La La Land made its list this year and it’s checking it more than twice.
95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes √
92/100 rating on Metacritic √
AFI Top Ten Films of the Year √
Named or nominated for Best Picture by the Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington D.C. critics groups. √
12 Critics Choice nominations and 8 wins, including a win for Best Picture √
7 Golden Globe nominations √
National Board Review Top Ten Films of the Year √
12 Satellite nominations √
2 Screen Actors Guild nominations √
Why the list you ask? The list is proof that La La Land is the odds-on winner to take home the Best Picture Oscar. Let’s dive in.
Of the 21 Best Picture winners of the Critics Choice Awards, 14 went on to win the Oscar. I won’t name names, but there were at least three years when the Critics Choice members had better taste than the Academy. Of all the individual critics groups, Boston might be the most predictive with 10 of their last 16 winners claiming Oscar’s ultimate prize. La La Land won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Four of its last seven winners went on to the Best Picture Oscar. Gold Derby, which is the most respected Oscar prognosticating site, rates La La Land as the Oscar favorite with 24 of its 28 experts foreseeing a La La Land win.
So why is La La Land the presumptive favorite? It’s a love letter to Old Hollywood and Hollywood loves to celebrate itself. Creative people tend to be narcissistic by nature and what’s more narcissistic than celebrating a film that celebrates Hollywood and creativity? And La La Land tells the stories of two dreamers, a musician and an actress, who want to make it big and the pitfalls they encounter along the way. Every person who has pursued a career in entertainment can relate.
Director Damien Chazelle sums it up. “These characters are examples of people who are very set on a goal and they’re going after that goal, but the actual specifics of that goal are open to shifting. They’re still figuring out who they are and they’re still figuring out what kind of artists they want to be, and that’s a good thing. On the one hand, that’s a good thing. You catch them at a period in their life when there’s still this openness to change. But on the other hand, it creates even more uncertainty. Going through that sort of shift, while being with and without another person and while being in a city like L.A., if there was one emotion I wanted to capture in the movie, it was that state of constant uncertainty and self-doubt. Even if you project a lot of confidence about what you’re going to do, deep within, you’re constantly asking yourself, ‘What am I doing?’”
Even the most deluded people in Hollywood, and there are many, frequently ask themselves ‘what am I doing?’ Scratch that. Self-doubt is universal. It’s not unique to Los Angeles obviously. Who doesn’t want to see their hopes and dreams glamourized on the big screen?
La La Land is also a lo lo love letter to Los Angeles. Though many of us who live here are from somewhere else, people on the coasts think the world revolves around the coast. There’s a reason why the middle of the country is referred to, sometimes condescendingly, as flyover country.
Chezelle explains the Los Angeles love fest. “I grew up on the east coast. L.A., to me, was the action movies I was watching, as a kid in the ‘90s. It was Speed, Terminator and Volcano. It was this concrete jungle that seemed entirely unliveable, compounded with the east coast snobbery about L.A. So, I moved here very hesitantly. I really just moved here because of movies and feeling like, “I’ve gotta at least try it out and see.” I was uneasy here at first, and I felt a little isolated, and then I fell deeper and deeper in love with the city. It was a late-blooming love affair with the city, as I discovered that it’s so much more than what I thought it was. Part of what I love about it and wanted to capture here is the way it reveals itself slowly to you. It’s not the best city for visitors because it doesn’t give you everything on a silver platter, the way that New York or certain European cities do. You have to search a little bit more in L.A. That can be frustrating, but it can also be really rewarding.”
Speaking of rewards, La La Land is hauling them in. No doubt it will be soon be checking more items off its list with a double digit tally of Oscar nominations. And odds are it will be checking off the biggest check of all, Oscar’s biggest reward.
La La Land is a lo lo love letter to Hollywood and Hollywood lo lo loves it back.
La La Land is now playing in theaters nationwide.