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There's love for 'La La Land' in the early Oscar predictions

There's love for 'La La Land' in the early Oscar predictions
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in "La La Land." (Dale Robinette / Lionsgate)

Welcome to the Gold Standard, the newsletter from the Los Angeles Times that helps guide you through the ins and outs of the awards season leading up to the Oscars.

I'm Glenn Whipp, The Times' awards columnist and your newsletter host.

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It's never too early for Oscar predictions

OK … that's not totally true. I've always liked to see the movies —  most of them, anyway — before putting together my first set of Oscar picks. And now that we're carving the pumpkins and putting out the Halloween candy (it's for the kids, really!), it's the right time to start looking at the Oscar races for picture, lead actress and actor, supporting actress and actor and director. You can find the predictions here. I'll be updating them every Monday until the academy reveals its picks on Jan. 24.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in "La La Land."
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in "La La Land." (Dale Robinette / Lionsgate)

'Billy Lynn' could end up being the year's most debated movie

As I mentioned in the Oscar predictions column, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," one of the movies expected to be a major Oscar contender, received decidedly mixed reviews at its New York Film Festival premiere. The primary bone of contention was director Ang Lee's decision to shoot the movie in 3-D, with 4K resolution and the ultra-fast 120 frames-per-second rate. The innovative technology delivers vivid, clear imagery that can be distracting, distancing or immersive, depending on your appetite for hyper-reality in cinema.

"Billy Lynn" is an adaptation of Ben Fountain's novel about an Iraq war hero trying to reconcile the hoopla of his homecoming with the trauma he suffered overseas. The book has a passionate following. Some thought Lee did the source material proud, crafting a thoughtful look at the ambiguities of war and patriotism. Times film writer Steven Zeitchik wrote a forceful defense of the movie from the New York Film Festival. You can read it here.

"Billy Lynn" cast members Chris Tucker, left, Kristen Stewart and Steve Martin at the film's New York Film Festival Q&A;.
"Billy Lynn" cast members Chris Tucker, left, Kristen Stewart and Steve Martin at the film's New York Film Festival Q&A;. (Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images)

Gotham Awards an early indicator of critics group prizes

"Manchester By the Sea," Kenneth Lonergan's drama about living with grief, and Barry Jenkins' intimate coming-of-age story "Moonlight" were the favorites with voters for this year's Gotham Independent Film Awards. 

Five-member panels, made up mostly of film critics, vote on these nominations, so they're best seen as a harbinger of the movies and performances that will pop with groups like the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the New York Film Critics Circle in the coming weeks.

Curiously, none of the panels went with Damien Chazelle's romantic musical "La La Land." Is it because most of the voters are New Yorkers who have a decidedly less rosy view of the City of Angels? Probably not. (Probably.)

Lucas Hedges, left, and Casey Affleck in "Manchester By the Sea."
Lucas Hedges, left, and Casey Affleck in "Manchester By the Sea." (Amazon Studios / Roadside Attractions)

Feedback?

I'd love to hear from you. Email me at glenn.whipp@latimes.com.

Can't get enough about awards season? Follow me at @glennwhipp on Twitter.

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