We have now entered Phase 2 of awards season: Oscar nominations have been announced, and now it’s about threading a narrative to create/build and/or maintain enough momentum to win an Oscar.
Last year, we saw the tide turn quickly against The Revenant, which came into Oscar night with a whopping 12 nominations and losing Best Picture to Spotlight and other technical awards to Mad Max: Fury Road. The same thing happened to American Hustle a few years ago; it scored 13 nominations and a ton of late breaking heat from the Golden Globes and Screen Actor’s Guild and won nothing on Oscar night. This year is obviously much different than those years, with La La Land being much more of an Oscar-friendly and consensus title than the other ones I mentioned.
Curiously enough, La La Land only managed nominations for Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, and did not appear in the line up for Best Ensemble which is worth noting. It’s true that La La Land is a lot of just Stone and Gosling, but that hasn’t stopped SAG from nominating films with smaller ensembles before (remember Beasts of No Nation last year? It only had three actors cited). The Producer’s Guild also announces their winner this weekend, which La La Land will almost certainly win. But SAG represents the actors, which outnumber the producers that vote within the Academy which is why I think Moonlight can emerge as a big threat this weekend (but more on that later).
Let’s go through the categories.