HOLLYWOOD: The Hollywood awards season reaches its glittering climax at the Oscars on Sunday with La La Land, a starry-eyed love letter to the glamour of Old Hollywood, tipped for glory.
Millions of viewers around the world will tune in for Tinseltown’s biggest night, with Damien Chazelle’s romantic musical pinning its hopes on 14 nominations, tied with Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950) for the most ever.
“When you mention those movies, it makes my head spin even more than it’s spinning. I’m a little speechless,” Chazelle, 32, told trade magazine Variety when the nominations were announced in January.
With voting among the Academy’s 6,000-plus members closed since Tuesday, the frenzied and at times schmaltzy campaigning that perennially marks the awards merry-go-round can no longer impact the results.
Analysts are backing La La Land, which stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as an aspiring actress and a struggling jazz musician who fall in love in Los Angeles, to win most of the awards for which it is nominated.
However, it is expected to fall short of the record 11 statuettes achieved by Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003).
Gold Derby, a site that collates the awards predictions of experts and members of the public, has La La Land as a clear favorite in 10 categories, including best film, director, actress, score and song.
Stone, who has dominated the awards season, is expected to bag her first statuette despite late momentum for France’s Golden Globe winner Isabelle Huppert, nominated for rape-revenge thriller Elle.
“I think (Stone) will win but if she doesn’t, it’s because she makes it look so easy and because you don’t see her putting on an accent, putting on a fake nose, all those things,” Stephen Galloway, editor-in-chief of weekly trade paper The Hollywood Reporter, told AFP.
“People like to see the acting. You don’t with her. That is actually why she is so great.”
Stone also faces competition from Natalie Portman (Jackie), Ruth Negga (Loving) and Meryl Streep, 67, who earned her record-breaking 20th nomination for Florence Foster Jenkins.
Gosling is expected to lose out in the best actor category, however, to Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) or Denzel Washington (Fences), who are seen as neck-and-neck in the show’s closest race.
“I really don’t know which way best actor will go,” veteran film critic Anne Thompson, awards editor for movie blog IndieWire, told AFP.
“I keep changing my mind. And production design and costumes are also hard to call. If ‘La La Land’ wins both, it gets 10. If it wins one, it gets nine.”
Crews rolled out plastic sheeting on Wednesday to protect the red carpet and fan bleachers, with intermittent rain showers expected to hit Los Angeles on Sunday.
La La Land —buoyed by a record seven Golden Globes in January—will vie for best picture with eight films including Arrival, family drama Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight, the coming-of-age tale of an African-American in Miami.