The ‘Lost Daughter’ duo who are heading for the Oscars

A portrait of director Maggie Gyllenhaal and actor Olivia Colman
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Olivia Colman teamed on “The Lost Daughter.”
(Tom Jamieson / For The Times)

Would you pay nearly $5,000 to park your car for the Super Bowl? If you answered “yes” to that question, please contact me and I will happily ferry you to and from the game for ... I don’t know ... let’s say three grand. And you can choose the music in the car — just not this guy. I don’t think I can pull him up from the “social media abyss” in time for kickoff.

Also: Oscar nominations arrive bright and early Tuesday morning. I’m Glenn Whipp, awards columnist for the Los Angeles Times, host of The Envelope’s Friday newsletter and the guy who pretty much avoids going anywhere that doesn’t have free parking nearby.

Oscar nominations coming for Colman and Gyllenhaal

An easy camaraderie between Olivia Colman and Maggie Gyllenhaal began from the moment they met on the Fourth of July in 2019. Gyllenhaal was several months into adapting “The Lost Daughter,” Elena Ferrante’s novel about Leda, a middle-aged professor taking a working vacation on a Greek island. A chance meeting with a young mother, Nina (played by Dakota Johnson), prompts Leda to make some curious choices as she sifts through her own conflicted feelings about being a parent.

Gyllenhaal sent Colman the script, thinking, “Why not? I have nothing to lose.” And she had always seen something in Colman’s work that felt like Colman knew her, understood her and could teach her something. Then they met in New York on the Fourth, ordered a bunch of food, didn’t touch a bite of it and got drunk on Champagne.


“It’s an old-school approach, but it works,” Colman says, laughing. “Really, we just couldn’t bear saying goodbye to each other. So we kept chatting and chatting and drinking and drinking, and here we are.”

And now here we are, a few days away from the Oscar nominations announcement, with Colman poised to possibly win her second acting Oscar and Gyllenhaal to earn recognition for her astute adaptation of the Ferrante novel. I spoke with the two of them not long ago and came away just as impressed as Phoebe Waller-Bridge apparently was. (But you’ll have to read the story to find out about the source of her admiration.)

Two women put their heads together and smile for a portrait.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, left, said she sent Olivia Colman the script for “The Lost Daughter” thinking, “Why not? I have nothing to lose.”
(Tom Jamieson/For The Times)

‘The awards season from hell’

OK, that might be overstating things. But, for the second year in a row, the COVID-19 pandemic has choked much of the life out of Hollywood’s all-important awards season. With movies facing what feels to many like an existential crisis and the box office for adult-oriented films all but decimated, few in the business are in a celebratory mood.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be some glasses raised after Oscar nominations are announced Tuesday. And there are a few signs of optimism around Hollywood. But as my colleague Josh Rottenberg and I reported recently, with most in-person events canceled due to the Omicron variant, it has been a struggle to find ways to interest Oscar voters about this year’s contenders.

“What’s missing is the conversations that happen inside rooms,” said veteran awards consultant Tony Angellotti. “You know, ‘What have you seen? What have you loved?’ That’s largely gone. And because of that, people just aren’t as engaged as they have been before the pandemic.”

We’ll see soon enough which consultants had the most success in enticing voters to watch and respond to their contenders.

Illustration of an Oscar statue walking down a deserted street.
Awards season has been a little quiet this year.
(Michelle Rohn / For The Times)

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Missing that movie theater love

What’s the last movie you’ve seen? Not at home but in a theater. A movie where you stood in line, bought a ticket and then walked in, wandered past the concession stand and did an immediate double take, wondering, “Am I hallucinating? Or is a small bucket of popcorn really going for $8 these days?”

I’m thinking your answer might be the same as mine. The last movie I watched in a multiplex was “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which I saw on a recent Sunday afternoon with an audience of mostly families, including many with small children, little ones I’m guessing had not long ago learned how to walk. They most certainly knew how to talk.

But that was OK, because this is a Marvel movie, the eighth live-action “Spider-Man” film and the ninth overall, which means that the movie’s volume is firmly set to 11 — loud enough to drown out the sounds of small children, any and all moviegoers munching their pricey popcorn, even a Fourth of July fireworks show, not to mention the voice in my head wondering why Spider-Man thinks he can heal Marvel supervillains through group therapy.

I was catching up with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” on the recommendation of some friends and because it’s the one movie people seem to be willing to leave their houses to see these days, making it both a unicorn and a hard-to-ignore best picture Oscar contender.

“It’s an incredible movie, and I think it should be nominated,” Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, told me recently. “It belongs there on merit and, then, just the idea that, during a pandemic when everyone is encouraged not to go to a movie theater, people just say, ‘We’re going anyway. We’ve got to see this movie.’”

That thought — we’re going anyway, we’ve got to see this movie — summed up the early portion of this strange, anxiety-ridden awards season. I wrote a column about that feeling, which ended up with the headline “Why ‘Spider-Man’ deserves a best picture nomination in this high-anxiety awards season” ... which, to clarify, I’m not necessarily saying, as Barker did. Would I prefer “Spider Man” to, say, “Don’t Look Up”? Sure, why not. I scored OK on this quiz.

For the most part, though, I was just lamenting what we’re all exhausted by these days — this weird, seemingly endless pandemic limbo. I want to go to the movies again with a theater full of people (like I did recently with “Licorice Pizza”) and have that communal experience.

Provided, of course, that I don’t have to pay for parking ...

A young man and woman laugh as they run by an open field.
Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim in “Licorice Pizza.”
(Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Inc.)


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

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