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Though advertising dollars are primarily responsible for their unnecessary ubiquity this time of year, awards shows still do have a purpose.

But regardless of how enjoyable it is, and though it has its share of valleys to offset the show-stopping peaks, I’m sorry, but it just feels too… soft. At least too soft to be Best Picture.

While no sane individual should ever pay attention to them all, it is interesting to see which films start off awards season with a lot of pep, and which ones get stuck along the three-month road to the Oscars. Well, we already know one that’s got a lot of pep, La La Land, with its 12 Critics’ Choice noms, including Best Picture. But does it have what it takes to win the Academy Award come February 26th?

Having seen it this past weekend, I suppose I’d be surprised if it does. Not because La La Land isn’t a beautifully made movie — it’s that in technicolored spades, and leaps and twirls, and jazz scales for that matter. It’s a dazzling wonder to behold, a modern throwback that feels old and new all at once, where saving jazz is a romantic ideal totally worth fighting for (or at least a poppy, electronic, John Legend version of it).

Whiplash writer/director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land sublimely oozes the simple story of a hepcat jazzman (Ryan Gosling) and an awkwardly old-school actress (Emma Stone), two unlikely lovers and artists who dare to keep creating in a world that’s seemingly not all that interested in their charms. It’s a captivating, breathtaking, smile-making, old-dream recharging, belief in romance-instilling two hours.

But regardless of how enjoyable it is, and though it has its share of valleys to offset the show-stopping peaks, I’m sorry, but it just feels too… soft. At least too soft to be the Best Picture.

I know, I know, here we have a macho, manly writer bagging on musicals again. But that’s not the case, I’m as soft as they get when it comes to my musicals (don’t get me started singing Rent again, because I will out “Seasons of Love” you all day long). But in a year so filled with whatever the hell 2016 has thrown at us, aren’t we just climbing back in our bubble if we hand the golden little dude over to such escapism?

Perhaps not. Perhaps escapism is the best that Hollywood has ever had to offer in the first place. Perhaps seeing others diving into dreams is what we need to inspire us to do the same. Unfortunately, after two hours being swept away by La La Land, it’s the ridiculous orange face of reality that greets most of us. And though the show’s catchy songs and mysterious ending may linger a spell, you get the feeling escapism is going to be about as fashionable as jazz pretty soon.

In the face of such odds, maybe that’s the biggest reason to hope La La Land wins Best Picture after all.

Adam Pockross
About the Author

LA via Seattle via Vail via Syracuse via Denver via Chicago via the universe. Adam Freeman Pockross was raised by an English teacher mother, who, despite overbearing guilt, still managed to instill a passion for words – particularly those lovingly laced with alliteration. Over the years of over-education, Adam has professionally written about a vast array of subjects, including arts & entertainment, wine, the environment, cars, kids (though he has none), and, most embarrassingly, dick jokes. He’s also unprofessionally working on a digital children’s book for adults and playing in Playa del Rey's biggest rock n' roll cover band (as judged by member count, not popularity).

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