But “All About Eve” has secured a permanent place among America’s most important cinematic classics; it ranks 16th in the American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the 100 greatest American movies of the previous century. “La La Land” also got plenty of critical acclaim. But it’s unclear whether a movie known for its attempt to recast an old genre will be remembered in a similar fashion decades later.
“‘La La Land’… pulses and glows like a living thing in its own right, as if the MGM musicals of the ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ era had a love child with the more abstract confections of Jacques Demy,” wrote Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday. In doing so, the film created “a new kind of knowing, self-aware genre that rewards the audience with all the indulgences they crave — beautiful sets and costumes, fanciful staging and choreography, witty songs, escapist wish-fulfillment — while commenting on them from the sidelines.”
The 2016 musical is also worlds apart from James Cameron’s sweeping epic “Titanic.” Despite the 1997 movie’s long running time — three hours and 15 minutes — audiences flocked to see the giant ship go down in a story that combined action, drama, romance and a chart-topping theme song in Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”
“Titanic” remained in theaters for 41 weeks and became one of the biggest box office hits ever; it remains fifth on the list of highest-grossing movies in domestic sales, adjusted for ticket price inflation, according to Box Office Mojo.
“Titanic” also had a much wider initial distribution than “La La Land,” playing in 2,674 theaters and grossing nearly $53 million at the box office during opening weekend. “La La Land” rolled out more slowly, playing in just five theaters during its opening weekend before gradually expanding to a peak of 1,865 this past weekend. It took “La La Land” five weeks to surpass the opening weekend sales for “Titanic,” and that’s not even adjusting for its higher ticket prices today.
And “Titanic” had an impact beyond the box office. By the time Oscar nominations for 1997’s best movies were announced, “Titanic” had transcended from a Hollywood favorite that wowed audiences with technical feats to an iconic movie that had incredible mass appeal. Although the movie may be considered a bit corny in retrospect, “Titanic” earned pretty solid reviews at its release, and it has an 88 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Since the 1998 Oscars ceremony, which brought “Titanic” 11 awards, Cameron’s movie has spurred numerous cultural touchstones that persist until today. The Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet “I’m flying!” scene has been imitated and mocked on TV shows and in movies for years, and whether Leo could have fit on her raft remains an enduring question, one that even the MythBusters tried to debunk.
Not to mention the role “Titanic” had in catapulting DiCaprio’s career into the realm of blockbuster leading man.
“Titanic” won for best picture, director, art direction, cinematography, costume design, film editing, original dramatic score, original song, sound, sound effects editing and visual effects. It’s tied with “Ben-Hur” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” for the most wins ever.
“All About Eve” netted six awards: best picture, supporting actor, costume design, director, screenplay and sound mixing.
But just as “Titanic’s” Oscar wins skewed higher because of its memorable music and the and scale of its production, so do “La La Land’s” nominations for its musical nature (two of its 14 nominations are in the best original song category, and it also pulled in sound awards) and flashy look (it got nods for production design, costumes and cinematography).
“La La Land” won seven Golden Globes this year — a record number. Whatever happens at the Academy Awards next month and beyond, Chazelle’s movie has already made history.