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Escape with ‘La La Land’ or time to get real? Oscars face choice

Preparations continue for the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood

The red carpet has been rolled out and the champagne is on ice for Hollywood’s big night on Sunday, but the biggest question may not be who will win but how much politics will rain on the “La La Land” Oscar parade.

The movie industry’s premier celebration gets underway torn between escapism and reality. The conflict is reflected in the wide range of best picture Oscar hopefuls and an awards season marked by fiery outbursts from Hollywood A-listers towards U.S. President Donald Trump.

With a leading 14 nominations, romantic musical “La La Land” looks set to dance away with an armful of Academy Awards, including best picture, for its love letter to artistic ambition and Los Angeles itself.

“It’s a movie that has a powerful emotional pull and the most emotional movies tend to do best at the Oscars. This one has an infectious enthusiasm and spirit that is irresistible,” said Tom O’Neil, founder of awards website Goldderby.com.

If fantasy prevails, “La La Land,” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a struggling actress and jazz pianist, would be the first musical to win best picture at the Academy Awards since “Chicago” in 2003.

Black coming-of-age tale “Moonlight” is also expected to do well in a year that produced a record seven nominations for actors of color and film stories that ranged from overlooked African-American female math geniuses (“Hidden Figures”) to interracial marriage (“Loving”), Indian street children (“Lion”) and black incarceration rates in modern U.S. society (“13th”).

“If anything is a dark horse winner on Sunday, it would be ‘Hidden Figures’,” said Variety awards writer Tim Gray.

“It’s a good thing for diversity and it’s doing well at the box office, and that is the really important thing,” Gray said.

A SEASON OF PROTEST

Hollywood however has more on its mind than movie making. After strongly opposing the election of Trump as president, celebrities have used the spotlight at earlier award shows to denounce the president.

Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who is hosting Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, is not expected to go down that road.

“I don’t think it will be very political,” he told trade publication Variety last week of his opening monologue. But “there will be some element of that to the show.”

Yet in a live show, with a worldwide audience of hundreds of millions, there is no telling what dozens of stars may say and do on the red carpet or when collecting their Oscar statuettes.

“I don’t think it’s going to be three hours of bashing Donald Trump. I think there will be a lot of generalities – pleas for tolerance and acceptance,” said Gray.

 

AWARDS-OSCARS/NOMINATIONS (FACTBOX)
FACTBOX-Leading nominations for the 2017 Oscars
LOS ANGELES, Feb 26 (Reuters) – The 2017 Oscars, or Academy
Awards, the highest honors in the movie industry, will be handed
out on Sunday at a ceremony in Hollywood hosted by comedian
Jimmy Kimmel.
Following is a list of nominations in key categories:

Best Picture
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Best Director
Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival”
Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Original Screenplay
“Hell or High Water” – Written by Taylor Sheridan
“La La Land” – Written by Damien Chazelle
“The Lobster” – Written by Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis
Filippou
“Manchester by the Sea” – Written by Kenneth Lonergan
“20th Century Women” – Written by Mike Mills

Best Adapted Screenplay
“Arrival” – Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
“Fences” – Screenplay by August Wilson
“Hidden Figures” – Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and
Theodore Melfi
“Lion” – Screenplay by Luke Davies
“Moonlight” – Screenplay by Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell
Alvin McCraney

Best Animated Film
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“Zootopia”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Land of Mine,” Denmark
“A Man Called Ove,” Sweden
“The Salesman,” Iran
“Tanna,” Australia
“Toni Erdmann,” Germany

Best Documentary Film
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life, Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America”
“13th”

Best Original Song
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – “La La Land.” Music by
Justin Hurwitz, Lyrics by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul
“Can’t Stop The Feeling” – “Trolls.” Music and lyrics by
Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Karl Johan Schuster
“City of Stars” – “La La Land.” Music by Justin Hurwitz,
Lyrics by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul
“The Empty Chair” – “Jim: The James Foley Story.” Music and
lyrics by J. Ralph and Sting
“How Far I’ll Go” – “Moana.” Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel
Miranda

 

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