“All About Eve” (1950) and “Titanic” (1997) are currently tied for the most Oscar nominations in history with 14 each. If “La La Land” should equal this haul on Tuesday, January 24, it will be only the third film to do so and the first musical film.
“All About Eve,” the first film to garner 14 nominations, is the tale of an ingénue, Eve (Anne Baxter), inserting herself into the company of an aging star Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and her circle of theater friends. The film won six Oscars: Best Picture; Best Director (Joseph L. Mankewicz); Best Screenplay (Mankewicz); Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders); Best Costume Design, Black and White (Edith Head and Charles Le Maire); and Best Sound Recording (Thomas T. Moulton). It was also nominated for Best Actress (Ann Baxter and Bette Davis); Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter); Best Film Editing (Barbara McLean); Best Cinematography, Black and White (Milton R. Krasner); Best Art Direction, Black and White (Lyle R. Wheeler, George W. Davis, Thomas Little and Walter M. Scott); and Best Score (Alfred Newman).
That record wasn’t matched until “Titanic” almost half a century later. It’s the story of a young aristocratic girl, Rose (Kate Winslet), who falls in love with poor artist Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) aboard the doomed ship. The film won 11 Oscars: Best Picture; Best Director (James Cameron), Best Cinematography (Russell Carpenter), Best Editing (Conrad Buff IV, James Cameron and Richard A. Harris), Best Costume Design (Deborah Lynn Scott), Best Art Direction (Peter Lamont and Michael Ford), Best Sound (Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Gary Summers and Mark Ulano), Best Sound Effects Editing (Tom Bellfort and Christopher Boyes), Best Visual Effects (Robert Legato, Mark A. Lasoff, Thomas L. Fisher and Michael Kanfer), Best Dramatic Score (James Horner) and Best Original Song (“My Heart Will Go On,” Horner and Will Jennings). It was also nominated for Best Actress (Kate Winslet), Best Supporting Actress (Gloria Stuart) and Best Makeup (Tina Earnshaw, Greg Cannom and Simon Thompson).
According to Gold Derby’s exclusive odds as of this writing “La La Land” is expected to win in the following nine categories: Best Picture (9/2 odds), Best Director (Damien Chazelle, 13/8 odds), Best Actress (Emma Stone, 21/10 odds), Best Cinematography (17/10 odds), Best Editing (17/10 odds), Best Production Design (9/5 odds), Best Sound Mixing (17/10 odds), Best Score (8/5 odds) and Best Song (“City of Stars,” 9/5 odds).
The film is currently in the runner-up position for Best Original Screenplay (7/2 odds) behind “Manchester by the Sea” and Best Costume Design (3/1 odds) behind “Jackie.” That would bring it to 11 nominations, which would equal the number of nominations for “West Side Story” (1961), which currently holds the record as the most awarded musical (10 wins).
If “La La Land” should get the expected nominations mentioned above, it will only need three more nominations to tie the record. But this is where things start to get tricky. Ryan Gosling currently resides in third place for Best Actor (5/1 odds) behind the frontrunners Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”). But it’s a competitive year for Best Actor and we’ve seen shocking snubs before — even Leonardo DiCaprio couldn’t get in for “Titanic” despite that film’s overall dominance.
Then there is the Original Song contender “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” which ranks third in its category with odds of 5/1. You’d think a second Best Song nomination would be a foregone conclusion for a dominant film like “La La Land,” but this category is stacked, and “Audition” already missed out at the Golden Globes. “La La Land” is also expected to be nominated for Best Sound Editing with odds of 6/1 behind “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” However, this might be a little misleading. Musicals tend to rule the Sound Mixing category, but no musical has been nominated for Sound Editing since “Aladdin” (1992) contended 24 years ago.
Should “La La Land” miss in any of the above categories it’s going to need a nomination we aren’t expecting. The problem for the film is its lack of a prominent ensemble cast — it is highly unlikely to receive a nomination for Best Supporting Actress because it doesn’t have a prominent supporting actress besides Rosemarie DeWitt, who has scant screentime. But depending on how much the actors branch of the academy loves the film it could score an unexpected Best Supporting Actor nomination for John Legend. If the film is on a roll that could still happen since the fifth slot in the Supporting Actor race is far from certain. Also helping Legend is the fact that he is a past Oscar winner for Best Original Song (“Glory” from “Selma,” 2014) and gives the kind of showcase performance (including the musical number “Start a Fire“) that could generate the kind of good will that could potentially lead to a surprise nomination.
But even if “La La Land” falls short of the all-time record there are two numbers that would still allow the film to make history: 12 or 13. Should “La La Land” receive 12 nominations it would tie with “Chicago” (2002) for the most nominations for a musical ever. But if “La La Land” gets one more nomination it will break the “Chicago” record making 13 the lucky number for future musicals to aspire to.
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