Tony Award-nominated songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul may have given us another unforgettable “Matt and Ben” moment when they took the stage on Jan. 8 to accept their first-ever Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for “City of Stars” from the Golden Globe record-breaking film “La La Land.”
Music superstars Carrie Underwood and Sting presented the effusive pair their trophy. Benj Pasek spoke first, pulling in Golden Globe-winning “La La Land” score composer Justin Hurwitz next to him.
“Justin, c’mere Man,” he said, “we’re so honored to work with you, to work with Damien on your brilliant film. These songs were all so inspired by what you did and to Emma and Ryan and the rest of the cast for singing it.”
Pasek went on to thank the producing and music teams and Lionsgate and a flustered Justin Paul stepped up to speak, stammering a little with his opening, “We never thought we would get to be part of an original movie musical, that’s what got us into loving musicals in the first place …”
Pasek interjected quickly with, “We have to calm down, we’re so nervous!” Paul agreed saying, “We really are! This is beyond our wildest expectations! This is for musical theater nerds everywhere! Thank you for this!”
The exuberant energy of these two friends was electric and fun and easily reminded us of the unforgettable 1997 Academy Award moment in which BFFs Matt Damon and Ben Affleck gave their ecstatic Best Original Screenplay acceptance speech. Coincidentally, it’s the 20th Anniversary of the Oscar-winning film they scribed. Since then, they’ve each went on to receive dozens of awards and accolades across a huge individual and collective filmography.
And right now, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are basking in a similar kind of over-excited, “Matt and Ben”-style glow with their shared Golden Globe victory for “City of Stars.”
The University of Michigan musical theater grads are notably 2013 Tony Award nominees for writing the music and lyrics for “A Christmas Story, The Musical. Other credits include “Dear Evan Hansen” and NBC’s musical television series “Smash.” True theater nerds may also remember that Pasek and Paul appeared at fellow U of M theater alum Darren Criss ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "Glee") outdoor festival for show tunes, Elsie Fest, at New York's legendary Coney Island last fall.
Criss was ecstatic about the news and shared his excitement on Twitter saying, "AHHHHHHH JUST LANDED TO THE F**KING CRAZIEST NEWS EVER CONGRATS @pasekandpaul 🎈🎊🎉🍾 GO BLUE BABAYYYY @UMich #GoldenGlobes #CITYOFROCKSTARS"
Their “La La Land" work, though, may have arguably given Pasek and Paul a huge breakout moment in their careers. Beyond winning the coveted Golden Globe Award, they also netted the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Song, the Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Song and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Music, among an impressive list of accolades this year.
"City of Stars" is sung first by Ryan Gosling alone in the film and then as a riveting duet with his beautiful leading lady Emma Stone.
“La La Land,” overall, really swept the Globes this year with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone snagging the Best Actor and Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Golden Globes. The film also got Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Damien Chazelle took home Best Director and Best Screenplay.
Something tells us to watch out for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Their collaborative songwriting efforts may just be following another famous pair of Hollywood friends to Oscar-winning glory.