Oscars 2017: How Will ‘La La Land’ Perform in Relation to Previous Best Picture-Winning Musicals?
By: Carson Blackwelder
La La Land has officially earned a spot in the history books by tying the record for the most Oscar nominations ever — but just how many of those 14 chances will it see a win? This critical darling is widely considered to take home best picture come February 26, which would make it just the 11th musical to do so, so let’s examine how it stands in the other categories by doing a deep dive into the track records of the 10 musicals that took home top honors before it.
These legendary musicals that were all able to garner Hollywood’s top award include: 1929’s The Broadway Melody, 1936’s The Great Ziegfeld, 1944’s Going My Way, 1951’s An American in Paris, 1958’s Gigi, 1961’s West Side Story, 1964’s My Fair Lady, 1965’s The Sound of Music, 1968’s Oliver!, and 2002’s Chicago. Now, let’s use these films to see just how well La La Land might do come the big night.
First up is the best director category, where Damien Chazelle is expected to win against Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), and Denis Villeneuve (Arrival). Out of the 10 musicals that have previously won best picture, all 10 were nominated for best director and six actually won: Going My Way, Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, and Oliver!.
Next is the best actor category, where we see Ryan Gosling nominated against Denzel Washington (Fences), Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), and Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) — with Washington expected to win. Of the 10 musicals that have already won best picture, only three saw their leading man up for a win (one of the three, Going My Way, having two actors up for the trophy). Of these three chances, two won: Going My Way and My Fair Lady.
As for the best actress category, we have Emma Stone as the frontrunner against Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), and Ruth Negga (Loving). Of the 10 musicals that have already won best picture, only four had their leading lady up for the gold. Of those four, just one won: The Great Ziegfeld.
When it comes to the best original screenplay category, Chazelle is up against Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water), Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou (The Lobster), and Mike Mills (20th Century Women). Out of the 10 musicals that have won best picture, three have been nominated and two have won: Going My Way and An American in Paris. A reason for this low turnout is that, as it turns out, a good number of this collection of great films were either nominated for or won best adapted screenplay.
With the best cinematography category, once again La La Land is considered the frontrunner against Lion, Moonlight, Arrival, and Silence. Of the 10 musicals with best picture wins under their belts, eight of them have been nominated here and four of those went on to win: An American in Paris, Gigi, West Side Story, and My Fair Lady.
In the best costume design category, La La Land is up against Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Jackie, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Allied — with the latest flick in the same universe as Harry Potter expected to win. Of the 10 musicals with best picture triumphs, a total of seven were nominated with five of those winning: An American in Paris, Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and Chicago.
When it comes to the best film editing category, La La Land is the frontrunner against Moonlight, Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival, and Hell or High Water. Out of the 10 musicals that have won best picture in the past, nine of them have been nominated for this category while just four of those ended up winning: Gigi, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and Chicago.
In the best original score category, La La Land is the projected victor against Lion, Moonlight, Passengers, and Jackie. Of the 10 previous musicals to win best picture, six of them have been nominated for this with all six winning: An American in Paris, Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, and Oliver!.
Over in the best original song category, La La Land has two nominations — with one, “City of Stars,” being the frontrunner and the other, “Audition,” in the middle of the pack — against “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls, “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana, and “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story. Surprisingly just three of the 10 musicals to have won best picture were nominated here with two winning: Going My Way and Gigi.
In the best production design category, La La Land is expected to win over Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Passengers, and Hail, Caesar!. Of the 10 musicals that have taken home best picture, eight of them were nominated here with six of them winning: An American in Paris, Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Oliver!, and Chicago.
With the best sound mixing category, La La Land is supposed to take home bragging rights against Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Of the 10 musicals to have earned a best picture win, five of them have been nominated for this award with all five of them winning: West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Oliver!, and Chicago.
There’s no telling what will happen for La La Land at the upcoming Oscars — especially in the one category not mentioned above: best sound editing. It seems as though this charming film is going to be a big winning come February 26, but pretty much anything can happen. Perhaps this history lesson will be telling on that big night — but it’s equally likely that La La Land could succeed where others didn’t and potentially lose where others triumphed. We shall see!
Tags: An American in Paris, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best FIlm Editing, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song, Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Chicago, Gigi, Going My Way, La La Land, My Fair Lady, Oliver!, Oscars 2017, The Broadway Melody, The Great Ziegfeld, The Sound of Music, West Side Story