Can Damien Chazelle (‘La La Land’) break Golden Globes curse against musical directors?

La La Land” just scored a whopping seven Golden Globe nominations: Best Film Comedy/Musical, Best Film Comedy/Musical Actor (Ryan Gosling), Best Film Comedy/Musical Actress (Emma Stone), Best Director (Damien Chazelle), Best Screenplay (Chazelle), Best Original Score (Justin Hurwitz) and Best Original Song (“City of Stars” by Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul). It’s currently predicted to win all but one: Screenplay is expected to go to “Manchester by the Sea” (Kenneth Lonergan). But is Chazelle really a safe bet in the directing category? The Golden Globes have not awarded a director of a musical in 33 years — that was Barbra Streisand for “Yentl” (1983).

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At the second-ever Golden Globes, the musical “Going My Way” (1944) won Best Picture (they did not have separate categories for Drama and Musical/Comedy back then), and Leo McCarey won Best Director. He and the film would also go on to win the Oscars.

The inaugural Golden Globe winner in the separate Best Film Comedy/Musical category was “An American in Paris” (1951). But its director Vincente Minnelli lost the Globe to Laslo Benedek (“Death of a Salesman”), and he would lose both the DGA Award and the Oscar to George Stephens (“A Place in the Sun”). Minnelli fared better for “Gigi” (1958), winning the Golden Globe, DGA, and Oscar. To date he is the only individual director nominated twice for movie musicals.

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“West Side Story” directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins also lost Best Director at the Golden Globes (Stanley Kramer won for “Judgement at Nuremberg”), but that did not stop them from winning both the DGA and Oscar. “West Side Story’ would win 10 Oscars and is to date the most awarded musical of all time, making the Wise and Robbins snub at the Globes one of the more glaring omissions made by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

In 1964 a pair of musicals faced off during awards season: “My Fair Lady” and “Mary Poppins.” The director of “Mary Poppins,” Robert Stevenson, was snubbed entirely at the Golden Globes, but George Cukor (“My Fair Lady”) was nominated for the Globe and won. Cukor and Stevenson would go head to head at the DGA and Oscars with Cukor winning both.

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Wise probably felt a sense of déjà vu for “The Sound of Music” (1965) when again he lost the Globe for Best Director, but this too was a mere speed bump on his way to winning both DGA and Oscar for the Julie Andrews classic.

There were rival musicals again in 1968, when “Oliver” and “Funny Girl” went head to head. “Funny Girl” won Best Film Comedy/Musical at the Globes, but William Wyler (“Funny Girl”) and Carol Reed (“Oliver!”) both lost Best Director, perhaps splitting votes; Paul Newman won instead for “Rachel, Rachel.” Then Wyler was snubbed at the Oscars, but Reed made the cut and won; perhaps not having to choose between two musicals opened the door for Reed’s Oscar victory.

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In 1972 “Cabaret’s” director Bob Fosse lost both the Golden Globe and DGA Award to Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather”). It should then have been a slam dunk for Coppola at the Oscars, but Fosse pulled out a win even though “The Godfather” ended up with Best Picture.

In 1983, Streisand became the first woman to win Best Director at the Globes for helming her first film, “Yentl,” which also won Best Comedy/Musical. She was snubbed by both the DGA and the Oscars.

In 2002 “Chicago” wouldn’t ultimately win top honors at both the Golden Globes and Oscars, but director Rob Marshall lost at both events. The Globe went to legendary filmmaker Martin Scorcese for “Gangs of New York,” but after Marshall won DGA, he was surprised at the Oscars by another veteran filmmaker, Roman Polanski (“The Pianist”).

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The last musical nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, “Les Miserables” (2012), didn’t win its Golden Globe nomination for its director Tom Hooper (Ben Affleck won for “Argo”), but Hooper was snubbed entirely at the Oscars, so this was a rare case in which the Globes turned out to be friendlier to a musical filmmaker than the motion picture academy.

So the good news for Chazelle is that the Oscars like musical directors more than the Globes, so he’s still a strong contender to win over the academy no matter what the Hollywood Foreign Press decides. But there’s a strong chance that he will in fact end the Globes’ half-century drought for musical directors: we’re betting on it.

[WATCH] Damien Chazelle (‘La La Land’ director/writer): ‘It always felt somewhat unlikely and even impossible at times’

Joining Chazelle in the Golden Globe directing race are fashion designer Tom Ford (“Nocturnal Animals”) and Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), who like Chazelle are first-time Globe nominees for directing. Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”) also contends; he’s a past Golden Globe nominee for writing (“You Can Count on Me,” 2000), but he too is nominated for the first time for Best Director. Rounding out the category is veteran actor-director Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”), a past Golden Globe winner for Best Director (“Braveheart,” 1995) and two-time nominee for acting (Best Film Drama Actor for “Ransom” in 1996, Best Film Comedy/Musical Actor for “What Women Want” in 2000). Gibson’s veteran status in a category full of newcomers could help him, but he may still face the stigma of his past controversies.

Correction: The original version of this post erroneously referred to Cukor as the last helmer of a musical to win Best Director at the Golden Globes.

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