Newsletter: Today: Did the Oscars Do the Right Thing?

The Academy Awards offered a night of historic firsts, but not without some controversy.


Did the Oscars Do the Right Thing?

The Academy Awards opened with Queen and Adam Lambert singing “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” They ended with a best picture victory for “Green Book,” a period road movie about a black virtuoso pianist and his white chauffeur, which has been criticized as having outdated, simplistic racial politics and endured a number of off-screen controversies. (Spike Lee, who won his first Oscar for the adapted screenplay of “BlacKkKlansman,” was visibly upset when “Green Book” prevailed over his movie as best picture, then turned to his champagne glass for comfort backstage.) In between, Hollywood’s biggest night delivered a record number of awards for black filmmakers and a faster-moving, host-less show. Columnist Mary McNamara says this year’s Academy Awards reflected an institution in the midst of great change — one that has come a long way since the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag began and still has a ways to go.


Rami Malek reacts after winning the lead actor award for "Bohemian Rhapsody" backstage at the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

More From the Academy Awards

-- Is “Green Book” is the worst best picture winner since “Crash.” Film critic Justin Chang makes the case for why that is.

-- Miss the festivities, or just enjoy some good movie puns? Here’s the blow-by-blow in a timeline of the show.


-- Best and worst dressed: Our picks from the red carpet.

-- The complete list of winners and nominees.

Will the Mueller Report See the Light of Day?

President Trump will begin the journey to Hanoi today for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but back home, anticipation over the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III continues to build. Rep. Adam B. Schiff says Democrats in Congress will take whatever steps are necessary to make Mueller’s report public, an attempt to address concerns that new Atty. Gen. William Barr will try to keep it mostly private. Mueller’s silence during the investigation into Russian election interference and the federal law under which he operates have left deep uncertainty about what lies ahead. But in a way, the court filings from Mueller’s office so far already provide a compelling, if incomplete, narrative of what happened before and during the campaign.


More Politics

-- Prosecutors say former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort “repeatedly and brazenly violated the law” and shows a “hardened adherence to committing crimes,” but they recommended no specific punishment.

-- Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo seemingly contradicted Trump on whether North Korea poses a nuclear menace, then swiftly denied that there was any divergence in their views.

-- After the apparent failure of a U.S.-backed plan to weaken Venezuela’s president via humanitarian aid, the opposition faces limited options.


One More Kick of the Can

For the third time, Trump has put off a self-imposed deadline for raising tariffs on Chinese imported goods, saying negotiators for the United States and China made “substantial progress” in trade talks over the weekend. At the very least, it clears the way for more talks and a possible summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month. At most, it could be a sign Trump may be preparing to end his trade war with China.

The Sins of the Fathers

At a Vatican meeting about child sex abuse by priests, Pope Francis likened it to “human sacrifice” and called for “an all-out battle” against the “abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the Earth.” But what does that mean exactly? Abuse victims who attended the conference say the pope didn’t provide a concrete plan. As one British abuse victim and activist put it: “What we needed at this summit was a universal ‘one strike and you’re out’ rule, but instead we got lukewarm platitudes from the pope.”


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-- Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s debate with a group of schoolchildren over climate change policy, captured in a video that went viral late Friday, underscores tensions within the Democratic Party between liberal activists and more moderate, pragmatic elected officials.

--Sealed court documents show the Clippers’ plans for an Inglewood arena had a discreet beginning.


-- Columnist Steve Lopez checks in with Gene Dorio, a Santa Clarita doctor who makes house calls to the terminal ill.

-- Forty years after the Iranian Revolution, a look at how Tehrangeles grew into a home away from home.

-- “After his first overdose, my husband promised it wouldn’t happen again. I believed him.”



-- Gov. Gavin Newsom is in Washington looking for ways to shield California from the Trump administration’s policies while at the same time searching for common ground on issues including disaster relief.

-- L.A. County officials want to take ownership of 40 miles of flood control channels along the Los Angeles River from the federal government. The idea is to speed up maintenance and water conservation efforts.

-- The state Republican Party has elected its first chairwoman. Jessica Patterson will also be the first Latina elected to lead either major political party in California.

-- Simi Valley has reached a $21-million settlement with a man who spent more than 38 years wrongfully incarcerated in the 1978 murders of a woman and her 4-year-old son.



-- Stanley Donen, who co-directed “Singin’ in the Rain” with star Gene Kelly, has died at 94. Film critic Kenneth Turan looks back at one of the greatest movie musicals ever made.

-- Three new TV series with an FBI theme come out this week: “Whiskey Cavalier,” “The Enemy Within” and “Gone.” So what’s worth watching? TV critic Robert Lloyd investigates.

-- Being Rivers Cuomo: Why Weezer’s frontman put his life into a spreadsheet.



-- Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax compared himself to Jim Crow-era lynching victims in a surprise speech. He’s been resisting widespread calls to resign after allegations of sexual assault.

-- For victims of hate crimes, the Jussie Smollett case is a giant betrayal.

-- Islamic State’s “caliphate” is all but finished, but its online presence endures.


--British Prime Minister Theresa May says she is delaying a vote on her Brexit deal in Parliament, saying it should now take place by March 12, a little more than two weeks before the U.K. leaves the European Union.


-- Are you an employee or contractor? Carpenters, strippers and dog walkers now face that question.

-- A new generation of “flying cars” is taking to the air, but without the cars.



-- Linebacker Porter Gustin’s career at USC was riddled with injuries. Now he’s looking to overcome the doubts and concerns as he prepares for the NFL combine.

-- LeBron James has given his “personal take” on what’s gone wrong for Lakers.



-- Why not let homeless college students park in campus lots?

-- Uncovering the deal Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta gave to Jeffrey Epstein, a politically connected billionaire accused of molesting dozens of young girls.


-- A federal judge in Texas has ruled that an all-male military draft is unconstitutional, now that women are in combat roles. (USA Today)


-- “Workism” — the religion of work — leaves Americans with a hollow feeling. (The Atlantic)

-- Cassette tapes are making a comeback, at least in the U.K. (The Guardian)


Former Gov. Jerry Brown once wrote in a veto message that “not every human condition deserves a law.” Don’t tell the lawmakers he left behind in Sacramento. Before last week’s deadline, they introduced 742 bills in the Legislature in a single day — bringing the total to 2,576 bills for the year, a possible record. So who’s writing all these up? It’s not necessarily who you might think.


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