LaLa Land (City of Stars) Review


Best Motion Picture of the Year

Actor in a Leading Role, Ryan Gosling

Actress in a Leading Role, Emma Stone

Best Achievement in Directing, Damien Chazelle

Best Achievement in Cinematography, Linus Sandgren

Best Achievement in Film Editing, Tom Cross

Music (Original Score), Justin Hurwitz

Music (Original Song), ‘Audition; (The Fools Who Dream); Listen to the song here

Music (Original Song), ‘City of Stars’; Listen to the song here

Production Design, David Wasco

Sound Editing, Ai-Ling Lee & Mildred Latrou Morgan

Sound Mixing, Andy NelsonAi-Ling Lee & Steve Morrow

Writing (Original Screenplay), Damien Chazelle

*Warning: Spoilers*

It’s been a few weeks since I saw LaLa Land, so let’s all watch this trailer together as a refresher.

Now, to start off, this musical movie did have two of my favorites: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. I love that both of their careers have developed so much that they are both nominated for two of the highest awards in film. Who else remembers Emma Stone in Easy A and of course we can’t forget Ryan Gosling in The Notebook? (Hopefully everyone has seen these.)

LaLa Land starts out with a wonderfully choreographed dance scene on the crowded Los Angeles freeways, that ultimately ends with the audience meeting the two main characters: Sebastian and Mia. Sebastian is a passionate & struggling jazz musician, while Mia is an equally passionate and equally struggling actress. (How “LA,” right?) They are both trying to find their way in the cutthroat entertainment industry. Mia goes on countless auditions and Sebastian takes musical gigs that he does only to get by.

The two meet again when Mia is out with her friends and after finding out that her car has been towed, she starts to walk home. She passes a restaurant and hears wonderful music, so she decides to pop in. (Not shockingly) it is Sebastian she hears playing the piano and she becomes fixated on his music. After he finishes playing (and gets fired for playing his own music, rather that what he is told to play), she tries to introduce herself to him, but he is not interested (rude!).


Naturally, that is not where out love-story ends. The two get to know each other and exchange their lofty goals and ambitions. Mia wants to become a famous actress and Sebastian wants to open his own jazz club. Sebastian ends up joining a band that starts to tour and this put a lot of stress on their relationship because Mia feels he is abandoning his dream, something she would never do. Eventually the couple realizes that their relationship is no longer working out. They end things, go their separate ways, and my heart breaks. In two.

La La Land (2016) Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone)

In the end it turns out that Mia does in fact become a famous actress and all of her dreams have come true. She is married to a great guy and has a beautiful daughter. She lives in a posh LA estate, what more could she want? But Mia isn’t the only one who has all of her dreams come true. Sebastian eventually opened his own jazz club and it’s a very successful one at that.

Sometime later (it’s not exactly clear how long, but at least a few years), Mia and her husband are out on a date and decide to randomly pull off the freeway and they end up at Sebastian’s jazz bar. Mia and her husband sit down in the crowd and just as Sebastian sits down to play the piano, he notices Mia in the crowd. He begins to play “their song” (Mia & Sebastian’s Theme) and a montage of the life they could have had starts playing.

While both of their lives turned out even better than either of them could have imagined, I’m still sad that they didn’t end up together. I thought they were good as a couple, they challenged one another, but also believed deeply in their own dreams, as well as each other’s.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic film. Do I think Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are going to have singing or dancing careers? No. But do I think they did an excellent job and made a great movie? YES. I absolutely loved all of the singing and dancing. I think because they weren’t trained specifically in singing or dancing made the film even better for me, more realistic. If Mia had a drop-dead amazing singing voice, it would have made it harder to believe that she was a struggling actress. I also loved all of the choreography. That opening scene JUST WOW.


I don’t think there was any ONE thing that made this film fantastic for me, but it was a combination of the acting, music, cinematography, scenery, and the storyline. I’m not sure if I think LaLa Land is my favorite Oscar Nominee—I have yet to see them all, but it is definitely a contender and I would not be at all upset if it won Best Picture.

-Queen K


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