‘La La Land,’ Justin Hurwitz

Composer Justin Hurwitz created the music for La La Land, which stars Ryan Gosling as a pianist who falls for actress Emma Stone. Needless to say, Gosling spends quite a bit of screen time tinkling the ivories. “I practiced some of those piano pieces four hours a day for three months,” he shares, in the clip below.  Stone also gets to showcase her musical chops, performing the song “Audition.” In addition to being sole author of the score, Hurwitz wrote the songs (collaborating with lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), which include Gosling’s showpiece, “City of Stars.”

The wind is certainly at Hurwitz’s back this awards season. He collected the first trophy out of the gate for which he was eligible, the Los Angeles Film Critics Award, which on Dec. 4 honored him (along with Pasek and Paul) with Best Score. (The New York Film Critics Circle, which unveiled its honorees the prior week, doesn’t recognize music).  The film received three Hollywood Music in Media nominations last month — for score, and each of the two songs.

That, coupled with the fact that Hurwitz was shut out of the Oscar race for 2014’s Whiplash, which score received wide praise, makes him a solid 2016 contender. La La Land is Hurwitz’s third collaboration with Whiplash director Damien Chazelle. The two met while studying at Harvard, where they played together in a band, and went on to create what they “thought was a student film,” Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, which went on to gangbusters at Tribeca 2009.

In addition to songwriting and composition, Hurwitz does his own orchestration — a musical triple-threat. Barely 36, we predict he’ll be scoring Disney animated mega-musicals in no time.

A Lionsgate release, La La Land opens Dec. 9.


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