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Today: The Oscars, From First to Last

Today: The Oscars, From First to Last
Jordan Peele and Nicole Kidman backstage at the 90th Academy Awards. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The Academy Awards offered many firsts, some compelling back stories but few surprises.

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The Oscars, From First to Last

After a year in which scandals shook up Hollywood, the Academy Awards went like clockwork: No major mess-ups as in the 2017 ceremony, but also no stunning upsets. Still, it was a night of firsts. “The Shape of Water,” about a mute woman who falls in love with an aquatic creature, took best picture and gave Guillermo del Toro his first directing prize; Jordan Peele became the first African American to win original screenplay for “Get Out”; at age 89, James Ivory is now the oldest Oscar winner with his first award for adapted screenplay for “Call Me by Your Name”; and even Roger Deakins, who’s been nominated for cinematography 14 times, finally won. Were the awards a little too feel-good? Though the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements were mentioned throughout the night — and best actress winner Frances McDormand delivered a powerful speech that made many wonder what an “inclusion rider” is — columnist Robin Abcarian called them “Hollywood at its sanitized best … a toothless, feel-good nod to the scandal.” And then there was that award that went to Kobe Bryant.

Oscar winner Frances McDormand asks the female nominees at the Academy Awards to stand.
Oscar winner Frances McDormand asks the female nominees at the Academy Awards to stand. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

More About the Oscars

-- How “The Shape of Water” won with a tale exploring societal fears of the Other.

-- Behind Eva Marie Saint’s appearance at the Oscars lies a heart-wrenching story.

-- Backstage with Faye Dunaway, Warren Beatty and this year’s PwC accountant.

-- The red carpet: Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino spoke out about Harvey Weinstein; plus, photos of the arrivals and the best and worst looks of the night.

-- The complete list of winners and nominees.

How Mueller Is Helping Drain the Swamp

As special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian political interference and potential White House obstruction continues, it’s rattled the world of those who lobby on behalf of foreign governments in Washington. With the indictment of some of President Trump’s former senior aides for failing to register as “foreign agents,” the number of people registering as such in 2017 went way up. “There’s just no point in taking a chance on this stuff,” says one. Some members of Congress are looking to tighten the law, because they believe many more such lobbyists lurk in the shadows.

Trump Spoils for a Trade War

Trump’s chief economic advisor Gary Cohn has opposed them. America’s allies have registered deep concerns. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said: “You're making a huge mistake.” But after the president tweeted that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he’s only ramped up his rhetoric on steel and aluminum tariffs. Administration officials say Trump could act on the issue this week.

More Politics

-- South Korea sent a diplomatic delegation to North Korea, which could pave the way for talks involving the U.S. Meanwhile, Trump signaled an openness during an otherwise joke-filled speech at the Gridiron Club in Washington.

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-- National security advisor H.R. McMaster appears to be caught in the middle as Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson maneuver to keep an impulsive Trump under control.

-- A conversation about Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, two would-be presidents for life.

L.A.’s Campers Full of ‘Castaways’

Sharon Manley and Kraig Goins have lived together in motor homes for the last 15 years. David Sweeney began living in his RV eighteen months ago. They are among those on the streets of Los Angeles, albeit in thousands of recreational vehicles that now qualify as residences. “I have a roof over my head, but I do feel homeless,” said Sweeney, who lives with his dog, Jerry. In this photo essay, Times photographer Luis Sinco documents the lives of six people over the last year.

How Did We Survive 1968?

A polarizing president. A crisis with North Korea. Students protesting in the streets. Deadly shootings. 1968 has been called the year that rocked the world and changed America, yet somehow we survived. The Times is taking a look back at that year’s tumultuous events and one moment that helped transcend them. We’d love to hear your memories too. Tell us about them here.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

-- The NRA used to contribute to Democrats and Republicans, but that began changing in 1994, starting with the 10-year federal ban on assault weapons.

-- L.A. leaders ignored a 2016 report urging them to eliminate, or drastically amend, the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, a program that pays veteran cops and firefighters their salaries and pensions simultaneously for up to five years.

-- How a list of 23 crimes now dominates California's debate over prison punishment.

-- Columnist Bill Plaschke writes about Jim Ballard, a man in his 90s who outlived his love for the Dodgers, but not the greed that took them from him.

-- The world’s most influential restaurant reinvents itself. Jonathan Gold tastes the changes.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Frances McDormand's rousing speech that fired up the Oscars.

-- From the red carpet: Thoughts on #TimesUp, #MeToo and more.

-- Jimmy Kimmel's opening monologue.

CALIFORNIA

-- A massive avalanche at Mammoth Mountain over the weekend was a reminder of the danger lurking in the snow.

-- L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer will announce the formation of a blue-ribbon panel to look at school safety in Los Angeles after the deadly school shooting in Florida.

-- At least 26 Kern County farmworkers were detained for deportation proceedings as part of a mass sweep last week across Central and Northern California.

-- Emilio Huerta, the only Democrat running against vulnerable GOP Rep. David Valadao, is dropping out of the race.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Rowan Atkinson, better known to the world as Mr. Bean, is back on TV as French police detective Jules Maigret.

-- The era of the compact disc may finally be entering its twilight phase.

-- Los Angeles Ballet dipped its toes into a cold, calm “Swan Lake.”

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

“The Godfather,” “Psycho” and “Batman” had some of film’s most memorable scores, yet the music didn’t even get nominated for an Oscar. What else has been left off the list over the years? Take a listen.

NATION-WORLD

-- A powerful winter storm pummeled the Northeast, killing at least nine and leaving 2 million homes and businesses without power.

-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has begun his visit to the U.S., setting aside personal and political troubles at home, to meet with Trump.

-- In Sunday’s elections, Italy has become the latest European country to embrace a populist, anti-migrant wave, this one featuring Silvio Berlusconi.

-- German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come away the big winner after a vote that could have ended her career.

BUSINESS

-- Buying the Weinstein Co. wasn’t easy. Turning the rubble of Harvey Weinstein’s former studio into a new, female-focused film and TV company run by women may be even harder.

-- Get ready for the era of hypersonic flight, at five times the speed of sound.

SPORTS

-- The Los Angeles Football Club thrilled fans by winning its first-ever game, 1-0, against the Seattle Sounders.

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-- Shaquem Griffin, who lost a hand as a child, is in the running to be drafted by an NFL team.

OPINION

-- How to stop Russia’s meddling in the United States’ elections? Here are five things President Trump could do, without having to acknowledge that Putin meddled in 2016.

-- Ivanka Trump was born to legitimize corruption and make the shoddy look cute.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- “Would you believe that President Donald Trump is eligible for an extra Social Security benefit of around $15,000 a year because of his 11-year-old son, Barron Trump?” It’s a bonus for those who have kids late in life. (ProPublica)

-- A transcript of Trump’s Gridiron Club Dinner jokes and remarks. (The Hill)

-- What if there were no public schools in the U.S.? A thought experiment. (The Atlantic)

ONLY IN L.A.

In “The Big Lebowski,” the Dude’s rug “really tied the room together.” At the Oscars, it’s the red carpet. But since this is Hollywood, not everything is as it appears. It turns out the 50,000-square-foot floor covering is more of a burgundy whose exact specifications are top secret. Each year, it takes nearly 900 man-hours to install. Has the whole world gone crazy?

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.

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