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West Side Story stars Ariana DeBose and Rachel Zegler tipped for Oscars success as reactions drop

The best actress race is hotting up

Ariana DeBose and Rachel Zegler have joined the Oscars race as the first reactions for West Side Story have dropped.

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Steven Spielberg's West Side Story has been hotly anticipated and it turns out for good reason as it has been branded a "triumph".

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WATCH: See the first trailer for West Side Story

A remake of the 1961 film - itself an adaptation of the 1957 musical - West Side Story stars newcomer Rachel as Maria and Ansel Elgort as Tony, two teenagers from rival New York gangs who fall in love.

But it was Rachel and Broadway star Ariana, who stars as Maria's closest confidante Anita, who have been roundly praised for their "impeccable" performances.

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"Shout outs to @rachelzegler & @ArianaDeBose who CRUSH it in this film," shared one critic as another tweeted: "Ariana DeBose is bonkers good… I don't know how Rachel Zegler pulled off that good a debut."

"I can’t wait to see Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose’s careers explode after this. They knock it out of the park as Maria and Anita in this beautifully crafted movie," raved one critic as others called the pair the "standouts" of the film.

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The film is Rachel's first

Director Steven Spielberg was also singled out for making what some called his best film in years with "gorgeous filmmaking in every respect," and accolades for not subtitling Spanish-language sentences.

Rita Moreno, who starred in the 1961 version, also appears as a new character created specifically for the remake, and she may become the first person to ever win an Oscar twice for the same feature film.

The original movie took home an incredible ten Academy Awards and Rita became the first Latina actress ever to win an Oscar for her standout supporting role in the 1961 film.

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The film follows two teenagers from rival New York gangs who fall in love

Rachel is now in the race for best actress alongside the likes of Lady Gaga and Kristen Stewart, and Ariana in best supporting actress.

Most of the Sharks - the gang of Puerto Rican New Yorkers who battle with the American Jets for control over the city - are also authentic Hispanic performers, with a reported 20 of the 33 Puerto Rican characters in the film "specifically Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent".

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Rita in the original as Anita

In contrast, many of the Sharks in the original movie were white actors in brown makeup.

The film was supposed to be released last year in time for Christmas but was delayed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

West Side Story is released on 10 December 2021.

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