'La La Land' leads Critics Choice, wins over New York film critics

By Piya Sinha-Roy
Reuters
Director of the movie Chazelle and cast member Stone pose at the premiere of "La La Land" during AFI FEST in Hollywood
Director Damien Chazelle and cast member Emma Stone pose at the premiere of "La La Land" during AFI FEST in Hollywood, California U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "La La Land," a modern-day musical love story of two struggling artists in Los Angeles, cemented its Hollywood awards season front-runner status on Thursday by simultaneously leading the nominees for Critics' Choice Awards and being named best picture by New York film critics.

"La La Land" scored 12 Critics Choice nominations, including best picture, best actress for Emma Stone, best actor for Ryan Gosling and best director and screenplay for Damien Chazelle.

Sci-fi drama "Arrival" and independent drama "Moonlight" both landed 10 nominations each, including in the best picture race, as well as best director for Denis Villeneuve and Barry Jenkins respectively.

The New York Film Critics Awards, a separate critics organization, named its 2016 winners on Thursday, with "La La Land" taking best picture. Jenkins was named best director.

The Critics' Choice Awards are chosen by the 300-plus members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA). Winners will be announced at a televised ceremony held in the Los Angeles coastal town of Santa Monica on Dec. 11.

Both the New York Film Critics and BFCA members rarely cross over into the film Academy and industry guilds that picks nominees and winners for the majority of Hollywood's awards shows, but the critics' awards help to build buzz for potential Oscar front-runners.

Also in the Critics Choice best picture race is Denzel Washington's "Fences," Mel Gibson's war drama "Hacksaw Ridge," crime thriller "Hell or High Water," adoption tale "Lion," "Loving," about an interracial married couple, family grief drama "Manchester by the Sea," and Clint Eastwood's "Sully."

Stone will be contending for best actress opposite Amy Adams for "Arrival," Natalie Portman for "Jackie," Ruth Negga for "Loving," Annette Bening for "20th Century Women" and Isabelle Huppert for "Elle."

Gosling will face Casey Affleck for "Manchester by the Sea," Washington for "Fences," Tom Hanks for "Sully," Joel Edgerton for "Loving" and Andrew Garfield for "Hacksaw Ridge" in the best actor race.

The Critics Choice Awards divides the movie categories across drama, comedy, action, animated and sci-fi/horror, to include the bigger budget studio films sometimes overlooked during awards season.

In the action movie categories, superhero films "Captain America: Civil War," "Deadpool" and "Doctor Strange" will compete against "Jason Bourne" and "Hacksaw Ridge."

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)