La La Land was at the top of my most anticipated films of 2016 (never mind not seeing it until January 2017) since I first heard of it months ago. I am so happy that it was fully able to live up to my high, high expectations. It's kind of funny, because up until about four years ago, I wasn't much of a fan of (any) musicals. Then I delved into classic Hollywood musicals, and while most full movie musicals weren't what I'd classify as 5-star movies, there were enough amazing individual scenes in many of them that made me appreciate musicals so much more. And then finding out the director of Whiplash was making a musical in the tradition of old Hollywood musicals, but with modern sensibilities and techniques, let alone staring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, made me chant "please be great" over and over. Luckily, it is. It starts off great with "Another Day in the Sun." "Someone in the Crowd" is a great quick followup. "City of Stars," both versions are great as well. The rest of the music is all very good to good. While La La Land isn't wall-to-wall music, the music that's included is all good and works well with the movie. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone aren't the best singers out there, but they are two of the best actors, and that more than makes up for any singing/dancing deficiencies (which with all the work they put into it, is very minor for the most part). I've seen it said (and agree) that Gosling and Stone are no Fred and Ginger, while trying to evoke Fred and Ginger, but that it's hardly their fault because Fred and Ginger (or their equivalents) don't exist any more. Not that there aren't many professional level singers and dancers that could amaze audience with their skills in movies, but as those movies don't exist anymore those roles don't either, which is kind of sad.
La La Land is a beautiful looking movie, Luckily Damien Chazelle (with his cinematographer) seems to have had a lot of great ideas of how to shoot it.
Another film released in 2016 that was a love letter to classical musicals (specifically the whole old studio system) was Hail Caesar, and it approaches its homage to musicals by trying to actually recreate a couple of old Hollywood style musical numbers (memorably played by Channing Tatum and then Scarlett Johansson). La La Land instead plays lots of homage to them visually and through the style of some of the songs. Damien Chazelle successfully blends the old with the new, and has created a classic of his own.