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La La Landing Itself a Record

Posted 02/10/2017 by Baxter Stein

La La Land's incredible choreography and cinematography earn it high praise and multiple Golden Globe Awards. photo courtesy of Lionsgate

The musical La La Land breaks Golden Globe Record for most awards.

It’s not often that a musical finds success in Hollywood – in fact, many might call the musical a dying art form. Released to the public on December 25th, 2016, the film La La Land found critical acclaim and box office success, despite its prohibitive genre. Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, the musical has grossed over $50 million since its limited release in the USA.

The movie follows aspiring actress and playwright Mia (played by Stone), who works as a barista in Hollywood while juggling acting auditions. She meets a man named Sebastian (played by Gosling), who is a jazz musician struggling with the death of his genre. He works some fairly awful gigs just to support himself, dreaming of opening his own jazz club. Mia and Sebastian repeatedly cross each other’s paths by coincidence, eventually falling in love. The film explores the emotions they feel as a couple through music, displaying their love, anger, and grief. The movie is packed with commentary about dreams, ambition, and reflection, giving it much more substance than one might expect from a romantic comedy musical. The score, screenplay, and acting blend to form a seamless emotional experience. This was enough to earn the record for most Golden Globe wins, taking home seven of the awards.

The film’s biggest win at the Golden Globe Awards was the award for motion picture, musical or comedy. Unlike the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards do not have a best picture category; awards for best films are separated into musical or comedy, drama, and foreign language. Although La La Land didn’t win a “best film” award, the movie beat out Deadpool, Sing Street, and Florence Foster Jenkins for the award in musical or comedy films.

Stone and Gosling won the Golden Globe awards for actress and actor in a musical or comedy for their portrayals of Mia and Sebastian. Gosling’s performance was witty, emotional, and expressive of what it is to be an artist. He cited his girlfriend, fellow actor Eva Mendes, as the reason he was able to fulfill his role in the movie, saying, “My lady was raising our daughter, pregnant with our second, and trying to help her brother fight his battle with cancer. If she hadn’t have taken all that on so that I could have this experience, there would surely be someone else up here other than me today.” Stone’s performance was also funny and expressive, pairing with Gosling to create a very real emotional bond – something that is generally difficult to create in a movie. She described the movie’s purpose in her winning speech, explaining that La La Land was a “film for dreamers.” She paid tribute to the struggling artist, saying, “So to any creative person who’s had a door slammed in their face, either metaphorically or physically, or actors who have had their auditions cut off, or have waited for a callback that didn’t come. Or anybody anywhere, really, that feels like giving up sometimes but finds it in themselves to get up, and keep moving forward, I share this with you.”

Being a musical, La La Land was nominated for both music categories – score and original song. Much like every other category it was nominated for, it handily took home the victory. The incredible score of this film, composed by Justin Hurwitz, was spot on for the entire movie. It was emotional above all else, using background sound to make a scene perfect. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s “City of Stars” took the award for best original song, which was hardly a surprise. The song is a great solo piece, but still makes for a superb duet. Though these are two separate categories, “City of Stars” is periodically and strategically part of the background score, making the movie seem very well thought out and executed.

The director of La La Land, Damien Chazelle, accepted the final two awards for his contributions towards the film. He had been working on the movie for six years, telling the press backstage, “All of this is so surreal, but the dream come true was getting to finally make it.” His gratification for years of work came in the form of awards for best director and best screenplay. He got up on stage and said, “It was important to us to make a love story that was for the modern era, that was contemporary. … This idea that one does need to move forward. That nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake is not a place to live in. That you should honor the past, but also push that forward.”

Movies like La La Land don’t come around very often, especially not in the form of a musical. The film is emotional, deep, and humorous. A well-made film with impressive acting, plot, dialogue, and score is rare, but this film hits all of those points. With the Academy Awards coming up on February 26th, La La Land has been nominated for 14 separate awards, tying Titanic and All About Eve for most Oscar nominations. If one thing is for certain, La La Land is not a film that is done with winning awards.