La La Land is a lot of things: it's a surreal escape to a world where romance means breaking out into song. It's a beautiful tribute to all the dreamers out there. It's a chance for Ryan Gosling to tap dance his way into our hearts. And it's undoubtedly the best, most romantic, and most creative movie of 2016.
La La Land chronicles the year-long relationship of jazz-enthusiast Sebastian and aspiring actress Mia (played by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone), and proves that the bar for romance can be—and should be—set so much higher. That in a world of Notebooks, there are better, far more complex stories of love just waiting to be told. Sure, Mia and Sebastian's relationship rests on a fantastical bed of duets and dance, but the genius of La La Land is its understated realism. After all, falling in love doesn't necessarily mean life is perfect.
That said, La La Land's most enjoyable moments are those of pure fantasy: when Sebastian plays the piano with a passion that can only be topped by Mia's dancing. Or when they share their first kiss and literally drift up into the clouds. These moments might sound over-the-top, but as someone who doesn't typically enjoy musicals—let alone films that aren't grounded in reality—I'll make a happy exception for La La Land. Why? Because instead of asking us to suspend our disbelief, we're encouraged to embrace it.
Director Damien Chazelle knows his audience acutely, and it's hard not to appreciate how meta and self-aware the film is. Take Sebastian's quest to make jazz relevant again, which is a clear nod to Chazelle's attempt to contemporize the nostalgia of musicals. Or, take this moment when Mia's stresses about her one-woman show:
La La Land is the very definition of nostalgic despite being set in contemporary L.A., and little moments like this bring millennial relevance to a forgotten genre, while simultaneously wrapping them up in the highly relevant bow that is Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Audiences love themselves a Stone + Gosling movie, and their built-in chemistry allows the film to take bigger creative risks. We're already totally here for them as a couple, so why not just go with the romance flow, right?
And speaking of romance, if this movie has accomplished one singular thing, it's turning a genre that's usually deemed unworthy of awards on its head. At the beginning of La La Land, Sebastian asks "Why do you say 'romantic' like it's a dirty word?" Well, prediction: when this divine movie wins an Oscar, it no longer will be.
Follow Marie Claire on Facebook for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.
Mehera Bonner is a news writer who focuses on celebrities and royals.
The Best May Beauty Launches to Have on Your Radar
Haircare and makeup and skincare, oh my.
By Samantha Holender
26 AAPI-Owned Businesses to Support For AAPI Heritage Month (And Every Month)
Brands you'll fall in love with.
By Gabrielle Ulubay
Are Kevin Kreider and Kim Lee From 'Bling Empire' Together Now?
Sparks fly between the two cast members in the Netflix hit's second season.
By The Editors
The 15 Best Comedy Movies on Hulu
For when you just need a good laugh.
By Megan DiTrolio
The 50 Best 2000s Movies
Juicy Couture tracksuit recommended, but not required.
By Bianca Rodriguez
90 Movies You Have to Watch at Least Once in Your Life
The essentials. (Netflix password not included.)
By Bianca Rodriguez
The 79 Best '90s Movies That Are Modern Classics
Truly the golden age of cinema.
By Kayleigh Roberts
The 50 Best Feel-Good Movies to Curl Up With
PJs, a glass of wine, and these films.
By Katherine J Igoe
The 51 Best Musical Movies to Get You Singing
All the dance numbers! All the show tunes!
By Amanda Mitchell
The 52 Best Comedy TV Shows Ever
The shows that will make you laugh until your face hurts.
By Kayleigh Roberts
The 40 Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time
Not stressed enough already? Then watch these movies.
By Zoe Guy