Oscars 2017

Will La La Land  tie the record?

Exclusive to MeierMovies, February 25, 2017

With La La Land expected to dominate (somewhat undeservedly) the Oscars on Sunday night, the only suspense left is whether the romantic musical dramedy will tie or break the record for most Academy Awards won by a single film.

That record is 11, and it’s currently held by four films: Gone with the Wind (1939), Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997) and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). GWTW, however, is usually not on that list because three of its awards were special, non-competitive ones, including the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which was presented that year to David Selznick. (Thalbergs are usually given for career achievement, but it was blatantly obvious that it was given that year for Selznick’s achievement on GWTW. That’s an “alternative fact” you can actually trust.)

The short answer to the aforementioned question: No, La La Land won’t tie or break the record. Here’s why.

It’s nominated for 14, and that ties the record for most nominations also held by All About Eve (1950) and Titanic (1997). (GWTW would be credited with 16 nominations if a film were actually nominated for special awards.) However, La La Land is eligible for just 13, as it’s double-nominated for best song. It’s also extremely unlikely to win best actor, as Ryan Gosling is almost certain to lose to either Denzel Washington (Fences) or Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea). I give the slight edge to Affleck.

“La La Land” will likely win 8-10 Oscars, including best picture. Image copyright Black Label Media / Gilbert Films.

OK, so that means we’re down to 12 possible Oscars. But La La Land probably won’t get sound editing or original screenplay either. The former often goes to an action film or one laden with special effects, and that should be the case this year too, with Hacksaw Ridge perhaps the favorite. And for original screenplay, the favorite is justifiably Manchester by the Sea.

That leaves La La Land picking up 10: picture, actress (Emma Stone, whom I love but is not as deserving as Natalie Portman for Jackie), director (Damien Chazelle), editing, cinematography, production design, costume design, sound mixing, original score and original song. It doesn’t deserve them all, but it has a good chance of getting them. Even if it drops production design and costume design (which might go to period films such as Fantastic Beasts, Hail, Caesar! or Jackie), that would leave La La Land with a respectable (not hateful) eight.

And since we’re talking about which films actually deserve Oscars, allow me to present my not-quite-final-but-better-than-last-time list of my top 25 movies for 2016 (keeping in mind that, unlike the Academy, I’ve labeled The Lobster a 2015 film):


  1. Jackie – 4 ½ stars
  2. Denial – 4 ¼
  3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2D and 3D versions)
  4. Silence
  5. Manchester by the Sea – 4
  6. La La Land
  7. Nocturnal Animals
  8. Arrival
  9. The Jungle Book (3D version)
  10. Sully
  11. Snowden
  12. Moonlight – 3 ¾
  13. Lion
  14. Life, Animated
  15. Rules Don’t Apply
  16. Doctor Strange (3D version)
  17. Eye in the Sky
  18. Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You
  19. Fences – 3 ½
  20. O.J.: Made in America
  21. A Monster Calls (2D version)
  22. Midnight Special
  23. The BFG (2D version)
  24. Hooligan Sparrow
  25. A Man Called Ove FL


Special praise is also due for Tom Wilkinson (Denial) and Alan Rickman (Eye in the Sky) for their supporting performances, which were not recognized with nominations, and for Pablo Larraín (Jackie) and Martin Scorsese (Silence), who were similarly snubbed in the director category.

Finally, let me express my astonishment that, once again, all nine nominees for best picture are English-language narrative-fiction films. Yes, foreign-language, animated and documentary films are eligible. And wasn’t that the point of expanding the number of nominees: to achieve diversity of language, culture and genre? I guess we’ve been so focused on racial and ethnic diversity that we overlooked cinematic diversity.

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