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Gold Standard: Yalitza Aparicio revels in her Oscar moment

Gold Standard: Yalitza Aparicio revels in her Oscar moment
Yalitza Aparicio, the breakout star of "Roma." (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

When Yalitza Aparicio earned a lead actress Oscar nomination for her turn as Cleo, the nanny who tirelessly cares for a middle-class Mexico City family in “Roma,” much was made of her becoming the first indigenous woman to earn such recognition.

Somewhat lost in this historic first was the work itself. Alfonso Cuarón, who wrote and directed “Roma,” basing the film on his memories of growing up with his own nanny, Liboria Rodriguez, says that Aparicio “crafted the character from beginning to end.”

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“And on top of that, she was faced with a new universe,” Cuarón says of the newcomer, who had no acting experience prior to “Roma.” “By the second day of the shoot, she had an amazing understanding of what she needed to do and how to access her emotions.”

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.

Yalitza Aparicio talks about her journey to the Oscars

I spoke with Aparicio recently, asking her to break down three key scenes in “Roma.” She shared the bare-bones direction that Cuarón gave and how she then reacted in the moment. (The story contains spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie that’s likely to win the Oscar for best picture … well … what are you waiting for?)

My colleague, Times culture writer Carolina Miranda, wrote a beautiful profile of Aparicio, honing in on her determination, acuity and awareness that she has come to be seen as a symbol for Mexico’s indigenous people.

“Perhaps I haven’t fully absorbed the Oscar nomination,” Aparicio says, “but I know that everything that I am doing — if I do something wrong, they might think we are all that way. So I have to take good care of that image, our image.”

Final voting for the 91st Oscars is underway.
Final voting for the 91st Oscars is underway. (Robyn Beck / AFP)

Academy members share their ballots … and I make my own predictions

We’re in the final days of voting for the 91st Oscars. I asked four academy members — a writer, producer, director and actor — to share their ballots and the reasons behind their picks. (I loved our writer’s reasoning behind her vote for Olivia Colman for “The Favourite”: “I feel like best actress nominees never get to be funny, and, my God, was she funny.” Amen.)

Elsewhere, I made my own predictions for picture, director and the four acting races. I also mused whether “Bohemian Rhapsody” would be the worst movie featuring a lead actor Oscar winner in the history of the Academy Awards. (If you’ve been reading the last few months, you probably already know the answer.)

Roger Deakins backstage after winning the cinematography Oscar at the 2018 Academy Awards with presenter Sandra Bullock.
Roger Deakins backstage after winning the cinematography Oscar at the 2018 Academy Awards with presenter Sandra Bullock. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

More controversy for the Oscars telecast

Back in August, the motion picture academy announced it would be moving a few categories off the live telecast for the 2019 Oscars. The reality of that decision became apparent this week when the academy spelled out the awards — cinematography, film editing, makeup and hair, and live-action short — that would be presented during commercial breaks at the upcoming ceremony. (The winners’ speeches will be seen later in the telecast in edited form.)

Criticism within the industry came fast and fierce. The academy responded with a letter defending and defining the changes … which was followed by a letter signed by nearly 400 Hollywood luminaries, protesting the decision. On Thursday, several prominent members of the cinematography community requested an immediate meeting with the academy’s chief executive, Dawn Hudson, to try to get the decision reversed.

Stay tuned.

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