La La Land is a 2016 American musical romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle, and starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a musician and an aspiring actress who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles. The film's title refers simultaneously to music, the city of Los Angeles, and to the idiom for being out of touch with reality.
Chazelle wrote the screenplay in 2010 but did not find a studio willing to finance the production without changes to his design. Following the success of his 2014 film Whiplash, the project was picked up by Summit Entertainment. Filming took place from August to September 2015 in Los Angeles. La La Land was premiered at the Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2016, and was released in the United States on December 9, 2016. It grossed $443 million worldwide on a production budget of $30 million.
La La Land received critical acclaim. Critics praised Chazelle's screenplay and direction, Gosling and Stone's performances, Justin Hurwitz's score, and the film's musical numbers. It won in every category for which it was nominated at the 74th Golden Globe Awards, with a record-breaking seven wins, and received 11 nominations at the 70th British Academy Film Awards, winning five. It received 14 nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, tying the record for most nominations with Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950), and won six Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Actress (Stone), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song ("City of Stars"), and Best Production Design.
While stuck in traffic on a Los Angeles highway ("Another Day of Sun"), Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress, has a moment of road rage with Sebastian Wilder, a struggling jazz pianist. After a bad day at work, her subsequent audition goes poorly when the casting director takes a call in the middle of an emotional scene. That night, Mia's roommates take her to a lavish party in the Hollywood Hills, where Mia hopes for a breakthrough ("Someone in the Crowd"). She walks home after her car is towed.
During a gig at a restaurant, Sebastian slips into a passionate jazz improvisation despite warnings from the owner to stick to the setlist of traditional Christmas songs. Mia overhears the music as she passes by ("Mia and Sebastian's Theme"). Moved, she enters the restaurant, but Sebastian is fired for his disobedience. As he storms out, Mia attempts to compliment him, but he brushes her off.
Months later, Mia runs into Sebastian at a party where he plays in a 1980s pop cover band; she teases him by requesting "I Ran (So Far Away)", a song he considers an insult for "a serious musician". After the gig, the two walk to their cars, lamenting each other's company despite the chemistry between them ("A Lovely Night").
The next day, Sebastian arrives at Mia's work, and she shows Sebastian around the movie lot, where she works as a barista, while explaining her passion for acting. Sebastian takes Mia to a jazz club, describing his passion for jazz and desire to open his own club. They warm to each other ("City of Stars"). Sebastian invites Mia to a screening of Rebel Without a Cause; Mia accepts, forgetting a commitment with her current boyfriend. Bored with the double date with her boyfriend, she runs to the theater and finds Sebastian as the film begins. When the projector breaks, the two conclude their evening with a romantic dance at the Griffith Observatory ("Planetarium").
After more failed auditions, Mia decides, at Sebastian's suggestion, to write a one-woman play. Sebastian begins to perform regularly at a jazz club ("Summer Montage"), and the two move in together. Sebastian's former classmate Keith invites him to be the keyboardist in his fusion jazz band, where he will be offered a steady income. Although he is dismayed by the band's pop style, Sebastian signs after overhearing Mia trying to convince her mother that Sebastian is working on his career. The band finds success, but when Mia attends one of their concerts ("Start a Fire") she is disturbed, knowing Sebastian does not enjoy their music.
During the band's first tour, Mia and Sebastian get into an argument; she accuses him of abandoning his dreams, while he claims she liked him more when he was unsuccessful. Mia leaves, insulted and frustrated. Sebastian misses Mia's play due to a photo shoot with the band that he had previously forgotten. The play is a disaster; few people attend, and Mia overhears dismissive comments. Sebastian attempts to apologize to Mia for missing the play, but she is unwilling to forgive him and ends their relationship. Despondent and unable to pay the theater back, Mia moves back home to Boulder City, Nevada.
Sebastian receives a call from a casting director who attended Mia's play, inviting her to a film audition. Sebastian drives to Boulder City and persuades Mia to attend. The casting directors ask Mia to tell a story; she sings about her aunt who inspired her to pursue acting ("Audition (The Fools Who Dream)"). Sebastian, confident the audition was a success, encourages Mia to devote herself to the opportunity. The two profess they will always love each other but are uncertain of their future.
Five years later, Mia is a famous actress and happily married to another man, with whom she has a daughter. One night, the couple stumble upon a jazz bar. Noticing the "Seb's" logo she had once designed, Mia realizes Sebastian has opened his club. When Sebastian notices Mia in the crowd, he plays their love theme on the piano, and the two imagine what might have been had their relationship worked perfectly ("Epilogue"). Before Mia leaves with her husband, she shares a smile with Sebastian.
- Ryan Gosling as Sebastian Wilder
- Emma Stone as Mia Dolan
- John Legend as Keith
- Rosemarie DeWitt as Laura Wilder
- Finn Wittrock as Greg Earnest
- Jessica Rothe as Alexis
- Sonoya Mizuno as Caitlin
- Callie Hernandez as Tracy
- J. K. Simmons as Bill
- Tom Everett Scott as David
- Meagen Fay as Mia's Mom
- Damon Gupton as Harry
- Jason Fuchs as Carlo
- Josh Pence as Josh