La La Land (2016)
This romantic comedy and musical was a fan favorite at the end of 2016 among both popular and professional critics, earning seven nominations for Golden Globes. Rolling Stone named it their favorite film of the year. The story about two aspiring artists is set (where else?) in Los Angeles. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a struggling jazz pianist who wants to open his own club in order to play the real stuff and stay true to his craft. An actress-barista named Mia (Emma Stone), who serves lattes to the movie stars on set, is tired of humiliating auditions. They first meet (where else?) in an incidence of road rage caused by freeway gridlock. After several false starts, snarky encounters, and dingy music venues, their romantic flame ignites. But as they each pursue their dreams and enjoy some success against all odds, what will become of their new love? This being a musical, Sebastian and Mia break out in song and dance a couple dozen times to an original soundtrack and lyrics composed by Justin Hurwitz. This is whimsical and escapist cinema at its best, which is to say, a real gift in our current gloomy context. Following your passion, pursuing your dreams, and falling in love never looked so attractive (or risky).