La La Land (2016)
At First: Damien Chazelle resurrects the musical and finally gives the superhumanly charming Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone a vehicle worthy of their radioactive chemistry!
But Then: Damien Chazelle resurrects white power and forces Gosling and Stone to genuflect at the altar of the romanticized past!
Notable Competition: Moonlight is the movie you’re supposed to like better than La La Land under any and all circumstances (Moonlight is a very good movie, almost as if there are many ways to make very good movies and this year provided more than one!).
Strength of Backlash (1-10): 7. I swear that there weren’t more than a handful of negative reviews for La La Land until about two weeks after it opened. Now that it’s a Best Picture frontrunner, though, the knives have long since come out.
Degree of Deserving (1-10): 2. Yet another instance of a movie going from relatively scrappy independent long shot to long-anointed Hollywood-bullshit sure thing mostly because people (and/or the “wrong” people) like it, La La Land, like Birman, only seems like the kind of thing that always wins Best Picture. Yes, it’s about Hollywood, but it’s also about people whose dreams are damn near crushed by Hollywood, and whose relationship definitely is. Yes, it’s a musical, and despite the fact that plenty of musicals have been big hits, only a handful have been nominated for Best Picture over the past 20 years, let alone actually won. Yes, it’s entertaining and effervescent, but it’s not as audience-flattering as plenty of other Oscar movies. I can’t deny that, should it win on Sunday, it won’t make for a very interesting telecast, as it’s been considered the likeliest winner for about three months now. But that’s the problem with the Oscars: A bunch of people agreeing that they all like a good movie does not always make for great television.