Today I went to see La La Land following seven wins at the Golden Globes, for Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy, Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay, Score, original Song. I had wanted to know why they had won so many awards and dominated the 2017 evening in a year (2016) of stiff competition. So as well as curiosity being my motivation, I realized the Director, who at only 31 has already won for Whiplash, is the son of friends. Had to see what all the excitement at the Globes was about.
Anyway, I expected to see, if nothing else, lots of pictures of the city of Los Angeles, sunny days and balmy nights while we are freezing on the East Coast in January, as it was supposedly set there, and it certainly delivered. La La Land is a sweet, sweet movie depicting the rocky romance of a young couple in the big city. It's also a lot more than that.
The reason why it won the attention and so many Globes might have been for the way it made me feel; like crying after the movie was done, for all those missed opportunities: Who we could have loved, where we could have lived, what our lives might have been like if we'd taken different paths at forks in the roads.
It was this constant insistence on making the situations of the two adorable stars pictured above, 'Mia' (Emma Stone) and 'Sebastian' (Ryan Gosling), real, immediate, and understandable, similar to what we have all been through: Feeling alone in the city, or at a party among a group, feeling as if life is getting ahead of us and others are doing so much better than we are as we struggle to catch up in so many ways. Who hasn't wanted to stop being in a traffic jam, and take the next off-ramp off the highway, less traveled and less popular just to explore new terrain?
Even so, it's kind of surprising La La Land left the megabudget Inferno and Rogue One in the dust as far as the Golden Globe awards are concerned, as it's not the sort of huge budgeted movie that usually takes away those awards. It did have major stars in Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, and they really showed unexpected talents. They didn't appear, if appearances can be believed in part, to be faking all that singing, dancing, and piano playing (on Gosling's part), so that was interesting and had a genuineness, a reality close to home somehow, that's been lacking in the megabudget movies.
The starry blue-ishness of the backdrops of dancing sets reminded me of Life of Pi somehow, and showed inventiveness and creativity of imagination, as did all the musical set scenes. Then again, the musical score (that music, sometimes haunting) was very new and creative while reflecting influences of The Sound of Music and many old movies and musical traditions, and all that dancing to the music in vintage or classic LA real estate were rather timeless.
In conclusion, why it won the awards was perhaps for the way it makes the audience feel, and showed that the old-fashioned romantic musical is an art form that can be revived. When I saw the thrillers Inferno, in contrast, I liked it a lot although it had lots of difficult, gory scenes, and Rogue One was unforgiving to follow as I hadn't seen all the previous Star Wars movies. But they were huge blockbusters and had impressive special effects. The Fast & Furious series was not ever on my to-see list at all. If you need a gentle escapist movie this could be it. The ending was a surprise and could have been written many ways and perhaps the urgent editing could have been tightened more in the middle, but it's a nice new/old style and worth seeing and encouraging.