Venice Update: ‘La La Land’ Is Sweeping The Festival

I promised that I would provide an update from Venice today, just to give you all a brief view at how La La Land did in its premiere. I’d heard rumblings that it was something special, but I didn’t expect anything near the level of acclaim that would come pouring out when I woke up this morning. If I ever needed validation that I would finally pick the future Best Picture winner a full year in advance, these reviews would do the trick.

Yes, the reviews are in, and Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to his electric debut with Whiplash is supposed to be every bit as amazing as it seemed it would be. Not only is it racking up mostly A’s and five-star reviews, with a few B’s sprinkled in here and there, some of those stellar reviews come from the harshest critics in the business. After the death of Roger Ebert in 2013, the title of “Greatest Film Critic” was divided up amongst his potential heirs: harsh genius Owen Gleiberman, British critic Peter Bradshaw, and likable “quote whore” Pete Hammond. These three vary in toughness, but are all highly intelligent men, and all three gave the film the highest grade possible. Phrases like “film of the year,” “perfect,” and “near masterpiece” have been tossed around. Without spoiling too much here, most people also agree that the opening sequence is an “all-time great.” Modeled on the work of beloved French director  Jacques Demy, the film is supposedly not only inspired by, but live up to, classics The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort.

As for Oscar buzz, they all seem highly enthusiastic about its chances. Kris Tapley at Variety has wagered up to twelve nominations are possible. Apparently, the Academy has changed their rules over the number of song nominees per film, presumably to prevent a monopoly like Disney has had in the past, but there are at least three out of six original songs in contention-“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” “City of Stars,” and the aforementioned Opening Sequence. There’s also a chance John Legend’s solo number could make a move, since that means he can perform at the ceremony. Until then, we can assume that the locks for nominations are Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress (Emma Stone is “never better”), Best Editing, and Best Original Song, the “More than Likely” are Gosling, Score, Cinematography and Art Direction, and the “Decent Shots” are Another Song nomination, Costume Design and maybe even makeup. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this one on December 16th.

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