Shame mingles with self-congratulation in Oscar season
NEW YORK » In nearly every major Academy Awards category this year there’s some trace of the sexual misconduct allegations that have swept through the movie industry.
Best supporting actor? That’s where Kevin Spacey was once considered a contender. Now he’s been scrubbed from Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World,” his performance replaced with one by Christopher Plummer.
Best animated feature? The favorite is “Coco,” the latest from Pixar, the animation studio co-founded by John Lassater. He’s currently on a “sabbatical” following his admission of inappropriate behavior.
Best director? With only four women ever nominated, no category better illustrates the industry’s ingrained gender equality issues — the same systematic imbalance that made it easier for Harvey Weinstein and others to act with such impunity for so long.
And even best actress, a category where you might expect a moment’s reprieve, is — if tradition holds — to be presented by last year’s best-actor winner, Casey Affleck. He settled two sexual harassment allegations filed against him in 2010.
Weinstein, who for so long craved omnipresence on Oscar night , may finally get his wish. Even though the former Weinstein Co. co-chairman has been kicked out of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and his company’s name has been erased from its best Oscar shot this year (Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River”), Weinstein will be ubiquitous in absentia.
The ongoing sexual harassment scandals have colored every phase of awards season, but whether they will ultimately shape who wins is another question. The season is just getting into the swing of things, with a number of critics groups announcing their awards in the past week and the Golden Globe nominations coming Monday. But in this year’s Oscar race, the Weinstein effect is already playing an unpredictable role.
With so much disgrace to go around, is Hollywood still in the mood for selfcongratulation?
At last week’s Gotham Awards, the usually bubbly atmosphere was somewhat subdued, or at least Nicole Kidman thought so when she accepted a lifetime achievement award and urged the crowd to loosen up. Joana Vicente, executive director of the Independent Film Project, which puts on the Gothams, was one of the few to directly address the elephant in the room.
“This has been a tough year for our industry and for the world,” said Vincente. “We would like to take a moment to recognize and to honor those women and those men who have stepped forward.”
But at the same time, the movies have given plenty to celebrate. From “The Florida Project” to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” this year’s awards favorites are a formidable bunch, rife with timely social commentary. Many of the most celebrated filmmakers, from Greta Gerwig to Jordan Peele, are young, giving an awards season once dominated by Weinstein what many now long for: new voices.