Recently I’ve come across a spate of articles online denouncing La La Land and nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking on it, because it’s cool to hate on something which a large majority adores. I’ve seen complaints like the characters are shallow, Emma Stone can’t dance, Ryan Gosling’s voice is too reedy, the Los Angeles depicted in the film isn’t representative of today’s LA because it doesn’t have a single gay person in it, “BUT WHAT IS THE ENDING SUPPOSED TO MEAN?”, and the like. These complaints which don’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Maybe I’m biased. I wholeheartedly love the movie and have watched it thrice in a span of two months, unprecedented when it comes to my movie-watching habits. I think it has all the bearings of a modern day classic. And with the adulation that it’s been getting in the awards circle, clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Let’s face it though, despite it being an outstanding film, I’m not 100% convinced that it’s deserving of 14 Oscar nominations. For example, I don’t think Ryan Gosling deserves a Best Actor nod, because though he was great, I don’t believe it was a performance worth nominating. Maybe it was a weak year for actors. Hell, it wasn’t even HIS best performance of the year (here’s looking at you, The Nice Guys, you criminally underrated gem). I am also ambivalent about Emma Stone’s performance in the film – I like her in every film I’ve seen of hers, and she knocks it out of the park during the last half hour or so from the audition scene onward, but I feel like she’s basically playing her character the same way she’s played it in a lot of her other films for a better part of this one.
Then again, maybe I’m just peeved that Amy Adams didn’t get nominated for Arrival. Emma Stone aside, damn it Meryl Streep, enough with your nominations already.
The Academy – film societies in general, really – loves films which allows it to pat itself on the back. And La La Land, in all its technicolor glory, does just that. Which is why even though I’ll be happy if the film does end up winning Best Picture at the Oscars tomorrow, there would be a small part of me wondering whether Damien Chazelle did in fact play it to his target audience – in this case, not the general public or the critics, but the folks giving out the awards.