Over the past several years Damien Chazelle has made one giant leap from obscurity to Oscars. The 33-year-old’s last two films won a combined nine trophies: three for “Whiplash” (2014) and six for “La La Land” (2016), including Best Director. That all begs the question, will Chazelle’s latest movie “First Man” continue his out-of-this-world Oscar streak?
Ryan Gosling stars as astronaut Neil Armstrong in Chazelle’s biopic about the first man to walk on the moon. Claire Foy plays Neil’s wife Janet Shearon, who’s put through hell on earth as her husband sets off on a potentially one-way mission with his partner Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll). In addition to directing the Universal picture, Chazelle also serves as a producer along with Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner. “First Man” was released October 12 in the US, with Josh Singer penning the screenplay based on James R. Hansen‘s book.
With a reported production budget orbiting around $60 million, “First Man” has after two weeks only made back about $30 million from U.S. audiences. While our own Tom O’Neil notes that “First Man’s” disappointing box office numbers may not necessarily help its Oscar chances, he reminds us, “It faced strong competition for adult audiences from that sudden super-nova ‘A Star Is Born.'”
Chazelle’s inaugural film was a little-seen indie called “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” (2009). Five years later he became a household name thanks to “Whiplash,” which took the awards derby by storm. The movie about a jazz student and his cutthroat teacher won three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), Best Film Editing and Best Sound mixing. It was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost to “Birdman.”
As the rumor goes, Chazelle made “Whiplash” as a way to help him get his true passion project off the ground: “La La Land.” This modern-day musical starred Emma Stone and Gosling as young artists who fell in (and out) of love while singing and dancing in Los Angeles. Heavily favorited to win Best Picture on Oscar night, “Moonlight” surprised instead by taking home the top prize. But still, “La La Land” won six Oscars for Best Director (Chazelle), Best Actress (Stone), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Score and Best Song (“City of Stars”).
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own 2019 Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.