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Newsletter: Gold Standard: Don’t underestimate ‘Little Women’

Emma Watson, from left, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women.”
Emma Watson, from left, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen in “Little Women.”
(Wilson Webb / Sony Pictures)

Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” has arrived. And they haven’t built a theater big enough to hold it.

Welcome to the Gold Standard, the newsletter from the Los Angeles Times that helps guide you through the ins and outs of the awards season leading up to the Oscars.

I’m Glenn Whipp, The Times’ awards columnist and your newsletter host.

‘Little Women’ draws a turn-away crowd at early screenings

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Sometimes I worry that I’m turning into my parents, leaving for places — the airport, sporting events, Trader Joe’s parking lots — waaaay too early. That thought crossed my mind as I pulled into the Directors Guild of America’s theater off Sunset Boulevard a good 45 minutes before Wednesday night’s unveiling of “Little Women” ... only to find that there were zero parking spaces left, leaving a line of cars aimlessly drifting through a subterranean Hollywood hell.

I’m not looking for sympathy, friends. Just setting the scene of the insane, overbooked anticipation that left several dozen people, including many journalists covering the event, “shoving” and “shouting” and, in more mature displays of acceptance, “heading to the Bristol Farms deli counter.”

Did “Little Women” live up to the hype? Yes, it did. As my colleague, Times film writer Amy Kaufman, noted: “Greta’s take on the story made me connect with Jo in a way I never had. As a girl, I just thought she was crazy to reject Laurie.”

As a boy, I thought Jo was crazy to reject Laurie too! Now, I get it. Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women” is smart and layered, weaving together the March family’s lives as girls and young women in a way that’s faithful to Louisa May Alcott’s writing but also thrillingly alive and original.

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It’s one of my favorite movies of the year and should be a force at this year’s Oscars, with nominations for best picture, director, adapted screenplay and actresses Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh likely, along with costumes and production design and score. (And possibly Meryl Streep, who makes every second of her brief screen time count in her perfect portrayal of Aunt March.)

I wrote about “Little Women” more than a year ago, noting that the timing was perfect for Gerwig’s adaptation. Judging from the wonderfully insane response Wednesday night, it looks like plenty of people agree.

Awkwafina, center, and cast in a scene from “The Farewell.”
Awkwafina, center, and cast in a scene from “The Farewell.”
(A24)

Gotham Awards nominations announced

The small-batch panels of critics, programmers and writers who vote on the Gotham Awards clearly got their invites from A24 as three of the nominated movies for best picture — “The Farewell,” “Uncut Gems” and “Waves” — come from the beloved indie distributor. Also nominated: “Marriage Story” and “Hustlers.”

Times film writer Mark Olsen ran down the nominations for the event, an early bellwether of the direction that critics groups might be heading in the coming months.

Willem Dafoe, left, and Robert Pattinson, stars of “The Lighthouse.”
Willem Dafoe, left, and Robert Pattinson, stars of “The Lighthouse.”
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The ‘orgasm that won’t stop’ in ‘The Lighthouse’

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Did my item about “The Lighthouse” in last week’s newsletter prompt you to check out the tale of two lighthouse keepers trying to keep madness at bay during a powerful storm?

How about the headline above?

The movie’s expanding to about 500 theaters this weekend and, with that in mind, I spoke with the film’s two lead actors, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, about making this crazy, claustrophobic drama and what it all means. And by “all,” I’m referring to the sex dreams about mermaids, ill-tempered seagulls who seem possessed, flatulence employed as “deliberate displays of power,” visions of Dafoe’s Thomas as Poseidon (and as a mermaid!) and, at its center, the mystery of the lighthouse itself.

Feedback?

I’d love to hear from you. Email me at glenn.whipp@latimes.com.

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


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