‘La La Land’ leads Oscars with 14 nominations

The candy-colored love letter to musicals “La La Land” on Tuesday landed a record-tying 14 nominations to the Academy Awards, which fielded a notably more diverse field of nominees following two straight years of “OscarsSoWhite” backlash.

“La La Land” matched “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for most nominations ever, earning nods for best picture, stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, its jazz-infused songs and its 32-year-old writer-director, Damien Chazelle.

“I’m in Beijing right now. This only adds to the disorientation,” Chazelle said by phone Tuesday. “All that I have in my head is ‘thank you’ a million times over.”

The other nominees for best picture were: “Moonlight,” ”Arrival,” ”Manchester by the Sea,” ”Hell or High Water,” ”Lion,” ”Fences,” ”Hidden Figures” and “Hacksaw Ridge.”

Barry Jenkins’ luminous coming-of-age portrait “Moonlight,” nominated for eight awards, Denzel Washington’s fiery August Wilson adaption “Fences” and Theodore Melfi’s crowd-pleasing African American mathematician drama, “Hidden Figures,” insured that for now, at least, “OscarSoWhite” wouldn’t be trending on nominations morning. After two straight years of all-white acting nominees, seven people of color were among the 20 actors nominated Tuesday.

The biggest surprise of the morning was the strong boost of support for Mel Gibson, who had long been shunned in Hollywood since an anti-Semitic tirade while being arrested for drunk driving in 2006 and a 2011 conviction for domestic violence. Not only did his World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge” land a best picture nod, but Gibson scored an unexpected best director nomination.

Denis Villeneuve’s cerebral science fiction thriller “Arrival” tied “Moonlight” for the second most nominees with eight nods. Yet Amy Adams, the five-time nominated star of “Arrival,” was left out of the competitive best actress nominees.

Meryl Streep, who President Donald Trump recently derided as “overrated,” landed her 20th nomination. Her performance in “Florence Foster Jenkins” was among the best actress nominees that included Stone, Natalie Portman (“Jackie”), Ruth Negga (“Loving”) and Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”). Beside Adams, also left out was Annette Bening for “20th Century Women.”

The nominees for best actor were: Gosling, Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”), Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”).

Nominated for best supporting actor were: Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”), Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water”), Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals”), Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Dev Patel (“Lion”).

Viola Davis, the supporting actress favorite for her performance in “Fences,” notched the expected nomination. Also up for the category are Naomi Harris (“Moonlight”), Nicole Kidman (“Lion”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) and Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”).

Whether fairly or not, the nominations were seen as a test for the revamped film academy. It’s the first Oscars voted on since academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs ushered in new membership rules and added 683 new members as a way to diversify a predominantly white, male and elderly group, which now numbers 6,687.

The Oscars also rejiggered its nominations format. Instead of announcing nominees live in Los Angeles, pre-produced videos of previous winners introduced each category on Tuesday morning. The announcement was live-streamed on Oscars.com.

Though “La La Land” and other best-picture nominees such as “Arrival” and “Hidden Figures” are knocking on the door of $100 million at the North American box office, none of the best picture nominees has yet grossed more than $100 million.

After an unlikely awards season run, the smart-aleck superhero “Deadpool” ($363.1 million) didn’t manage to crash the party, making this year’s best picture nominees one of the lowest grossing bunch ever.

The regular business of today’s corporate-driven Hollywood is increasingly set apart from the industry’s awards season, where smaller, critically adored films like “12 Years a Slave,” ”Birdman,” ”Boyhood” and “Spotlight” have recently dominated. Only one major studio — Paramount, which distributed “Arrival” and “Fences,” scored a best picture nomination.

Amazon, however, landed its first best picture nomination for Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” which the streaming retailer partnered with Roadside Attractions to distribute.

The dearth of blockbusters will pose a test for host Jimmy Kimmel, who’ll be presiding over the Feb. 26 Oscarcast for the first time. While the Academy Awards are still among the most-watched TV programs of the year, ratings have been in decline the last two years. Last year’s broadcast, hosted by Chris Rock, drew 34.4 million viewers, an eight-year-low.

Rock’s show, which he introduced as “the White People’s Choice Awards,” was rife with Hollywood’s diversity debate. This year’s — where politics may take over the spotlight — will surely be seen as an improvement. But many have always held that the industry’s inclusivity problems are rooted not in its award shows but in its power brokers: executives, agents and producers.

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