This is Part Four of my 2017 Oscar Watch where I watch all of the Best Picture nominees in the weeks running up to the Academy Awards. For other entries, click here:
- “Manchester by the Sea”
- “La La Land”
- “Hacksaw Ridge”
- “Hidden Figures”
For all of my 2017 Academy Awards picks, click here.
“La La Land” will win the Oscar for Best Motion Picture this year. Regardless of your preference for or disinterest in musicals, Hollywood is in love with itself. In line with “Birdman” and “The Artist,” “La La Land” is a movie about the dreams of stardom that Los Angeles conjures. Unsurprisingly, it is also a great film.
“La La Land” is not flawless, but its subject matter, sheer quality, and timing create a magical recipe that will dominate the 2017 Academy Awards. Nearly all of the elements at play in this modern musical are fantastic, but the Academy is more interested in what it has to say about their industry—for that reason, “La La Land” has a chance to win all of its nominations and, possibly, break the record for most Oscars won in a single ceremony. Bet on it.
As Sweet and Sad as Diabetes
I am not a fan of musicals, but “La La Land” is not a traditional musical. Instead, it marries the over-the-top joyous tunes of “Singing in the Rain” with losing your soul in the City of Angels. This strange dichotomy allows “La La Land” to combine strong drama and musical ability while bringing viewers to the heights of success and the lows of sacrificing everything that really matters. “La La Land” exudes a range of emotions that far exceeds the singing ability of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, but that’s not a bad thing.
Many have commented that both Gosling and Stone are not great singers or dancers. While there is some truth to this claim, they have an undeniable chemistry that shines during the non-musical moments. However, the music is very strongly composed even if Gosling and Stone do not fully capitalize on its strong lyrics.
Again, I am not a musical fan, but the music of “La La Land” quickly warmed my cold heart—especially the haunting ballad “City of Stars.”
Sunrise, Sunset Boulevard
“La La Land” follows Sebastian and Mia, Gosling and Stone, as they attempt to follow their dreams of becoming a famous jazz singer and actress respectively. Their relationship becomes increasingly strained as success drives them apart.
The plot, while familiar, is very effective in displaying how fame and the pursuit of it will change people and deform their once pure intentions. While “La La Land” lacks creativity in its plot, it makes up for it with strong writing, catchy tunes, colorful direction, and truly affecting performances by its lead actors.
Sebastian and Mia are easy to root for and their identities are built through subtle dialogue and overt lyrical exposition. As with many musicals, the singing appears to be a figment of their imagination and never referenced in traditional dialogue—this allows “La La Land” to serve as a strong, dramatic romance with musical numbers adding extra complexity and heart.
The Hollywood Hills
“La La Land” is a wonderful film. Even if you hate musicals, give it a chance—this film deserves your time and, most importantly, your respect. “La La Land” has resurrected the modern musical and the Academy will take notice. For the first time in decades, the Hollywood hills are alive with the sound of music.