The low hums and whistles—reverberating around the hallways, parks, theaters and most notably, the award ceremonies—can probably be attributed to the popular musical film La La Land. The movie set new records at the Golden Globes Awards on Jan. 8 by winning seven awards, including best motion picture, best musical or comedy, best screenplay, best score, best director, best actress and best actor.
The film has continued its winning streak at the Producers Guild Awards, and is currently a strong crowd favorite for the Oscars Awards. It was nominated for 14 Oscars awards, tying for the most nominations ever earned by a movie with Titanic and All About Eve.
La La Land is about a struggling jazz pianist played by Ryan Gosling and an actress, played by Emma Stone, who pursue their dreams for fame in Los Angeles. What makes this story unique is the execution of the plot. Writer-director Damien Chazelle modernized a dormant film genre, the movie musical, to capture the attention of a new generation. According to the New York Times, the film is a “tribute to the flashy musicals of yesteryear,” but is set in the present.
“I hope that there are more films like this because unlike other movies that I have seen, this one was unique with its mixture of musical, comedy and romantic components and has many refreshing dances and songs. The last musical that I enjoyed was the High School Musical series, but I am glad that these types of films are getting more acknowledged and rewarded,” Freshman Maya Gulvady said.
Chazelle drew inspiration from classics such as Singin’ in the Rain and Top Hat to build scenes like the opening number “Another Day of Sun.” Green screens and stunt doubles were not used; actors and actresses sang and danced live on a closed-off strip of freeway in Los Angeles while traffic continues around them. The attention to detail in scenes like this is another nod to the Technicolor films of the past, as costume designer Mary Zophres handpicked candy colors that popped on screen.
“I felt so inspired by the movie’s perseverant theme of chasing dreams that are on the brink of breaking. That is definitely a reason it earned so many awards,” Senior Bryan Yang said.
The film was almost cancelled pre-production. Due to the “brazenly uncommercial” quality of La La Land, Chazelle was told to either change major scenes such as the opening to increase marketability or to shelf the project. It was only until his success with Whiplash, Chazelle’s first film that was nominated for Oscars best picture, that the work on La La Land restarted. “I think I had a naïve, willful stupidity that, in the end, got this made,” Chazelle said.
As La La Land continues to receive praise, more viewers are watching the movie, happy that Chazelle pursued his original vision. Paving the way, La La Land is providing more chances for future creators to make musical movies, rejecting conventional projects and reviving the once prominent genre that dominated Hollywood.