Here’s our early predictions for the Oscar acting races

Tom Hanks stars in “The Post.”
(20th Century Fox Studios)

With screenings of the last two major contenders — Steven Spielberg’s journalism drama “The Post” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s suspenseful love story “Phantom Thread” — set to start in the next few days, the field will soon be set for the critics groups to begin weighing in with their picks.

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Early Oscar acting predictions

Circling back to “Phantom Thread” and “The Post,” we can, based on the filmmakers’ and actors’ track records, presume certain things. Meryl Streep playing Washington Post owner Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks portraying the paper’s editor Ben Bradlee in a Spielberg movie would seem likely to be part of any awards season conversation. Streep has won three Oscars; Hanks has two. They have 25 nominations between them, with Streep earning the lion’s share.

In the current political climate, you’re going be hearing a lot about this movie, which chronicles the decision to publish the confidential Pentagon Papers in 1971. The parallels between eras, with a U.S. president threatening a free press, are impossible to miss.

Meanwhile, as I write in an early stab at predicting the Oscar acting categories, it’s absolutely certain that Daniel Day-Lewis will earn a nomination for “Phantom Thread.” And I never make guesses about a movie I haven’t yet seen — unless it’s Day-Lewis, our greatest actor, working with a gifted filmmaker like Anderson. You can read my predictions here.


Judi Dench stars in “Victoria & Abdul.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times )

Judi Dench: All hail the queen

I enjoyed talking to Judi Dench a few weeks ago for an Envelope cover story, which you can read here. She’s every bit as lovely as you’d imagine, but also quite mischievous. I loved her interactions with Stephen Frears, who has directed her in five movies, including the current historical drama “Victoria & Abdul.” Frears is a famous grump, and Dench took great delight in playfully needling him whenever possible. Which isn’t to say that she doesn’t also adore him.

“He’s monosyllabic, that one,” Dench told me before Frears arrived. “It’s like squeezing something out of a stone, like trying to understand another language.” Like learning how to speak Frears? “Precisely. And once you learn to speak Frears, you’re OK. You sense him. And you trust him too.”

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, writers of “The Big Sick.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times )

Tagging along at the Governors Awards

The motion picture academy presented five honorary Oscars at its annual Governors Awards dinner Saturday, recognizing actor Donald Sutherland, filmmakers Charles Burnett and Agnès Varda and cinematographer Owen Roizman, as well as director Alejandro G. Iñárritu for his virtual-reality art installation “Carne y Arena.”

I covered the evening, tagging along with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, the married couple who wrote the semiautobiographical hit comedy “The Big Sick.” You can read that story here. And you can read Gordon’s first-person account of turning her story into a movie here.



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