×

‘La La Land’s’ ‘City of Stars’ Lyricist Gives Shout Out to Arts in Public Schools at Oscars

City of Stars” from “La La Land” shined bright at the 89th Academy Awards, winning the statuette for best original song.

Justin Paul, one of the song’s lyricists, made a point to shout out public schools in the acceptance speech. “I was educated in public schools where arts and culture were valued and recognized and resourced,” he said. “And I’m so grateful to all my teachers who taught so much and gave so much to us.”

In any other year, his remarks might not be seen as a political statement. However, his comment comes at a time when Betsy DeVos, the recently confirmed secretary of education under the Trump administration, has taken heat from teachers’ unions and some charter school advocates.

City of Stars” fought off competition both from within — in the form of “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” — and from the outside — with “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana,” “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story,” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from “Trolls” also up for the prize.

Popular on Variety

“City of Stars,” which was composed by Justin Hurwitz with lyrics from Pasek and Justin Paul, is sung twice throughout the film. Ryan Gosling’s character Sebastian first belts it out solo on a dusk-lit pier, where it comes across as a more lonely ballad. It’s performed as a duet on the second refrain, with Gosling and Emma Stone signaling their love through the “rat-tat-tat” on their hearts.

La La Land’s” music was also nominated for best original score, one of the movie’s record-equaling 14 nominations.

All of the best original song nominees were performed, with “La La Land” star John Legend taking over the live-performance duties for the song from Stone and Gosling. The other performers were Sting for “The Empty Chair,” Lin-Manuel Miranda and Auli’i Cravalho for “How Far I’ll Go,” and Justin Timberlake for “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”

More Film

  • Mickey Rourke

    Mickey Rourke Joins Religious Drama 'Man of God'

    Pure Flix/Quality Flix has picked up international sales rights to religious drama “Man of God,” starring Mickey Rourke, Aris Servetalis and Alexander Petrov. The rights are for sale at the Berlin Film Festival. “Man of God,” directed and written by Yelena Popovic. Producers are Alexandros Potter and Yelena Popovic through their company Simeon Entertainment and [...]

  • Young Hunter

    'Young Hunter': Film Review

    Director-writer Marco Berger has been playing with same-sex seduction since his debut, “Plan B,” frequently pitching one confident gay man against a more closeted or curious conquest. Eleven years after that first feature, his latest, “Young Hunter,” continues to riff on the same theme, here exhibiting parallels with the entrapment scenario of 2011’s “Absent” in [...]

  • Kumail Nanjiani Stuber

    Film News Roundup: Kumail Nanjiani Boards Political Thriller 'The Independent'

    In today’s film news roundup, Kumail Nanjiani has been cast as a journalist, Daisy Ridley boards Imax’s “Asteroid Hunters,” “Best Summer Ever” leads off a festival, Shelley Duvall gets an honor and “Dark Harvest” lands at MGM. PROJECT LAUNCH Kumail Nanjiani will star in the political thriller “The Independent,” which is being introduced to buyers [...]

  • Balloon

    'Balloon': Film Review

    On paper, the plight of a pair of families fleeing 1979’s East Germany in a hot air balloon sounds like fabricated fodder for a spy novel. But as implausible as it sounds, this “The Mysterious Island”-esque grand escape from Deutschland’s then walled-in, oppressive slice really did happen. And nearly four decades after being the subject [...]

  • J.D. Dillard Star Wars

    New 'Star Wars' Movie in Development With 'Sleight' Director, 'Luke Cage' Writer

    Lucasfilm is developing a new “Star Wars” feature film with “Sleight” writer-director J.D. Dillard and “Luke Cage” writer Matt Owens, Variety has confirmed. The project is still in its very early stages, and all further details — characters, location, time period within the “Star Wars” creative galaxy — remain a mystery. That includes whether Dillard would [...]

  • Foster Boy

    Shaquille O'Neal on Why Foster Care Is the Great Untold Story

    It’s no secret that I have suffered some losses lately. For better or worse, my pain and grief are public. But I understand the opportunity to face the pain, learn from it, and model a behavior. I wouldn’t want it any other way. But there are hundreds of thousands of kids across the U.S. — [...]

  • Emerald Run

    'Emerald Run': Film Review

    “Emerald Run” is one of the weirdest hodgepodges to make its way to theater screens and digital platforms in quite some time. Unfortunately, oddness is just about the only thing this muddled little indie has going for it. Despite the game efforts of lead actor David Chokachi and attractive lensing by DP Michael Caradonna, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content