The Outrageous California Hustlers of King Richard and Licorice Pizza

Two Best Picture Nominees Suggest You Have to Be Both Crazy and Ambitious to Make It in This State

Do you have to be crazy to make it in California?

This question ties together two excellent films—King Richard and Licorice Pizza—that are nominees for best picture at this month’s Academy Awards.

The movies, while different in style, genre, and setting, are both about over-the-top ambition and relentless fame-seeking in Los Angeles County. And each film features a main character whose goals and entrepreneurial schemes are dismissed as madness, even by friends and loved ones.

Indeed, those cinematic hustlers make statements and demands and behave in ways that go beyond what we consider …