La La Land: How Crucial is Toronto Film Fest to Turn the Musical into Oscar Favorite

With Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation possibly sidelined by controversy, caused by his rape accusation in 1999, Damian Chazelle’s La La Land, his love letter to the Hollywood film industry, the musical genre (both American and foreign), and Los Angeles as a City of Dreams, has emerged as the movie to beat this awards season.

The film received a rapturous reception and critical plaudits at the Venice Film Festival, where it world premiered and served as opening night, and was the toast of Telluride Fest a couple of days later.

It was so beloved that Tom Hanks took a break from hawking Sully, the Clint Eastwood drama he headlines, to gush over the picture. “If the audience doesn’t go and embrace something as wonderful as this then we are all doomed,” he said.

Variety‘s Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh think that La La Land has what it takes to go the distance, and Toronto Fest will be a key test of its endurance.

A musical hasn’t won Best Picture since Rob Marshall’s Chicago (released by the Weinstein Company) in 2002. But Chicago was based on a stage sensation, choreographed and directed by Bob Fosse on Broadway in the 1970s and then playing all over the world.

The last original musical to capture the top prize was 1958’s Vincente Minnelli’s Gigi, and even that movie was not entirely original since it was based on the French novella by Collette.

La La Land, which is an auteurist effort, written and directed by Damein Chazelle, will be making history if it wins Best Picture Oscar.