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Critics Choice Awards 2016: La La Land wins best picture

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Dale Robinette; Lionsgate

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land continues to sing and dance its way through awards season, picking up yet another Best Picture accolade at the Critics Choice Awards.

The romantic musical about two struggling entertainment industry hopefuls — Mia, an actress played by Emma Stone, and Sebastian, a jazz pianist played by Ryan Gosling — won the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s highest award at the group’s annual awards ceremony on Sunday night in Los Angeles, further fueling the film’s bid for the Best Picture Oscar after it took the prestigious TIFF People’s Choice Award in September and the New York Film Critics Circle’s Best Film honor earlier in December.

Accepting the award on behalf of the production was Chazelle, who stood in front of the Critics Choice crowd with his cast and crew behind him.

“I want to thank my producers… for trying to make this movie for six years. Six years of what seemed like an impossible dream, an uphill climb, and you guys never lost faith. You always pushed me, I can’t thank you guys enough,” Chazelle said while he turned to face the men and women standing behind him.

Turning to Stone and Gosling, Chazelle continued: “[Thank you] for the months of rehearsal, learning, singing, dancing — Ryan learning piano, Emma doing her biggest numbers completely live — both of you giving more than I ever could have expected from actors and giving just the most transformative performances I’ve ever been lucky enough to film.” 

Since 2000, the Critics Choice Awards have correctly predicted the Best Picture Oscar winner 12 times. Across the past 16 years, the only BFCA Best Picture winners that did not go on to win the Academy Award in the corresponding category were 2004’s Sideways, 2005’s Brokeback Mountain, 2010’s The Social Network, and 2014’s Boyhood — all of which were nominated by the Academy. 

In claiming the BFCA’s Best Picture honor, La La Land — which won eight total Critics Choice Awards — edged out stiff competition from the likes of Denis Villeneuve’s crowd-pleasing sci-fi drama Arrival, Barry Jenkins’ hypnotic coming-of-age drama Moonlight, and Kenneth Lonergan’s third feature film in 16 years, Manchester by the Sea

La La Land, which premiered in August at the Venice Film Festival before making high profile stops in Toronto, Telluride, and London, led the list of overall Critics Choice nominees when they were announced on Dec. 1. The film was nominated in 12 categories, including Best Director (Chazelle), Best Actor (Gosling), Best Actress (Stone), and Best Score. It serves as Chazelle’s directorial follow-up to his Oscar-winning drama Whiplash, which earned supporting actor J.K. Simmons (who also appears in a minor role in La La Land) his first Academy Award in 2015. 

“By the time [Stone and Gosling] came up for the project, it had gone through ups and downs that are all familiar to the other filmmakers up here with me,” Chazelle previously said of the film during an Oscar contenders panel at EW PopFest. “You think something is going to get made, then some element falls apart at the last minute — money or casting or timing. Of course, now I look back happy actually that it didn’t work out — all the times it didn’t work out — feeling it wouldn’t have come together the way I wanted to at those points… But yeah, Ryan and Emma coming on board felt like one of those fortuitous chance things. That’s when the project became real for the first time in six years. The wheels started turning and we hit the ground running right away. It’s the kind of movie where the cast had to be involved from the get-go.”

La La Land is now playing in theaters. Watch Chazelle’s Best Picture acceptance speech above, and see the full list of Critics Choice Award winners here.