Newsletter: Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ got the pope’s blessing; next stop, Oscar?

Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese speaks at an American Cinematheque tribute.
(Jonathan Leibson / Getty Images)

A new movie from Martin Scorsese. A new release date for Michael Keaton’s “The Founder.” And a possible new inductee into the 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.



When the pope shakes your hand and tells you he hopes that your film “bears much fruit,” everything else — critics groups, career callbacks, splashy openings — kind of falls by the wayside.

Of course, you’re still obliged to do all those other events. Filmmaker Martin Scorsese recently turned up in Los Angeles and, later, San Francisco, to show his new movie, “Silence,” to academy and guild members and the press.

Scorsese received a standing ovation from those attending a splashy screening Sunday in Westwood. What else were they going to do? People were applauding before the film had even started. When it was done, many were left astonished. They had just watched perhaps the most challenging film the celebrated director has ever made, a probing and deeply spiritual examination of faith tested by the seeming silence of God. A best picture nomination seems the least people could do in response.


I wrote about “Silence” here, updating my Oscar predictions to include the late-breaking film. “Silence” is not an easy movie to watch at times, nor is it one that is easily processed when you’ve finished viewing it. I would expect many academy members to come away confounded. But those who open their hearts to the film will probably put it in the No. 1 spot on their ballots. There’s nothing else like it among the contenders. “Silence” is a film for the ages.

Michael Keaton in “The Founder.”
Michael Keaton in "The Founder."
(The Weinstein Co. )


You’ve heard of pop-up restaurants and pop-up museums. But what about a pop-up movie?

That’s the curious vibe surrounding “The Founder,” the story of maverick businessman Ray Kroc’s acquisition and expansion of the McDonald’s fast-food chain. The film, which stars Michael Keaton as Kroc, opened Wednesday on one screen at the ArcLight Hollywood for a one-week awards-qualifying run. It will return to theaters in a wider engagement on Jan. 20.

As recently as Sunday, the Weinstein Co., the movie’s distributor, had advertised that “The Founder” would open Friday. Prior to that, a limited release date had been set for Dec. 16. Before that, it was to open Aug. 5, a date that Weinstein Co. Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein said would show that “award-caliber movies should be able to open any time of year and be successful.”

I spoke to Weinstein here at length about the reasons for the release date shifts, as well as his hopes for the movie. The Times’ film critic Justin Chang praised the film, saying that it “turns the unlikely subject of a fast-food chain into a quasi-religious satire, a parable of American striving and, ultimately, a study of artisanal integrity gradually caving in to commercial compromise.” You can read his review here.

Lin-Manuel Miranda could be joining the EGOT club this year.
Lin-Manuel Miranda could be joining the EGOT club this year.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )


Are you ready to make room in the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) club for Lin-Manuel Miranda? The mastermind behind the Broadway sensation “Hamilton” is on track to add the final awards puzzle piece with one of his original songs for the Disney animated feature “Moana.” Miranda’s soaring anthem “How Far I’ll Go” topped iTunes’ downloads chart over Thanksgiving weekend, giving it the inside track to become the latest Disney number to win the Oscar for original song.

I took a look at the Oscar categories for original song, score and animated feature, making my nominations predictions here. His toughest competition will likely come from the musical “La La Land.” Once you see it, you might find it hard to dislodge this song from your brain.


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Twitter: @glennwhipp


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