Newsletter: Gold Standard: ‘Green Book,’ the most divisive Oscar best picture winner since ‘Crash’

The Academy Awards are over. The motion picture academy has named “Green Book” best picture. And this generation has its version of “Crash.”

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

The 91st Academy Awards had its share of surprises. (My condolences if you used my picks in your Oscar pool this year.) Glenn Close still doesn’t have an Oscar, as Olivia Colman won the lead actress award for playing Queen Anne in “The Favourite,” the only prize that movie earned from its 10 nominations.

“Roma” filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón took the stage three times, winning Oscars for cinematography and direction and accepting the Oscar for foreign-language feature. Yet his movie, which many (including myself) saw as the favorite for best picture, lost the night’s last award to “Green Book.”


I wrote about how “Green Book” prevailed and why it’s the most divisive best picture winner since “Crash.” Times film critic Justin Chang took that a step further, calling “Green Book” the worst winner since “Crash,” an assessment I can more or less get behind, though the academy has rewarded a fair number of mediocre movies in the last couple of decades. Would I rather watch “The King’s Speech” or “Green Book”? Do I have to choose?

Director Peter Farrelly celebrates the best-picture win for “Green Book” backstage at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 24..
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

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A new day at the academy, sort of? That’s was more or less the conclusion of columnist Mary McNamara. “Change is hard. It never happens quite like you want it to and most of the time it is very, very messy,” she writes. “This year’s Oscars reflected an institution in the midst of great change.

“Three years after #Oscarssowhite, the largest and most diverse academy membership in history made history with first-time wins for black female filmmakers and a record number of awards for black filmmakers. They gave an Oscar to the female creators of a short film about menstruation, the first Pixar film directed solely by a woman and Spike Lee. Alfonso Cuarón won three awards for “Roma,” which is a black-and-white film entirely in Spanish that is distributed by Netflix.”

But then there were those awards for “Bohemian Rhapsody” and, of course, “Green Book.”


Glenn Close said her dress weighed 42 pounds. Gemma Chan’s pockets stole the show. Jason Momoa wore a suit with matching scrunchie. Some of the outfits were gender-bending. But overall, most attendees played it pretty safe.

Here are the looks that made our best- and worst-dressed list.

Oscars 2019: Best and worst dressed
From left, Laura Harrier, Chris Evans and Sarah Paulson
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)



-- The full list of winners and nominees.

-- Sunday night’s Oscars marked a record-breaking year for recognizing the achievement of black artists.

-- Spike Lee had some thoughts about the win by “Green Book.”

Oscars 2019
Spike Lee, winner of the adapted-screenplay award for “BlacKkKlansman”
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

-- And yes, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has won more Oscars than “The Godfather.”

-- This year’s show still ran more than three hours, but not as nearly as long as in many years past. Why do the Oscars run long? We analyzed 10 shows and this is what we learned.

-- So how much time would the academy have saved if it had cut those four categories?

-- Music critic Mikael Wood says Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were so good at the Oscars that they need to go on tour.


-- Smiles, selfies and joy: The Oscars in photos.


That’s a wrap for this awards season. I appreciate all your thoughtful comments along the way. It’s been an enjoyable ride, even if it didn’t end particularly well. We’ll pick this newsletter up again in September, hopefully talking about some movies we’ve enjoyed in the intervening months. Thanks for reading.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at and follow me @glennwhipp on Twitter.

Times staff writer Scott Sandell contributed to this newsletter.

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