Oscars aim to bring 'overarching joy' into our living rooms

Oscars aim to bring 'overarching joy' into our living rooms
Jennifer Todd and Michael De Luca, producers of the 89th Academy Awards ceremony. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Could you use a little overarching joy in your life? Well, that's just what the producers of this year's Oscars are hoping to bring into your living room next Sunday night.

Welcome to the Gold Standard, the newsletter from the Los Angeles Times that helps guide you through the ins and outs of the awards season leading up to the Oscars.


I'm Glenn Whipp, The Times' awards columnist and your newsletter host.


Veteran movie producers Jennifer Todd and Michael De Luca have the no-win task of turning the Oscars into a satisfying three-(plus) hours of television. (They're hoping to keep the show's running time on the shorter side, threatening to play winners off the stage if they exceed their allotted 45 seconds of thank-yous. And the clock starts from the very second they leave their seats, so the sound editing winners sitting in the back row better wear their running shoes.)

"Jen coined this phrase: 'If we're not going to be earnest, we've got to be funny,'" De Luca said, defining what he hopes to be the show's tone. "And if we're not going to be funny, we've got to be earnest."

So … funny … earnest … and "overarching joy." That's all a tall order. Todd and De Luca explain how they're going to try to accomplish that in an Envelope interview that you can read here. I'll be talking to this year's Oscar host, Jimmy Kimmel, later on today. You can read that story in The Times in the next few days and I'll link to it in next week's newsletter.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Oscar nominees for "La La Land."
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Oscar nominees for "La La Land." (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)


Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling first worked together auditioning for the 2011 romantic-comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love." Asked to improvise a scene, Gosling remembers, "We just couldn't shut up. It was just lots to talk about and very easy."

That instant rapport was evident in "Crazy, Stupid, Love," "Gangster Squad" and, of course, "La La Land," the irresistible musical that netted a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations, including nods for both its leads.

And it translates off-screen as well. On a recent "La La Land"-perfect day,  sitting on the balcony of a Beverly Hills hotel that owns, per Gosling, a "strong palm tree game," the two actors, fueled by multiple vitamin drink mixes, banter effortlessly about the merits of mayonnaise, public access television and, of course, Los Angeles itself.

If, as the movie jokingly posits, L.A. is a place that worships everything and values nothing (a line Gosling cribbed from "his lady," partner Eva Mendes), both Gosling and Stone seem to be in on the joke and appreciative of those fleeting moments when the city does seem to be lightly dusted with magic.

You can read my conversation with them here. It may — or may not, depending on your fondness for mayonnaise-based foods — make you hungry for a helping of potato salad after reading it.

Mahershala Ali holds the two trophies he won at this year's SAG Awards.
Mahershala Ali holds the two trophies he won at this year's SAG Awards. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)


The Screen Actors Guild Awards has become such a strong indicator of the Oscars that it has created its own cottage industry of reasoning that publicists use to explain why their clients, the ones who lost at the SAGs, could still prevail with the film academy.

The most common explanation offered: With its 121,546 eligible members, SAG-AFTRA isn't as "exclusive" (translation: "knowledgeable" or "informed") as the 6,687-deep pool of Oscar voters. The SAGs are bestowed by (cough) meteorologists and DJs, hardly, the thinking goes, the kinds of discerning types able to gauge and appreciate nuanced acting.

But sometimes the weather man knows which way the wind blows. And I'm guessing this is going to be one of those years when the SAG Awards and the Oscars match up exactly. Find out why by reading my analysis here.


I'd love to hear from you. Email me at

Can't get enough about awards season? Follow me on Twitter: @glennwhipp

Twitter: @glennwhipp