Newsletter: Awkwafina needs to be at the Oscars this year

Four different views of Awkwafina, star of "The Farewell."
The many moods of Awkwafina, star of “The Farewell.”
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to see Awkwafina and Jennifer Lopez as newly minted nominees at this year’s Academy Awards. In fact, let them host. Maybe we can keep those ratings respectable.

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.


Awkwafina graces The Envelope’s first issue of the season

Times staff writer Michael Ordoña profiled the star of Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” the lovely and funny meditation on family and immigrant identity that was a solid indie hit this summer.

“I don’t look like a movie star,” she said. “I don’t act like one, I don’t sound like one. I’m a frumpy, slouchy, big mouth. Not what you’d imagine.”

Which is precisely why we love her.


A special shout-out to deputy design editor Paul Gonzales and page designer Steve Banks for their work on the Envelope’s new look, its first redesign in a dozen years.

My first column was, of course, about “Parasite,” and why it might be a surprising force at the Oscars this year. Or perhaps I downed too many pints of Bong Joon Hops, the beer inspired by the film’s director Boon Joon Ho, and it won’t win anything at all. It’s still early, so I’m going to hold on to optimism for now.

"The Irishman" director Martin Scorsese, in a tux, looks and points at something offscreen.
Martin Scorsese at the London Film Festival premiere of “The Irishman.”
(Dave J Hogan / Getty Images )

For Scorsese, making ‘The Irishman’ was ‘learning to die’


Times staff writer Jeffrey Fleishman wrote a great piece on Martin Scorsese for our Holiday Movie Sneaks issue, talking to the revered filmmaker about his latest effort, “The Irishman.”

“The reason it took so long was that I wasn’t going to go back to that world and do that again,” said Scorsese. “I wasn’t going to until I found a certain piece of myself about it. What that is I couldn’t tell you. It has to do with time, change in life, family, children. All of this. Somehow, we got seasoned in a way. Myself, maybe Bob [De Niro] too. After all the fury and all the struggle in life, ultimately it comes down to the leaving of it. It’s learning to die.”

The Netflix movie opens in select theaters today and is likely to continue playing here and there (unfortunately not everywhere) through the Oscars. Try to find it in a theater instead of streaming it. “The Irishman” is the kind of immersive filmmaking that deserves your full attention. (Put away your phone!)

Geena Davis at the 2019 Governors Awards
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Geena Davis at the Governors Awards.
(Matt Petit / A.M.P.A.S.)

Governors Awards: Calls for gender parity; selfies with Dr. Ruth

During his opener to the Governors Awards on Sunday night, Jamie Foxx name-checked his “Django Unchained” collaborators Quentin Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio, heaped praise on Tom Hanks with such enthusiasm that Hanks had no choice but to stand and do a little dance in response, and then finally brought a reluctant Eddie Murphy on stage because ... why not?

But the real charge in the ceremony came a bit later when two of the evening’s honorees, actress and activist Geena Davis and Italian director Lina Wertmüller, called on film industry leaders and academy members to take a hard look at gender inequity in movies and actually do something about it.

I wrote about the annual untelevised event that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established in 2009 as an evening to bestow its honorary Oscars. It also serves as something of an unofficial first campaign stop for contenders trying to capture academy members’ attention. And there was some serious attention-vying going on this year.



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