Two weeks ago the 89th Academy Awards, The Oscars, aired on the ABC network. As usual, we (those who give a rats ass about ‘trivial’ award shows) waited with bated breath to see the results. I would have been lumped into this category but sadly it was Monday morning for me in Japan and I was at work. This didn’t prevent me from tuning via Twitter. I enjoyed reading the tweets and seeing some recognizable names as winner. The final and most talked about moment, occurred when the announcement for Best Picture was done. First, La La Land was announced as the winner with all the cast on stage, and some giving speeches. It was then that someone from the production team ran on stage (mind you, all this was happening live) to tell them there had been a mixup and Moonlight actually won. Just to point out, this isn’t a blog about Oscar night. Like many of the viewers at home, I didn’t see either film but with this whole spectacle, I had to see them but there was only one problem. La La Land was the only one being shown in the theatre so that meant I’d have to stream Moonlight (womp).
The weekend following the Oscars, I decided I’d watch La La Land first, then I’d see Moonlight. Surprised is too mild a word to describe what I saw at the theatre. The movie was almost sold out so I had to take whatever seat was available, in the front row. *insert eye roll* LOL. Anyways, I took my seat and was ready to get lost in La La Land. During the movie, I found myself analyzing every scene as if I worked for IMDb or something. I love my girl Emma Stone. She can/could do no wrong in my book especially after watching House Bunny when she played Natalie, but Mia fell flat for me. Now you might be thinking this kid has lost his mind if he thinks he’s going to offer any worthwhile feedback on such a “masterful” piece when he likes House Bunny. You probably have a point but if I was paying to watch an Oscar nominated film for Best Picture, you better believe I will talk about it.
“…the hype that surrounded La La Land was hugely misplaced.”
I think it was about 30 minutes into the film that I came to the conclusion that there was no way on earth this film should have been nominated for Best Picture much less to be confused with Moonlight (still hadn’t seen it). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it but the hype that surrounded La La Land was hugely misplaced. I was left mystified.
I couldn’t wrap my mind around why this movie received the awards it had since it’s release. Though I hadn’t yet seen Moonlight, I would have been pissed if it lost to this. What does he know? He doesn’t know anything about musical theatre. He doesn’t know the technical elements that go into making such a film. Hey, you’re right! I don’t know, which is why the movie should have blown me away. It should have made me want to watch every musical type romance film there ever was. I won’t even get into the fact that I’ve seen Bye Bye Birdie, Westside Story and Chicago, all of which I love. So I have a pretty good idea of what makes these type of movies great. But because Hollywood basically wets itself for any musical, there was no way they’d ever give this movie a fair critique.
Let’s look at the only two characters worth mentioning, Mia and Sebastian, played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (Hollywood’s darlings). One could say that the actors did a good job in carrying the entire show but that was one of my issues with it. Mia and Sebastian weren’t interesting enough as characters for the entire movie to only focus on them. Mia came from what seemed to be a middle class family who had hopes of her being a lawyer but she wanted something more partly because of her aunt’s work in the film industry. We learnt she had been auditioning for 6 years for different roles, maybe landed a few but lost out to other redheads. Sebastian had dreams of owning his own jazz club. They both had their ‘struggles’ until they caught a break and voila, their dreams came true. Sounds good right? Then what could be my problem?
Mia had roommates. I would have loved to see their relationship with each other. Though the depiction of struggling actors and actresses who share an apartment may be true of Hollywood, it isn’t all roses and sunshines which is what La La Land portrayed. Yes, it’s a lighthearted drama but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have delved into, hashtag: roommate woes. Let me remind you of my unwavering love and support for Emma but I feel like she didn’t add anything special to the role of Mia. Could she have done anything more? I guess not, after all, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
This got me thinking, would any other actress be given this award if they played Mia? This could be a good thing on the part of the writer if it was intentionally written that way. But I was still not satisfied. Though I had not seen the other movies for which actresses were nominated for the same award, QUEEN Meryl Streep was in that category and I’m sure her character had more depth than Mia. Mia lacked a certain star quality. Heck, she sang only twice throughout the whole movie and it still wasn’t great. She didn’t seem hungry enough. She seemed too confident in knowing she could always return home if things didn’t work out. Does that sound to you like someone who’d been hungry for a break for 6 years? I can’t put all the blame on Emma for delivering what was asked of her because I suppose that’s how Mia was written, uninspiring, flat and quite frankly a bore.
Keith, played by John Legend, is introduced to us, rather pops up out of nowhere, as a former colleague/old friend of Sebastian’s. I guess they needed someone to make Sebastian more interesting. Keith is a successful musician who’s been on tour. He’s definitely a big deal! To even put someone like John Legend in such a minuscule role to rescue Sebastian from going extremely broke, was a complete waste of this man’s talents.
We then learnt that Sebastian could have made it as big as Keith if he had taken the opportunity which was given to him around the same time Keith got his break. Now, I’m pissed. In which Hollywood would someone, a freaking unknown, be given the chance to put themselves out there and not take it? Maybe I don’t know much about how Hollywood works but I thought his goal was to open a jazz club and perform. How else would he expect to be on Keith’s level? No one, and I mean no one, who is struggling in Hollywood would turn something like that down. Right there his story was already unbelievable and not in a good way.
Of course, there was the turning point when they had to pull their boots up and realize nothing will be handed to them. They had to go after their dreams, however, the opportunity presented itself next. I guess that was the take away. Was that enough for this film to receive the praise it got? Was that enough for it to be nominated for Best Picture and could have won? I think not. It felt very simple. It felt on the surface. It lacked depth. The main characters’ journey wasn’t believable. To top it all off, La La Land won for Best Director. Complete baloney if you ask me. Nothing against Damien Chazelle but dude…this movie could have been so much better. As phony and superficial people think Hollywood is, the film didn’t capture what it means to truly be ‘struggling’ to make your dream a reality in Hollywood. That was what the film set out to do and to me, it failed big time. I wouldn’t be encouraged to move to Hollywood, today, to pursue any dreams of acting based on this film. Would you? The entire film went From La La Land to Blah Blah Land.
Till next time.