The musical fantasia La La Land has maintained its lead in the Oscar race for Best Picture throughout the entire fall movie season. It killed on the festival circuit throughout the early fall and despite receiving some criticism, it’s gotten positive reviews, earning a 93 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The New York Film Critics Circle, among other critics groups, named it the best film of 2016; Screen Rant’s own critics called it one of the year’s best as well. And La La Land led the Golden Globe nominations with seven, including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy).
While writer/director Damien Chazelle’s film has only opened on a limited number of screens thus far, La La Land boasts a strong per-screen average, of over $22,000 as of last weekend, and positive word of mouth. Now, even though it’s already in theaters, the film has a new trailer that focuses on its music – specifically, a new song by pop star John Legend, who has an acting role in the film.
The new trailer, lasting about 90 seconds, is built around a snippet of Legend’s song “Start a Fire,” interposing various romantic highlights of the film with the song and footage of Legend (as his character Keith) singing on stage. The clip features multiple iconic moments from the film, from the highway-set prologue and Gosling at the piano to the two stars dancing and kissing throughout handsome Los Angeles locations, all in the gorgeous colors meant to evoke old-style Hollywood glamour.
The trailer appears to be aimed, at least in part, at selling the film’s soundtrack as well as pushing an awards campaign for a Best Original Song nomination for the song. Legend took home that same Oscar, two years ago, for “Glory,” his song that was featured in Ava Duvernay’s Selma.
However, “Start a Fire” isn’t the film’s signature song. That’s “City of Stars,” the tune sung by Gosling himself and featured throughout the film, although it’s possible both could earn nominations (“City of Stars” got a Globe nod but “Start a Fire” didn’t). The trailer also accentuates one of La La Land’s stranger aspects: That it puts a character on screen played by John Legend, who looks, talks, sings and performs almost exactly in accordance with Legend’s established persona, but tells us that this character is the human embodiment of shameful, brain-dead pop music, to the point where working with him means selling out.