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John Legend performs on stage at last year's Oscars. Photo: Mark Ralston / AFP via Getty Images

Ahead of tonight's 8pm ET show, read a debate in today's L.A. Times Calendar section on whether Hollywood's biggest night still matters.

Yes ... L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan:

  • "Having a more representative [Academy] electorate undoubtedly contributed to this year's nominations. In years past, it is hard to imagine as creature feature-based an item as 'The Shape of Water' leading all comers with 13 nominations."
  • "And equally hard to imagine having the thoroughly genre 'Get Out' and the scathing 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' gradually emerging as possible upset winners."
  • Why they matter: "Having top contenders that are plugged into the zeitgeist has given the Oscars as much relevance as they have ever had in recent years."

No ... L.A. Times senior writer Jeffrey Fleishman:

  • "They are not hip or clever enough to draw in the young, and they don't honor enough blockbuster titles to entice the popcorn set. The show's political asides, ... fail to capture, even though they will jab at them, the deeper currents of our visceral #hashtag times."
  • "The decline in viewership is in part a symptom of an atomized entertainment universe that has grown from a handful of channels to Netflix, Amazon, YouTube."
  • If you only read one paragraph: "There has been a shift ... in the cult of celebrity. Selfies, Instagram and YouTube have made us our own celebrities; the real ones posing beside us at film premieres and restaurants have become extras in our videoed romans à clef. They don't seem as otherworldly as they once did. Notions of fame have been reinvented, and the audience has become the star in an endless loop of blurred lines."

Go deeper

Biden confronts mounting humanitarian crisis at the border

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images     

Just over a month into his presidency, President Biden is staring down a mounting crisis at the border that could be just as bad as the ones faced by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if not worse.

Why it matters: Immigration is an issue that can consume a presidency. It's intensely and poisonously partisan. It's complicated. And the lives and welfare of vulnerable children hang in the balance.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The rise of vaccine passports

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Vaccine passports were touted early in the pandemic as an important piece of the plan to get people back to normal life. Now they’re becoming a reality.

Driving the news: CLEAR, the secure digital identity app that you see in airports around the world, and CommonPass, a health app that lets users securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, have joined forces.

"Vaccine tourism" stretches states' supplies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans who are highly motivated to get vaccinated are traveling across state lines after hearing about larger vaccine supplies or loopholes in sign-up systems.

Why it matters: "Vaccine tourism" raises ethical and legal questions, and could worsen the racial socioeconomic and racial inequalities of the pandemic.