I just tried to watch La La Land with my parents tonight, and we could not finish it. It was TERRIBLE. It was PAINFUL.
We stopped watching it after about 20 minutes because no one could sing and no one could dance. It was trying to be an unpolished homage to a genre that by it’s very nature is absolutely polished.
I feel like this is a movie-musical for people who don’t watch movie musicals, and that’s part of why it’s awful. There’s no consistency in the world that the movie takes place in, for starters. Sometimes, the world is candy-colored and struggling Millennial creatives live in absurdly large apartments with huge murals of Ingrid Bergman on one wall, and other times, it’s pretty realistic, with plain, unaltered exteriors and people acting like they normally would. Which one of these worlds is the world of the movie? You can’t have both, Damien Chazelle.
On top of that, having two leads and an entire ensemble of people who can’t sing or dancing very well leads to musical numbers that look, sound, and feel ordinary instead of entertaining. I have seen high school productions of shows like Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd that looked, sounded and felt a thousand times more professional than this movie does. In the opening number, my mother and I were stunned at how ordinary the ensemble’s voices were. No one had any breath support, no one sang from their diaphragm. They were singing like the were members of church congregation, not the ensemble of a Hollywood musical. And when Ryan Gosling began singing, my mother declared that The Rock had a much better singing voice in Moana. Honestly, I agree with her.
This isn’t an in-depth analysis of La La Land; it’s just me getting these thoughts off my chest because that movie was AWFUL. AWFUL, I TELL YOU!!!
Yet it won Oscars. That’s the thing about Oscar-nominated films: they’re no more perfect or artistic than the films that are released during the rest of the year. (I’m including both indie art films and mainstream blockbusters in that statement.) They’re just tailored to the Academy’s tastes, which is why they win things. Sometimes, if you’re a movie-lover but not an Academy member, Oscar-nominated films can be unwatchable.