If you close your eyes and imagine the heyday of Old Hollywood, you can’t help but remember the days of starry-eyed lovers, colorful dresses, and flashy musicals. One movie that tried to tap into the style of that era is La La Land. It reminded us how much fun and moving this genre can be, and that is why we have curated this list of 15 movies like La La Land.
La La Land, released in 2016, is a romantic musical drama written and directed by Damien Chazelle. The movie features Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, who play the roles of Sebastian “Seb” Wilder and Amelia “Mia” Dolan respectively. Seb is a jazz pianist who has been down on his luck lately while Mia is an up and coming actress. They both meet and fall in love with each other, but soon their dreams and aspirations begin to get in the way of their relationship.
The movie was critically acclaimed, and especially praised for breathing life into a previously neglected romantic musical genre. It bagged a hoard of award nominations and win, bringing about a mini-resurgence of musicals on the market, as The Greatest Showman was released the following year to similar fanfare. If you’re looking for more movies like this then here are 15 movies like La La Land.
List of Movies like La La Land
- A Star is Born
- Singing In The Rain
- West Side Story
- In The Heights
- Rebel Without A Cause
- The Greatest Showman
- All That Jazz
- The Artist
- Los Angeles Plays Itself
1. A Star is Born (2018)
A Star is Born was one of the musicals borne out of the success of La La Land. And just as in movies similar to La La Land, A Star is Born is a musical romantic drama which follows a duo who are dealing with the pitfalls of striving for fame and being at the top of their craft.
This movie follows Bradley Cooper’s Jackson “Jack” Maine, an alcoholic musician past his prime who discovers a young singer named Ally Maine, who he develops a relationship with, with both ending up getting married to each other. A Star is Born released to critical acclaim due to its grounded storyline and themes.
2. Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
From a modern classic, we have Singin’ in the Rain, an American musical romantic comedy released in the 50s. It is a lighthearted story similar to films like La La Land, and follows the story of three Hollywood stars who are transitioning between silent films and the era of movies with sound.
The movie has been praised for its pace, humor and breezy nature. It plays into the satirical nature of late twenties Hollywood, and has been named as a must watch for lovers of Hollywood, its history, and films in general. If you want a classic to keep you busy one of these days, then this is the film for you.
3. West Side Story (2021)
This time we have a remake of a 50s musical in West Side Story. Directed by Steven Spielberg, West Side Story is a modern day Romeo and Juliet story about two youngsters from rival New York City gangs who fall in love, but have to keep it at risk of inflaming relations further between both gangs.
West Side Story is a great adaptation of a classic to modern times, and some have even said that it had surpassed its predecessor. Spielberg showcases his directorial chops once again, and if you’re looking for a musical of great quality similar to movies like La La Land, then you might have one on your hand here.
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4. Grease (1978)
Grease shot John Travolta into the limelight in the 70s, as Danny alongside his love interest, Sandy, played by Olivia Newton-John. This movie follows the adventures of a group of teenage friends in high school in the 50s, with well-defined cliques which start to become blurred as the movie goes on.
It’s one of the movies similar to La La Land, in terms of its glamorous style, and playful tone. Even back then it served as a throwback to old 50s and 60s movies like Don’t Knock The Rock and Beach Party. Grease has been recognized by many publications as the most successful musical of all time, so if you’re looking for one of the movies which definitely influenced movies like La La Land, then look no further.
5. Cabaret (1972)
Cabaret is set in Berlin, in 1931, and the plot follows the story of Sally Bowles, played by Liza Minelli, who falls in love with an academic from England, before a new complication in the name of Maximilian von Heune threatens to come between the both of them.
The movie debuted to glowing reviews, winning 8 Oscars, and was selected by the Library of Congress as only the 12th live-action musical to be inducted to the United States National Film Registry. If you’re a fan of the sensual tendencies and sophistication of films like La La Land, you should give Cabaret a watch, it is well worth it.
6. Once (2007)
As in a lot of movies like La La Land, we are presented with the artistic protagonist trying to make their big break in their respective industries. This time it’s vacuum repairman Glen Hansard who works on the side as a musician, who is hoping for that big break to come his way.
He happens upon a lady called Marketa, she is a florist who had emigrated from the Czech Republic. He discovers a talent that she is also musically gifted, and both of them decide to partner up artistically, a partnership which soon develops into strong romantic feelings between the both of them.
7. In the Heights (2021)
In the Heights is based on music written by prolific songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a book authored by Quiara Alegria Hudes. It follows the story of a set of characters living in a Dominican American neighborhood called Washington Heights in New York City.
This movie is split into three acts, and tries to teach viewers a lesson about our decisions and the consequences borne out of those decisions. In the Heights is a musical with depth similar to movies like La La Land. It’s highly recommended for its portrayal of serious themes through a more light hearted manner.
8. Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
James Dean’s posthumous performance on Rebel Without A Cause blew audiences away, setting a benchmark for actors to aspire towards. It has all the tropes of romantic coming-of-age movies like La La Land. This movie however shows no hesitation in providing social commentary on the times and place in which it is set in.
Rebel Without A Cause is centered on James Dean’s Jim Stark, a rascally teen who is new in town, and is trying to turn away from his rebellious ways. But after gaining a friend and new love interest, Judy, played by Natalie Wood, he soon is thrust back into the life of trouble which he had been trying his best to avoid.
Also Read: Movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel
9. Hairspray (2007)
Hairspray is a musical romantic comedy in a similar vein with movies like La La Land. The movie is an adaptation of the 1988 comedy of the same name and follows the story of a high schooler who is trying to get into the spotlight as a dancer on a local television dance show.
Set in 1962, the movie showcases the political and cultural climate of the time, especially with regard to racial relations. It’s an entertaining movie from start to finish, infused with a lot of heart, and garnered a lot of critical acclaim, ending up on many 2007 year-end lists.
10. The Greatest Showman (2017)
A lot of movies similar to La La Land, are all centered on a protagonist… or protagonists aiming to reach the very top of their craft. The Greatest Showman is another one of such, and follows the story of P.T Barnum, played by Hugh Jackman, a man who had always had the dreamof putting on the greatest show on Earth.
The Greatest Showman is a dazzling spectacle of a movie, with a strong ensemble cast, really great music, and memorable choreographed routines. It’s simply a feel good movie to kick your legs up to and enjoy in your spare time.
10. All That Jazz (1979)
All That Jazz is a musical drama directed by Bob Fosse. The screenplay is also co-written by Fosse, alongside Robert Alan Aurthur, and is based on snippets from Fosse’s life as a dancer and his subsequent move into directing movies.It follows the story of Joe Gideon, who like Fosse is a director and choreographer who is trying to balance his two passions.
This movie is a wonderfully choreographed film on the same pedestal as films like La La Land. It was regarded as so much of a classic that it was also selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, and is regularly named among the Greatest Movie Musicals of all time.
12. The Artist (2011)
The next movie is a real throwback to the Hollywood movies of old. The Artist is a black and white silent film written and directed by Michael Hazanavicus, featuring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, an accomplished film star and upcoming young starlet respectively.
The Artist debuted to widespread acclaim, winning 6 Golden Globes, 7 BAFTAs and 5 Academy Awards. It was among the most celebrated movies of its year, similar to movies like La La Land, and was praised as “a crowd-pleasing tribute to the magic of silent cinema”, and rightfully so.
13. Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)
Hollywood and L.A have existed for so long now that there is a certain veneer of mystery that is wrapped around it. A veneer that is showcased in similar movies to La La Land as well as this video essay by Thom Andersen named Los Angeles Plays Itself. The video essay is a documentary about the essence of Los Angeles and its relation with the behemoth called Hollywood.
Los Angeles Plays Itself was released to rave reviews, especially for the way in which it peeled back the layers of why Los Angeles is depicted the way it is in movies and the intense fascination with Hollywood. The whole film is as informative as it is entertaining. Give this a watch if you want the best of both worlds.
14. Whiplash (2014)
We couldn’t let this list reach its conclusion without mentioning another one of Damien Chazelle’s movies in Whiplash. With similar aesthetic styles to movies like La La Land, Whiplash follows the story of Andrew Neimann, played by Miles Teller and his toxic working relationship with his teacher Terence Fletcher, played by the ever menacing J.K Simmons.
Apart from the frantic dialogue and stylized view of Hollywood which we are shown, it also shines in respect to its music, infusing a lot of jazz into its scenes. Almost driving the entirety of the movie along with music heard in each scene. It was particularly praised for its sound editing and great performances from Teller and Simmons, the latter of which won him a clean sweep of Academy, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe and SAG awards.
15. Burlesque (2010)
Burlesque is a story about Ali, played by Christina Aguilera, a girl who leaves the small town to make it big in the city of LA. It clearly mirrors the story of the archetypal protagonist in films like La La Land. And in true fashion, she lands a job waitressing at the Burlesque Lounge, where she begins to realize her artistic dreams.
It’s a movie with all the usual cliches seen in movies like these, but is still an enjoyable watch. It has been praised for the performances by Cher and Christina Aguilera, especially on stage. And it just might be worth the entry free (or subscription fee) just to see that.
Here are a list of movies like La La Land that didn’t make it, which you can also check out:
- Les Misérables (2012)
- Tangled (2010)3.Anchors Aweigh (1945)
- Anchors Aweigh (1945)