There was plenty of drama when La La Land’s crew accepted the 2017 Academy Award for Best Picture only to learn that there had been a mistake in the reading of the winner. La La Land’s crew moved through nearly three acceptance speeches before the misreading was corrected. La La Land’s shocked cast and crew peacefully relinquished the Award to Moonlight.
Director Damion Chazelle took a gamble with La La Land. There aren’t many movie musicals coming out of Hollywood these days, and La La Land broke big at the box office and at the award shows, winning 8 Critic’s Choice Awards, 7 Golden Globe Awards, 5 British Academy Film Awards, and 6 Academy Awards. Actors that can also dance and sing seem often under-utilized if not undiscovered. Whatever one’s feelings are about the jazz messaging, dancing, and singing in La La Land, part of the way films make money is by casting well-known actors, and La La Land does try to point to jazz as music that should remain spontaneously creative and somewhat ambiguous.
La La Land seems to be less about jazz, vocals, and dancing and more about love and dreams. Is it worth it to keep pursing that pipe dream? Who can guarantee that your life won’t be spent in futile pursuit of that dream or that the dream will satisfy you if you ever get there? While La La Land is a bit fanciful with its character’s pipe dreams, it tells a truer story of love that reaches its climax in the final scene. That may be what La La Land did best.