What Oscar best picture winner has the finest unnominated screenplay?

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet at the bow of the ship in "Titanic."
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in “Titanic,” one of just seven films to win the best picture Oscar without also earning a screenplay nomination.
(Paramount Pictures/20th Century)

I’m whistling along to “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from “Encanto” while pondering which food to best ring in the Lunar New Year. Or maybe I just need to take our food writers’ advice and learn to become a better mezcal drinker. That wasn’t on my list of 2022 resolutions, but ... hey, it’s still January, so there’s time to add another one to the lineup.

Also: Oscar nominations voting begins next week. I wonder which contender pairs best with mezcal. I’m Glenn Whipp, awards columnist for the Los Angeles Times, host of The Envelope’s Friday newsletter. Let’s get started, shall we? Cheers!

Best picture winner needs a screenplay nod ... who’s in trouble?

Movies can win the Oscar for best picture without earning a screenplay nomination. But it doesn’t happen often — just seven times in the 93-year history of the Academy Awards and only twice in the last six decades.

While looking at this year’s Oscar screenplay races, I went off on a tangent and ranked those seven movies, which include four films from the Oscars’ infancy, a Shakespeare adaptation and “Titanic” and “The Sound of Music,” juggernauts that were impossible to ignore, even if you were so inclined. Which film topped the list? Hint: Former Times film critic Kenny Turan would probably not agree with my choice.

A portrait of Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis, with her hands resting on his left shoulder
Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis, stars of “King Richard.”
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis talk about their ‘King Richard’ showdown

It wasn’t supposed to go down in the kitchen.

That was the one room in the Chatsworth home doubling as the Williams family Florida residence in “King Richard” that was off-limits to the filmmakers because the appliances and cabinet hardware hadn’t been switched out to reflect the movie’s mid-’90s period.

So naturally, Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis, the actors playing Richard Williams and Oracene Price, parents of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, went straight to the kitchen when it came time to rehearse a crucial scene in the film. Where else would they go? Think about your own home and where people gravitate during parties, where family and friends hold late-night conversations and where loaded confrontations like the one in “King Richard” transpire.

“It is always the kitchen!” Smith says, punctuating the pronouncement, as he often does, with a booming clap of laughter.

I recently spoke with Smith and Ellis about their work in the film and, of course, their big blowout scene in the Williams family’s kitchen, which is so good you probably didn’t even notice that the microwave oven came from the wrong period.

Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis link arms for a portrait.
Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis, stars of “King Richard.”
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

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What do 8-year-olds and Nancy Pelosi have in common?

Depending on your political leanings, the answer to that question could go in a lot of different directions. My colleague Mikael Wood explains that the point of commonality is a shared love of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the songwriter behind that “Encanto” ditty I was whistling along with at the outset of this newsletter.

Writing about “Bruno,” Mikael notes, “‘Bruno’ slaps, as they say — it’s got swagger, attitude, oomph.” But it won’t win the original song Oscar as Disney submitted the lovely “Dos Oruguitas” as the song from “Encanto” it believes could win the trophy. First, of course, it has to earn a nomination. That should be a foregone conclusion, but we’ll find out Feb. 8 if Miranda has a shot for his EGOT.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, with folded hands, looks at the camera.
Composer Lin-Manuel Miranda.
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)


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