‘Oppenheimer’ aims to join Oscar’s top award pantheon

The 96th annual Academy Awards from Hollywood's Dolby Theatre kicks off on ABC at 4 p.m.
“Oppenheimer” and its success will be one of many themes playing out at the 96th annual Academy Awards from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. The show kicks off on ABC at 4 p.m. and is expected to last 3½ hours. Red carpet coverage gets underway at 10 a.m.
(Alex Rhodes / For The Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Sunday, March 10. I’m your host, Andrew J. Campa. Here’s what you need to know to start your day:

    ‘Oppenheimer’ poised for a big evening

    Three films stand atop the pantheon of all-time victories in the Academy Award’s near 100-year history.

    Director Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy finale “The Return of the King,” director James Cameron’s “Titanic” and “Ben-Hur,” starring Charlton Heston, each netting a record 11 Oscars.


    Director Christopher Nolan’s Great Man biopic “Oppenheimer,” about the atomic bomb’s creation overseen by theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, played by actor Cillian Murphy, may very well launch the epic into rarefied air.

    “Oppenheimer” received ecstatic reviews and was nominated for 13 awards, one short of the record held by “All About Eve,” “La La Land” and “Titanic.”

    To reach film’s Mt. Olympus, this American Prometheus will need to score Oscar victories in other areas, such as sound or adapted screenplay.

    “Oppenheimer” already swept the Producers, Directors and Screen Actors Guild awards for Best Picture, becoming the 11th movie to claim the trifecta. Ten of those 11 proceeded to win the Oscar for Best Film with only “Apollo 13” failing to stick the landing.

    Our columnist Glenn Whipp says “Oppenheimer” is “a lock” to win seven Oscars, including for Best Picture. Upsets have happened, though, including in 1999 when “Shakespeare in Love” stole Best Picture from devastated director Steven Spielberg and his war epic “Saving Private Ryan.”

    As Whipp notes, “Oscar nerds will be on the edge of their seats.” Here are his Academy Award predictions.


    Kimmel returns for Hollywood’s biggest night

    “Oppenheimer” and its success will be one of many themes playing out at the 96th annual Academy Awards from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.

    The show kicks off on ABC at 4 p.m. and is expected to last 3½ hours. Red carpet coverage gets underway at 10 a.m.

    Late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel is hosting for a fourth time.

    Kimmel has endured through some chaotic but truly dramatic Oscar moments, such as in 2017 when presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope and erroneously announced that “La La Land” had won Best Picture. The real winner was the movie “Moonlight.”

    He also brought stability in hosting last year, as the show tried to regain its footing after actor Will Smith’s infamous 2022 onstage slap of comedian Chris Rock in front of a stunned worldwide television audience.


    Kimmel agreed to host this year, partly, because he had seen some of this year’s Best Picture nominees.

    “I am sitting in a movie theater watching ‘Barbie’ and thinking, ‘Well, maybe I’ll do this again, because at least I have a point of reference with everyone,’ ” he said.

    Potential spoilers and performers highlight the evening

    Poor Things” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” also enter with giant aspirations buoyed by 11 and 10 nominations, respectively. “Barbie,” last summer’s biggest blockbuster, also merited eight nominations.

    Scheduled performances of Oscar-nominated songs are expected by Jon Batiste (“It Never Went Away” from “American Symphony”); Becky G (“The Fire Inside” from “Flamin’ Hot”); Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell (“What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie”); Scott George and the Osage Singers (“Wahzhazhe [A Song for My People]” from “Killers of the Flower Moon”); and Ryan Gosling and Mark Ronson (“I’m Just Ken” from “Barbie”).

    The week’s biggest stories

    San Francisco Mayor London Breed championed two ballot measures that broaden police surveillance and mandate drug treatment.
    (Godofredo A. Vásquez / Associated Press)

    Housing, homelessness and real estate

    Crimes, courts and policing


    Outdoors and transportation

    More Oscar coverage

    More big stories


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    Column One

    Column One is The Times’ home for narrative and long-form journalism. Here’s a great piece from this week:

    A soldier patrols Michoacán's Tierra Caliente, where criminal groups have increasingly embraced improvised explosive devices.
    (Alfredo Estrella / AFP/Getty Images)

    A series of blasts in Tierra Caliente — an area along the border of Jalisco and Michoacán states that has long been a hot zone for cartel warfare — marks an alarming escalation of violence in Mexico as criminal groups arm themselves with ever-more sophisticated and deadly weaponry. The drug war in Mexico has come to resemble actual warfare with improvised land-mine usage increasing.

    More great reads

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    For your weekend

    LOS ANGELES , CA - OCTOBER 10: Courage Bagels on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022 in Los Angeles , CA. (Shelby Moore / For The Times)
    (Shelby Moore / For The Times)

    Going out

    • 🥯 What better way to spend your Sunday than hunting for the area’s best bagel. We’ve got our picks.
    • 🌹 It’s the second Sunday of the month, meaning Pasadena’s sprawling Flea Market at the Rose Bowl is back, opening at 5 a.m.
    • 🐶 Arcadia’s Arboretum is hosting its first “Barks & Brew” festival, highlighting efforts at pet adoption. The event begins at 11 a.m.
    • 🪁 Redondo Beach’s 50th annual “Festival of the Kite” is free and centers celebration around the whimsy air craft, beginning at noon.

    Staying in

    L.A. Affairs

    Get wrapped up in tantalizing stories about dating, relationships and marriage.

    A woman and man hug as a shadowy figure joins in.
    (Chloe Zola / For The Times)

    We had been together for six months, and even as we grew closer, met each other’s families and became the couple known as “Scott and Cathleen,” I continued to call him Paul, the name of my ex-boyfriend. At the grocery store, in front of friends and when we were alone. With a dramatic wag of his finger, he would issue a “You did not just call me Paul again?” To which I would throw up my hands, as if Scott were the one to blame.

    Have a great weekend, from the Essential California team

    Andrew J. Campa, reporter
    Carlos Lozano, news editor

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