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Can 'La La Land' waltz away with all the Oscars glory?

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SUNDAY FEBRUARY 26 2017 

Caption: Final preparations for the 2017 Oscars on underway at the red carpet arrivals area, February 25, 2017 one day before the 89th annual Oscars, outside the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.. PHOTO | AFP 
Televised live by ABC and shown around the world, the 89th Academy Awards will be held at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre, and hosted by late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. It begins at 0130 GMT Monday.
Stone is expected to bag her first statuette in the best actress category despite a late push from France's Isabelle Huppert, who already has a Golden Globe and Spirit Award for rape-revenge thriller "Elle."
Gosling is expected to be comfortably behind Affleck and Washington in best actor, however, languishing alongside Andrew Garfield ("Hacksaw Ridge") and Viggo Mortensen ("Captain Fantastic"). 
HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood will be sprinkled with stardust on Sunday at the Oscars, with dreamy nostalgic musical "La La Land" tipped for glory on the film industry's biggest night.
Damien Chazelle's glossy tribute to the all-singing, all-dancing Golden Age of Tinseltown's studio system is vying for 13 statuettes, and many of its 14 nominees are sure-fire winners — if the oddsmakers are right.
The film, which stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as an aspiring actress and a struggling jazz musician who fall in love in Los Angeles, has charmed critics the world over and returned more than 10 times its $30 million budget.
Gold Derby, a site that collates the awards predictions of experts, had the musical as a clear favourite in 10 categories late Saturday, including best film, director, actress, score and song.
But it is expected to fall short of the record 11 statuettes achieved by "Ben-Hur" (1959), "Titanic" and "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" (2003). 
"La La Land" will vie for best picture honors with eight films including alien thriller "Arrival," family drama "Manchester by the Sea" and "Moonlight," the coming-of-age story of an African-American in Miami.
HIGHLIGHT OF AWARD SEASON
The most intriguing race is for best actor, which for weeks looked like a lock for "Manchester by the Sea" star Casey Affleck until a late surge by Denzel Washington ("Fences"), who now has the momentum.
"It's pretty exciting. I've only been once before. I was a lot younger and I didn't fully appreciate the significance of it," said Affleck, 41, who was a losing best supporting actor nominee in 2008.
"There are a lot of people in the Academy... who I admire. Denzel Washington is one of the people who taught me how to act and I've never met the man."
Stone is expected to bag her first statuette in the best actress category despite a late push from France's Isabelle Huppert, who already has a Golden Globe and Spirit Award for rape-revenge thriller "Elle."
Gosling is expected to be comfortably behind Affleck and Washington in best actor, however, languishing alongside Andrew Garfield ("Hacksaw Ridge") and Viggo Mortensen ("Captain Fantastic"). 
Televised live by ABC and shown around the world, the 89th Academy Awards will be held at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre, and hosted by late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. It begins at 0130 GMT Monday.
It is the highlight of the Tinseltown calendar, and wraps up two months of glittering prize galas.
This awards season, the popping of champagne corks has been muted by the tense political situation in the United States.
President Donald Trump's controversial (and now halted) travel ban — which led Iranian director Asghar Farhadi to opt out of attending despite a nomination for "The Salesman" — has sparked much anger.
Oscars weekend started with an anti-Trump rally organized by the United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, which featured speakers including Jodie Foster and Michael J. Fox.
Also on Friday, directors of the five nominees for best foreign language film, including Farhadi, issued a statement condemning "the climate of fanaticism and nationalism" in the US.
POLITICAL ACTIVISM
"Moonlight" picked up best film and director honours as well as four other statuettes at Saturday's Spirit Awards, which recognize achievements in independent filmmaking.
Director Barry Jenkins and many cast members wore pins symbolizing unity, while Jenkins spoke of his disappointment over the divisions in society that the election had exposed.
The awards season has a long tradition of political activism, from Marlon Brando's Oscars snub in 1973 to Meryl Streep's rousing anti-Trump speech at this year's Golden Globes — and pundits are not expecting celebrities to hold back on Sunday.
This year's nominees reflected a push by the Academy to reward diversity after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of the past two years that prompted calls for a boycott of the annual bash.
Black actors Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris are first-time nominees for "Moonlight," while "Fences" hopefuls Washington and his co-star Viola Davis are both old hands, with 11 nominations between them and two wins for Washington.
Davis is seen as a sure bet for her first Academy Award, and Ali is the favorite in his category.
"I watch the Oscars on TV. I come up with 14, 15 of my own personal speeches for that day to come when I get there... I'm in love with the Oscars," African-American actor Andre Royo told AFP.
For Royo, best known for his work on HBO's "The Wire," "'Moonlight' is the best film of the year."
"The director executed the story from a real sensitive and organic point of view, and looked like he didn't care what the audience would think. He just wanted to tell a story," he said.
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Nominees in main Oscars categories
Here are the nominees in key categories for the 89th Academy Awards, to be handed out on Sunday in Hollywood: 
Best picture:
"Arrival"
"Fences"
"Hacksaw Ridge"
"Hell or High Water"
"Hidden Figures"
"La La Land"
"Lion"
"Manchester by the Sea"
"Moonlight" 
Best director:
Denis Villeneuve, "Arrival"
Mel Gibson, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Damien Chazelle, "La La Land"
Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea"
Barry Jenkins, "Moonlight" 
Best actor:
Casey Affleck, "Manchester by the Sea"
Andrew Garfield, "Hacksaw Ridge"
Ryan Gosling, "La La Land"
Viggo Mortensen, "Captain Fantastic"
Denzel Washington, "Fences" 
Best actress:
Isabelle Huppert, "Elle"
Ruth Negga, "Loving"
Natalie Portman, "Jackie"
Emma Stone, "La La Land"
Meryl Streep, "Florence Foster Jenkins" 
Best supporting actor:
Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
Jeff Bridges, "Hell or High Water"
Lucas Hedges, "Manchester by the Sea"
Dev Patel, "Lion"
Michael Shannon, "Nocturnal Animals" 
Best supporting actress:
Viola Davis, "Fences"
Naomie Harris, "Moonlight"
Nicole Kidman, "Lion"
Octavia Spencer, "Hidden Figures"
Michelle Williams, "Manchester by the Sea" 
Best foreign language film:
"Land of Mine" (Denmark)
"A Man Called Ove" (Sweden)
"The Salesman" (Iran)
"Tanna" (Australia)
"Toni Erdmann" (Germany) 
Best animated feature:
"Kubo and the Two Strings"
"Moana"
"My Life as a Zucchini"
"The Red Turtle"
"Zootopia" 
Best documentary feature:
"Fire at Sea"
"I Am Not Your Negro"
"Life, Animated"
"OJ: Made in America"
"13th" 
Best original screenplay:
"Hell or High Water" - Taylor Sheridan
"La La Land" - Damien Chazelle
"The Lobster" - Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
"Manchester by the Sea" - Kenneth Lonergan
"20th Century Women" - Mike Mills 
Best adapted screenplay:
"Arrival" - Eric Heisserer
"Fences" - August Wilson
"Hidden Figures" - Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
"Lion" - Luke Davies
"Moonlight" - Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney 
Best cinematography:
"Arrival" - Bradford Young
"La La Land" - Linus Sandgren
"Lion" - Greig Fraser
"Moonlight" - James Laxton
"Silence" - Rodrigo Prieto
Best original score:
"Jackie" - Mica Levi
"La La Land" - Justin Hurwitz
"Lion" - Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka
"Moonlight" - Nicholas Britell
"Passengers" - Thomas Newman 
Best original song:
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" from "La La Land"
"Can't Stop The Feeling" from "Trolls"
"City of Stars" from "La La Land"
"The Empty Chair" from "Jim: The James Foley Story"
"How Far I'll Go" from "Moana" 
Best visual effects:
"Deepwater Horizon"
"Doctor Strange"
"The Jungle Book"
"Kubo and the Two Strings"
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" 
Number of nominations for films with three or more nods:
"La La Land" - 14
"Arrival" - 8
"Moonlight" - 8
"Hacksaw Ridge" - 6
"Lion" - 6
"Manchester by the Sea" - 6
"Fences" - 4
"Hell or High Water" - 4
"Hidden Figures" - 3
"Jackie" – 3









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