La La Land (2016)
Written and directed by Damien Chazelle
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J.K. Simmons, John Legend
Two aspiring artists (Gosling, Stone) meet in Los Angeles. While they both look for success they begin to fall for one another.
This unique musical is the creation of Oscar-nominated filmmaker Damien Chazelle (Whiplash). He originally wrote the screenplay in 2010, and was unable to find support until he broke out with Whiplash. This movie stars Ryan Gosling (The Big Short), Emma Stone (The Help), J.K.Simmons (Zootopia), and John Legend (Soul Men).
This movie features a wonderfully written story about the challenges of love and ambition. This film is part romantic comedy, part drama, and all classic Hollywood musical. The dialogue is sharp and surprisingly thoughtful for a musical. The movie also does a great job developing characters and multiple plot lines, making this one far from the more superficial musicals of the past. In Chazelle’s own words, he sought to “take the old musical but ground it in real life where things don’t always exactly work out.” The result is a musical that tells a story through music and great dialogue. Chazelle was also honored with Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The film was also a Best Picture nominee.
The music in this film has to be mentioned alongside the writing. The lyrics of a musical are an extension of the dialogue, and this one brings everything together nicely. The lyrics aren’t the only success within this music. The film also features a great score by Justin Hurwitz (Whiplash). His work on La La Land earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score and two nominations for Best Original Song. As with all great musicals, this one has some songs that are sure to be stuck in your head.
This one features great work by a lot of talented actors. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling lead the way with great performances. the acting, singing, and dancing are all great. The film was designed to use as many single-shot scenes as possible Chazelle took the time to work with the stars, understanding that neither had any extensive work in musicals under their belts. This patience created a number of wonderful moments that seem as seamless as the musicals of Rogers and Astaire. For their work, these stars both received Oscar nominations. (Best Actor, Best Actress)
This film looks great. The cinematography really captures the tone of the story as well as the vast expanse of Los Angeles. Cinematographer Linus Sandgren (American Hustle) found all the right ways to capture the magic of the story. He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography for this film. Oscar-winning editor Tom Cross (Whiplash) also did wonderful work on this film. Like many other participants, this movie earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Editing. This film’s fourteen Oscar nominations also include Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Costume Design, and Best Sound Mixing.
This is a unique and wonderful film. It’s been a long time since anyone captured the classic musical feel so well. If you like musicals this is one you must see. I would also suggest this one to fans of the stars. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.