‘La La Land’ wins most Oscars but loses Best Picture just like ‘Cabaret’ did in 1972

La La Land” tied with “All About Eve” and “Titanic” for the all-time record as the films with the most Oscar nominations (14) and the movie musical was predicted to win big at the Academy Awards this past Sunday. What happened was a repeat of the 1973 ceremony when the film adaptation of the stage musical “Cabaret” swept the Oscars with eight awards before “The Godfather” came in at the end to claim Best Picture for three wins in all.

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Beyond both “Cabaret” and “La La Land” being musicals that lost Best Picture, there are other parallels between the winners of the 45th and 89th Academy Awards.

In 1972, “Cabaret” won: Best Director (Bob Fosse), Best Actress (Liza Minnelli), Best Supporting Actor (Joel Grey), Best Art Direction (Rolf Zehetbauer, Hans Jürgen Kiebach, & Herbert Strabel), Best Cinematography (Geoffrey Unsworth), Best Film Editing (David Bretherton), Best Sound (Robert Knudson & David Hildyard), and the now-retired category for Best Adapted Score (Ralph Burns).

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“The Godfather” may have only won a trio of Oscars but they were for big awards. Besides Best Picture, it also claimed Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Francis Ford Coppola & Mario Puzo).

“La La Land” was able to win Best Director (Damien Chazelle), Best Actress (Emma Stone), Best Production Design (David Wasco & Sandy Reynolds-Wasco), Best Cinematography (Linus Sandgren), Best Original Score (Justin Hurwitz), and Best Song (‘City of Stars’).

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Moonlight” took the top trophy as well as Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney).

Not only did “The Godfather” and “Moonlight” both manage to win Best Picture, but they also took an acting award (Brando/Ali), and Best Adapted Screenplay was awarded to a pair of scripters. One of them was the director (Coppola/Jenkins) and the other the original creator of the film’s source material (Puzo/McCraney).

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While “Cabaret” and “La La Land” both failed to win Best Picture, they still won the most Oscars of the night. Chazelle is the first filmmaker to have won Best Director for a musical since Fosse for “Cabaret.” Stone became the first performer to win Best Actress for a musical since Minnelli for “Cabaret.” Ironically, Stone played Minnelli’s character (Sally Bowles) for three months in the most recent Broadway revival with Alan Cumming. Chazelle saw here in that production and offered her the role in “La La Land.”

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Also worth noting is that when Joel Grey won Best Supporting Actor for his iconic role as The Master of Ceremonies, he was the eighth performer to have won a Tony and an Oscar for the same role.
Two more had won since Grey such as Lila Kedrova (“Zorba the Greek”, “Zorba”) and Helen Mirren (“The Queen”, “The Audience”), but they both won the Oscar for playing their roles on film first before winning the Tony for playing them on stage. Viola Davis not only just became the first African American to have won a Tony and an Oscar for the same role, but the first since Grey to win for reprising their Tony-winning role on-screen.

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