How 'La La Land' went from constant rejection to awards contention
Writer-director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz have been friends and collaborators since first meeting at Harvard. Together, they struggled for years to make an original movie-musical. Now, their film La La Land is up for a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations.
Sure, director Damien Chazelle's La La Land is a hit now with 14 Oscar nominations. But in the beginning, his dream of making an original musical seemed like it might be too crazy a gamble. Chazelle and his long-time friend and collaborator, composer Justin Hurwitz, tell us how they fought through setbacks to make one of this year's most formidable awards contenders.
Photo: La La Land director Damien Chazelle (L) and composer Justin Hurwitz at the film's premiere.
Matt Belloni, executive editor of the Hollywood Reporter joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.
Oscar nominations are out, and from the studio perspective, Lionsgate is already the big winner. In addition to La La Land and Hacksaw Ridge, they've also got a stake inManchester by the SeaandHell or High Water.
It's been a cold year at Sundance, but the deals have been hot. The presence of big digital screeners like Amazon and Netflix has heated up the market.
La La Land tells the very Hollywood story of a romance between aspiring actress Mia, played by Emma Stone, and Ryan Gosling's Sebastian, a jazz musician who dreams of running his own nightclub.
Now, the musical is Oscar nominated for best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best song (twice!), best actor and actress -- and those are only some of the 14 nominations for the film. That's a total that shares the record with only two other films: 1950's All About Eve and 1997's Titanic.
But getting to that point was far from easy. For years, it looked like the film might never even get made.
La La Land was written and directed by 32-year-old Damien Chazelle, who was on The Business two years ago when his drama Whiplash was contending for Oscar. Should he prevail in the directing category now for La La Land, he'd be the youngest winner ever.
The music of La La Land comes from composer Justin Hurwitz, also 32. Hurwitz majored in music at Harvard, which is where he and Chazelle met. When we sat down with both of them, they told us about the movie's origins, the countless obstacles they faced along the way, and why they purposefully didn't want to cast a modern-day version of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for their musical leads.