It’s Official: La La Land Will Win the Oscar for Best Picture, But Will it Break a Record?

Last night, January 28, 2017, the Producers Guild of America met to honor the year in production. Television programs like Atlanta, American Crime Story, Sesame Street, and Stranger Things received honors for producing. O.J.: Made in America and Zootopia took home film awards for producing in documentary and animation, respectively, and Loving took home the honorary Stanley Kramer award.


But the big award of the night—Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures—went, as predicted, to the award season darling La La Land. Sorry Deadpool fans.

The PGA awards are notorious for being the most likely predictor of what film will win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Though not always the case (last year The Big Short took home the PGA but was disappointed at the Oscars, where Spotlight took home the biggest award).

The cut-and-dry nature of this year’s award race, though, will lend itself to a PGA-Oscar correlation. La La Land will take home the biggest Oscar of the night, and Chazelle will likely take the Best Director award in tandem.

The real question now is how high will La La Land go. The film earned a record-tying 14 nominations (sharing the high honor with Titanic and All About Eve). It will need 12 wins to be record-breaking, as the current holders of most Oscar wins (The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Ben-Hur, and Titanic) all have 11.

Let’s break it down. La La Land will take Best Picture and Best Director, let’s make that assumption based on the PGA correlate to the Best Picture Oscar and the general correlation between Best Picture and Best Director. (Just remember: correlation and causation are two distinct terms).

That’s two. The SAG awards tonight will bolster some actors’ chances at the Academy Awards, but for now let’s assume Emma Stone will win the SAG and move ever closer to the coveted Oscar. Then assume that Ryan Gosling will lose to the expected winner: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea).

That’s three wins, one loss. Best Original Screenplay is a question mark category. La La Land could take it if it puts on a clinic on how to sweep at the Oscars. Let’s assume the worst for the film and say that the award will go to Manchester by the Sea.

Three wins, two losses. La La Land‘s margin of error is much thinner now. But the technical categories are where this film could really shine.

It is a foregone conclusion that the film will take both Best Original Song and Best Original Score. How could it not? The downside is that two of its nominations are in Best Original Song, so that lowers the maximum wins the film can get to 13.

Five wins, two losses.

The other two sound categories are interesting. Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. Best Sound Mixing will most likely go to La La Land, given what it takes to do good song mixing. Again, let’s assume the worst for the film and say that it loses out to Hacksaw Ridge for Best Sound Editing. I think La La Land could take the two, but just for arguments sake…

Six wins, three losses.

Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design seem to be going La La Land‘s way, especially if the Academy are really gunning to give the film exaggerated attention. Costume Design could go to Jackie or Florence Foster Jenkins. Production Design could go to Arrival. Cinematography could go to Moonlight or Arrival.

I don’t really see the film losing in Best Cinematography or Best Production Design, but let’s call Best Costume Design too close to call.

That brings us to eight wins, three losses, and one up in the air.

The ACE awards, which honors editing achievement, gave awards to Arrival and La La Land. The Best Editing Oscar then really comes down to these two films. La La Land editor Tom Cross won a few years back for Damien Chazelle’s previous film Whisplash. Could lightning strike twice with this collaborative team?

To be fair, I see a lot more technical achievement in the editing of La La Land than in the editing of Arrival. If the Academy were prone to honor subtlety, then perhaps Arrival could take it, but they really aren’t known for that. I think La La Land will add this award to their golden pile.

Nine wins, three losses, one up in the air.

And that is that. A conservative estimate would say that La La Land will run shy of winning a record breaking number. Even if it does pick up Best Costume Design and Best Sound Editing, it will only be tying the record. The film will have to sweep, winning in less certain categories, in order to pick up 12. It is possible, but it isn’t as sure of a thing as you might think.


As always, thanks for reading!

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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)



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