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Oscars 2017: Why The Sudden Criticism For La La Land Is Disappointing

A lot of people have raised objections to its depiction of the African-American community vis-à-vis John Legend’s character.

Kriti Tulsiani | News18.com@sleepingpsyche2

Updated:February 26, 2017, 11:12 AM IST
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Oscars 2017: Why The Sudden Criticism For La La Land Is Disappointing
A still from La La Land.
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The only film to have lead the nominations pack, ever since the release of Titanic, is Damien Chazalle’s La La Land. Just a day away from Oscars 2017 and a whole new debate whether it truly deserves to take home the award or not has sparked on all platforms. If you’ve been following the league of Hollywood award shows, the luck for the makers, has been shining quite bright. The film has won big at Golden Globes and BAFTA and as the predictions say, the run will continue at the 88th Academy Awards too.

Not every day does one watch a film with that evokes almost all the emotions that a human brain can comprehend. Damien brought back to life a dying genre with such poise, that even the term magical, feels a little short for explaining the myriad of emotions one goes through during the film’s running time. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, La La Land is not essentially a feel-good film, but more of a feel-it film.


It seeps you in with its subtle charm and takes you along in the smooth journey in the mystical city of Los Angeles. It first carries the protagonists from a staged scene of a traffic jam on an expressway like they’re one of us and the entire narrative stands true to the beginning thought – they’re indeed one of us. Emma Stone plays Mia, a coffee-shop waitress but in her mind, an aspiring actress. Ryan Gosling is Sebastian, a ruminating pianist and a jazz stickler keen on running his own nightclub someday. Mia weathers the repeated humiliations of auditions and Sebastian is reduced to performing carols at restaurants. In the journey of homing their passions and enduring the every-day melees, they find each other and we find a story that’ll go on to live forever.

As the characters meet, romance, argue, fall in love – the viewers invest more of themselves in the dreams of the two and the magic that the journey turns out to be. In its own breezy way, the film shines light into the null space between our emotions and the uncertainty of the choices we make. It reaffirms the faith in cinematic brilliance and offers a nostalgic vibe of the pre 50-60s era. In a very elusive way, it takes a jibe at modern-day lifestyle and throws light on the unspoken law of uber relationships - just because you aren’t with someone doesn’t mean they aren’t with you. The underlying cynical criticism of today’s generation being all self-oriented and narcissist is, too, nailed in a commendable way.


A lot of people, however, have raised objections to its depiction of the African-American community vis-à-vis John Legend’s character. He plays Keith, a friend to Sebastian. Keith happens to be a best seller in the commercial music while the essentially white man Sebastian goes on talking about the splendid history of Jazz music keeping away the credits from the community. One doesn’t really get the lack of racial diversity while watching the film for the first time but during the second watch, it does strike you for a second.

The film’s music and the foot-tapping dance sequences, too, didn’t appeal to a whole lot of viewers. But then again, it’s just another example of to each their own.


Whether La La Land will bag the coveted trophy or not, remains to be seen. But what we believe is that, it deserves as much appreciation for reclaiming the glory of the old-school musicals, as for tapping the present day ideology. It serves the romantics as much as it offers the realists. It conceals as much as it reveals. All that a quintessential good cinema needs, La La Land has and that possibly makes it one of the most-deserving front-runners at this year’s Academy Awards.

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| Edited by: Sameeksha
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