The film that has stolen everyone's heart this year is Damien Chazelle's movie musical, La La Land. The whimsical movie, an homage to the golden years of Hollywood and a love letter to Los Angeles, stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as two love-struck artists, just trying to make it big in Tinseltown. With strong acting performances, a foot-tapping soundtrack, and over-the-top musical numbers, La La Land is Oscar nominated for a record breaking 14 Oscars, and is now tied with James Cameron's 1997 film, Titanic.
To create this movie magic, La La Land drew from several Hollywood classics for inspiration, and referenced these films frequently. So if you're one of those fans who has the movie soundtrack on repeat or is slightly obsessed with the film's vintage Hollywood plot line, here is a list of the classic movies you should be watching (or revisiting) next.
1. 'Singin' in the Rain'
The beloved 1952 classic is one of the most successful movie musicals of all time. Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds,and Donald O'Connor, the film incorporates a memorable score, elaborate sets, Broadway style dance numbers, and a soundtrack for the ages. The film follows Don Lockwood (Kelly), an actor who has risen to fame during the silent-movie era and his struggle to transition to the "talkies" age. Lockwood is cast in a talkie featuring the beautiful, but not so bright, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). Though she is attractive, her speaking voice is harsh on the ears. In order to make the movie a success, the young studio singer Kathy Selden (Reynolds) is hired to lend her voice to the fickle actress. Lockwood falls in love with the behind-the-scenes talent and together they embark on a fanciful journey through the movies. The film is famous for its beautifully choreographed numbers and catchy show tunes, but one the most iconic scenes from the film is Gene Kelly's "Singing in the Rain" where he gleefully swings around a lamp post just as Gosling does during the song "A Lovely Night."
The La La Land plot line mirrors Casablanca when it comes to Mia and Sebastian's romance. Like Humphrey and Ingrid, Mia and Sebastian meet in romantic cities and have a whirlwind courtship where they find love and inspiration within each other. Casablanca is also referenced in La La Land when Stone's character points out the iconic balcony, that was used by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the film while strolling through the film studio park with Sebastian.
Another classic featuring Ingrid Bergman is the 1946 film, Notorious, also starring Cary Grant as the leading man. The movie tells the story of a U.S. government agent (Grant) and the American daughter of a convicted German war criminal (Bergman) who fall for each other after Bergman's character is hired as a spy to do the government's dirty work. But their relationship becomes messy when Bergman is ordered to go undercover as the love interest for the enemy. In La La Land, Stone's character cites the Hitchcock classic as one of her favorite films that she grew up watching with her aunt.
4. 'Funny Face'
The 1927 George Gershwin Broadway musical Funny Face was adapted for the silver screen in 1957 featuring its original star, Fred Astaire, and the iconic movie star Audrey Hepburn. Based off some of the original Broadway tunes, Astaire plays fashion photographer Dick Avery (a character based on famous 1960s photographer Richard Avedon) who is seeking a "new face" in fashion. While in a Greenwich Village bookstore, Dick discovers Jo (Hepburn), and falls immediately in love with her. After her discovery, Dick whisks Jo away to Paris to transform her into the next superstar model. One of the most popular songs from the film is Gershwin's "S'wonderful" and the iconic making-a-model montage in the film serves another inspiration for La La Land's "Epilogue" scene.
5. 'An American in Paris'
The An American in Paris movie musical was inspired by the the original Broadway show. Like La La Land, An American in Paris is a love letter to a specific city—the City of Lights. With enchanting musical numbers featuring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, the 1951 classic served the inspiration for La La Land's "Epilogue" montage toward the end of the film. An American in Paris is what Mia becomes in La La Land, after she puts on a one-woman show about the city and lands her dream role, which shoots in France. Her love affair with Paris is inspired by her aunt in the film, who lived in Paris and would come back to the States and recount her Parisian tales.
6. 'Rebel Without a Cause'
Rebel without a Cause stars 1950s heart throb, James Dean, as a teenager who uses his drag racing skills to win over women. One of the most iconic scenes from the film is shot at Los Angeles' Griffith Observatory, which ends up inspiring Mia and Sebastian's second whimsical, starry-night date, where the two ultimately fall in love. In La La Land, Rebel Without a Cause is one of Sebastian's all-time favorite movies, which he suggests that Mia should see because she had never seen it. Mia and Sebastian end up meeting to watch the film for their first real date.
7. 'Swing Time'
Like Gosling and Stone, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the silver-screen sweethearts people loved to watch. The movie Swing Time is the sixth RKO studio film featuring Fred and Ginger and follows a soon-to-be-married bandleader who happens to fall for his dance instructor. The film features classic Astaire and Rogers dance numbers with an almost always top-hat-clad Astaire. It also includes iconic songs such as "A Fine Romance" and "The Way You Look Tonight." Astaire and Rogers' 1937 film, Shall We Dance, also serves as inspiration for La La Land's "A Lovely Night" scene. Throughout the film, Gosling and Stone's picture-perfect pairing aims to mimic that Astaire and Rogers movie chemistry.
8. 'Boogie Nights'
The 1997 film, about a teenage busboy who gets discovered by a famous porn director in 1970s Hollywood and transforms into an adult-film star, isn't exactly the plot of La La Land. But, is the plot of Paul Thomas Anderson's film Boogie Nights. Though the plot lines are vastly different, Thomas' film was used as a little bit of inspiration for La La Land. In the movie, Mia attends a big Hollywood Hills party with her friends, which is set to the song "Someone in the Crowd." The scene ends at the pool party and is uniquely shot with the camera looking up at the party from underwater. This cinematography mimics the iconic pool party scene shot in the Boogie Nights film.
9. 'Broadway Melody of 1940'
Another classic film that inspired La La Land's intricate dance scenes is the 1940 classic, Broadway Melody of 1940. Taking place in New York City as opposed to L.A., it features a struggling dance team whose leader, Johnny Brett (Fred Astaire), catches his big break after being scouted out by a famous producer (Bob Casey). The movie, which features old Hollywood antics and big-production dance numbers is one of the primary inspirations for Gosling and Stone's romantic planetarium waltz.
10. 'West Side Story'
The modern take on Romeo and Juliet features the story of Tony and Maria, lovers from two different worlds, and is set in New York City's Hell Kitchen. It's one of the most beloved movie musicals and Broadway shows of all time. With one of the most iconic Broadway soundtracks, West Side Story proves to be one of a kind. Luckily, Gosling and Stone don't die at the end of La La Land (spoiler alert), but their love story is just as epic. Just as Tony sings a solo ballad about his love for Maria, Gosling sings a solo ballad about love in L.A. called "City of Stars," which isn't officially complete until Stone helps him with the words and turns the solo into a duet.