Newsletter: Gold Standard: ‘Big Short’ cements front-runner status with PGA win

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. “The Big Short” got an early leg up on the major guild honors, taking the Producers Guild award for best picture last Saturday. The SAG Awards are this Saturday night. Let’s look at how those developments figure into the Oscar races.

PGA a good omen for ‘The Big Short’

The PGA winner has gone on to take the Oscar the last eight years, including the last six, when both the academy and the PGA expanded their best picture slates and adopted a preferential ballot to determine the victor. That’s very good news for Adam McKay’s anarchic look at the 2008 financial crisis.


Read our Mark Olsen’s coverage of the evening here. And my analysis of what it means for the best picture race is here.

big short pga

"Big Short" producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner accept the PGA Awards honor.

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Academy diversity issues continue to dominate headlines

Late last week, film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced that the academy’s 51-member board of governors had approved a series of major changes designed to diversify the group’s membership. 


Times film writer Rebecca Keegan scored the first interview with Boone Isaacs, who called the moves, which could revoke voting privileges from members who have not been active in the industry, “the right thing to do.” The changes are also designed to double the number of women and minorities in the academy by 2020.

Did racial bias, conscious or not, come into play in Oscar voting?

That’s the question Times reporters Josh Rottenberg, Mark Olsen, Marisa Gerber and I asked scores of members of the academy’s actors branch, the group that, for two years running, failed to nominate a person of color. Their answers provide an illuminating look at the mindset of Oscar voters, some of whom aren’t happy with the way the academy has responded to the #OscarsSoWhite outcry. Read the story here.

Follow The Times’ SAG Awards coverage on Saturday

Just go to

We’ll have complete coverage, starting with the red carpet beginning at 3 p.m. PST, with the show beginning at 5 p.m. PST.


Autumn in Alberta, Canada, shot by "The Revenant" cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.

(Emmanuel Lubezki)

Lubezki shares his favorite Instagram shots from ‘The Revenant’


Let’s leave with a few moments of beauty. Sam Adams talked to two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, asking him to comment on some of the still photos he created while shooting “The Revenant” in Canada and Argentina. If you’re not following Lubezki on Instagram, you will be after seeing these shots.


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