Having just watched La La Land for the third time, this time on IMAX, I am ready to change the order of my top fifteen films of the year and declare La La Land my favourite film of 2016. La La Land is not as profound as I, Daniel Blake, it’s not as bold as Chi-raq, and it has a number of serious flaws (mostly involving some of Seb’s dubious character traits), but La La Land is pure movie magic from beginning to end. This is best symbolized for me by the fact that, in all three viewings, I cried during the opening song and dance number on the L.A. freeway. I can’t say why this happened, but my guess is that it has to do with my deep gratitude and wonder that magical films like this are still being made (I had a similar experience with Pete’s Dragon, which is why it’s my eighth-favourite film of 2016).
As for the IMAX presentation, I barely noticed any improvement in the picture (other than the size) but the sound was noticeably louder, which in this case was what I was most hoping for.
And the Academy Awards? Well, I had no sooner decided that this was one year when, after almost a decade, I would try to watch it live, when I realized that I will be on a plane to Brussels that evening (Maybe they’ll show them on the plane? No, I thought not.). So I’ve decided to note here what I would be voting for if I was a member of the Academy (major categories only).
Best Actress in a Lead Role: Emma Stone, La La Land
I was disappointed that Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain didn’t get nominated, but even if they had been nominated, I would have voted for Emma Stone. Her acting in La La Land was absolute perfection. Of course, I have long considered Stone to be one of the finest actors of our time. Just look at how I’ve describe her on this blog: “Stone was remarkable, stealing every scene she’s in” (Birdman); “Stone was the standout” (Irrational Man); “Stone does an excellent job with a poorly-developed character” (Magic in the Moonlight).
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
This was a tough one, because Viola Davis certainly deserves an award for her performance in Fences, but Harris was, for me, the best actor in Moonlight and she gets the nod.
Best Actor in a Lead Role: Denzel Washington, Fences
Yeah, I know Casey Affleck is going to win, and his performance was certainly Oscar-worthy, but Washington was phenomenal in Fences and I have to go with that.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
This was the toughest choice of all. Jeff Bridges was may favourite thing about Hell or High Water and Michael Shannon was great in the underrated Nocturnal Animals. But Ali was my favourite actor in Moonlight (and my second-favourite thing about that film) and I would have voted for him.
Best Animated Feature Film: Moana
I’ve only seen Moana and Zootopia. Of those, I liked Moana more.
Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, La La Land
This could have gone to Prieto for Silence.
Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Best Editing: La La Land
Best Foreign Language Film: A Man Called Ove
The other nominees were very good films, but only one of the nominees got four stars from me.
Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Easiest choice of the night.
Best Song: Audition, La La Land
City of Stars will win, but I liked Audition more.
Best Writing (adapted): Arrival
Best Writing (original): La La Land
20th Century Women came a very close second.
Best Picture: La La Land
No contest on this list.
If you’re counting, it’s no contest: This is the year Hollywood goes to La La Land!