A movie ties a record with 14 Oscar nominations. A Hollywood star returns from exile. And a brief conversation with the man who might become the latest member of the exclusive EGOT club.
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.
'LA LA LAND' LEADS THE WAY
Irresistible is a word that has often been used to describe Damien Chazelle's "La La Land," and it's certainly appropriate when used in the context of this year's Academy Awards.
"La La Land" earned a record-tying 14 nominations Tuesday, putting it in the company of "Titanic" and "All About Eve." It's the clear front-runner to win the best picture Oscar. Right now, I have it going on to win 10 total. (Only 13 are possible as it has two nominees in the song category.)
You can read my analysis of the Oscar nominations here. I also wrote about the reasons behind five surprising nominations, including Mel Gibson's return to the spotlight for "Hacksaw Ridge." You can find complete coverage from The Times here, including Amy Kaufman's fine story about "Hidden Figures" screenwriter Allison Schroeder, why #OscarsSoWhite wasn't trending and why the industry still has a long way to go in solving its diversity problem.
NATALIE PORTMAN'S 'JACKIE' TRANSFORMATION
How do you wrap your head around playing one of the 20th century's most iconic women, particularly when you've never considered portraying real people as part of your skill set? I sat down with Natalie Portman not long ago to talk about her Oscar-nominated turn as Jackie Kennedy in Pablo Larrain's excellent film "Jackie," and she took me step by step through the process. You can read the story here.
IT REALLY IS A THRILL TO BE NOMINATED
One enjoyable assignment on Oscar nominations morning is that of talking to the newly minted nominees. You cannot believe how happy they are! And because of the early hour, most of them are also highly caffeinated. So that combo — giddiness plus caffeine — can make for some fun.
Jeff Bridges, for instance, had been up until 2 a.m., playing a gig at the Belly Up in Solana Beach with his band, Jeff Bridges and the Abiders. He earned a supporting actor nomination for his turn as a Texas lawman in "Hell or High Water."
"You never get used to something like this, or I don't," Bridges said in an interview you can find here among our various nominees' reactions. "Red carpets, I've been down quite a few. It always seems like the flashbulbs are getting brighter and there's more craziness. It always seems fresh to me, all of this. I never get used to it."
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who's an Oscar away from joining the Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony (EGOT) Club, wasn't as thrilled by that prospect as he was by the benefits he'd receive as an academy member next year — movie screeners.
"From what I understand, one of the perks of being nominated is you get to be a part of the academy, and one of the perks of being part of the academy is screeners, so I'm really down for some screeners right now," Miranda, nominated for original song, told The Times.
"So, you know, hook a brother up."
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