La La Loads of Nominations!

On Tuesday 24th January 2017 the 89th Academy Awards nominees were announced, and with them the news that La La Land had equalled the record for most nominations received by a single film with 14 nods; an accolade only achieved by Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950).

Damien Chazelle’s bittersweet musical already made movie history when it swept through the Golden Globes, collecting seven from seven in its wake.

Having seen the film recently, I find myself of the opinion 14 nominations seems a little over eager. La La Land boasts some stunning photography, beautiful set design and some of the catchiest ditties you’ll hear all year. A worthy throwback to the most classic of classic eras. But 14 nominations? Take away the music and you’re left with just another L.A. romantic drama.

With that in mind, I decided to take a look at the 14 nominations Chazelle’s effort is in the running for, and work out just how big a trail this little number should blaze through the Academy this year…


Best Original Screenplay

Also nominated: Hell Or High Water, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women

As I said, take away the song and dance and La La Land is a cute and often touching drama; I was particularly drawn to its less-than-Hollywood ending. But against this competition it really shouldn’t even be in the running. 20th Century Women’s trailer alone demonstrates just how polished its script is; the Lobster was accomplished in its surreality and, contrastingly, Manchester in its realism; and Hell or High Water claims just as much right to the throwback throne as La La Land.

Nomination merited? No

Fantana’s Winner: 20th Century Women


Best Production Design

Also nominated: Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail, Caesar!, Passengers

Worthy contenders, one and all, and La La Land is no exception here. Seb’s bar looks fantastic in its realisation and the Lovely Night dance over the city skyline a personal highlight. But there’s no credit here that cannot also be applied to Hail, Caesar!, both movies lavishly furnished in the technicolour saturation of Hollywoodland. And it’s hard to see past the eye-popping recreation of 1920’s New York that Fantastic Beasts boasts. Slightly lost in the crowd, this one.

Nomination merited? Yes

Fantana’s Winner: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


Best Actress in a Leading Role

Also Nominated: Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Now. A nomination worth its salt. Emma Stone is easily the best thing in La La Land. I’m always particularly impressed when a thespian can accurately portray a thespian – Stone’s initial failed audition in the opening scenes left me wondering how her struggling actress was just that; struggling. Hupert has been highly lauded and awarded for her role in Elle, and Negga and Portman would both also make deserved winners (we’ll not mention Streep’s obligatory nod or Taraji P. Henson’s inexplicable snub), but Stone is going from strength to strength and it’s only a matter of time before she begins to rake in those statuettes. Perhaps sooner than we think.

Nomination merited? Yes

Fantana’s Winner: Emma Stone (La La Land)


Best Costume Design

Also Nominated: Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie

Again, there isn’t much separating the nominees in this category, however I do think La La Land is one of the lesser runners, largely owing to the lack of male wardrobe on display. This is all about the dresses – and make no mistake, there are some great examples on display – which, when you put it up against the all-round ensembles of Fantastic Beasts or Florence Foster Jenkins (some of Simon Helberg’s outfits would go down a storm on today’s hipster-laden high streets).

Nomination merited? No

Fantana’s Winner: Florence Foster Jenkins


Best Cinematography

Also Nominated: Arrival, Lion, Moonlight, Silence

This has to be a two horse race between La La’s Linus Sandgren and James Laxton for Moonlight. Of the also-rans, Rodrigo Prieto certainly demonstrates the highest pedigree, with Wolf of Wall Street, Argo and Brokeback Mountain all adorning his CV to date, but – and this will most likely be the theme of the night – I can’t see past the two frontrunners in La La Land and Moonlight.

Nomination merited? Yes

Fantana’s Winner: La La Land by a nose!


Best Film Editing

Also Nominated: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Moonlight

Now might be a good time to clarify that the winners I am listing here are merely my opinion of where the awards should land. This is in stark contrast to what I believe will be a reality, which is this… La La Land will clean up! And the biggest loser on the night? There’s always one (see: Brokeback Mountain, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas… need I go on?) and this year Hacksaw Ridge will be the martyr for La La’s success.

Nomination merited? Yes

Fantana’s Winner: Hacksaw Ridge


Best Actor in a Leading Role

Also Nominated: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea); Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic); Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Denzel Washington (Fences)

This might be a controversial statement to some, however I have to say I don’t even think Gosling should have been in contention for this award. There is nothing in La La Land’s suave, and confident almost-alpha, Sebastian that I haven’t seen him portray in the Big Short, the Nice Guys or Crazy, Stupid, Love. even. Again it seems the nod would have been more appropriate directed at Tom Hanks (Sully) or even Andrew Garfield a second time for Silence, before Gosling. Between Affleck and Washington alone, the Best Actor category is an absolute powerhouse this year and I really don’t know which way it’ll go, but one thing’s for sure, if La La takes the gong, justice has missed the boat.

Nomination merited? No

Fantana’s Winner: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)


Best Sound Editing

Also Nominated: Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, Sully

I won’t pretend like I know enough about the Sound awards to form and insightful opinion, so will keep these two short. It’s hard to see past the visceral chaos of Hacksaw Ridge’s second half, and that is majorly thanks to the sheer assaultive qualities of its audio. The same could be said of Deepwater Horizon, but Hacksaw is the better film by far.

Nomination merited? No

Fantana’s Winner: Hacksaw Ridge


Best Sound Mixing

Also Nominated: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi

I can see La La taking the bow on account of how well it stands out against a predominantly war-related line-up, but Arrival’s alien creations should not be overlooked. What brings Amy Adams’ new friends to glorious life is a sense of realism, and Villeneuve’s sound team have done a terrific job of contributing to exactly that. It would be a real shame if a movie, whose central theme is language and communication, was not recognised in at least one of the sound categories.

Nomination merited? Yes

Fantana’s Winner: Arrival


Best Director

Also Nominated: Denis Villenueve (Arrival), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)

Good category. Great contenders and Chazelle well deserving amongst them. Villeneuve is my favourite director working today, although in Arrival I feel he missed Roger Deakins slightly; Moonlight is a touch overrated in my opinion but there is no denying it looks fantastic; the same could be said of Manchester by the Sea and La La Land; and although Hacksaw Ridge has merited a return to recognition for Gibson, I think his nomination is more an olive branch from the Academy to get them back on speaking terms, rather than a warm, forgiving hug, welcoming him back to the fold. Tough one to call, but even tougher to pick a personal favourite.

Nomination merited? Yes

Fantana’s Winner: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)


Best Original Score

Also Nominated: Jackie, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers

Perhaps partly the reason why I received La La Land more lukewarmly than most was down to the score, which I didn’t particularly care for. And I love a musical, don’t get me wrong; there was just something a bit samey and lacking in the majority of the original numbers, my favourite of which – the foot-tappingly good Lovely Night – didn’t even pick up a nomination in the neighbouring category for Original Song. My unofficial pick for Best Score of the year goes to Hacksaw Ridge, shockingly overlooked here, so on that basis I’m tempted to abstain from choosing a winner entirely… I won’t though.

Nomination merited? Yes

Fantana’s Winner: La La Land


Original Song

Also Nominated: ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ (Trolls), ‘The Empty Chair’ (Jim: The James Foley Story),

‘How Far I’ll Go’ (Moana)

Absolutely criminal that Trolls merited a nomination here but not a single track from Sing Street bagged a nod. On top of that the two La La representatives aren’t even the best of the bunch if you ask me, vastly inferior to the aforementioned A Lovely Night, both City of Stars and Audition failed to really elevate or uplift me in the same way. How Far I’ll Go is standard Disney cannon and The Empty Chair reminiscent of so many previous winners. Hard to see past Chazelle’s efforts, but even harder still to forgive the Academy for overlooking Sing Street!

Nomination merited? Yes

Fantana’s Winner: ‘The Empty Chair’ (Jim: The James Foley Story)


Best Picture

Also Nominated: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

The big one. Those that have read my Best Films of 2016 list already know which way I’m going to veer, and which of the above I would place higher than La La Land, but given Chazelle’s musical is probably going to snag it, let’s look at the merits of that possibility. Immediately I would eliminate Fences, Hidden Figures and Lion based on the simple lack of buzz around them; Arrival I feel will be overlooked due to its groundings in science fiction and Hell or High Water similarly for its crime thriller foundations. That leaves Hacksaw, Moonlight, and Manchester. The former will be favoured for it’s true to life subject matter, the latter for their accurate portrayals of adolescence and grief respectively. It really comes down to these four and given its track record thus far, there is no reason why La La Land can’t do it. But not for me.

Nomination merited? Yes

Fantana’s Winner: Hacksaw Ridge


So there you have it. Worthy of a record-equalling 14 nominations? No, but a respectable 9 (an even worthy of a handful of wins) wouldn’t have been difficult to swallow. I loved Whiplash and rate Damien Chazelle very highly as a result, so wish him and his team the best this year. But for the sake of everyone at home watching and wishing for an unpredictable event, let’s hope that it isn’t the white wash we all expect.

The 89th Academy Awards will take place Sunday, 26th February and will be televised for UK viewers via Sky Movies’ dedicated channel, Sky Movies Oscars, from midnight.

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