Another bad Oscars decision?

Rick Roberts is preparing Oscar statues with gold paint
The Oscars are looking for a fresh coat of paint.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)
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I’ve been thinking how I’ve been thinking about Lionel Richie all wrong, which beats spending all day thinking about what’s going on in Ukraine, though I have to admit I haven’t been entirely successful in this effort.

I’m Glenn Whipp, awards columnist for the Los Angeles Times, host of The Envelope’s Friday newsletter ... sailing on down the line.

Ain’t it funny how the time can go?

Stop trying to ‘fix’ the Oscars

Did you watch the Beatles docuseries “Get Back”? If so, you probably remember filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the filmmaker hired to document the band’s recording sessions and, who knows, maybe a concert. (The movie he delivered, “Let It Be,” was terrible.) Throughout “Get Back,” Lindsay-Hogg offers one bad idea after another, at one point suggesting the Beatles perform a show in an orphanage or a children’s hospital. “Not one where they’re really sick,” he adds. Thank you for clarifying that, sir.

I was reminded of Lindsay-Hogg the last couple of weeks when the motion picture academy revealed its plans to keep this year’s Oscars ceremony “vital, kinetic and relevant.” The academy, along with, presumably, input from ABC (a network full of good ideas!) and the show’s producers, have decided to cut eight awards (more than a third of the categories, for those doing the math) from the live broadcast. Because who watches the Academy Awards to see ... awards? (Answer: literally everyone.)

This unfortunate decision arrived a week after the academy announced it would be recognizing (or rewarding? who knows?) a fan-favorite movie from people voting on Twitter. Who wants to see composers Jonny Greenwood or Hans Zimmer accept the Oscar for original score (Does Zimmer speak in a booming voice, like his music? I want to hear!) when we can instead recognize the cinematic excellence of a Zach Snyder zombie movie or a godawful fairy-tale musical? (Answer: Again, pretty much everyone who loves the Oscars.)


Four years ago, the academy trotted out the bad idea of a “popular film” Oscar. People hated it. The academy backtracked. That same year, the academy proposed lopping off a few categories from the live ceremony. Its members revolted. The academy again backtracked.

In chasing an audience that doesn’t care about the Oscars and wouldn’t watch the show if Iron Man resurrected himself from the dead and flew into the Dolby Theatre, the academy is alienating both its membership and the viewers who remain deeply invested in the Oscars and, yes, the art of filmmaking.

It’s not too late to backtrack again ... but I’m afraid of the next bad idea that would follow.

Kristen Stewart, Oscar-nominated for "Spencer."
Kristen Stewart, Oscar-nominated for “Spencer.”
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Kristen Stewart on her perfect L.A. day

Kristen Stewart is scrolling through her phone, looking for a song that made her cry. It’s Valentine’s Day. The sun is setting over Griffith Park, and we’re sitting on a sofa at the house of a friend of a friend. This being Los Feliz, that friend is a DJ, and he has a couch rigged up with speakers inside the cushions. But we’re not sitting on that couch, nor are we partaking in the weed growing around back, because, again, it’s Valentine’s Day, and as soon as we’re done talking, Stewart wants to get home to her fiancée, screenwriter Dylan Meyer. They’re staying in.

“We’re kind of peopled out right now, so no fellow humans,” Stewart says. She lands on the song “When I Was a Boy,” a beautiful late-period Electric Light Orchestra ballad that Stewart kept in her back pocket in case she ever had to dive into some deep well of sadness while playing Princess Diana in “Spencer” and needed a little help getting there. Which happened, of course, when filmmaker Pablo Larraín asked her to do this big emotional scene where Diana returns to her childhood home and just starts sobbing and Stewart was too exhausted to wrap her head around it.


“Remember Pablo telling you that there’s nothing better than a tired actor?” Stewart asks, recalling an earlier conversation we had with Larraín. She’s not completely sold on that notion. But she kept this ELO song in the sort of secured place like you’d house a fire extinguisher, and then on the day, she broke the glass, played the ballad and was properly gutted by it.

“Oh, my God, it’s so good,” Stewart says. “You should play it in the car when you leave ... unless you want to play it right now.” We consider it but then get distracted by another “Spencer”-adjacent song, Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.” We’d been talking about Los Angeles, and I ask her what she thinks would constitute a perfect day for someone visiting L.A. for the first time. Not surprisingly, given her love for the city (she has an L.A. tattoo on her wrist), Stewart has an answer that’s so sensational in its specificity that it belongs on the city’s tourism board website.

If you’re curious about Stewart’s itineraries (yes, she has more than one) and would also like to hear a good golfing story, it’s all here in our conversation. See you at Ricky’s Fish Tacos!

Kristen Stewart earned her first Oscar nomination for "Spencer."
Kristen Stewart earned her first Oscar nomination for “Spencer.”
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

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The 10 best picture nominees make their cases for a win

For the 10 movies nominated for best picture, being invited to the party was just the first step. Now the focus is on winning the Oscar. But how? Awards consultants are busy sharpening their pitches, recalibrating their campaigns and figuring out subtle ways (nix that “Dune” spice rack promo) to convince Oscar voters that their movie is the year’s best.


As we head into the final stretch before voting begins, I examined how we’re hearing the messages they’re sending. Want an example of a pitch? OK ... I’ll play you out with a song, sung to the tune of Van Morrison’s “Moondance.”

Well, it’s a marvelous year to vote “Belfast”
With its twinkly grandparents so wise
A fantabulous year to vote “Belfast”
‘Neath those nostalgic black-and-white skies

And all those people in the theaters are swooning
When Jamie and Caitríona dance on the floor
It’s a lot more pleasing than that western
Which is just such a colossal bore

You know this movie’s magic seems to whisper and hush
As you fondly remember that adorable tyke’s first crush

Can you please just vote for “Belfast,” this year?
Can you please just vote for “Belfast,” it’s so clear!

Thank you ... and good night. (Or good morning, as the case may be. See you next week.)

Best picture nominees
This year’s best picture Oscar nominees.
(Illustration by Jim Cooke / Los Angeles Times;
Focus Features; Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures; Searchlight Pictures; Apple TV; 20th Century Studios; The Match Factory; Warner Bros. Pictures; Netflix)


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