If you haven’t seen La La Land by now, then I don’t even need to tell you that you’re missing out because your friends already have. It’s a movie that needs to be seen at least once because its been nominated 14 times, tied with Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1959) for most Oscar noms ever. But La La Land won’t break the record for most Oscar wins because Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone weren’t given roles that the Academy likes to reward.
La La Land, with its musical score and sweeping landscape shots of L.A., proves that cinema doesn’t need computer graphics to dazzle audiences. In an interview at the Hollywood Reporter’s Roundtable, La La Land writer/director Damien Chazelle talks about his commitment to natural beauty. He states, “The sunsets were real sunsets… Theres this beautiful twilight effect during L.A. sunsets that I really wanted to capture.” Certain scenes with sunsets, like the scene on the movie poster, have a short time frame before the sun goes down and the twilight gone until the next day. Filmmaking is tricky stuff, but Chazelle pulled together a modern revival of the musical film genre that is sure to bring home an Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture.
Unfortunately, Gosling and Stone won’t win. However, its not their fault, its the writing. If the actors seem to perfectly fit their characters Seb and Mia, then it’s because both actors had profound influence in creating them. Chazelle admits that the script had no specific description for the main characters, other than Seb is a piano player and Mia is an actress. He encouraged both Gosling and Stone to draw upon their own experiences to craft Seb and Mia. The result is a natural compatibility to their characters, which is absolutely enjoyable. Ryan brings his stand-offish charm and Emma impresses with her fiery passion. It’s just not the kind of transformative performance that typically earns the Academy’s respect. Although both actors sing in the movie, these days there is a constant auto-tune paranoia that won’t help their chances.
If you’re reading this right now and you’re a die hard Gosling and Stone fan, then don’t worry because La La Land is generating lots of award hype. Sometimes when there’s lots of hype on a particular movie, the Academy can be terribly predictable, like in 2003 when Lord of the Rings: Return of the King swept with 10 Oscars. It felt like director Peter Jackson was hosting because he was on stage every five minutes. So best of luck to all the Gosling/Stone fans. I’ll certainly be happy to be proved wrong, but unfortunately I think I’m right.