The 2017 Oscars are here and so are Movie Fuel’s favorites! He truly missed his calling as a movie reviewer, so if you know anyone who works for Entertainment Weekly, put in a good word. Take the time to read his La La Land review, his insights and comparisons always astound me…seriously guys, he’s good! And as and added bonus, I have an Orange Julius inspired La La Land Smoothie you can quickly whip up before the opening number and dress mocking begin!
- Best Picture: La La Land
- Best Director: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
- Best Actress: Emma Stone (La La Land)
- Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Fences)
- Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences)
- Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
- Screenplay – Adapted: Moonlight
- Screenplay – Original: La La Land
- Cinematography: La La Land
- Song: City of Stars (La La Land)
- Visual Effects: Jungle Book
- Animated Film: Zootopia
- Foreign Language: The Salesman
La La Land (2016)
Starring: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
At a time when I could better understand and appreciate the art form, my mother introduced me to many of the 1950’s classic films, especially musicals. I became very familiar with actors like Danny Kaye and films like The Music Man, Singing in the Rain and Oliver!. The biggest difference with musicals is that they are often a purer form of entertainment compared to the standard drama or comedy. Musicals require a certain height of disbelief and force the audience to leave their “normal” world behind and enter a place where people dance in the streets, rooms in an apartment suddenly transition around actors and everyone in the movie knows each other as they breakout in a happy flash mob. The movie musical, similar to its rooted form on Broadway stages (and the Opera before that), has the greatest ability to transport an audience to the purest type of escapism and provides two more layers of expression other than standard acting; singing and dancing.
Director Damien Chazelle, whose directorial debut was the 2014 drama Whiplash, does an incredible job of creating something sentimental and classic but also very fresh. Within its opening musical number and pervasively throughout the film, we understand that La La Land is as much about what the city in which it is set represents as it is about our two main characters. Los Angeles, and more specifically Hollywood, has historically been a place that can create or crush the dreams of so many budding hopeful entertainers; for every Leonardo Dicaprio and Jennifer Lawrence that breaks through, there are hundreds of thousands that do not. This is the story of two of those dreamers, one a traditionalist jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling), the other a saucer-eyed aspiring actress (Emma Stone) who serves as a barista on a studio lot just to be close to movies. Both have their sights on something spectacular and their aligned passion and pursuit creates a charming and endearing chemistry that draws them together.
In its simplest explanation, La La Land is a musical love story about following your dreams. In between the lines, you’ll find a compelling film examining the cause and effect of the decisions we make while chasing those big dreams and how the power of disappointment drives us. What starts out as corny and unbelievable, quickly and confidently convinces the audience that what they are watching is not only different than anything they have seen recently, which adds appeal on its own, but also that a 1950’s retro style musical can still be cool in the 21st century landscape. Being different than the rest can be pleasing, doing so while maintaining a connection with the audience is even more special and is often the formula for some of the most successful and praised films of all time. Accomplishing this has become increasingly more challenging as more years pass and more films are produced.
The films greatest strength may be the performance by Emma Stone, who equally expresses vulnerability and confidence in both subtle and bigger than life moments throughout the story. Yes, the stars aren’t classically trained singers or dancers, but in a way their imperfections help keep them relatable. The film also provides emotional punch that eats at our sensibility that life’s choices can unpredictably provide and take away what we love the most. I am not going to beat around the bush any longer, this is a beautifully written, acted and choreographed film (even the music is pervasive well beyond the viewing experience) and on Oscar night, it will easily win Best Picture. Only ten of 32 nominated musicals have won in Oscar history, including most recently Chicago 15 years ago, so another musical best picture is due for a win (the last one nominated was Les Miserable in 2012). If you are looking for escapism, inspiration or romance, go see La La Land, you won’t regret it.
Top 5 Films of 2016
- Hidden Figures – Inspirational True Story of the unsung heroes of the NASA program.
- Zootopia – Entertainment for every age in the spirit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
- The Accountant – Kept your interest to the very end, exciting action flick.
- Moonlight – Intense and tender coming of age story in the worst parts of Miami Beach.
- La La Land
La La Land Smoothie
2 tsp Vanilla POWDER
1 1/2 cup milk
4 oranges, squeezed
zest of one orange
handful of ice