At Sunday's Golden Globes, La La Land composer Justin Hurwitz collected awards for best original score and best original song ("City of Stars") as the film took a record seven trophies. The film's several wins — including best picture (comedy or musical) and acting trophies for stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling — make it look like even more of a favorite for the upcoming Academy Awards.
Speaking after accepting the awards, Hurwitz praised his influences — including Charlie Chaplain as a composer — and thanked lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who shared the award for best original song. Hurwitz was a Harvard College classmate of writer-director Damien Chazelle, with whom he's worked on previous films including Whiplash.
The score and song are now both clear favorites for those respective Oscars, particularly since lauded scores to Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, and Silence have been deemed ineligible for Academy Award consideration. In his early 30s, Hurwitz is over 55 years younger than Ennio Morricone, whose Hateful Eight won last year's Golden Globe for best original score and also scooped the Oscar, making him the oldest Oscar-winner ever.
La La Land is the story of a young couple — an actress and a jazz musician — who struggle to keep their love alive amidst career struggles in Los Angeles. It's a deliberate throwback to the golden age of the movie musical, and Hollywood loves to give awards to movies about Hollywood.
That's not to diminish the achievement of Chazelle, whose instrumental score takes center stage in two of the film's most striking sequences. "There's this real kind of yearning quality to the music," Hurwitz told Fred Child in an interview last year. "This is a city where people come with these big dreams, but it's very hard to realize those dreams."