By Brent Ramirez
Blog Content Contributor
If you haven’t heard yet, the film La La Land is taking theaters by storm, with most film lovers and casual moviegoers alike left in awe in its wake. The romantic musical directed by Damien Chazelle has been sweeping through awards season with several trophies already collected, including a Screen Actors Guild Award for Emma Stone’s performance, as well as a nomination for Gosling’s. The movie also swept the Golden Globes, winning all seven of the awards it was nominated for and breaking the record for most Golden Globes won by a single film, a record previously held by 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and 1978’s Midnight Express (both with six Golden Globes).
With all the awards La La Land has already racked up, the film doesn’t show any signs of stopping. Nominations for the Academy Awards are up and La La Land is once again looking to break yet another record. The film has a total of 14 Oscar noms, tying All About Eve and Titanic. The current record for most Oscar wins goes to Ben-Hur, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and Titanic, each with 11 wins. With nominations in categories like best picture, actor, actress, director, score and more, Chazelle’s La La Land has a chance to make movie history if it can win at least 12 of its categories. If the amount of trophies La La Land already has is any indication, the movie might just have a chance. But the Oscars won’t be a walk in the park, considering the film will be going up against behemoths like Barry Jenkins’s emotionally powerful Moonlight, Kenneth Lonergan’s American drama Manchester by the Sea and many more.
It’s no surprise that La La Land has managed to get so many Oscar nominations, boasting an emotionally charged score and elaborate set pieces. A love letter to L.A. and the dreams it exudes, La La Land has already won the hearts of many. While a great number of people do believe the film is well deserving this awards season, some are questioning if it’s all just a tad bit excessive.
The chemistry between Stone and Gosling is certainly undeniable, but skeptics are arguing that it’s their musical performances that are barely sub-par. Fans of the movie have defended the two, saying that their characters aren’t meant to be powerhouse singers, but rather average performers trying to make their way up. While the singing may have been an issue for some, I think it’s fair to say that both actors put on great performances in at least their acting and dancing.
Another gripe that many had with the film involves Gosling’s character Sebastian, a jazz pianist struggling to keep the genre and art form alive. Some people have the criticized the film for its representation of jazz, a style of music known for its origins within the black community, and how it was Sebastian’s duty in the movie to be the genre’s white male savior. In an interview with Popsugar, fellow cast member John Legend said the film was put under a lot of pressure after it became a big success and subsequently the jazz film, when asked about the race conversation in the context of the film.
JL: “…it’s Damien’s point of view. He’s a filmmaker. He’s the screenwriter, he’s the director, and he’s telling a story from his own point of view. If you want the film to represent all things jazz, it does not. You’ll be disappointed by that. But, if you just see it as one guy’s point of view, one filmmaker’s point of view, and one story among many stories that can be told about jazz, then it’s not as much of an issue. You see what I’m saying?”
No matter what you think of the movie, the amount of awards it has been nominated for speaks for itself. Following a year of controversy with the #OscarsSoWhite movement, this time around seems to be much more diverse with nominations going to films like Moonlight, Hidden Figures and Fences. Despite this, some instances of the hashtag have already surfaced on social media for this year’s ceremony. In the end, Chazelle’s hit musical has garnered the attention of the critics, which raises the question: Can La La Land pull off another record-breaking award run, and if it does take a good amount of the awards, will #OscarsSoWhite once again be cried out across the nation? We’ll just have to wait and see what happens when the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony airs on February 26th.
Featured image by Brent Ramirez.