Disney:

  • Aladdin
  • Aladdin The Return of Jafar
  • Aladdin and the King of Thieves
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Alice in Wonderland 2010
  • The Aristocats
  • Atlantis the lost Empire
  • Antlantis Milos Return
  • Bambi
  • Bambi II
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
  • Beverly Hills Chihuahua
  • Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2
  • Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3
  • Brave
  • Brother Bear
  • Brother Bear 2
  • A bugs Life
  • Camp Rock
  • Camp Rock 2 The Final Jam
  • Cars
  • Cars 2
  • The Cheetah Girls One World
  • Chicken Little
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn treader
  • Cinderella
  • Cinderella II Dreams come True
  • Cinderella III A Twist in Time
  • Collage Road Trip
  • Cow Belles
  • Dadnapped
  • Dinosaur
  • Dumbo
  • The Emperors New Groove
  • Enchanted
  • Escape to Witch Mountain
  • Fantasia
  • Fantasia 2000
  • Finding Nemo
  • Fox and the Hound
  • Fox and the Hound 2
  • Frankenweenie
  • Frenemies
  • Frozen
  • Game Plan
  • George of the Jungle
  • A Goofy Movie
  • An Extremely Goofy Movie
  • Halloweentown
  • Halloween town II: Kalabar’s Revenge
  • Halloweentown High
  • Hannah Montana Movie
  • Hercules
  • High School Musical
  • High School Musical 2
  • High School Musical 3
  • Holes
  • Home on the Range
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • The Incredibles
  • Inspector Gadget
  • Inspector Gadget 2
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • John Carter
  • Jungle Book
  • Jungle Book 2
  • Lady and the Tramp
  • Lady and the Tramp 2
  • Lilo and Stitch
  • Lilo and Stitch 2
  • Lion King
  • Lion King 2
  • Lion King 1 ½
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Little Mermaid 2
  • Lizzie Mcguire Movie
  • Marry Poppins
  • Mars Needs Moms
  • Mickeys Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the house of mouse
  • Monsters Inc.
  • Monsters University
  • Meet the Robinsons
  • Mulan
  • Mulan II
  • The Muppets
  • National Treasure
  • National Treasure: Book of Secrets
  • Oliver and Company
  • Oz: The Great and the Powerful
  • The Pacifier
  • Peter Pan
  • Peter Pan 2
  • Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension
  • Pinnochio
  • Pixel Perfect
  • Pocohantos
  • Pocahontas 2
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • Princess and the Frog
  • Princess Protection Program
  • Race to Witch Mountain
  • Ratatouille
  • The Reluctant Dragon
  • The Rescuers
  • Return to Halloweentown
  • Robin Hood
  • The Santa Claus
  • Santa Claus 2
  • Santa Claus 3
  • Sky High
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  • The Sorcerers Apprentice
  • Space Buddies
  • Spooky Buddies
  • The Suite Life Movie
  • Sword in the Stone
  • Tangled
  • Tangled Ever After
  • Tarzan
  • Tarzan 2
  • Tarzan and Jane
  • The Tigger Movie
  • Tinker bell
  • Tinker bell and the Great Fairy Rescue
  • Tinker bell and the Lost Treasure
  • Tinker bell: Secret of the Wings
  • Toy Story
  • Toy Story 2
  • Toy Story 3
  • Treasure Planet
  • Tron Legacy
  • Underdog
  • Up
  • WALL-E
  • Wizards of Waverly Place Movie
  • Whinnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Christmas
  • Whinnie The Pooh Movie
  • Wreck-it-Ralph
  • Your Friend The Rat
  • 101 Dalmations
  • 101 Dalmations II
  • 102 Dalmations