Oscar Watch: La La Land

Some pictures seem tailor made for Oscar attention and Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is one of them. This major piece of the 2016 Academy Awards puzzle was freshly unveiled at the Venice Film Festival, some three months before its December 2nd stateside bow. Based on the critical reaction, it appears we have our first legitimate gold statue contender.

La La Land is the director’s follow-up to his acclaimed 2014 pic Whiplash, which earned J.K. Simmons a Supporting Actor award and a Best Picture nomination. He missed out on his first directing nod two years ago. That could change here.

Let’s check some boxes on how La La Land will appeal to Academy voters. First, it’s about show business people. They love that. Two – it’s a throwback to the musicals of days past. They’ll adore that, too. Early reviews suggest an optimistic and vibrant movie that will contrast nicely with plenty of darker themed entries coming our way over the fall.

So let’s get this out of the way right now: it may be early, but La Land Land is going to be nominated for Best Picture. Mark it down. Chazelle stands an excellent shot at his first directorial recognition. As for the actors, our co-leads of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone appear to be on different wavelengths. Stone looks like a lock for an Actress nomination, while Gosling’s inclusion into Actor is murkier. As for Supporting performers, it remains to be seen how things shake out in those races. John Legend has been mentioned as the best possibility in Supporting Actor (I included him in my earliest predictions posted yesterday). J.K. Simmons (in the same category) and Rosemarie DeWitt in Supporting Actress currently seem less likely.

Other nomination chances are abundant. An Original Screenplay nod for Chazelle is virtually assured. Production Design. Cinematography. Editing. Multiple entries in Original Song. Score. Sound categories. Costume Design.

Venice has proven one thing and that is that La La Land seems destined to have Oscar voters singing its praises into next year. Take note.


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