La La Land Even More Assured To Win Best Picture Oscar

The Capri Hollywood Festival has just named Damien Chazelle‘s La La Land as the Best Movie of the Year. Well, that settles it — the Best Picture Oscar is now a fait accompli.

Seriously, the real deal-sealer is the apparent likelihood that La La Land will end up cresting $100 million. As the New Years’ Eve weekend drew to a close the Lionsgate release was at $37 million. This inspired N.Y. Times reporter Brooke Barnes to call it “the No. 1 prestige release of the year” and to remind that La La earnings are “on par with films like Silver Linings Playbook, which went on to collect more than $132 million in the United States and Canada in 2012.”

HE commenter Bobby Peru, who predicted on or about 9.4.16 that La La Land would only do “arthouse-level business”, has never manned up and eaten his words, which any person of character would have done by now.

I still don’t understand the analogies between the national mood (i.e., widespread depression over the election of Donald Trump) and La La Land possibly winning the Best Picture Oscar…or not.

On 10.24 Cinemaholic‘s Gautam Anand wrote in an HE comment thread that “with Hillary Clinton winning the election, Hollywood will be in a celebration mood, [and] La La Land will hugely benefit from that. I know to many this may sound ridiculous, but imagine Trump winning the election and then Hollywood going for something like La La Land. It wouldn’t feel right.”

So now with Trump sending everyone into a psychological tailspin, it feels “right” to celebrate La La Land anyway?

Contrast this with Barnes declaring that “the moviegoing masses sent clear messages in 2016, [which is that] fantasy worlds of any kind, whether underwater or in outer space, are worth the trip to theaters. But reality? Not so much.” If you allow that voting preferences of Academy and guild members often bear some relation or resemblance to box-office popularity, as previously noted, a La La land victory would make sense.

But La La Land (to its considerable credit) is not a fantasy film. Well, it is in terms of resorting to song and dance escapism, but it’s mostly a film about downish career struggles, disappointments and rejections.

Back during the Telluride Film Festival Tom Hanks was so enthused about La La Land that he declared that “if the audience doesn’t embrace it, we’re all doomed.” So I guess we aren’t doomed then — not spiritually, at least.

  • Chris Otto

    Will be interesting to see how they avoid #OscarsSoWhite this year. Figure two actors from the list of Washington, Davis, Ali walk away with Oscars? Probably Davis and Ali….

    • Correct — Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress and Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor (even though he’s only in Act One, and whose performance is basically about delivering a nurturing paternal vibe). And that’s probably it for the African American artist vote. Damien Chazelle for Best Director (unless Moonlight‘s Barry Jenkins, who is largely a foo-foo favorite, sneaks out a surprise win), Casey Affleck for Best Actor, Emma Stone for Best Actress (unless Natalie Portman steals it).

      • Chris Otto

        If that’s how it breaks down — Picture, Actress, Director for La La — they’ll probably thrown Lonergan the Screenplay bone, over Chazelle.

      • otto

        Emma Stone was great in LLL, playing Emma Stone.

        Whether or not that is her true-life self, her role basically mimicked her pleasant public persona, and that is not Best Actress material.

    • GhostOfGigli

      With Trump as villain number 1 for all of Hollywood to rally behind, I doubt OscarsSoWhite will be given even a minute of consideration.

  • Clockwork Taxi

    I agree La La Land is the clear frontrunner. I saw Manchester by the Sea at a 9pm show last Friday and three different couples walked out before the credits. I was shocked.

    • By “before the credits” you mean right near the end, or somewhere in the middle or what?

      • Clockwork Taxi

        The first left in the middle. The others were near the end .

    • GotoSleep

      “Honey, the sitter just texted and Tyler is projectile vomiting.”
      “Look, I’m as worried as you but what will Internet commenters say if we walk out in the middle?!?”

  • Spicerpalooza

    I’m curious how people in the smaller market cities and suburbs will respond to La La Land. I very much liked it, but I’m a film nerd and an actor that lives in Los Angeles. It was practically made for me.

    • Eric

      Denver-ites that have seen it, tend to post on the fb about it raves. Or they’re just hearing about it now.

      Looking forward to more raves!

    • Joe Tate

      People are loving it here in Kalamazoo MI (blessed with an Alamo Drafthouse). But we are a college town, hippie and hipster city, and our county managed to stay Blue in a sea of idiots in November.

  • K. Bowen

    Someone else on Twitter asked the same question that I’ve been wondering for a couple of weeks since seeing La La Land – why doesn’t Hollywood make more musicals? We keep hearing about how this genre or that genre doesn’t make bank the way it used to. But pretty much every year-ending prestige musical has made 100+ million.

    Twenty years ago, the answer would have been, who’s going to sing? Now, look at all the stars that sing decently. Stone, Hathaway, Johansson, Knightley, Mulligan, Kendrick, Stenifeld, Adams, Blunt, Ridley, Seyfried, Cotillard … etc.There are a few on the men’s side, as well.

    • GotoSleep

      Because a musical released this year 3 weeks into its run is struggling to break 40 million. But somehow these heavy hitters are going to block out their calendar for the intensive shoots these films require? The studio funding will come from where? Doubtful. The next big musical we’re likely to see—that makes any real money—will be a big screen version of Hamilton.

      • Spicerpalooza

        It hasn’t gone wide yet. The first week in release it played in 4 cinemas. It’s now only in 750 cinemas compared to over 4,000 for Rogue One. It’s per screen was higher than Rogue One this week. It’s already the highest grossing limited release of the year. It’s going to be a big hit.

      • Jeff

        I feel like Hamilton is going to underperform on a massive level. The war setting and the film taking place over almost 30 years won’t work. I’m also not sure how much the color blind casting is gonna play on camera. It feels like it’ll be something coastals will love and folks in middle America and the burbs will be like “fuck George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are white.” All that accounted for, dealing with the original cast stuff is gonna be a tough call if it’s done anytime before 2025. Leslie Odom and Lin Manuel are not opening a movie either.

      • Raygo

        What Spicerpalooza said. Almost $40 million on 750 screens. Pretty impressive.

    • Michael Gebert

      James Brooks says:

      I’ll Do Anything for more musicals.

  • Bobby Peru

    Excuse me, sir, but has LA LA LAND “crested $100 million” yet? And frankly, you’re really off your head about something about which you seem misguided. Shocking, I know.

    My comments about LA LA LAND were suppositions about the appetite of your so-described mouth-breathing, flyover state viewers, which remain to be seen because the film has not gone wide yet. You also conveniently forget that I said I hoped to be wrong and that I was sure LA LA LAND was of high quality, not something the average person cared about.

    And don’t impugn my character, Mr. Wells. How/when did you expect prove myself a person of character in the eyes of moral pillar Jeffrey Wells? A guest blog post on your site after LA LA LAND’s limited release opening weekend but two weeks ago?

    Further, it’s a little hard (and more than a little ironic) to take the moral high ground when you trash Barry Jenkins’ movie ad infinitum (the best reviewed this year I might add) then go schmooze with him and conveniently forget to tell him what you really think, and how everyone who appreciates his film is under some politically correct mass delusion. At least when I spoke with Damien Chazelle recently we talked about how the public may/may not receive his film, not about the buffet.

    Most importantly, no revisionist history, please — don’t act like you knew all along the picture would make money because you yourself had high skepticism and your own notions about validation of what I originally posted–and you clearly said so–so why don’t you man up since you were heavily in doubt?

    • I was seriously in doubt. I thought you might be right. I thought it was an exceptional film from the get-go, but I wasn’t at all convinced that Joe Popcorn would agree with me, or that La La would surge beyond art-house-level business.

      But you made a pretty good argument for the arthouse-level response in early September, and until just now you hadn’t manned up and admitted that your dour prediction doesn’t seem to be happening.

      You have to admit that $37 million at this relatively early stage (three and a half weeks into the run) is pretty good for a film like this.

      Is your new theory that La La Land is connecting with urban blues but once the hinterland bumblefucks see it they’ll be less enthusiastic? I’m just trying to keep up.

      • Bobby Peru

        There’s no new theory — as the meme goes, I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.

        Box office is currently good (and needs to be better for a $30 million plus marketing budget), and I feel heartened by the response that something of quality is making money for a change. Also, the audience response that I have heard (all from women and gay men, with a few urban, liberal straight husbands in the mix) has been wildly positive.

        That said, I maintain that the film has also been the beneficiary of a holiday box office bump and there remains a large segment of the population that this film will likely not snag (teenage boys and rednecks, etc.), at least not based on any current marketing. What would be fascinating would be to know how the film will be “sold” to outlying markets.

        And yes, my theory is that the limited release audiences in mostly urban markets are embracing the movie — more power to a marketing campaign well done — but that the “hinterland bumblefucks” most likely will drop off or need some other strategy than great notices. Perhaps Oscar nods will help.

        Come to think of it, is there an example of a $100 million earner that did so with a particular concentration of viewers in one market, demographic or the other? In my view, to get to $100 million you need to represent all quadrants. Getting above that goal post most certainly will.

        Now, before another post about my character appears four weeks hence, I do hope that LA LA LAND (which after four viewings I believe to be at the top of 2016’s movies with MOONLIGHT) breaks through your “Joe and Jane” ceiling, and I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

        Finally, I believe you thought my original assessment was worth pondering and sensible enough — I called them “not so much my opinion but what I believe to be a series of sad facts.” But I’ll happily put egg on my face right now if you want to call this a blockbuster.

        • KJ

          “Come to think of it, is there an example of a $100 million earner that did so with a particular concentration of viewers in one market, demographic or the other?”

          Hard to say in terms of demographics, but there are sometimes clear regional concentrations- an old example is the holiday weekend from 2011: GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO did very well in urban areas, NY/LA but also Seattle, Minneapolis etc. Meanwhile- Spielberg’s WAR HORSE ran up strong numbers in Appalachian and southern markets.

  • Dr. New Jersey

    After seeing La La Land last Friday I came out thinking it the clear Academy pick. (I’m sure many Academy members came out say, “They told my story!”) If The Artist and Argo can win on the basis of the Hollywood Glow, surely La La will win with much more going for it. (But have to disagree on “the national mood” of widespread depression over the election of Trump. Like it or not, it’s a Coastal Mood.)

    • otto

      I’ve got to disagree about coastal mood. I travel perpetually, and have heard the same “oh shit” vibe in rural Illinois, Colorado, Nebraska and Tennessee. It’s anecdotal of course, but I was struck by how bummed these people were.

      • Dr. New Jersey

        But a motel clerk in Utah asked me at check-in, “So what do you think of Trump taking office?” and went on to talk excitedly about how “good it will be to have a business man in the White House” . In the Dakotas, Nebraska and Montana, there were also people excited about the Donald coming in. Obviously, there are millions of people who voted that have a differing opinion than HE. (For the record, I didn’t vote Orange Party.) And I’d like to think a majority of people don’t let the electoral college decide their mood. As you say, it’s anecdotal, but I certainly think depression is too stronge a word to describe people who want to put 2016 out of their minds and move on.

        • otto

          Yea, I get the limitations of my experience. I guess I was more struck by how the people who are relatively apolitical – casual observers – were freaking out.

  • Mr. F.

    Wish I had liked it more, but it was hurt by the hype… yours included, Wells.

    My biggest problem with it: I didn’t find any of the music or choreography at all memorable… which is pretty much the kiss of death in a musical. Take the opening number: everyone is moving their bodies to the music (as the freeway traffic moves at 65 mph in both directions in the background, but whatever)… but there’s no order or sense to it… no *magic*. And then it ends, and everyone just gets back in their cars.

    Chazelle could use a few more movies under his belt… Then he might get a final product in which his script and direction is truly transcendent. But I found the movie good at best… never great. And I went into it ready and eager to love it.

    • Raygo

      I’ve been humming City of Stars since I saw La La Land last week, and played the clip on YouTube a dozen times. I think we have the Best Original Song here.

    • otto

      I thought the Audition song/scene was transcendent. Best moment in the film.

      • Mr. F.

        Yes, that was the only scene that really, truly worked for me. It’s a shame the rest of the movie wasn’t as powerful, IMO.

        • That and the if-only-things-had-worked-out-this way fantasy sequence.

      • Grampappy Amos

        I haven’t even seen it, but I will state right now, that it can’t hold a candle to Natalie Watts’ audition scene in Mulholland Drive

    • Jeff

      City of Stars and the opening number are great soundtrack songs but I can understand why musical fans are little down. It’s more like half or a quarter musical. Seriously though City of Stars has stayed with me for 3 weeks to the point where I bought the soundtrack.

      • Mr. F.

        Well, LA LA LAND wasn’t even the best musical of 2016 for me — that honor goes to SING STREET, which, while less ambitious, actually made me feel something. That movie loves music, and *needs* to be a musical; LA LA LAND has a difficult time rising above homage, and feels more like an exercise than anything truly exuberant.

    • thevisitor967

      @ Mr. F: ITA. What is so great about LA LA Land? No memorable songs. And the ending was ridiculous.

    • Fred’s Hand

      There’s no real drama in the film for 83 minutes, and by the time it came, I just didn’t give a shit. It felt like a paper-thin, masturbatory directing and acting exercise that hides it’s lack of substance and character with whiz-bang, breakneck cutting.

      This is all to say that it’ll probably take best picture.

  • Yes, I was skeptical of LA LA LAND’s win in case of Trump’s victory. To be honest, things aren’t as bad as I thought it would be. I think we all — including you, Jeff — never imagined that Trump would win in the first place. But now that Trump has won, I am still sticking with both my original predictions: LA LA LAND will win Best Picture and it will make $100 million at the box-office.

  • otto

    IMO, La La Land stands a good chance at best picture because it is about the Academy voters’ favorite subject – i.e., themselves.

    I liked it a lot (though I don’t think it’s better than Arrival), but believe that Academy voters will probably identify with it more than they would, say, Manchester or Fences.

    • NephewOfAnarchy

      Yep, any bullshit that celebrates (cringe) the “magic” of cinema (The Artist, and in another way, Argo) or the POWER OF ACTING (Birdman) is a shoo-in. Jerkoff movies about movies is the new Holocaust genre.

      • Hey, is anyone working on a Saving Mr. Banks-type historical drama about the making of The Day The Clown Cried yet? GOOD IDEA.

      • Brad

        The Artist was a very odd win.
        It was like the Academy was playing dress up tea party that year. Idiotic. In the same year Hugo more interestingly celebrated the roots of our cinema, and it was a better movie.

      • Randy Matthews

        Agree, but LA LA LAND is not “bullshit.” Not in the way the others were, in my opinion. It isn’t my first choice to win, but I won’t roll my eyes like I did when the other two won.

  • MovieAwardsPlus

    Since when does the Capri Hollywood festivals film of the year decide Best Picture? Don’t the guilds tell you more than Capri?

    • I want to whore myself out to the Capri Hollywood Festival one of these years.

      • MovieAwardsPlus

        Copy that. Good luck!

  • GotoSleep

    If this movie is so good, how come I haven’t seen it yet? Everyone I know is talking Rogue One, so I’m calling it for Best Picture.

  • Raygo

    I’m more impressed with FENCES pulling in $32 million.

    • Jeff

      Denzel can open anything though I think some folks are gonna be pretty pissed after they see it hoping for something a little less exhausting.

      • Eric

        I was really hoping for MORE exhausting. I can see why Denzel was excited for it. Great role, but outside of him going off on wife/son/son, etc… Not much else to me. Somewhat displeased.

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  • Steven Gaydos

    I predict Oscar night will feel just like election night did at my house. As usual, Bob Dylan is the best one to express my mood of cultural despair:
    “Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade
    House on fire, debts unpaid
    Gonna stand at the window,
    gonna ask the maid
    Have you seen dignity?”

  • Chris Otto

    Seems like Baz Luhrmann mis-timed his peak output.

  • Stanley

    Re:Otto… Correction, it takes place in Hollywood, it’s about life. The highs, lows, successes, disappointments, what ifs, and the strange path life can take you on.

  • Cinesnatch

    Surely you jest Jeff. Hateful Eight and August: Osage County have been Capri recipients of the recent past. La La Land missed SAG (two-hander argument or otherwise). It needs the PGA win. That will be the tell-tale sign.

  • childerolandusa

    La La Land probably will win, but is the Capri a good predictor?

    • Mr. F.

      Of course not, and it’s clear Wells was being sarcastic…