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Is the best picture race down to 'The Shape of Water' and 'Three Billboards'?

Is the best picture race down to 'The Shape of Water' and 'Three Billboards'?
The cast of "Three Billboards," led by Frances McDormand, celebrates its SAG ensemble win. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“The Shape of Water” pulled in a leading 13 Oscar nominations and took the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” swept through the SAG Awards.

Is there another movie that could challenge one of these two films as the Oscar best picture race moves into the home stretch?

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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.

Oscar nominations: Academy lurches forward with historic picks

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards, which were announced Tuesday, contained a great many "it's about time" moments. Jordan Peele, the mastermind behind "Get Out," a social thriller about American racism, became the first African American to earn producer, director and writer nominations for a single film; the academy nominated a female cinematographer, "Mudbound's" Rachel Morrison, for the first time in its 90-year history; and Greta Gerwig became just the fifth woman recognized as a director, feted for her wry, observational coming-of-age story "Lady Bird."

I wrote about the impact and implications of Tuesday’s historic nominations, while Times film writer Jen Yamato spoke to Peele and “Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya, who earned a nomination for his lead turn. Film critic Kenneth Turan weighed in on an academy in the process of change, while the Times’ other film critic, Justin Chang, took delight in the six nominations that Paul Thomas Anderson’s period chamber drama, “Phantom Thread,” earned.

You can sift through the Times’ complete coverage of the 2018 Oscars here. And to answer the question I posed earlier: I think “Get Out” might be the movie poised to pull off an Oscar upset.

Vicky Krieps and Daniel Day-Lewis in "Phantom Thread."
Vicky Krieps and Daniel Day-Lewis in "Phantom Thread." (Laurie Sparham / Focus Features)

PDA for PTA

I mentioned my colleague Justin Chang taking pleasure in the academy’s love for “Phantom Thread.” The nominations for best picture and Anderson’s direction were among the day’s biggest surprises. How did they happen?

“Phantom Thread” began screening Thanksgiving weekend at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica and Laemmle's Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, sporting glorious 35 mm prints. The film ran at both locations for a week, and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members, as well as those belonging to various guilds, packed the joints. The screenings felt like can't-miss events.

The turnout was tremendous, with an awards consultant estimating that around 1,000 academy members saw the film theatrically. A great many of them ranked Anderson’s spellbinding love story first on their ballots, which is important because the academy’s preferential voting system rewards that kind of passion.

You can read more about “Phantom Thread,” Anderson, Denzel Washington and the stories behind the season’s bigger surprises here.

And you can watch Times film writer Mark Olsen talk to “Phantom Thread” lead Vicky Krieps and its Oscar-nominated costume designer Mark Bridges as part of the Envelope Screening Series. Does Krieps share tips for making the perfect mushroom omelet? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Greta Gerwig and Saorise Ronan from "Lady Bird."
Greta Gerwig and Saorise Ronan from "Lady Bird." (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

What makes ‘Lady Bird’ fly

My favorite reader comment about my interview with “Lady Bird” lead Saoirse Ronan and its writer-director, Greta Gerwig, came on Twitter: “This interview headline should be ‘Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig drop both of their men to run away together.”

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These women do love each other, and that connection is apparent in every frame of Gerwig’s warm and wise movie, which earned five Oscar nominations Tuesday, including best picture and director and a nod for Ronan. Gerwig talks about a long-standing tradition of throwing an Oscar party. This year, it’ll have to come after the ceremony.

And if all this hasn’t satiated you, The Times recently launched a podcast, The Reel, devoted to all things entertainment. The first episode is up now and new installments will drop each week.

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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