Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” was hotly anticipated long before it even came out. After all, the writer/director was riding off the back of his Oscar winning “Whiplash” and brought with him a slew of talented leads including Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
Despite these high expectations, “La La Land” did not fail to live up to the hype. The movie was a hit, receiving critical acclaim from critics and audiences, with many praising it for its lavish production design and genuine passion. But “La La Land” was more than just another good musical from contemporary Hollywood; it was an inspiring work of art that deserves to win Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. Here are our 10 reasons why we believe that:
1. It Swept the Golden Globes
The Golden Globes have always been a good indicator for how the Academy will vote due to the close association it has with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Anyone who saw this year’s Golden Globes will know that “La La Land” won an astounding seven awards, including: Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Song, Best Original Score, and Best Actor, Actress, and Motion Picture – Musical or comedy.
Rarely do films win every award they are nominated for, and “La La Land” just became a part of that exclusive group.
2. Damien Chazelle
Often times, award groups pick favorites that they give consecutive nominations to: actors like Jack Nicholson, actresses like Meryl Streep, directors like Steven Spielberg, and so forth. This is not limited to the Oscars, as seen with the Cannes Film Festival and Nicolas Winding Refn, but the Oscars have nonetheless acquired that reputation.
The fact is Damien Chazelle is very hot in terms of bankability. His previous film, “Whiplash,” was nominated for Best Picture, so his next project had already acquired a significant amount of hype prior to any production reveals. With it now having pleased critics, there is no denying that Chazelle has officially entered the realm of Hollywood royalty, and with it a greater chance at acquiring an award.
3. The Cast
Part of what made “La La Land” very enduring to audiences was the chemistry between its primary actors. This is the third collaboration between Gosling and Stone following 2011’s “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and 2013’s “Gangster Squad,” and their ability to bounce off one another has only grown more natural in the three years since.
Celebrity couples have always had great success during awards season, which such famous pairs as Tracey and Hepburn, Powell and Keeler, and DiCaprio and Winslet standing out in particular.
In addition to this, both Gosling and Stone are no strangers to nominations: both have been nominated for an Oscar and both have a combined total of six entries at the Golden Globes (not including the ones they just received for “La La Land”). This reputation will significantly help the film win out over the other nominees.
4. The Cinematography Evokes Woody Allen
Aside from “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan” is widely regarded as comedian and famed director/writer Woody Allen’s best film. Telling of a TV writer going through a midlife crisis as he falls in love with his best friend’s girlfriend (played by Diane Keaton), “Manhattan” was notable for being shot in black-and-white film stock due to the fact that Allen wanted to bring out what he felt was the melodramatic skid row-esque feel of the city.
Combined with the talents of legendary cinematographer Gordon Willis, “Manhattan” not only gained fame for its gorgeous nighttime city shots, but also for a particular sequence wherein Allen’s and Keaton’s characters walk through a planetarium.
Watching “La La Land,” it is clear that both Chazelle and his own director of photography Linus Sandgren were fans of Allen, because the film evokes much of “Manhattan’s” look. From the famous evening dance, to the music number “City of Stars,” all the way to the silhouette waltz in the observatory. And considering how much critics love Woody Allen, Chazelle and Sandgren did not pick a bad role model for Oscar season.
5. It Balances Magical Realism with Reality
The term “La La Land” is more than just a catchy title for Chazelle’s flick; it refers to a nickname Los Angeles, and by extension Hollywood, acquired in the late 1970s-early 1980s, taking off from the slang term for someone in a dreamy mindset.
This state of consciousness was more than likely conceived as a reference to aspiring actors, filmmakers, and writers that moved to L.A. in an attempt to become successful. While “La La Land” had its fair share of fantasy elements as the two protagonists fell in love, it was not oblivious to the reality many actors in Hollywood face: disruptive auditions, money problems, waiting for callbacks, existential crises, heartbreak, anxiety over selling-out, and many more. Chazelle’s smart script kept both elements in mind.