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No Shut Up And Dance Here, Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone Win Outstanding Performers

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Something Emma Stone says in an off-hand way when she and Ryan Gosling pick up the Outstanding Performers of the Year from Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) on Friday night really sticks. Seated beside Gosling, her co-star and co-nominee for the acting Oscars in LA LA LAND, Stone plays with the 20’s fringe on her dress, then offers this insight: “movies make us feel less alone, I guess, that’s what they did for me.”RyanEmma17 In that small statement, you can see her whole career encapsulated. How she watched Steve Martin’s THE JERK from 1979. “I love The Jerk. It’s my dad’s favorite movie.” How she built her own world of characters. “We laughed at that movie over and over. EmmalaughsIt was a very important bonding moment. Should I be on the couch?” Ryan Gosling, who is known for not being flashy about his secret good-guy deeds like privately playing music for children in hospitals, looks at Stone with a rapt expression. But when asked about his own experiences growing up to be an actor, he deflects it with “at 15, I was all about the scratch. Making the paper.” “And he’s still like that,” Stone quips, “all about the money.”

Their chemistry is fun to watch. Emma adds that her “favorite characters have a wide-eyed nature to them.” “As a viewer I’m drawn to comedy with a hopefulness to it. It’s about being uplifted in a way by film. That’s what comedy did for me. I escaped into those characters — I can’t brush them off as just funny. Gilda Radner, John Candy, Bill Murray… Shirley MacLaine shaped me,” Ryan’s co-star from CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE shares.RyanEmmaCouch

“The films that I love the most have a combination of both – someone that can break your heart and make you laugh, and a story that can break your heart and make you laugh, at the same time.”RyanLaughs

Gosling throws a curveball in the conversation, but he’s actually serious and unapologetic. “It’s crazy that Eddie Murphy can sit at a table and play nine characters and that’s not rewarded.”

This affirmation of comedy’s power comes after he says, “as a comedian you kind of start by making your Mom laugh. Right?”

Gosling, who got his start out of Canada as a Disney Channel song and dance import before crossing over into mainstream films, reveals his far-flung odds for making it in Hollywood. “My mom had a membership to the library movie thing, because they were free. I saw Abbott and Costello, any duo film, Martin and Lewis and Danny Kaye, all of them.” He recalls that he liked teams because the action was shared and it felt real. “I’d like to do that with Emma or Steve Carell [reteam]. Anytime you can do that, it’s fun.”

He will call Emma, “Emsies” to prod her.

“Emsies? I’ve never called him Rysies,” she retorts. “Ryan can be infuriating to work with, I’m kidding.”

A flash of paparazzi lights whizz across Ryan and Emma at various moments during the evening.

“Every time I change positions, these guys take a million pictures,” Ryan notes.

And then it’s back to LA LA LAND, the realities of getting a musical made, including three months of jazz piano lessons for Ryan, two hours, almost every day. Director Damien Chazelle, already famous for Oscar-winner WHIPLASH, is on hand. Ryan singles him out.RyanEmmaDamien

“Damien, can I tell the story about how we first met?” After a wary nod, Gosling lets it slip.

“When I first met Damien, we first met at a restaurant. I tapped him on the shoulder, and he gave me this look like motherf@#%. ‘Who’s this guy to put their hands on me?’ I thought, he’s got a fight in him, that I respect, and I thought this could come in  handy later.”

On a serious note, the DRIVE actor says “I think he remembers the moment he fell in love with cinema. Damien can make you feel that.”

On Gene Kelly as an influence, Gosling nails his importance. “I liked the masculinity about him, he could dance and kick your ass. Tough and graceful. A balance.”

It wasn’t until recently in his career Gosling found out Gene Kelly was involved in every facet of show business. “I didn’t know he wasn’t just a dancer, he was a choreographer, producer, and more.” Both actors actually visited the home of Gene Kelly’s widow before making LA LA LAND. “She let us look at his archive, sort of gave us her blessing.”DamienEmma16

Damien Chazelle takes over, like a true director who has so far made the most inventive hits to come out of Hollywood in a long time. The story he tells is as awesome as the dreamer plot in LA LA LAND, now nominated for a record 14 Oscars. When he first had the idea for the musical, he told people “our dream is Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. People said ‘yeah good luck with that.’ I guess no one is more shocked than I that they agreed to do it. That they poured so much into these roles. That Ryan learned jazz piano in three months to become a virtuoso. Emma did so much.” The movie is “effervescent and heart breaking and again they make it seem effortless. I still pinch myself that any of it happened. Really the reason I wanted you in the movie is because I think you are two of the best performers working right now.”RyanEmmaTouche

LA LA LAND will take its place in movie history at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, but it’s already taken so many awards that Ryan Gosling says “I thought making it was enough, then the next thing happened, and that was enough. All the awards are just icing on the cake.”

For more information about Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which runs through Feb. 11, visit sbiff.org.

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LOL LOL Land: Hidden Gems Show #OscarSoRight, Tough Matchups & How Noms React

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

When the Oscars streamed the announcements for the first time in their history this morning, anybody in the world got a glimpse at who AMPAS deemed Oscar-worthy for the 89th Academy Awards. The net result? You get emails from everybody and your mother about how right, or wrong your predictions were — maybe not the result the Academy expected, but announcing online is here to stay.

Meanwhile, what a line-up, and let’s create the hashtag #OscarSoRight, right now. DamienEmma16 That eliminates the need for hand-wringing over the past. To those who cry foul at the diverse mix of nominees this year? One question? Have you seen the movies?  Because LA LA Land with a record-smashing 14 nominations for a musical, matching TITANIC (1997) and Bette Davis’ insider anthem ALL ABOUT EVE (1950), is a gem, a pure unpolished gem. And HIDDEN FIGURES, FENCES, LION? Absolute movie risks that paid off. (Now we can all stop bashing Nicole Kidman (LION) for her political nod to Trump, okay? She’s an actor, not a politician.)

So here are the magic numbers that make this 89th Oscars tough to predict. For HIDDEN FIGURES, Octavia Spencer sits opposite Viola Davis for FENCES in the Best Supporting Actress category.

If this isn’t heart-stopping, you haven’t seen both movies. Viola Davis is magnificent in the August Wilson adaptation, you can see that in the trailer, frankly. Octavia Spencer is magnificent for different reasons in HIDDEN FIGURES, powerful even when she holds up a Fortran book and monologues about computer programming being the future. Sigh. IBMOct17
You want both to win, you want a tie. But when was the last time the Academy gave a tie for Best Supporting Actress or any award? Back in 1932, Frederick March and Wallace Beery, and then on April 14, 1969, Best Actress with allegedly the same number (3,030) of votes for Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand. You don’t have to be a Hollywood insider to guess The Great Kate might have had a thumb on the scale. But this is 2017, and the number of members combined with the odds for a tie are close to impossible.

LA LA LAND, in order to beat TITANIC in actual wins, has to pull off all the major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, but also pull off some unusual wins. Right now this movie is nominated twice in the Best Song category, and this may make the difference in unseating the “I’m The King of The World” filmmaker James Cameron for TITANIC.

On March 23, 1998, James Cameron’s sunk-ship epic won 11 Academy Awards. LALA1sht16In the Billy Crystal-hosted ceremony, that’s when Cameron made the “King of the World” proclamation mocked around the town. In all fairness, he wasn’t wrong, and backed it up with all-time BO headbanger AVATAR.

So what happens next? Stay tuned, folks. LA LA LAND is poised to tip the scales. Now imagine for a moment, just a hypothetical, that HIDDEN FIGURES wins Best Picture. The math changes quite a bit.

Is it irresponsible to pose what-ifs? Well, this is what makes Oscar and Award Season exciting. And the major stars have all made some kind of statement to the press, to fans around the globe, and of course to their publicists first. What do those statements look like hot off the wires?

Well, you saw it first here, so take a look at these reactions. Michael Shannon is one of the best actors of his generation, bar none.  Ruth Negga is a newcomer, but turned in a performance by a studied veteran in LOVING.

RUTH NEGGA – “LOVING” (Focus Features) – Nominee, Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – Academy Awards 

“I am truly humbled by the news this morning, and I thank the Academy for this recognition, which I share with my co-collaborators Jeff Nichols and Joel Edgerton. It has been such an honor to have been given the opportunity to tell the incredible story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who serve as an inspiration that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. The Lovings fought quietly yet tirelessly, and changed the course of American legal history. Today, to be among such extraordinary women – my fellow nominees, my peers with films this year, and the legendary performers whose work of years past has long inspired me…this means a great deal to me.” – Ruth Negga, Academy Award nominee for Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (LOVING)

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MICHAEL SHANNON – “NOCTURNAL ANIMALS” (Focus Features) – Nominee, Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Academy Awards

“I am thrilled! Loved making this film. I would work with Tom Ford anytime, anywhere. Jake Gyllenhaal and Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Karl Glusman made it easy for me. Nice to get some good news in the midst of all the carnage, so to speak.” – Michael Shannon, Academy Award nominee for Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (NOCTURNAL ANIMALS)ShannonNA17

In the Animated category, fine film KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS will be “the first time an animated film has been nominated in the visual effects category since THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in 1994,” according to their reps.

“KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS” (Focus Features) – Nominee, Best Animated Feature Film – Academy Awards

Travis Knight: “I’m over the moon!  An Academy Award nomination is an extraordinary and cherished gift.  Two nominations is more than anyone could hope for.  Every filmmaker dreams of a moment like this.  But the truth is, I already lived my dream by making this film. Movies have always given me great joy. They enriched my life.  They inspired me to dream.  That’s the kind of film our team at LAIKA sought to make with KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS.  A film is a slice of a hundred souls.  In this case many more.  An incredible, immense community of artists gave ceaselessly and selflessly to breathe life into this story.  I’m so thankful for their talents and efforts and so proud of what we’ve done together.  I’m profoundly grateful to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who somehow saw fit to include us among the finest storytellers in film.  It is a tremendous honor to stand alongside them.”

– Travis Knight, Academy Award nominee as director and producer of KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, Best Animated Feature Film Kubo17

STEVE EMERSON, OLIVER JONES, BRIAN MCLEAN & BRAD SCHIFF – “KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS” (Focus Features) – Nominees, Achievement in Visual Effects – Academy Awards 

“As much as Kubo and the Two Strings is an homage to Japanese culture and to woodblock artists including Kiyoshi Saito, it is also a tribute to special effects pioneers Ray Harryhausen, Willis O’Brien, Jim Danforth, and the many innovative FX artists who tell stories using in-camera effects, puppets, and human hands. We’re thrilled for the artists at LAIKA who put years into realizing Kubo. For all of us at the studio, being recognized alongside such distinguished and talented members of the VFX community is truly an honor.”

– Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean & Brad Schiff, Academy Award nominees for Achievement in Visual Effects (KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS)

The 89th Academy Award presentation will be broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, and we’ve got you covered. In the meantime, view all the nominees (and future winners) at the Oscars.Oscars2017

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and Oscar predictions.

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Oscar Whiplash Likely for Damien Chazelle’s LA LA Land & Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Oh, to ruin Award Season… but isn’t that what we’re on earth for? To have our dreams shattered but then our lives uplifted, if only in the movies? Enter LA LA LAND, a singing, dancing act of pure wish fulfillment starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Wait, a musical? Don’t be fooled. This is classic cinema updated with today’s angst. Stone says “the idea of this really modern story of two artists and dreamers” hooked her immediately. Ryan Gosling admits it was “a secret wish of mine” to make classic musicals.

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LA LA LAND is the latest gift from Harvard-alum Damien Chazelle who brought us that inimitable gem, WHIPLASH. He’s the one who played drums in high school, which inspired the driven core character played by Miles Teller. In 2014, the then newcomer-director made the award show rounds for WHIPLASH. He even found himself seated on stage for AFI Fest with Tilda Swinton, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Marion Cotillard, plus other famous names. Chazelle seemed already tipped as someone who would make a mark in the movies. This may be the Rhode Island native’s Oscar year as a Best Director contender. This new movie also makes you forget he wrote 10 Cloverfield Lane, the horror thriller, but it’s just gliding on the Oscar that he is a viable screenwriter-for-hire in Hollywood too. (The connective tissue is Chazelle’s interest in demons, one’s own creative demons that drive great performances or in supernatural ones in his love of horror movies.)

AFI Fest 2014, and they already know Chazelle is a star talent.

AFI Fest 2014, and they already know Chazelle is a star talent. Far right, seated beside Marion Cotillard.

Fittingly Chazelle studied Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard, and LA LA LAND is truly a visual and environmental tableaux as far as eye candy. And of course the casting is stellar. (Does everybody know Ryan Gosling was a Disney Channel kid star with Justin Timberlake? He was.) Chazelle says he considers Gosling and Stone to be like “Bogie and Bacall” and other great screen couples. Consider it Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay – if in nominations only, if not an outright sweep of the major categories. (Except for Viola Davis, who will take the category, and absolutely dominate, as Best Supporting Actress for FENCES, hopefully.)

LA LA LAND, yes that’s three words not a compound noun as in the pejorative for Los Angeles. Think Everyone Says I Love You by Woody Allen meets Your Favorite Behind the Scenes Classic 30’s Musical. Wait. Think Hamilton-like reboot of a slick, often goofy, cloying even when iconic, genre that just found its authentic swing. That’s what LA LA LAND becomes. Chazelle has a huge advantage because his background is so deep in the nuances and heartbreaking ability of music (i.e.; WHIPLASH) that he tugs the audience along by the ear as well as the eye in this pastel colored “real-life” twinged singing, dancing triumph.

LALA1sht16Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are both “triple threats,” according to J.K. Simmons, who plays Ryan’s boss in this one and also starred with Teller in WHIPLASH (where Simmons picked up a Best Supporting Actor Oscar). Triple threat, for those of you under the age of 40, is Hollywood Golden Age lingo for the rare actors with the triple skills of singing, dancing, and acting. Remember the Dirty Dancing scene in Crazy, Stupid, Love? These two are giving new life to the idea of Silver Screen Super Couple Chemistry where Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper – who promised so much in Silver Linings Playbook – let us down hard lately, ouch in Serena, even in JOY.

Since Gosling and Stone killed it as a love pair in Crazy, Stupid, Love, they are matched like dancing shoes in LA LA LAND… now for the featurette courtesy of Lionsgate.

Here’s the insider story…

Find out more at http://www.lalaland.movie, but see WHIPLASH again in the meantime for the first jazz-musician themed Chazelle movie. LA LA LAND is his second excursion with a strong jazz focused storyline as Ryan Gosling plays a struggling jazz man who keeps running into Emma Stone’s struggling actor character. Coming off her career high in BIRDMAN (Michael Keaton), Emma Stone just keeps getting better and better. And this film makes you believe there is a place for dreaming, even in these cynical times.

LA LA LAND had a limited roll out on Dec. 9 and will no doubt go wider soon as it just received seven Golden Globe nominations, 8 Critics Choice Award nominations, after winning National Board of Review’s Top 10 Films of the Year, and Best Film from New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

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