Newsletter: Essential California: And the Oscar nominees are....

“The Shape of Water,” top left, leads the field with 13 Oscar nominations. Other nominees included Saoirse Ronan in “Lady Bird,” top right; Christopher Plummer in “All the Money in the World,” bottom left; and Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread.”
(Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Jan. 24, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Oscar, Oscar

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards have been announced, and “The Shape of Water” leads the field with 13 nominations. “Dunkirk” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” were also among the top nominees with eight and seven nominations, respectively. Here’s where you can see the full list of nominees. Los Angeles Times


— The nominations contained a great many “it’s about time” moments, as awards columnist Glenn Whipp writes. Los Angeles Times

— There were snubs and surprises too. Los Angeles Times

Rachel Morrison and Greta Gerwig made history; Morrison became the first woman nominated for cinematography, and Gerwig is only the fifth woman to be recognized for best director. Los Angeles Times

Jordan Peele joins an elite class of black men nominated for director — and could make history. Los Angeles Times


— After taking home Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice awards this season, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” star Frances McDormand is gunning for the Oscar. Los Angeles Times

This year’s foreign-language nominees come from some of the world’s most insightful and idiosyncratic directors. Los Angeles Times

— Film critic Kenneth Turan on the Oscar nominations: How the Academy threaded the needle between old and new. Los Angeles Times

Problems in Montecito?


In the days before deadly mudslides devastated Montecito, Santa Barbara County officials released conflicting evacuation instructions that left some hard-hit neighborhoods out of the warning zone. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office posted on its website and on Facebook a list of voluntary and mandatory evacuation areas for the town. But a separate map on the county’s main website included a larger voluntary evacuation zone that included dozens of homes not covered by the sheriff’s list. Los Angeles Times

Plus: A fire of epic proportions preceded this deadly mudslide. The Thomas fire erupted in the mountains near Santa Paula and became the largest in California history. It would burn for weeks, outlast punishing rains, create deadly debris flows and kill more than 20 people. Check out this 3D interactive map to see how it happened. Los Angeles Times


About your house: A few cities across California have in recent years stepped up requirements that property owners retrofit vulnerable buildings to better withstand earthquakes. But those efforts have focused on apartment buildings, brittle concrete buildings and unreinforced brick, not single-family homes. Los Angeles Times


Plus: Prices for homes in the San Fernando Valley hit record highs in 2017. Curbed LA

The Hyperloop! “On Monday evening, Boring Co. operations chief Jehn Balajadia stood before the city council of L.A. County’s Culver City and spent 45 minutes explaining why Elon Musk wants and deserves the right to dig a tunnel under their homes.” Wired

Travelers take note: Green Line riders who use an airport shuttle to get to and from LAX face a change in pickup location and a longer ride starting Friday. Los Angeles Times



Try again: Congress will make another run to tackle immigration reform — but will this time be different? Los Angeles Times


New SF mayor: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday appointed Mark Farrell to serve as interim mayor until a citywide election in June. Farrell’s appointment came after the board voted down its president, London Breed, who had been serving as acting mayor following Ed Lee’s death in December. Associated Press

Brown’s last year: The University of California regents face a showdown with Gov. Jerry Brown as they prepare to vote Wednesday on a plan to raise tuition and student services fees for the next academic year. Los Angeles Times


Sacramento! Greta Gerwig didn’t realize the extent to which her film “Lady Bird” spoke to people outside Sacramento until a screening in London. “So many people say, ‘I’m not from Sac but I have a Sacramento in my heart.’ ” Sacramento Bee

The big picture: “America’s future arrives first in California, and that bodes ill for the president and his Republican enablers,” argues Peter Schrag. The Nation

Some watchdog reporting: “The day after Councilwoman Monica Garcia recommended one company get a monopoly on transporting cannabis within Baldwin Park’s borders, she received a $4,400 campaign contribution from the company’s CEO, campaign finance records show.” San Gabriel Valley-Tribune



You decide: She put her foot on the seat of a Metro train and got arrested. Did the LAPD overreact? Los Angeles Times

That’s not a church: Laguna Beach police this month shut down what they allege was a marijuana dispensary posing as a church, the department said Monday. Los Angeles Times

Snakes in a place: A Monterey Park man was sentenced Monday to five months in federal prison for smuggling king cobras into the U.S. hidden in potato chip cans, federal prosecutors said. Los Angeles Times



Taking a look: “The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is gathering information about an accident involving a Tesla Inc. Model S sedan that rear-ended a firetruck on a freeway near Los Angeles on Monday, the agency said.” Bloomberg

Plus: Tesla Inc. released a new compensation plan for Chief Executive Elon Musk on Tuesday, with payments dependent on massive increases in the electric carmaker’s stock market value. Los Angeles Times


Sale talks continue: Weinstein Co. has entered into a period of exclusive negotiations to sell its assets to a group of investors led by former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday. Los Angeles Times


Ich bin ein Berliner: How a California NPR affiliate ended up running an English-language station in Germany. Nieman Lab

Alexa, what is competition? “After long delays marking a late entry to a hot market, Apple said Tuesday it will start shipping its HomePod smart speakers on Feb. 9 and begin taking orders on Friday.” San Francisco Chronicle


Los Angeles area: sunny, 74, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 64, Thursday. San Diego: sunny, 72, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 63, Thursday. San Francisco area: showers, 54, Wednesday and Thursday. Sacramento: showers, 54, Wednesday and Thursday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Theo Moreno:

“I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley in the 1950s and ’60s. My father was a jockey, riding primarily at the local tracks — Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. But, when summer rolled around, that meant my family would head to Del Mar for the six-week meet down ‘where the turf meets the surf.’ The major freeway systems of the region were not yet fully built, so part of the journey was on surface streets. We’d drive down Rosemead Boulevard to PCH and then turn south on Highway 1 to roll past Huntington, Newport, Laguna — to the open land of Camp Pendleton — then past the quiet little beach towns from Oceanside to Encinitas, and finally to Del Mar. I am so thankful to have experienced this specific era in Southern California — both the suburbs inland, and the coast — BEFORE the growth; BEFORE the changes. The thoroughbreds at Del Mar aren’t led out to the ocean in the morning to exercise in the waves anymore; the ‘sleepy’ beach towns and little valley ’burbs are now fully awake, and my dad passed on a few years ago. But, I have my memories, still, of my beloved Southland and the seemingly endless sunshine. And when my brother and I got back to the S.G. Valley for the start of school in September? We ALWAYS had the best tans!”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.