When it comes to the Oscars, the question whirling in the rarefied air surrounding La La Land is not whether but how many. After a Golden Globes outing worthy of its own gushing musical number, the cinematic ode to Hollywood has traveled what seems to be an anointed path toward golden-man glory. But what are the movie’s chances at taking all of the 14 awards for which it was nominated, and where does that situate it in Oscar history? Here’s the rundown on its prospects for victory on Sunday, Feb. 26.
What records has it already set? La La Land has tied the record for most nominations— 14—putting it in the company of just two movies, All About Eve and Titanic. This is out of a total of 24 categories, though keep in mind that a film can’t possibly be nominated for all of them: three awards recognize short films, and though nominees for Best Documentary, Animated Feature and Foreign Film can be nominated for awards like Best Picture, it happens infrequently (see: Beauty and the Beast, Up, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
What records could it set? If La La Land wins at least 12 awards, it will boast the most wins ever. If it wins 11, it will share the record with Titanic, Ben-Hur and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. If it wins 10, it will tie West Side Story for most Oscars won by a musical. And if Damien Chazelle wins for Best Director, he will tie for the youngest winner in that field—the record is currently held by Norman Taurog, who was 32 when he won in 1932 for the comedy Skippy.
Can it achieve a sweep? It’s almost impossible for La La Land to sweep, which occurs when a film wins every award for which it was nominated. The record for the biggest sweep was set in 2004, when The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was nominated for and won 11 Oscars. But two of La La Land’s nominations are in the same category—Best Original Song—and though there have been a handful of ties in Oscar history, this one is pretty unlikely, putting the movie’s likely maximum take at 13.
How many awards is it actually likely to win? La La Land is likely to max out at 10 Oscars, though upsets in a few categories could spread the love a little more and reduce the final number. Though it looks to have Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Director on lock, it's more vulnerable in other categories. Let’s subtract from its maximum of 13, category by category: Ryan Gosling is unlikely to win Best Actor, as Casey Affleck has long been the frontrunner in that category, with Denzel Washington close behind, bringing us down to 12. Manchester by the Sea’s Kenneth Lonergan has the edge in the Original Screenplay category, one in which musicals have historically fared poorly. Now we’re at 11. It’s also vulnerable in the Sound Editing category, where Hacksaw Ridge is dominant, bringing its likely take down to 10.
Of course, anything is possible—Moonlight or Barry Jenkins could pull out a Best Picture or Best Director surprise, or La La Land's nominated songs could split the vote, allowing Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go” to go farther than expected. But whatever the final tally, La La Land is certain to collect some serious bling Sunday night. The “City of Stars” may not be shining just for you, Ryan and Emma, but it shines, at the very least, mostly for you .