Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin ‘Couldn’t Be More Thrilled’ Over 8 ‘Elvis’ Oscar Noms – But One Had Them ‘Screaming and Crying’

Mandy Walker’s Best Cinematography recognition makes her just the third woman ever nominated in the category

Inseparable awards season "Elvis" pair Baz Luhrmann and Austin Butler attend the 2023 Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Night Gala at Palm Springs Convention Center.

“Elvis” has re-entered the building.

Baz Luhrmann’s kaleidoscopic biography, which was a major hit when it premiered in theaters this past summer (and will be back in theaters starting this weekend), picked up eight Oscar nominations Tuesday, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Austin Butler’s uncanny transformation into The King. It also netted Catherine Martin, Luhrmann’s wife and creative collaborator, three nominations – for Best Picture (she was a producer), costume design and production design (a recognition shared with Karen Murphy and Bev Dunn). That’s a whole lot of shaking going on.

“I’m so thrilled for my team because I feel like I’m the cheerleader,” Martin said Tuesday morning, calling in from Paris. “There are so many people that work with me to achieve what you see onscreen. And I know they’re so thrilled with the nomination. That makes me super happy. And I’m also thrilled to be in the company of incredible women – Karen Murphy, my co-production designer, my set decorator Bev Dunn, but also on the producing part Gail Berman.”

But there’s one nomination that Luhrmann and Martin “jumped out of their seat” for: Mandy Walker’s nomination for cinematography. It marks only the third time a female cinematographer has been nominated.

“We were screaming and crying,” Martin said. “It’s so well deserved. She’s such an extraordinary artist and an extraordinary person and human being. This movie is just brilliantly shot, so inventively. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

And, of course, Luhrmann is ecstatic about Butler’s nomination for a role he wasn’t sure anybody would be able to play.

“I kind of thought I’ll never really find someone who can play Elvis, so I’ll never really have to make the film,” Luhrmann said. “Because it’s not a job of impersonation. You have to be able to do the physical, the vocal, but also find the inner Elvis. When Priscilla wrote that note after seeing the movie and said, ‘I just don’t understand how he could have known the moments that no one ever saw – how could he understand the anger and the loneliness? How could he understand the silences that Elvis took?’ I think that’s probably the miracle of the acting of it, that he just lived it for so long, that he was able to meld his soul with Elvis. It’s a humanity. Everybody wants to hug that guy on screen and save him.”

Just as impressive as the Oscar love for “Elvis” was the fact that it got people into the theater, without being part of a giant franchise or leaning on some preexisting IP. Luhrmann said the whole team brought “the spirit of Elvis” to the endeavor.

“We, in the spirit of Elvis, have to prove that we can bring older and younger audiences back into the theater,” he said. “And whatever the road ahead for this movie, it absolutely did that.”

But what the filmmaker is really interested in is how the film will play in a decade, particularly since there were so many 16-year-old girls who loved the movie but identify with “Elvis as this person they never knew.”

“I want to see where they are in 10 years’ time and what their reaction is then. It’s really interesting with my movies, what happens in 10 years,” Luhrmann said. “But this one I’m particularly interested. The absolute gratification for everyone who gave so much is that we brought audiences of all kinds and all backgrounds and all ages into the theater – and honestly, that’s what Elvis was. He was a uniter. I think that is the meaning of the entire journey.”