Sunday, October 24, 2021

‘La La Land’ grabs record 14 Oscar nominations

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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(FILES) Romantic musical ‘La La Land’ topped the list of Oscar nominations on Tuesday with 14 nods, including for best picture, actor, actress and director. / AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK

Romantic showbiz musical “La La Land” topped the Oscars nominations list on Tuesday with a whopping 14 nods, tying the all-time record set by “Titanic” and “All About Eve.”

The movie — a whimsical tribute to Hollywood’s Golden Age of musicals, set in modern-day Los Angeles — earned nods for best picture, best director for 32-year-old Damien Chazelle, and for its two stars, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

In second place were sci-fi thriller “Arrival” and coming-of-age drama “Moonlight,” tied at eight nominations each.

But “La La Land” is now well-placed as the film to beat at the Oscars bash on February 26 — the climax of Hollywood’s awards season, to be hosted by late night funnyman Jimmy Kimmel.

Chazelle said he was “stunned and in a daze” after learning of his movie’s record-breaking day.

“The one thing I can say without sounding like a stuttering maniac is this means that so many people who came together to make this movie for me have been recognized, and that just means the world to me,” he was quoted as saying by trade magazine Variety.

This year’s crop of nominees clearly reflected a push by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters to show more diversity after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of the past two years.

The list features the largest number of nominations for black actors ever — six.

Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris are first-time nominees for “Moonlight,” while two-time winner Denzel Washington and multiple nominee Viola Davis are in the running again for their performance in “Fences.”

Also nominated are past winner Octavia Spencer, a best supporting actress candidate for “Hidden Figures,” and Ruth Negga, in the best actress category for “Loving.”

Industry watchers had predicted that Chazelle’s “La La Land” — buoyed by a record seven Golden Globe awards earlier this month — would triumph at the nominations.

But few thought it would tie for the all-time record. “Titanic” went on to win 11 Oscars, while “All About Eve” — starring Bette Davis — won six.

“La La Land” will vie for best picture honors with eight other films (current rules allow for up to 10 nominees in this category) including “Arrival,” grim family drama “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight,” the coming-of-age tale of a black man in Miami.

Others in the coveted top category are the film adaptation of August Wilson’s play “Fences,” Mel Gibson’s bloody WWII drama “Hacksaw Ridge,” the western crime drama “Hell or High Water,” the real-life tale of NASA’s black female mathematicians “Hidden Figures” and Garth Davis’s family drama “Lion.”

For best actor, Gosling will battle for a golden statuette with Golden Globe winner Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”), Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”) and Washington.

In the best actress category, France’s Golden Globe winner Isabelle Huppert was nominated for her performance in the rape-revenge thriller “Elle,” along with Stone, Negga, Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) and Meryl Streep, who earned her record-breaking 20th nomination for “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

Streep’s nod delighted social media users, who called it a fitting rebuke to President Donald Trump, who described her as “overrated” after she denounced him at the Golden Globes.

The 67-year-old actress — who broke her own record as the person with the most acting nominations — reacted with a GIF featuring her dancing for joy in footage from a past film.

In the best supporting actress category, Davis, Spencer and Harris will compete against past Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (“Lion”) and Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”), who was nominated three times before.

In the best supporting actor category, Ali will take on Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water”), Dev Patel (“Lion”), Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals”).

The foreign films nominated are “Land of Mine” (Denmark), “A Man Called Ove” (Sweden), “The Salesman” (Iran), “Tanna” (Australia) and “Toni Erdmann” (Germany).

In the best director category, Gibson’s surprise nomination for the critically acclaimed WWII biopic “Hacksaw Ridge” marks his comeback a decade after being ostracized by Hollywood for an anti-Semitic tirade captured on tape.

Tuesday’s nominations were also notable in that they marked the first time a streaming service — Amazon Studios — earned a best picture nod, for “Manchester by the Sea.”

The nominations were revealed in the pre-dawn hours in Los Angeles in an online broadcast, not at the traditional press conference.

Industry pundits had predicted that a number of black actors and filmmakers would be recognized this year, after calls for a boycott erupted last year when no black actors were among the 20 nominees in the main acting categories.

In a bid to address the issue, the Academy subsequently named nearly 700 new members, almost half of them women and nearly as many people of color.

The Academy’s board of governors has vowed to double the number of female and ethnic minority members by 2020.

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