When the whimsical comedy-drama musical “La La Land” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone got seven nominations at the 74th Golden Globe Awards – and won them all – people saw it as the beginning of something big for this plucky film directed by Damien Chazelle. The feeling became more intense when the 70th British Academy Film Awards gave it eleven nominations, followed up by the 22nd Critics’ Choice Awards where it batted eight wins out of twelve nominations. But all these are the mere prolog for the ultimate honors for Hollywood, the upcoming 89th Academy Awards in February. Word has come out that “La La Land” is in the Oscar running for 14 categories, forming a three-way tie with two other past movies for the most nominations by the Academy for a single film.

Setting up for another sweep

With the 14 nominations it just received during the Academy Award announcement on January 24, “La La Land” has formed a trinity of sorts with fellow 14-category movies “Titanic” (1997) by James Cameron starring Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and “All About Eve” by Joseph L. Mankiewicz starring Bette Davis. Its closest multi-category rivals for this round of Oscars are similar award heavyweights for this year, “Arrival” and “Moonlight” both with eight nominations. It’s plenty obvious that all the major Oscar awards have been considered for “La La Land,” namely ‘Best Picture,' ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Original Screenplay.' Also expected are the stars Gosling and Stone nominated for Best ‘Actor’ and ‘Actress’ respectively.

Now nothing worthwhile is ever handled automatically, and every Academy Award nom for “La La Land” is going to have to get past some intense competition. For the film itself, it’s up against some familiar titles from past award ceremonies like “Manchester by the Sea,” “Fences” and “Hacksaw Ridge” to name a few. Chazelle will have to contend with Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”) for one to get his Oscar.

Gosling has on his plate names such as awards veteran Denzel Washington (“Fences”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”); ditto for Stone who must overcome Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”) and Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) for a start.

Oscar nomination trends

One would likely remember the prevalence of white actors and minimal presence of various performers from past Academy Awards, leading to the rise of the stinging #OscarsSoWhite shame campaign.

This time around the diversity appears to be palpable, especially with a number of African-American-related docs for ‘Best Documentary – Feature.' It’s also notable that the nomination announcements last Thursday were done by recorded video rather than live. Whatever the case, all seems set for awards night on February 26 with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel as emcee. But while we wait for Oscar, the British Academy Film Awards will happen days before on February 12, where "La La Land" puts its 11 nominations there to the test.

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