'La La Land' starlet should claim huge honor

'La La Land' starlet should waltz away with honor

Emma Stone has come a long way since her big-screen debut as Jonah Hill’s romantic interest in “Superbad.” But can she rise to the top of a crowded Best Actress field at the 89th Academy Awards?

Handicappers currently love the “La La Land” star’s chances of snagging her first Oscar. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the 28-year-old odds of -700 to beat such heavyweights as Natalie Portman and Meryl Streep on Sunday in Los Angeles. Isabelle Huppert and Ruth Negga are also nominated for their work in “Elle” and “Loving,” respectively.

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In 2015, Stone earned raves for her supporting turn in “Birdman.” Now, however, she’s built up even more equity within the industry. “La La Land” marked Stone’s third collaboration with Ryan Gosling, and the duo instantly mesmerized audiences when the musical premiered at last August’s Venice Film Festival. Best known for splendid performances in hit comedies, the Arizona native anchored Damien Chazelle’s ode to retro glamour and style with emotionally charged scenes and impressive singing chops.

Portman (+500), a previous winner for “Black Swan,” was a revelation in “Jackie.” Pablo Larrain’s portrait of the former first lady in the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination strongly resonated with critics at the Venice and Toronto film festivals as well, but that momentum expired far too soon. In fact, Huppert’s (+800) Golden Globes victory suggests the French stalwart could wind up posing the biggest threat to Stone.

It’s rare to see Streep (+4000) in said category and not consider her the front-runner. That’s clearly the case here, though, as “Florence Foster Jenkins” largely failed to connect with the masses. Meanwhile, Negga’s (+4500) wonderfully subtle breakout role in “Loving” simply doesn’t figure to pack enough of a wallop for voters. Translation: Prepare for the charming ingénue of the group, Stone, to take the Dolby Theatre stage.

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