Venice film festival: ‘La La Land’ debuts to rave reviews on way to Oscars

La La Land” is set to be a major player at the 2017 Oscars following its debut to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in this romantic musical, which will be released stateside on December 16. He plays a jazz musician, she an aspiring actress, both struggling to make it in Hollywood.

It’s written and directed by Damien Chazelle, the 31-year-old helmer whose 2014 breakthrough film, “Whiplash,” won three Oscars and earned him a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay (he lost to Graham Moore for “The Imitation Game”).

After reading the following excerpts from some of the critical hurrahs, be sure to make your Oscar predictions right here. Don’t worry, you can keep changing them right up until nominations are announced on Jan. 24.

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Pete Hammond (Deadline): “This is a gorgeous romantic fever dream of a musical that should hit contemporary audiences right in their sweet spot.  It has been a very long time since we have seen something quite this lyrical, lovely, and most importantly, original on the screen, but at the same time it is a musical that has its feet firmly planted in the real world , even if the one up there on the wide Cinemascope screen is very stylized.”

Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian): “The seasons of a love affair are played out beguilingly in this wonderfully sweet, sad, smart new movie from Damien Chazelle and the Venice film festival could not have wished for a bigger sugar rush to start the proceedings. It’s an unapologetically romantic homage to classic movie musicals, splashing its poster-paint energy and dream-chasing optimism on the screen.

Geoffrey Macnab (The Independent): “A wildly ambitious widescreen musical drama that, at its best, hits some very high notes indeed. It features exceptional performances from its two leads. The downside is that the film is uneven and has its moments of extreme kitsch and bathos.”

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Gold Derby’s 19 Oscar experts derived from major media outlets already predict that “La La Land” will earn four major nominations: Best Picture (8/1 odds), Best Director (5/1), Best Actor (10/1) and Best Actress (9/1).

Like Chazelle, Gosling and Stone are past Oscar nominees looking for their first wins. Stone lost Best Supporting Actress for “Birdman” to Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) in 2014, while Gosling lost Best Actor for “Half Nelson” to Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”) in 2006.

See each Oscar expert’s individual rankings right here. Here’s how the Best Picture predictions break down according to our pundits’ odds, and which experts are backing them:

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1. “Manchester by the Sea” (6/1 odds)
Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere)

2. “La La Land” (8/1)
Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby)

3. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” (9/1)
Sasha Stone (AwardsDaily), Adnan Virk (ESPN), Susan Wloszczyna (

4. “Loving” (9/1)
Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior), Christopher Rosen (Ent. Weekly), Nicole Sperling (Ent. Weekly), Anne Thompson (Indiewire)

5. “Fences” (11/1)

6. “The Birth of a Nation” (12/1)
Brian Truitt (USA Today)

7. “Moonlight” (25/1)

8. “Arrival” (33/1)

9. “American Pastoral” (40/1)

10. “20th Century Women” (40/1)

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions right here. You’ll compete for a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Oscars). Be sure to read our contest rules.

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