If you were one of the relatively few people bewitched, bothered and bewildered when Damien Chazelle’s musical “La La Land” won a record seven Golden Globes a couple of weeks ago, you should probably avoid the news Tuesday morning when Oscar nominations are announced.
“La La Land” could well make history. Pulling down 14 nominations is a real possibility, which would tie it with “All About Eve” and “Titanic” as the Academy Awards’ most nominated movies.
That heady distinction will probably add a bit of fuel to the small, online backlash that has sparked since “La La Land” began winning (and breaking) hearts at fall film festivals. The complaints lodged against the movie are numerous, but generally revolve around three things: 1) We don’t need a white guy (especially Ryan Gosling) to explain and/or save jazz; 2) The singing is thin and the songs aren’t exactly Gershwin, are they? 3) Some people are just irredeemable grumps.
But, hey, this happens to every Oscar front-runner, deserved (I’m looking at you, “Argo”) or not. Just know that if “La La Land” picks up those 14 nominations, not everyone will be dancing. To borrow one of the film’s song titles: There’s always someone in the crowd.
What else can we expect? Here are five questions answered for Oscar nominations morning:
1) Wait, did you say “La La Land” will be nominated for 14 Oscars? Aren’t there only — outside of the shorts — 21 categories? And it’s not a foreign film or documentary, so it’s only eligible for 19. Where’s all this love coming from?
Let’s count the ways: 1) picture 2) director 3) lead actress (Emma Stone) 4) lead actor (Gosling) 5) original screenplay 6) cinematography 7) costume design 8) film editing 9) production design 10) score 11) song: “City of Stars” 12) song: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” 13) sound editing 14) sound mixing.
The one spot “La La Land” might stumble is the sound editing category, which typically favors the boom-boom, rat-a-tat-tat, of war and action movies as opposed to the sound mixing category, which always has a song in its heart. So it might be 13, putting it one shy of the record. Would that make you happy, haters?
2) How many movies will join “La La Land” as best picture nominees?
We’re in the sixth year of the academy’s annual best picture guessing game where at least five movies, but no more than 10, can be nominated. The first three years there were nine; the last two, eight. It all has to do with math (!) and the order in which voters rank the movies — one through five — on their ballots and what movies have so many first-place votes that it triggers a surplus rule so their second-place vote gets counted and … and … what was the question again?
Oh, yes, right: How many movies will be nominated this year? If it’s eight, it’s “La La Land,” “Moonlight,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Arrival,” “Fences” and “Lion” (each all but certain because of the nominations they picked up from various guilds), joined by “Hell or High Water” and “Hidden Figures.” If it’s nine, get Mel Gibson on the phone because “Hacksaw Ridge” has joined the ranks. (And who predicted that three months ago?)
3) Wait … I didn’t see “Deadpool”? It’s not going to be nominated?
No. But it was a close call, right? I mean, an academy seal of approval would have ruined its street cred with its adolescent male fan base. Stay psychotic, Mr. Pool!
4) Who’s going to be “snubbed” in the lead actress category?
If by “snubbed,” you mean shunned or ignored, the answer is no one. But because this group has so many worthy candidates, there will be deserving women left out.
Stone and Natalie Portman (perfect as Jackie Kennedy in “Jackie”) are locks, with Amy Adams likely earning her sixth nomination for her emotionally rich turn in the sci-fi picture “Arrival.”
That leaves three legends — Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”), Annette Bening (“20th Century Women”) and Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) — for the remaining two spots. I’m leaning toward Streep to earn her 20th nomination on the strength of her widely seen movie and that speech she gave at the Golden Globes. And then it’s a coin flip between Bening and Huppert with regrets extended to the divine Ruth Negga (“Loving”). She and her profoundly moving film deserved better.
5) Will Lin-Manuel Miranda be one step closer to joining the EGOT club?
Yes, history has its eyes on the “Hamilton” creator who has won an Emmy, two Grammys and three Tonys (not to mention a Pulitzer Prize) and now just needs that Oscar to join the exclusive EGOT circle. Miranda’s soaring “Moana” anthem “How Far I’ll Go” possesses an old-fashioned, inspirational uplift that will earn it plenty of love. If, as expected, two “La La Land” songs earn nominations, you could see a split vote that sends Miranda to the podium.