This is no asterisk year for the Oscars. The depth of exceptional films is remarkable

Riz Ahmed in "The Sound of Metal."
(Amazon Studios)

They’re cleaning up the Capitol after a sickening siege. The 25th Amendment is being discussed. And Californians are being advised not to travel more than 120 miles from home, which puts my road trip to the Mojave Desert on hold. But with any luck, I’ll take it before the end of this glorious new year.

And the Oscars are about three months away.

I’m Glenn Whipp, awards columnist for the Los Angeles Times and host of The Envelope’s Friday newsletter. Welcome to this week’s edition. And while I’ll never be able to listen to “Gloria” the same way again, there’s always “Self-Control,” which, as we all know, stands as the apex of Laura Branigan’s career.

Awards season remains unsettled ... for obvious reasons

The holidays are usually the time that Oscar voters power through the year’s contenders. But there’s nothing normal about these times, and with the 93rd Academy Awards scheduled for April 25, there’s little sense of urgency at the moment. And, you know, we’ve also had more pressing issues to occupy our minds lately.

That said, virtual screenings are still taking place. In fact, if you don’t mind driving out to the City of Industry’s Vineland Drive-In, you can check out some of the year’s best movies on the big screen. Tonight’s lineup includes best picture hopeful “One Night in Miami,” which I’ve seen twice and love ... and I’d be tempted to stick around for the later showing of “Pineapple Express,” if only for a reminder on how to fashion a cross joint. (Asking for a friend who has a particular interest in the engineering of Michael Maurice O’Shaughnessy.)


I ventured out to the Vineland not long ago, and while the end result wasn’t what I hoped for, the journey was worthwhile. (Tacos!) I wrote about the experience and why, for all the talk about this being an asterisk year for the Oscars, it’s anything but, as the depth of exceptional movies is remarkable. I hope you have the ability to check out a few of the films I mention.

Grammys crash SAG Awards’ party planning

The SAG Awards announced in July that it would be moving its ceremony to March 14, 2021 — shifting its event back by nearly two months as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every date on the awards season calendar.

Apparently the Recording Academy didn’t circle the date on its calendar.

When the music organization decided Tuesday to postpone the 63rd annual Grammy Awards from Jan. 31 because of concerns over the spread of COVID-19, it moved it to March 14 as well, setting up a conflict that could have SAG-AFTRA scrambling for another date.

“Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho celebrates at the 2020 SAG Awards.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

CBS airs both the Grammys and the NCAA basketball tournament, which begins March 16, pretty much explaining why the Recording Academy made the decision it did. God only knows if any of these dates will hold, though with Gonzaga ranked No. 1, I’d really like to believe that She’s going to smile on March Madness this year.


‘Minari’ can’t earn a Globes best picture, but Oscars can fix that

You might have thought the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. would have learned something after being roasted last year for classifying Lulu Wang’s tender “The Farewell,” an American-made movie about a Chinese American woman saying goodbye to her grandmother, as a “foreign language film.”

But this is the HFPA, a group that, laughably, given its foreign press title, has little regard for global cinema and has consistently displayed an unwillingness to grapple with the context found in multicultural and multilingual stories. It wasn’t surprising that the HFPA yet again recently proved tone-deaf, designating Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari” as a foreign film, even though it was American-made by an American director and concerns nothing less than a family pursuing the American dream on a farm in Arkansas.

Steven Yeun and Alan S. Kim in “Minari” from A24.
Steven Yeun and Alan S. Kim in “Minari” from A24.

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So even though “Minari” stands as one of the year’s best movies (one day soon, you’ll have the chance to see it, I promise), it won’t be allowed to compete for the Golden Globes’ best drama prize, though its actors are eligible in the main categories. Given the outcry, I’d expect the HFPA to finally clarify the rule next year, allowing American-made films to compete for their best picture categories, no matter what language they are in. But with this group, who knows?

In the meantime, I took a look at what is eligible for this year’s Globes and what could be nominated, which, surprisingly, includes the filmed version of “Hamilton.” It isn’t really a movie but a recorded performance, but what the hell. The world is apparently wide enough for the Oscars and the Globes and their different interpretations of eligibility.



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Can’t get enough about awards season? Follow me at @glennwhipp on Twitter.