Why ‘La La Land’ deserved the Academy Award
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
The 89th annual Academy Awards happened February 26, and a film won the award for Best Picture. At the time of writing, the winner is still unknown. If La La Land got the Oscar for Best Picture, you are probably saying that the Academy Awards are still not diverse and they should have given the award to Moonlight. While both films are great, La La Land deserved Best Picture because it goes back to the golden age of musicals, which is rare because there are not a lot of films of this type today, and it tells of bringing back past times.
La La Land is about an aspiring actress named Mia (Emma Stone) and a jazz pianist named Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) working together to make their dreams come true.
The first half of La La Land has all of the things that you would expect in a musical, and the second half of it looks like a film that is made by Jacques Demy, as it contains many references to his work. This is signalled with the beginning of the second half by the image opening up slowly for a few seconds, and then opening up quickly, just like how most of Demy’s films begin. During the scene when Mia goes to a party with her roommates, we see a montage of various club signs and champagne being poured into glasses. Also, Fred Astaire is referenced during a musical number when Sebastian and Mia talk about the evening, and during the big musical number at the end of the film, we see sailors in Paris, which references sailors being seen in Demy’s films.
La La Land also explores jazz, because Sebastian wants to revive live jazz by opening a jazz club. There is a great scene in which he explains to Mia the history of jazz, and he says that musicals began with jazz, while today jazz is just background music at a party. However, he does not give credit to black Americans for inventing jazz, which is a common problem. This is like the story of Hidden Figures (another great nominated film with a great soundtrack by Pharrell Williams) where a black woman had the idea of sending people to space.
La La Land also features a brilliant score by Justin Hurwitz, which sounds like smooth jazz and is another feature reminiscent of the age of musicals. This is especially apparent during the scene when Mia and Sebastian dance in the observatory, which is visually elaborate and magical.
Another reason La La Land should win Best Picture over Moonlight is that Moonlight is only available in limited release. Some people think that the award should go to a film that is released in theaters everywhere. Still, it has an original story about an African American man being attracted to men, which is a plot that I have not seen before. Because of the limited release, I have not seen it yet, but I am looking forward to the Criterion Collection version of it, since the director and writer of the film, Barry Jenkins, likes The Criterion Collection a lot.
La La Land is an enchanting and fun movie that did something really different from the movies of today. I believe that it did almost everything perfectly, and the actors, score, and script were all great. If La La Land has received the Academy Award for Best Picture, it is because it shows the magic of the musical and the value of comebacks, both for the characters and for the genre.