La La Land is looking to continue its winning streak, picking up a record-tying 14 nominations for this year’s Academy Awards.
The film, which stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, is about two romantics trying to make it in Hollywood. Stone plays Mia, a struggling actress who quits her local barista job to start a one-woman play. Gosling plays Sebastian, a talented musician who gives up on his dream of opening a classic jazz bar in order to travel the country as part of a successful musical act.
Although 14 awards puts La La Land in the same category as Titanic and All About Eve, the sweep wasn’t too surprising. The film made history just a couple of weeks ago when it won seven Golden Globe awards, including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture in the Comedy or Musical group.
Parmer Fuller, assistant professor of musical theater at USC Thornton School of Music, said the immense adoration La La Land has received is an interesting look at what audiences want out of their movie going experience.
“Does the public yearn for movies with less violence and sex?” Fuller said in an email to Polygon. “Does the public yearn for simpler, more everyday singing in musicals rather than the belting and processed sound of today? Is the looking backward to the older, sweeter musicals in general and to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort from the ‘60s, in particular, a one-time exception or a template for the future?”
Whether or not La La Land actually wins 14 Academy Awards is the big question. Hollywood tends to love movies about Hollywood — hence why The Artist won Best Picture in 2012 — and there’s a good chance that La La Land will continue to do well next month. But the Academy has been known to nominate films for multiple awards only to have those titles win very few — or possibly none — at the actual award show itself.
Argo, for example, was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 2013, but only took home three. Alan Arkin, who played a Hollywood executive and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, lost out to Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained. Ben Affleck was also notably snubbed that year for Best Director; a controversial aspect of the award nominations that year, which was brought up a few times by host Seth MacFarlane.
The most important aspect of this year’s nominations to note is the diversity among recipients. Last year, the Oscars came under hot water for excluding black, Asian and other actors or filmmakers of color. This year, movies like Moonlight, Fences, Hidden Figures and Lion all earned top award nominations.
Not only are these movies superb in their own right, but last year the Academy took action to ensure its voting body was more diverse, allowing new voices to be heard. In June, the Academy invited 683 new members to join the governing body, with many spots being opened up for young, diverse actors and filmmakers.
While La La Land may lead the pack when it comes to number of nominations, historically, films like Moonlight and Fences — independent dramas about a cultural problem that examines the human condition — have been preferred. It wouldn’t be too surprising if Moonlight or Fences beat out La La Land at the actual awards for the Best Picture spot.
Other notable nominations include:
- Arrival — 8
- Fences — 4
- Hacksaw Ridge — 6
- Hell or High Water — 4
- Lion — 6
- Manchester by the Sea — 6
- Moonlight — 8
The 89th Academy Awards will air on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. ET on ABC. Late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel will host the awards. The full list of nominees can be seen below.