Showbiz / 5 Reasons to Watch the Oscar-Nominated La La Land

5 Reasons to Watch the Oscar-Nominated La La Land

Showbiz Jan 26, 2017

Musicals are back in a big way, and Oscar-nominated La La Land might just make cinematic history. 

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s Golden Globes–sweeping musical hits all the right notes — and has garnered both stars Oscar nominations. Steadily piling up awards and acclaim ever since taking home the People’s Choice Award at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, the film (Oscar-nominated 14 times!) could be well on its way to making history again. Here are five reasons you should absolutely believe the hype and grab yourself a ticket.

1. A Genre Reborn

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) in Oscar-nominated LA LA LAND
Jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) have their first date. Photo Credit: Lionsgate Publicity/Dale Robinette

Once a staple of the film industry, musicals have been few and far between for the past few decades. The musicals that have come out have tended to be throwback affairs, steeped in nostalgia. And while Oscar-nominated La La Land is very much an homage to the great French and American musicals of days gone by, it’s also hip, fresh and vital — an evolution of the art form. It may not ignite a whole new song-and-dance era, but it does set a template for the modern movie musical.

2. The Power of the Showstopper

Oscar-nominated La La Land
La La Land kicks off with an epic song-and-dance number. Photo Credit: Lionsgate Publicity/Dale Robinette

Naturally, a musical’s success rests mostly on its music, and La La Land has at least three sequences that’ll be stuck in your head for, well, ever. The first of them explodes off the screen in the film’s opening seconds as motorists on a jam-packed highway at rush hour soar into a whimsical, invigorating ode to chasing the Hollywood dream before seamlessly transitioning back down to grit and gridlock. On one level, it’s a perfect example of how director Damien Chazelle artfully blends whimsy and reality; on another, it’s a reminder of the unique power of a perfectly executed song-and-dance number to take your breath away.

3. The Substance Beneath the Songs

Oscar-nominated La La Land
Sebastian and Mia stumble down the hard-luck streets of Hollywood together. Photo Credit: Lionsgate Publicity/Dale Robinette

Toe-tappers are one thing, but La La Land wouldn’t be topping critics’ best-of-2016 lists if the songs weren’t woven into a genuinely affecting narrative. Musicals tend to be dismissed as fluffy, superficial affairs, but one of the more remarkable things about this one is the nuance and groundedness of the love story at its core. Cranky jazz pianist Sebastian and wide-eyed actress Mia relatably, movingly grapple with dreams and disappointments that both bring them together and pull them apart.

4. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling

Oscar-nominated La La Land
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling attend the La La Land premiere during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. Photo credit: E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Separately, Stone and Gosling are two of Hollywood’s most charismatic stars. But as they’ve proven twice already in Crazy, Stupid, Love and, to a lesser extent, Gangster Squad, when they join forces, the result is pure electricity. La La Land is by far their finest showcase yet, and they’re predictably irresistible. We’re talking Bogie and Bacall–level sparks here. Their matching Golden Globe wins were well-deserved, though they’ll be in a little tougher at the Oscars, where they’ll also be competing against a stacked field of dramatic actors and actresses, instead of towering over the comedy category, as they did at the Globes.

5. Daring to be Different

Oscar-nominated La La Land
Sebastian plays a bittersweet ode to love. Photo Credit: Lionsgate Publicity/Dale Robinette

La La Land is the story of two dreamers fighting to keep their hopes alive in a world intent on crushing them. It’s also the real-life story of a director in Damien Chazelle (also Oscar-nominated) who spent years trying to make a musical in a film industry that’s not so big on risks. Thankfully, after the success of 2015’s Whiplash, he had the cred to make his passion project a reality. The result is utterly unlike anything else at the multiplex right now. And in an era of superhero franchises and paint-by-numbers prestige dramas, we need more of that magic.


Main Image Photo Credit: Lionsgate Publicity

Matthew Currie

Matthew Currie


A long-standing entertainment journalist, Currie is a graduate of the Professional Writing program at Toronto’s York University. He has spent the past number of years working as a freelancer for ANOKHI and for diverse publications such as Sharp, TV Week, CAA’s Westworld and BC Business. Currie ...


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