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Newsletter: Oscar acting predictions — with a few surprises

Cynthia Erivo has a strong chance of earning a lead actress Oscar nomination for “Harriet.”
Cynthia Erivo has a strong chance of earning a lead actress Oscar nomination for “Harriet.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

‘Twas the week before Christmas
And all through the town
Not an Oscar campaign was flagging
Not even the one with the clown

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.

The 20 actors who’ll be earning Oscar nominations this year

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With the year-end awards and nomination slates being stuffed down our chimneys, we have a pretty good idea of who might be earning Oscar nominations when they’re announced on Jan. 13. I took a pass at predicting the four acting races, including this year’s brutally competitive lead actor category.

If Antonio Banderas doesn’t earn his first Oscar nomination for “Pain and Glory,” there will be a great cry through the land. And it will be me. And it will be louder than the time I realized that Dave Roberts was going to leave Clayton Kershaw in to start the eighth inning of Game 5 in the National League Division Series.

Florence Pugh, left, director Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan of “Little Women.”
Florence Pugh, left, director Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan of “Little Women.”
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Greta Gerwig had a perfect — secret — plan for ‘Little Women’

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“Little Women” opens in theaters on Christmas. There isn’t a better movie you could see and enjoy with family and friends, provided you’re looking for some glad tidings and good cheer. (If not, the family in “Parasite” has a gift for you.)

I spoke with Greta Gerwig at length about how she put a new spin on Louisa May Alcott’s classic by remaining true to both the novel and the details of Alcott’s own life as a writer. It’s an approach that satisfies on many levels. Go see it next week when it opens.

Quentin Tarantino likely will earn an Oscar nomination for his “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” screenplay.
Quentin Tarantino likely will earn an Oscar nomination for his “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” screenplay.
(Franck Robichon / EPA-EFE/REX)

Oscar predictions for original and adapted screenplay

Only two movies in the last 10 years have won the best picture Oscar without also taking a screenplay honor — the mostly silent “The Artist” and Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy film “The Shape of Water,” which was relegated to the Sunken Place by Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.”

And since just seven movies overall have won best picture without also at least earning a screenplay nomination (“Titanic” being the last), the writing categories could prove to be a crucial test for 2019 aspirants like “1917,” “Parasite” and “Ford v Ferrari.”

Who’ll pass inspection? I took a look at the races for original and adapted screenplay, noting that the original category is crowded with stronger contenders, raising the stakes.

Feedback?

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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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