I've always loved all genres of film...well, almost. Some of my favorites are obscure artsy films, while others are those you could easily find gracing the big screen during summer blockbuster season. However, one genre that I've had trouble appreciating was the #musical — until I saw La La Land.
Sure, as a kid, I grew up watching classic goodies like Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but they always seemed to be from a distant Hollywood heyday long removed from anything seen on screen today; they had fallen out of fashion.
Being a diehard Star Wars fan since early childhood, Rogue One should have easily been my favorite film of this year, but surprisingly it isn't. Without question, that title has to be given to Damien Chazelle's musical, La La Land. Here's why.
A Seamless Use Of Music
There's no way around it. This film is, at its core, a musical — and utilizes music throughout its story. Before you turn away, know that the way Chazelle handles music in La La Land will cause even the most skeptical filmgoers to gush. He has even gone on record saying that he hopes to sway the opinions of people who dislike the genre.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this film so much is that not only were the songs and score beautiful by themselves, but they also enhanced the film in a way that felt natural without giving the impression that the musical elements were in jarring conflict with the broader story. This is a major problem musicals often have, as they sometimes feel like two separate films, with the music serving as an interlude to scenes with dialogue. You never get this impression with La La Land.
A Beautiful Story
One of the main reasons La La Land shot to the top of my best of 2016 list was the way it affected me on an emotional level. This film is a romantic masterpiece. Not only in the sense of a romance between the two main characters, but also in the sense of exploring people's dreams and aspirations. There is a real sense of hope that underlines the entire film.
Keeping those elements in mind, this film doesn't pull any punches when dealing with the reality of maintaining a relationship while pursuing your dreams.
There are several Oscar categories that La La Land should dominate, but if Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are not given a nod for Best Actress and Best Actor, it would be a travesty. Stone and Gosling make this film genuine and believable. Dialogue aside, they really sell you on the musical sequences.
Their extensive training for the film has been well-documented and it definitely pays off on screen. Their chemistry in those sequences is reminiscent of Astaire and Rogers. One could easily make the argument that La La Land is Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling's best film together.
One Of 2016's Best
As I mentioned before, La La Land is by far my favorite film of 2016. It is Chazelle's love letter to classic films of Hollywood's golden era. Yet, La La Land manages to masterfully weave together classic Hollywood style with an updated modern flare, making it a suitable film for a wide range of moviegoers.
For those who were like me, and put off by the musical genre, I urge you to see this film! You might just catch yourself humming a tune on the way out of the theater.
Did La La Land change your mind about musicals too? Let us know in the comments below!