Hollywood Love Letter ‘La La Land’ Leads Oscar Race With 14

  • Six black actors nominated, the most ever for Academy Awards
  • Amazon becomes first web platfrom to be up for best picture

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

Photographer: Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images

“La La Land,” Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.’s film about star-crossed lovers trying to make it in the entertainment industry, was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, including best picture, tying for the most ever.

Amazon.com Inc.’s “Manchester By The Sea,” was nominated for six Oscars, including best picture, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences said Tuesday on its website, in a first for an online distributor. Nine movies will be vying for the best film of the year, including several that feature African Americans in leading roles.

Lions Gate led all companies with 26 nominations, followed by Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures with 18. A24, the independent studio responsible for “Moonlight,” nabbed 10 total nominations. Netflix Inc. earned a nomination for the documentary “13th.”

Film company

Nominations

Lions Gate26
Paramount18
A2410
Disney7
Amazon7
Fox7
Sony 6
Warner Bros.4

The academy has been criticized for failing to recognize movies featuring people of color. In the past year, the organization changed its membership and voting rules to increase diversity in the mostly older, white male organization. This year’s crop of quality films featuring minority actors, including the best picture nominees “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight,” will give Oscar voters a chance to make good on that goal.

Rounding out the year’s best picture nominees are “Arrival,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Lion” and “Hell or High Water.” The 89th Academy Awards will be handed out on Feb. 26 in a live ceremony on ABC hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Tying a Record

In “La La Land,” Ryan Gosling stars as a jazz pianist who falls in love with a struggling actress, played by Emma Stone, as they seek success against the backdrop of a romanticized Los Angeles. Their relationship, told through song and dance, frays as their careers take off. 

Gosling and Stone received Oscar nominations for their roles in the film, as did Damien Chazelle for his writing and directing. The picture also garnered nominations for original song and cinematography.

The film is the frontrunner for best picture, according to oddsmakers and betting houses. Ladbrokes Plc gave the movie 1 to 4 odds, or an 80 percent chance of winning. The movie set the record for the most awards at this year’s Golden Globes, including best musical or comedy, and awards for directing and acting. The only other films to be nominated for 14 Oscars were “Titantic” in 1997 and “All About Eve” in 1950.

“La La Land,” in theaters for seven weeks, has taken in $89.9 million through last weekend, according to researcher ComScore Inc.

First for Web

“Manchester by the Sea” marks Amazon’s first major success in film. Unlike its rival Netflix, Amazon releases movies in theaters weeks before making them available to stream online.

In the movie, Casey Affleck plays janitor Lee Chandler, who returns to his hometown to look after his nephew following the death of his brother. But he struggles to cope with his own tragedy, a disaster that led to divorce from his wife Randi, played by Michelle Williams.

“Manchester by the Sea” was written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan and distributed by Roadside Attractions. The drama earned nominations for best actor in a lead and supporting role, best supporting actress, best director and best original screenplay. Affleck won a Golden Globe for best actor.

Box-Office Boost

The nominations and subsequent awards ceremony, honoring the best films of last year, can provide a boost to movies still playing in theaters or an opportunity to expand films in limited release.

“Hidden Figures,” nominated for three awards, was No. 3 in U.S. theaters last weekend and has taken in $83.7 million in sales through five weeks in cinemas. The Fox film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as engineers trying to break the color barrier at NASA in the 1960s and playing key roles in the launch and safe return of John Glenn. Spencer was nominated for best supporting actress.

After #OscarsSoWhite

In response to complaints about the academy’s lack of diversity, the organization last year brought in 683 new members, double the number added the previous year, to change its gender and racial makeup. The group committed to doubling the number of women and minorities by 2020.

The Academy nominated the largest number of black actors ever: Denzel Washington received a nod for his leading role in “Fences,” while Ruth Negga earned a nomination for her performance in “Loving.” Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris each garnered nominations for their supporting work in “Moonlight.” Viola Davis (“Fences”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) were also nominated for supporting actress. The previous record was set in 2007, when five black nominees were nominated for Academy Awards, including Forest Whitaker, who won best actor for “The Last King of Scotland.”

“This year is a stand-out year for diversity, for people of color,” said Erik Davis, managing editor of Fandango.com.

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