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Oscars go gaga for 'La La Land'

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The candy-coloured love letter to musicals “La La Land" today landed a record-tying 14 nominations to the Academy Awards, which fielded a notably more diverse list of nominees following two-straight years of "OscarsSoWhite” backlash.

“La La Land" matched "Titanic" and "All About Eve” for most nominations ever—earning nods for best picture, stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, its jazz-infused songs, and its 32-year-old writer-director, Damien Chazelle.

“I'm in Beijing right now. This only adds to the disorientation,” Chazelle said by phone today.

“All that I have in my head is 'thank you' a million times over.”

Nine films out of a possible 10 were nominated for best picture.

The others were “Moonlight," "Arrival," "Manchester by the Sea," "Hell or High Water," "Lion," "Fences," "Hidden Figures," and "Hacksaw Ridge.”

Barry Jenkins' luminous coming-of-age portrait “Moonlight," nominated for eight awards, Denzel Washington's fiery August Wilson adaption "Fences," and Theodore Melfi's crowd-pleasing African-American mathematician drama, "Hidden Figures," ensured that for now, at least, "OscarSoWhite” wasn't trending on nominations morning.

After two-straight years of all-white acting nominees, seven people of colour were among the 20 actors nominated today.

Jenkins, who was nominated for his directing and screenplay, said the nominations for “Moonlight” and other films showed people were eager to put themselves in the shoes of others.

“I love the American film industry and to see it this year, I feel, really reflect the world that we all live and work in, it gives me hope,” Jenkins said by phone from Amsterdam.

“It heartens me," he added. "There's a lot of work being done to make this year not be an anomaly.”

The biggest surprise of the morning was the strong boost of support for Mel Gibson, who long had been shunned in Hollywood since an anti-Semitic tirade while being arrested for drunk driving in 2006 and a 2011 conviction for domestic violence.

Not only did his World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge” land a best picture nod, but Gibson scored an unexpected best director nomination.

Denis Villeneuve's cerebral science-fiction thriller “Arrival" tied "Moonlight” for the second-most nominees with eight nods.

Yet Amy Adams, the five-time nominated star of “Arrival,” was left out of the competitive best actress nominees.

Meryl Streep, who President Donald Trump recently derided as “overrated,” landed her 20th nomination.

Her performance in “Florence Foster Jenkins" was among the best actress nominees that included Stone, Natalie Portman ("Jackie"), Ruth Negga ("Loving"), and Isabelle Huppert ("Elle”).

Beside Adams, also left out was Annette Bening for “20th Century Women.”

The other nominees for best actor were Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea"), Andrew Garfield ("Hacksaw Ridge"), Viggo Mortensen ("Captain Fantastic"), and Washington ("Fences”).

Nominated for best supporting actor were Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight"), Jeff Bridges ("Hell or High Water"), Michael Shannon ("Nocturnal Animals"), Lucas Hedges ("Manchester by the Sea") and Dev Patel ("Lion”).

Viola Davis, the supporting actress favourite for her performance in “Fences,” notched the expected nomination.

Also up for the category are Naomi Harris (“Moonlight"), Nicole Kidman ("Lion"), Octavia Spencer ("Hidden Figures"), and Michelle Williams ("Manchester by the Sea”).

Whether fairly or not, the nominations were seen as a test for the revamped film academy.

It's the first Oscars voted on since academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs ushered in new membership rules and added 683 new members as a way to diversify a predominantly white, male, and elderly group, which now numbers 6,687.

Progress could be seen in other categories, as well.

Joi McMillon, who edited “Moonlight” with Nat Sanders, became the first African-American woman nominated for best editing.

And Bradford Young of “Arrival” was just the second black cinematographer nominated.

The Oscars also rejiggered its nominations format. Instead of announcing nominees live in Los Angeles, pre-produced videos of previous winners introduced each category this morning.

The announcement was live-streamed on Oscars.com

Though “La La Land" and other best-picture nominees such as "Arrival" and "Hidden Figures” are knocking on the door of $100 million at the North American box office, none of the best picture nominees has yet grossed more than $100 million.

After an unlikely awards season run, the smart-aleck superhero “Deadpool” ($363.1 million) didn't manage to crash the party—making this year's best picture nominees one of the lowest-grossing bunch ever.

But the regular business of today's corporate-driven Hollywood increasingly is set apart from the industry's awards season, where smaller, critically-adored films like “12 Years a Slave," "Birdman," "Boyhood," and "Spotlight” recently have dominated.

Only one major studio—Paramount, which distributed “Arrival" and "Fences”—scored a best picture nomination.

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