If ‘La La Land’ sweeps Oscars, Ryan Gosling could pull off Best Actor upset

Casey Affleck has been the Oscar frontrunner for Best Actor all awards season for his heart-breaking performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea.” His closest rival has been Denzel  Washington, who directed himself in “Fences.” But we could be underestimating “La La Land” leading man Ryan Gosling.

He was part of the sweep for “La La Land” at the Golden Globe which set a new record by going seven for seven. Gosling picked up the Best Comedy/Musical Actor prize while Affleck won over on the drama side. The two will face off at the Oscars, and Gosling could well prevail there for the following four reasons:

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1. “La La Land” will sweep.
“La La Land” is predicted to win nine Oscars according to our exclusive odds charts while “Manchester by the Sea” is tipped to take just two: Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. When a film is such an overwhelming favorite in so many Oscar categories, it often wins in other races where it was further back in the pack. In recent times, “The Lord of the Rings” did just that in 2003, prevailing in all 11 races in which it contended. This year, voters may well see another “La La Land” nomination and tick off Gosling’s name.

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2. Remember Jean Dujardin.
In 2011, “The Artist” stole the hearts of academy members and the nostalgia-laden film waltzed away with Best Picture and four more awards. Leading man Jean Dujardin charmed his way to the Oscar podium, edging out George Clooney, who played a grief-stricken father in  “The Descandants.” As with Affleck, Clooney had won Best Drama Actor at the Golden Globes while Dujardin, like Gosling, had prevailed in the comedy/musical category. And while “The Descendants” won Best Drama Picture at the Globes, “Manchester by the Sea” lost that race to “Moonlight.”

Unlike Dujardin, who only speaks at the end of “The Artist,” Gosling races his voice in song throughout “La La Land.” Indeed, he is a triple threat, with his singing, dancing and acting. Although Affleck’s performance is more intensely emotional, Gosling conveys the melancholy of his character. Plenty of people (my hand is raised here) shed a tear come the end of “La La Land.”

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3. ‘Slap the stud’ is no longer a rule! Maybe even the opposite?
Historically at the Oscars, the young, good-looking actor was overlooked in favor of a nominee who was not a ‘stud.’ But in the last three years, Matthew McConaughey, Eddie Redmayne and  Leonardo DiCaprio have prevailed. That rule has gone into remission as the overall age of academy members trends downward. Gosling is the essence of cool and his performance in “La La Land,” only heightens his appeal.

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4. Ryan Gosling could win at SAG Awards.
That “La La Land” didn’t reap a Best Ensemble bid at the SAG Awards wasn’t a surprise. Yes, there are dozens of singing, dancing extras and a handful of featured performers, but the film is focused primarily on Gosling and Emma Stone. If SAG voters want to jump on the “La La Land” train, they can award Gosling and Stone the two individual lead acting awards.

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Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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