Whilst La La Land is a good film, it's not the masterpiece that will resurrect the musical as a cinematic genre. It's mainly hindered by its editing. The Artist is similarly a homage to classic cinema but it is perfectly streamlined without anything superfluous. Director Damien Chazelle doesn't lack flair but he almost goes overboard with it by over-stretching the film instead of keeping it short and bittersweet.
Emma Stone is likeable but did she deserve Best Actress? I'm not convinced that she brought something to the role that other actresses couldn't bring- if anything, it's the lack of star power that works in her favour, as we genuinely don't know whether Mia's dreams will come true or not. But Ryan Gosling didn't deserve an Oscar nomination- presumably he was nominated so that it wouldn't look like a snub. I buy Emma Stone as a struggling actress but not Ryan Gosling as implausibly hot jazz enthusiast lecturing Mia on the virtues of classical jazz.
There are obvious influences from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (which was itself influenced by MGM musicals)- even the score is reminiscent. Chazelle has good taste in films and the jazz is pleasingly classy, even if it feels shoehorned in. He covered jazz nicely in Whiplash; this feels like the audience is being given a lesson in Jazz for Beginners.
The hype could be put down to the film's tone- there's an innocence to it, like an antidote for the hostile political climate. Just as Moulin Rouge was unashamedly romantic, La La Land is about love and dreams rather than musing on weightier themes. There is an underlying melancholy to the film but it's not depressing and it doesn't undermine the film's dreaminess.
The songs are good- 'City of Stars' is the standout but 'Another Day of Sun' makes a great opening to the film, in a chorus dance number reminiscent of an MGM musical and 'Somewhere in The Crowd' is similarly catchy. It's unfair to compare composer Justin Hurwitz and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul to the seasoned composers of the golden era of musicals and it's to their credit that they go for their own sound rather than pastiche (although the score in the planetarium scene calls to mind the dance at the gym in West Side Story).
The cinematography sells the film, creating the dream like world that makes the musical aspect work as the audience are swept into the glamour and fantasy of Hollywood. La La Land might not save the genre but it shows that there's still mileage.