Every once in a while, I see a movie that deserves better than being dumped into a list. This is one of those.
5. (1064.) La La Land (2016)
I had intended to see this even before it swept the Golden Globes. Worried that it wouldn't last long in theaters despite the accolades (it doesn't have any explosions, bare tits, or Disney princesses in it so you know the masses aren't going to turn out in droves), I trekked to the local Regal Georgian 14. I'm not a huge fan of this particular theater. It brags of those giant, newfangled reclining seats that you can either sit back in or have your feet touch the ground, but never both at the same time. Ugh. I felt like Edith Ann. (Look it up, Millennials.) If it was important to me to watch a movie in a recliner, I'd watch it in my living room, where the carpets aren't sticky, and the popcorn doesn't cost $12.
At the box office, despite the movie having officially started 10 minutes earlier, the ticket taker still insisted that I pick my seat from the two dozen remaining. "Reserved seating is strictly enforced," read the sign on the ticket window. Someone should have told the woman sitting in E8 when I got there. Rather than kick out a little old lady, I took her seat, E10, and sat next to a child and her sister whose father only realized that they weren't in a showing of Sing after thirty minutes of previews and La La Land's opening dance number. After the father toted his girls, their two boxes of popcorn, three drinks, and mountain of boxed candy out of my row, I, at 41 years old, became the youngest person in the theater. (Yet another sign of a movie soon to be at your local Redbox.)
Most movie lovers will tell you seeing a movie with a crowd of people intensifies the experience, as though sharing the laughs and cries with a bunch of strangers makes it more deeply felt. I don't buy that shit. The theater is dark and loud for a reason, and that reason is so that when someone answers her cell phone in the first act, you can't figure out where she's sitting. The theater can't really duplicate the feel of home unless robocallers interrupt dinner.
But at least the audience is paying attention. I guess. As soon as the movie was over, the friend of the old woman who stole my seat said, "I don't understand the ending." To which her male companion replied, "I think you can choose whichever ending you like." Sure you can. You don't even have to watch a movie to do that. I would think the underlying themes of La La Land are pretty universal, but I concede that if you've lived your whole life without sacrificing anything to achieve your dreams, if you've never been in or lost a love, if you have no passions or fears, if you slept through your twenties, if you're both blind and deaf, then this film probably isn't for you.
Fortunately for me, the movie more than made up for everything else. In many ways, it reminded me of That Thing You Do!, another great film with musical numbers (and Tom Everett Scott) and a message about being forced to chose which of the things in life really matter when you're on the road to becoming the person you want to be. When I saw that film in 1996, I left the theater to find that someone had broken into my car and stolen everything in it. Yet I didn't mind because I had enjoyed the movie so much. Yes, La La Land was a lot like that.
If you get the chance, go. It's totally worth seeing on the giant screen. Totally. And that's the truth.