How Many Oscars Can and Will ‘La La Land’ Win in February?


It’s been a long day. The Academy Awards revealed their nominations today with “La La Land” leading the fray with 14 nominations, tying “Titanic” and “All About Eve.” While we are all quick to say “it’s over,” I’d like to point out that many things can happen in four weeks. SAG will reveal their own set of winners this weekend, where a film like “Moonlight” or “Manchester by the Sea” can rack up quite a few trophies with “La La Land” possibly nabbing zero.

As I’m more inclined to read the nomination tally, I do believe that “La La Land” IS the frontrunner and will win Best Picture, the big question is how many awards will it get in total? Of its record-setting number, there are many vulnerabilities within its tally. Starting with the top, the two acting races could easily go to other performers.

In the case of Ryan Gosling, he has Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea,” who has nearly swept the circuit, and right behind him is Denzel Washington, whose work in “Fences” joins the ranks of some of the all-time greats. This could tip in his favor à la Jean Dujardin winning at SAG for “The Artist,” but something as “light” as Gosling’s work standing next to the monumental achievements of both Affleck and Washington, is a hard pill to swallow.

In the case for Emma Stone, she has a seemingly clearer path. Up to this point, she’s pulled in a respectable number of critics prizes and had her moment at the Golden Globes. Her competition comes from BFCA winner Natalie Portman in “Jackie” and the shocking Golden Globe winner Isabelle Huppert in “Elle.” Huppert’s road is much more difficult without a SAG nomination under her belt and nothing else to propel her forward until Oscar night. SAG could tip the scale in either Portman or Stone’s direction. Hell, they could even pull an “Idris Elba-non-starter” win for Amy Adams, whose snub today for “Arrival” was felt across the Oscar world.

This moves us to Original Screenplay, a category that hasn’t seen a musical winner since “The Producers” in 1968. With Chazelle winning the Golden Globe, the last time an Oscar nominee won the Golden Globe but lost in the end was “Up in the Air,” which was in Adapted.  The last original screenplay to win the Globe and lose the Oscar was “The Queen” in 2006. It’s worth noting that it has worthy competition coming from Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” a script that has been beloved all season. They may not want him to go home empty-handed, or even the film in case Washington or Gosling pulls the SAG upset.

Going below-the-line, “La La Land” seems secured for a few prizes: Production Design, Film Editing, Sound Mixing (if Kevin O’Connell or Greg P. Russell don’t have anything to say about it), Original Score, and one of the Original Songs seem well in its favor. Add that with a modestly locked in race for Best Picture and Director, the film is now up to 7 awards.

Cinematography is right under the first tier of possible wins but “Arrival” or even “Moonlight” may be able to rally some support. Chances are, though, that Linus Sandgren feels like a good bet for his first Oscar. We’re now up to 8.

Its two big hurdles will be in Costume Design and Sound Editing. Now, before any readers suggest “if a voter is going down the line on their ballot…,” remember when “Gravity” went down the line for its Oscar run and lost Production Design because they knew better than to just throw it another Oscar for the sake of it.  Same for “Slumdog Millionaire” when it lost its Sound Editing Oscar because there was no REAL justification to give it a citation for that “achievement.”

Now, in terms of Costumes, this is a modern film. Oscar doesn’t tend to reward such things. Some may cite last year’s winner “Mad Max: Fury Road” as an example but those are not very frequent, and not really considered “modern.” “Jackie” is something that is right up their alley, and frankly, something that’s more of an integral part to the film’s success as opposed to “La La Land’s” colorful dresses. They could even go with something like “Florence Foster Jenkins” as well.

Sound Editing has big guns (no pun intended) standing in the way of Chazelle’s film. “Hacksaw Ridge” is a perfect example of what the category is all about and is a great place to reward the picture. “Deepwater Horizon” and “Arrival” also offer up compelling cases. Give or take “Sully,” “La La Land” could be the No. 5 in the category (at the moment).

Which brings us back to the acting and screenplay races. If you’re still keeping count, we’re up to 8.  If Stone pushes past Portman and Huppert, 9 Oscars seems like the most realistic, conservative day and if Original Screenplay breaks all the molds, then “La La Land” will pull in 10. 10 Oscars puts it in the same company as “West Side Story,” and it will be the fifth most rewarded film of all-time. If, and it’s a BIG IF, “La La Land” racks in Costume Design, we’re up to 11, joining “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

And finally, if Gosling or Sound Editing get tipped in its favor, we now have the most awarded film in Oscar history, and we’re all alive to see it happen.

Lots of moving pieces, and lots of time left. BAFTA and SAG ballots are still out in hand, and there are still guilds to weigh in.

Oscar Prediction categories are being updated throughout the day or two. Check back to see where they all rank but for now, predicted winners down below:

  • BEST PICTURE – “La La Land”
  • BEST DIRECTOR – Damien Chazelle for “La La Land”
  • BEST ACTOR – Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea”
  • BEST ACTRESS – Emma Stone for “La La Land”
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight”
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Viola Davis for “Fences”
  • BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Kenneth Lonergan for “Manchester by the Sea”
  • BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney for “Moonlight”
  • BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – “Kubo and the Two Strings”
  • BEST FILM EDITING – “La La Land”
  • BEST SOUND MIXING – “La La Land”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING – “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – “The Jungle Book”
  • BEST ORIGINAL SONG – “City of Stars” from “La La Land”
  • BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT – “The White Helmets”

Share your thoughts and predictions in the comments!


  • michaeldal65

    This outrageous over nomination of one film (a good but, inarguably, not a great one) reminds me of when American Hustle was over-nominated and walked out of the ceremony with nothing. There was clearly a backlash during the voting period. While I have no doubt La La will bag a few, I can’t count Moonlight out. Having watched it again, I’ve really come to realise that it and Arrival are the only two really original films in the race. Jenkins sensitive, subtle direction and Villeneuve’s visionary style will hopefully count. Disappointed that Hidden Figures didn’t come to more too. Taraji P. Henson belongs in the lead category. She was outstanding.

    • Zooey Bloom

      I agree it’s a good but not great film. But I don’t agree with your comparison with AH. AH was up for 10 Oscars. LA LA LAND is up for 14. This is a record. I just can’t see it lose at this point. It’s definitely top 3 in each one of its categories except for sound editing and maybe actor. AH had plenty of filler nominations that had no shot at a win.

      • michaeldal65

        14 isn’t a record. It only means its joined the same club as Titanic and All About Eve. And seriously, La La for costume design? What for? Off the rack dresses and suits? My point is over nominating can cause a turn in voting, that’s all.

    • Brennan

      Manchester isn’t original?

      • michaeldal65

        No it isn’t. Just a drama, a well acted one I grant you, about a man who suffered a terrible tragedy and let it get the better of him.

  • Jose Gallegos

    THE PRODUCERS wasn’t a musical, it was a comedy. It was adapted into a musical for broadway, then the broadway musical was turned into a film.

  • Michael Barrick

    I really hope that Huppert will continue her momentum and win for Elle. It’s a remarkable performance and in my opinion, her performance towers far above everyone else in her category. I know I’m in the minority here, and I normally really enjoy her and would call myself a fan, BUT, I felt that Stone was miscast as Mia. Now I will say, I’ve only seen La La Land once and will watch it again before the ceremony. Perhaps I will change my mind, but as of right now, I’m pulling for Huppert.

    • Michael R

      I do not think that Stone was miscast but just that the role is so paper-thin. All we learn about Mia and Sebastian is that they are dreamers. Even Stone’s big number is about her aunt!

  • Zooey Bloom

    It’ll take 10. Everything predicted in addition to costume design. The Academy simply doesn’t care about JACKIE.