La La Land ★★★½

I'm so torn on this. I went in with decidedly high expectations and, man, were they juuuuuuust within reach. A musical lives and dies by the strength of its music, and thankfully the soundtrack is an absolute earworm (Fools who Dream and A Lovely Night being standouts for me, as well as the cast numbers toward the beginning). Everything else though? I mean, dazzling cinematography. Appropriately plot-serving production design and costumes. Ryan and Emma are adequate. Chazelle's direction goes in some interesting directions (though I will never forgive him for that atrocious pool shot during "Someone in the Crowd"). So why doesn't this film feel like the sum of its parts? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The ending is a saving grace for me, and elevates this film from "good" to "I can see why it's a huge Oscar contender."