By Piya Sinha-Roy
| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Romantic musical "La La Land" became the movie to beat in the Academy Awards on Tuesday after earning 14 nominations in a diverse list that swept aside fears of another #OscarsSoWhite controversy at the industry's highest honors.With nods that included best picture, actor, actress, director, score and screenplay, the musical about a struggling actress (Emma Stone) and her jazz pianist boyfriend (Ryan Gosling) equaled the record set by the 1997 blockbuster "Titanic" and the 1950 film "All About Eve.""La La Land" also became the first original musical to win a best picture Oscar nomination since "All That Jazz" in 1979.Director Damien Chazelle called the acclaim "a delirious, wonderful moment." He told Reuters in a phone interview he thought the musical resonated because it looked at "what it means to be young and in love today, what it means to be an artist today, and chase a dream."The film will vie for the top prize - best picture - with sci-fi movie "Arrival" with eight nods; Mel Gibson's Hollywood comeback war movie "Hacksaw Ridge"; modern western "Hell or High Water"; dramas "Manchester by the Sea," "Moonlight", "Hidden Figures," "Lion"; and Denzel Washington's adaptation of stage play "Fences." In a key change from 2016 and 2015, seven people of color were among the acting nominees, and four of the nine best picture contenders told African-American or Indian stories.Last year, all 20 acting nominees were white, unleashing an #OscarsSoWhite backlash on social media for the second consecutive year.The class of 2017, however, included supporting actor nominees Dev Patel for the Indian adoption story "Lion," and Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris for "Moonlight."
"Moonlight," the critically acclaimed tale of a young boy struggling with his sexual identity in an impoverished black neighborhood in Miami, earned a total of 8 nominations.Director Barry Jenkins said in a statement that he was "moved beyond words" by the nominations, chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He called them "an affirmation that film has the power to erode barriers and reveal what makes us all human.""Hidden Figures," a feel-good box-office hit about three black female mathematicians working on the U.S. space program in the 1960s, brought a supporting actress nod for Octavia Spencer."Fences" star Viola Davis is seen as a shoo-in to win for her supporting role as a long-suffering housewife.
In the best actor category, "La La Land" star Gosling will compete with Casey Affleck, who plays a grieving father in "Manchester by the Sea" and whom awards pundits see as the front-runner for the Academy Award.It was a big day for Amazon Studios which is looking to score the first Oscar wins for a streaming service with "Manchester by the Sea" after the film earned six nominations on Tuesday..
Washington, British first-timer Andrew Garfield of "Hacksaw Ridge" and Viggo Mortensen's unorthodox dad in "Captain Fantastic" round out the lead actor race.The lead actress nominations include front-runner Natalie Portman for her role as former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy in "Jackie," French actress Isabelle Huppert for thriller "Elle," Stone, and Ruth Negga for mixed-marriage story "Loving."Meryl Streep, who earlier this month attacked new U.S. President Donald Trump in a Golden Globes awards speech, earned a record 20th Oscar nomination for playing a tone-deaf singer in "Florence Foster Jenkins."Jimmy Kimmel will host the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood on Feb. 26.Some notable absences from Tuesday's list included Annette Bening's star turn in "20th Century Women" and Amy Adams performance as a linguist in "Arrival."Martin Scorsese's religious passion project "Silence," which was 28 years in the making, was missing from the main categories and earned just one nomination, for cinematography. (Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Melissa Fares; Writing by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
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Updated Date: Jan 24, 2017 21:06 PM