Six bold predictions for this season’s Oscars

Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick."
(Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures)

I’m thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro. That or eating about a dozen of these buttery dinner rolls. Must the two be mutually exclusive? Wouldn’t the rolls stay really fresh in a higher elevation?

I’m Glenn Whipp, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, host of the Envelope’s Friday newsletter and the guy willing to break up with the Pillsbury Doughboy because he has failed to deliver a “luxurious pillowy texture” time and time again. Sometimes you just have to find the courage to let go and create the space where you can find the lightly brushed buttery goodness you deserve in your life.

Six bold Oscar predictions

We’re still a couple of months away from Oscar nominations, but, outside of “Avatar: The Way of Water” and its glorious space whales, all the contenders have landed. Now it’s just a matter of convincing voters to give them a look.

With academy members and critics still in the discovery stage, I set aside formal predictions for the moment and took a few bold guesses at what might happen if the planets align and a single butterfly’s wings flap in just the right way. Again, these are big swings, the kind of flails that Dodgers batters take when a playoff game is on the line. (And you know how that goes.) I’m not even saying they should come to pass. But they might. Who knows? We haven’t even thawed the Thanksgiving turkey yet. Still, it is kind of bonkers fun to wrap your ahead around Tom Cruise earning a lead actor nomination for ... “Top Gun: Maverick.”


Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Yeoh hug for a portrait.
Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Yeoh. Will they be Oscar nominees for “Everything Everywhere All at Once”?
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Guillermo del Toro’s dark, weird ‘Pinocchio’

Growing up in Guadalajara, Guillermo del Toro had two Sunday rituals — church and movies. The day began with Mass at 8, where Del Toro learned about creeds and saints and the strict rules dictating order and obedience. After breakfast, Del Toro’s parents would drop him at a small theater three blocks from home where he’d absorb a more morally ambiguous world filled with, on any given Sunday, vampires and monsters and an ape man swinging through the jungle.

“Parents wouldn’t stay, which was very auspicious for ‘Tarzan and His Mate,’” Del Toro says of the 1934 film that starred Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan wearing what was then considered a revealing loincloth. “All the kids around the age of 12 were very taken with that movie. My mom used to say, ‘You really like Tarzan!’” Del Toro laughs at the memory. “Yes, Mom, I love Tarzan!”

Del Toro usually went to the movies with his older brother, but there was one that he caught with his mother, a film that bonded the two for the rest of their lives — a re-release of Walt Disney’s 1940 animated classic, “Pinocchio.” Watching the tale of a wooden puppet yearning to become a real boy, the young Del Toro lost himself in a story that contained con men and villains, wild children turning into donkeys and a desperate hero trying to rescue his father from the bowels of a whale.

“That was the fundamental movie of my childhood because it captured how scary the world looks when you’re a kid,” Del Toro recently told me. “Primal stories like that help children decipher the world in all its complexity. The worst lie you can tell a kid is that the world is black and white. I heard that in church, but not in ‘Pinocchio.’

“For me, Pinocchio and the Frankenstein monster are two sides of the same coin,” Del Toro continues. “They’re both creations by an uncaring father released into the world without much aid to figure it out. One is an ethical fable because the monster has to construct a deeper system of spirituality. ‘Pinocchio’ is a more moral journey traditionally, in which the do’s and don’ts are related to what you need to do to be loved. It’s more a fable about domestication.”

Which, frankly, always irked the Oscar-winning director. And as he thought about “Pinocchio” over the years — and he thought about it a lot — he wondered why Pinocchio couldn’t be loved on his own terms. Forget turning into a real boy. He’s a living piece of wood with a heart as big as a forest! Shouldn’t that be enough? Forget all the talk of obedience. Defiance in the face of conformity should be the virtue that’s revered.


Given this lifelong rumination, it’s no surprise that “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” currently playing in select theaters before landing on Netflix on Dec. 9, might be darker, weirder and, in many ways, more wonderful than the Disney movie you remember watching as a child.

I go into even more detail in this Envelope cover story interview with Del Toro. And, yes, I can’t lie (because you know what happens if you do): “Pinocchio” was part of that bold Oscar predictions story I mentioned earlier in this newsletter. Check it out!

Guillermo del Toro holds a Pinocchio puppet in a multi-exposure portrait.
Guillermo del Toro is back with “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.”
(Irvin Rivera / For The Times)

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Antoine Fuqua talks Will Smith, ‘Emancipation’

After Will Smith walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars early this year, there was all sorts of speculation about how Apple TV+ was going to handle the release of “Emancipation,” the period action thriller he made with director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”).

Well, (enough?) time has passed and “Emancipation” will be opening in select theaters Dec. 2 ahead of its streaming release a week later. It remains to be seen whether the public, the industry and awards season voters will embrace — or even acknowledge — the movie.

“I’m just taking everything as it comes, sticking to the task at hand, sticking to the work and the art,” Fuqua told Times film writer Josh Rottenberg. “That’s all I can control, so I’m focused on that.”

Josh also spoke with Fuqua about the importance of continuing to grapple with the history of slavery, the challenges of mounting a major Hollywood production in alligator-infested swampland and navigating the fallout from Smith’s actions at the Oscars. It’s a good read.

Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith on the set of "Emancipation."
(Quantrell Colbert / Apple)


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