Shortlists take us one step closer to the Oscars

Borat gives two thumbs up while listening to an iPod
Sacha Baron Cohen stars in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” A song from the film, “Wuhan Flu,” made the Oscar shortlist.
(Amazon Studios)

Valentine’s Day is Sunday, and while I decide between paddling around the Naples canals and doomscrolling through the news to ponder if we’ll still be quarantining next Valentine’s Day, I’m going to spin a little Chick Corea (“Now He Sings, Now He Sobs” feels right) in honor of the pioneering pianist who passed away this week.

Also: The Oscars are less than three months away. And in a week you’ll finally be able to see “Nomadland” (provided you have Hulu).

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. There’s room in my kayak. Hop on in.

Oscar shortlists are out

We’re about a month away from Oscar nominations being announced. This week, the motion picture academy released the shortlists of potential nominees in nine categories, including international feature, song, visual effects and documentary. Times film writer Josh Rottenberg ran down what films made the cut from the still-robust number of submissions. (For instance, 238 films — a record — were submitted for documentary. Fifteen were selected, including my favorite, the searing investigation of systemic corruption, “Collective,” which also made the international feature shortlist.)


Music branch members advanced 15 songs to the next round of voting out of 105 that were eligible, including the odds-on favorite, Leslie Odom’s “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami,” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’s” “Wuhan Flu,” a song that we probably won’t be hearing at the Oscars, even if nominated, because I think Jim and Jerry are busy that night.

Nominations voting begins March 5 and ends March 10. Nominations will be announced March 15.

Actress roundtable: ‘Terrifying’ choices, objectifying women

Times television critic Lorraine Ali led a virtual discussion with Oscar contenders Michelle Pfeiffer, Kate Winslet, Rashida Jones, Vanessa Kirby and Andra Day a few weeks ago, and the conversation topics included facing failure, defying expectations and challenging Hollywood’s norms.

A photo grid of five performers
The Oscars Roundtable features actresses Rashida Jones, clockwise from top left, Michelle Pfeiffer, Vanessa Kirby, Andra Day and Kate Winslet.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times; Matthew Lloyd / For The Times)

“It definitely feels like a different time right now ... we want to represent women that we identify as being us and the weird parts of us,” said Kirby, star of the wrenching drama “Pieces of a Woman” on Netflix.

Said Pfeiffer: “When I first started acting, probably for the first 10 years, I literally on the first day would shake so terribly that I was sure you could see it on film. Fortunately, you couldn’t. I don’t shake anymore, but I still have those jitters. I still think the first week of shooting I’m going to be fired and replaced.”

What do you say to that? Well, Day managed to sum it up: “This is a roundtable, but also a therapy session.”

I don’t know about you, but after reading it, I feel better. Then again, I did reference the whole doomscrolling thing at the outset.


Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

Here is a cute photo of Alan Kim

There are also words about the adorable, accomplished young actor, one of the “Minari” cast members nominated for a SAG Awards ensemble honor. The short profile, which I wrote, is fine. But not as good as young Mr. Kim’s reaction to seeing it in print.

Child in a cowboy hat
Alan Kim, part of the SAG Awards ensemble-nominated “Minari.”
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

“He’s so pure,” Yeun says. “I’ve worked with other child actors who had a deliberate precision to what they’re doing, which is commendable. But Alan ... he’s just so honest and truthful and present in a way that adults struggle to attain.”

We also profiled “News of the World” star Helena Zengel, excellent opposite Tom Hanks in Paul Greengrass’ fine western, and 7-year-old Ryder Allen, the striking newcomer in the Apple TV+ film “Palmer.”

What were you doing when you were 7? I was riding my bike, falling off my skateboard and hiding peas underneath my mashed potatoes. Clearly, compared to this group, I was a slacker. Actually, now that I think about it, as an adult, I still don’t compare too favorably.

I’m going kayaking.


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

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