Top 100 Films Of The 2010’s – #65 – La La Land (2016)

RELEASED: 13th January 2017

DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle

CAST: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Callie Hernandez, J.K Simmons, Finn Wittrock, Tom Everett Scott, Meagen Fay, Damon Gumpton, Jason Fuchs and Josh Pence

BUDGET: $30m


AWARDS: 6 Academy Awards (Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song and Best Production Design), 7 Golden Globes (Best Picture Musical/Comedy, Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy, Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Original Song) and 5 BAFTAs (Best Director, Best Film, Best Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Original Score)

While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.


Mia is an aspiring actress who serves lattes to film stars in between auditions, while Sebastian is a jazz musician who scrapes by playing at cocktail party gigs in dingy bars. In a city known for destroying hopes and dreams as well as breaking hearts, the two enter a whirlwind romance and push each other to achieve their dreams.


Following up from his 2014 drama Whiplash, Damien Chazelle returned in late 2016 (2017 for us in the UK/Ireland) with the musical feature La La Land. From its grand opening number of ‘Another Day of Sun’ to its sweeping dream sequence epilogue in the final act, the film is bursting with energy, life and a sense of refreshness that I haven’t seen any other time during the decade as Chazelle pays homage to the old-style of musical Hollywood with modern sensibilities. With the film composed by Justin Hurwitz and the songs written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the musical numbers are catchy and strike the right chords for the most part, with songs that include ‘Another Day of Sun’, ‘Someone In The Crowd’, ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’ and the Oscar winning number ‘City of Stars’, and it helps that for the majority of these musical numbers that the choreography is also very well executed and it’s all perfectly complimented by Linus Sandgren’s cinematography, David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco’s production/set designs and of cross Tom Cross’s editing. What makes the film excel however the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the two just bounce perfectly off each other between the dramatic and comedic scenes. Gosling is great as jazz musician Sebastian Wilder, who initially appears intense with his dedication with music (specifically jazz) who dreams of one day opening his own jazz club. Emma Stone meanwhile is terrific as Mia Dolan, someone who dreams of one day making it as an actress. Both of them have that talent of being expressive with their face that it says more than words, particular Stone, and its captured well on lens by Chazelle. It may have lost its shine slightly for me on repeated viewings but La La Land is still a thoroughly well made film that you can’t help but respect.


FAVOURITE SCENE: Mia and Sebastian conclude their romantic evening at the Griffith Observatory, which takes a unexpected turn.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “I’m letting life hit me until it gets tired. Then I’ll hit back. It’s a classic rope-a-dope.” – Sebastian

DID YOU KNOW: Because Damien Chazelle wanted to shoot the scene in the tradition of old musicals without cuts or editing, Ryan Gosling practised playing the piano and played it himself in one take on his first day of shooting. Co-star John Legend, who is a classically trained pianist, says he is “jealous” of how quickly Gosling learned to play so well.

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