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Attention Turns To Hollywood For This Year's Academy Award Nominations


It's a big day for movies and the people who work on them. Nominations for this year's Academy Awards will be announced early this morning in Beverly Hills. NPR arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco has a preview.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: If the other movie industry awards shows are any indication, this is likely a very big day for "La La Land." The film is a love letter to old-fashioned Hollywood musicals. It stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dancing and singing their way through Los Angeles.


RYAN GOSLING AND EMMA STONE: (As characters, singing) I don't care if I know just where I will go 'cause all that I need's this crazy feeling. The rat-tat-tat on my heart.

RYAN GOSLING: (As Sebastian, singing) Think I want it to stay.

DEL BARCO: "La La Land's" music, actors and director Damien Chazelle have already made history by winning a record seven Golden Globes. But there are other films expected to be nominated for the Oscars. Among them is the drama "Manchester By The Sea" with Casey Affleck playing a brooding loner who is expected to take care of his teenaged nephew. Another movie likely to be nominated is "Fences" starring Denzel Washington, who directed it, and Viola Davis. They portray husband and wife in the family drama set in 1950s Pittsburgh.


DENZEL WASHINGTON: (As Troy Maxson) It's not easy for me to admit that I've been standing in the same place for 18 years.

VIOLA DAVIS: (As Rose Maxson) Well, I've been standing with you. I've been right here with you, Troy. I got a life, too. I gave 18 years of my life to stand in the same spot as you.

DEL BARCO: These actors have already won Tony Awards for their performances on Broadway. "Fences" is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson. Another movie adapted from a play is a coming-of-age drama "Moonlight." Its ensemble cast includes actor Mahershala Ali who plays a big-hearted Miami drug dealer. In this scene, he teaches the young man at the center of the movie how to swim, and he offers advice.


MAHERSHALA ALI: (As Juan) Let me tell you something, man. There are black people everywhere. Remember that, OK? No place you can go in the world that ain't got no black people. We was the first on this planet.

DEL BARCO: "Moonlight" is already favored to win this year's Best Picture Oscar. It was directed by Barry Jenkins who, like playwright Tarell McCraney, had something in common with the movie's protagonist. They grew up with mothers who were addicted to crack. There are other films that could be nominated. "Lion" is a drama about a 5-year-old boy who has to survive the streets of Calcutta before being adopted. Dev Patel plays him as an adult searching for his original family.


DEV PATEL: (As Saroo Brierley) Do you have any idea what it's like knowing my real brother and mother spent every day of their lives looking for me? Huh? How every day my brother screams my name?

DEL BARCO: "Arrival" is a science fiction drama starring actress Amy Adams, and "Hell Or High Water" is billed as a neo Western heist crime movie with Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine. Mel Gibson directed another possible Oscar nominee, the World War II drama "Hacksaw Ridge." Another real life story could make the cut. "Hidden Figures" stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae as NASA scientists and mathematicians who help launch astronaut John Glenn into space.


TARAJI P HENSON: (As Katherine G. Johnson) The goal point for re-entry is 2,990 miles from where we want Colonel Glenn to land.

DEL BARCO: This year's animated movies may face some of the toughest competition. Among the possible nominees, look for "Moana," "Zootopia," "Sing" and "Trolls." I've got a feeling its catchy theme could also be in the running for Best Original Song.


JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: (Singing) I got that sunshine in my pocket, got that good soul in my feet. I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops. Oh.

DEL BARCO: Jimmy Kimmel will be hosting this year's Academy Award ceremony on February 26. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.