La La Land, the musical film that broke a record for most Golden Globe awards wins than any other film in history, looks for a repeat at next month’s Academy Awards. Earlier today it was announced that the critically acclaimed musical was nominated for 14 Oscars — equaling the record for most Oscar nominations set by All About Eden and Titanic. Whether La La Land deserves the accolades is up for others to discuss. However, we do want to discuss if we will be living in La La Land for years to come.
Films, especially musicals, have served as a departure from reality. They became a safe place for 90 to 120 minutes where you get to be transferred to an alternate reality. Some of the most culturally signifiant musical films have came at a time of sorrow. The Wizard of Oz premiered during World War II. During the 1950’s as the world grasped with the fallout of World War II and the Atom Bomb musicals became a regular at the cinema including: Singing in the Rain (1952), The Band Wagon (1953), A Star is Born (1954), Seven Bridges for Seven Brothers (1954), Guys and Dolls (1955), The King and I (1956) and Gigi (1958) to name a few. 1964’s My Fair Lady went on to win the Academy Award after President Kennedy’s assignation — Disney’s Mary Poppins was also nominated that year. The Sound of Music won the following year.
Premiering three months before September 11th, Moulin Rouge! was nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Rob Marshall’s Chicago went on to win the 2002 Academy Award for best picture. In the years that followed — as America went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq — musical films at your local multiplex included School of Rock (2003), Rent (2005), The Producers (2005), Dreamgirls (2006), Once (2006), August Rush (2007), Hairspray (2007), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Mamma Mia! (2008) to name a few.
Is it possible that La La Land is benefitting from all the uncertainty in the world and all the uncertainty that comes with a President Trump? Does it really matter if it is a good movie or not, if it does the job of making you forget about what is happening in the world? Isn’t that what film is all about? Should we expect more La La Lands? The fact that it won an unprecedented amount of Golden Globes would infer that this isn’t the last musical we will see during the Trump administration.
The Arts are important. They give us the ability to creatively expressive ourselves. Much like musical films, the arts brings us together in times of sorrow. As the world and the country becomes more and more uncertain it is the arts that will guide us. That will comfort us and that will inspire us. La La Land might not be the best movie to some, but it certainly represents a cultural shift. It would be wrong for us not to acknowledge that shift.