Here’s the big story for Oscar nominations morning: “La La Land” is not only expected to nab the most nominations, but by my count, it will earn 14. That would put the film on par with “All About Eve” (14 nominations, 6 wins) and “Titanic” (14 nominations, 11 wins).
Why so many? It’s a musical, so add score, original song, and appreciation from the many crafts for the ingenious creativity deployed by Damien Chazelle and team for a singing, dancing, and visually sumptuous love letter to show business. And that’s the other ace in the hole for a movie that could follow the like-minded “Birdman,” “All About Eve,” and “The Artist” to a Best Picture win. Academy members, especially actors, respond to this aspirational story about “the city of stars.”
It’s hard to know which film could beat “La La Land,” which clearly will gain momentum if it leads the pack with more than 11 nominations. That doesn’t mean it will win them all. “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight,” and “Arrival” will all rack up impressive nominations, and will win some categories too.
Behind them are surging late-breaking holiday hits “Fences,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Lion,” with “Hell or High Water,” “Jackie,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” and “20th Century Women” hoping for some nods as well, along with a slew of big-budget studio pictures vying for technical nods.
The biggest question is which of six actresses gets the five available slots. Will Annette Bening squeak in over Golden Globe winners Emma Stone and Isabelle Huppert, Globe hero Meryl Streep, five-time nominee Amy Adams, and Critics Choice winner Natalie Portman?
See my picks below. (All are in alphabetical order.)
“Hell or High Water” (CBS Films)
“Hidden Figures” (Fox)
“La La Land” (Lionsgate)
“Lion” (Weinstein Co.)
“Manchester by the Sea” (Amazon, Roadside Attractions)
Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”)
Garth Davis (“Lion”)
Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”)
Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”)
Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”)
Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”)
Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”)
Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”)
Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”)
Denzel Washington (“Fences”)
Amy Adams (“Arrival”)
Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”)
Natalie Portman (“Jackie”)
Emma Stone (“La La Land”)
Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”)