Hollywood loves it some me time
With rare exception, people love to talk about themselves. Hollywood, a land built on fabrication and stories, seems particularly ripe for this sort of navel-gazing. So it makes sense movies like “The Artist,” “Argo,” and to a lesser extent “Birdman” are so well rewarded when it comes to award season in La La Land.
Speaking of which, Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” cleaned up at the Golden Globes on Sunday to the tune of winning all seven categories in which it was nominated. This includes best screenplay, best picture (comedy or musical) and best director. The second category was a shoe-in so it’s really the first and the third that stand out.
“La La Land” boasts a great many things, but a great screenplay is not one of them. Emma Stone shines through a terribly written female lead and as such took home the Globe for best performance by a lead actress in a comedy or musical.
Her character, Mia, exists solely as a foil for Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian. She wants to be an actress and works at a coffee shop. Mia comes from a small town. We learn all of these things through context clues but never get to know what makes her tick. Why does she even want to do any of this? What makes her a dreamer, anyway? Hell, “La La Land” never explains what makes being a dreamer so great, or what makes a dreamer do what they do.
That’s because Chazelle treats “La La Land” like a musical. If it truly was a musical, he could probably get away with it, too. But it’s not. There aren’t near enough songs, and certainly not enough good ones, to get away with the flimsy script Chazelle earned a Globe for.
But it’s about Hollywood, right? And it’s positive, right? Mostly? So logic be damned, give the man his award. That doesn’t make “La La Land” a bad movie, of course, I think it’s a good movie, but it certainly didn’t have the best screenplay of the five movies nominated nor was it the best directed.
This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, Hollywood falls all over itself to remind the world how great it is. “The Artist” is a reminder of how great Hollywood used to be, while “Argo” shows Hollywood can actually save the world and “Birdman” shows Hollywood actors can make serious art, too, dammit!
It’s still early. Maybe this is the Golden Globes awarding a crowd-pleasing, toe-tapping movie without much backbone and not a typical Hollywood circle-jerk. Or maybe it is. I’m still holding out hope the Oscars will reward “Moonlight” for its bravery and not “La La Land” for its nothingness.