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Oscars 2018: The Impact of #MeToo and Sexual Misconduct Allegations on the Awards Race

From "The Disaster Artist" to "Wonder Wheel," it was inevitable that the Oscars would feel the impact. Here's what shook out on nominations morning.

"The Disaster Artist"

James Franco in “The Disaster Artist”

When it comes to Oscar nominations, what’s often most compelling are the names that don’t make the cut. This morning’s list includes a number of notable exclusions, many of whom could hang their rejection on the growing strength of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The past few months saw dozens of sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct allegations rock Hollywood; inevitably, the fallout led straight to the Academy Awards.

After a strong showing in the early part of the awards race, James Franco’s lauded “The Disaster Artist” faces a near-total shutout; its sole nomination went to one of the few elements that Franco himself was not involved in, a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.

That alone was a surprise, as Franco earned both a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award for his performance as Tommy Wiseau, director of his infamously bad film “The Room.” However, the Los Angeles Times published a January 11 report detailing allegations of Franco’s sexually inappropriate and exploitative behavior — the day before the deadline for Academy members’ nomination ballots.

Wonder Wheel

“Wonder Wheel”

Also missing from the nominees is Woody Allen’s latest, “Wonder Wheel.” After premiering at the New York Film Festival, the period drama earned accolades for star Kate Winslet, though that never translated to much in the way of nominations. Still, Winslet was very much on the circuit, where she repeatedly defended the filmmaker in interviews.

Though claims against Allen from his daughter Dylan Farrow are long-standing, the rise of #MeToo and #TimesUp, along with Farrow’s own visibility over the past few months — including a new op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that called out talents that continue to work with Allen, and her bombshell CBS This Morning interview — have been impossible to ignore.

Over the past few weeks, a number of Allen’s previous performers, including Best Actor nominee Timothee Chalamet and Best Director nominee Greta Gerwig, announced that they won’t work with him again. Allen’s last Academy Award nomination was in 2014 for the screenplay of the Cate Blanchett-starring “Blue Jasmine.”

Despite early buzz about his work in Noah Baumbach’s Cannes premiere “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected),” Dustin Hoffman’s campaign for his role in the dramedy never quite caught fire. That could be tied to the potentially diminished Oscar chances of a Netflix film, but a slew of allegations against the actor grew throughout the awards season, including harassment and misconduct allegations that involve former co-stars and minor girls.

"All the Money in the World"

Christopher Plummer in “All the Money in the World”


The production most impacted by allegations is Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World,” which notably excised actor Kevin Spacey, currently accused of multiple acts of sexual assault and harassment. It picked up one nomination for supporting actor Christopher Plummer, who took over the role during a rush to cut Spacey from the film entirely. Scott didn’t land a nod in the directing category, though he did pick up a directing nomination at the Golden Globes, which was the first voting body to issue nominations after seeing a cut of the finished film.

Yet, this year’s Oscars did nominate at least two men accused of sexual misconduct, including former basketball star Kobe Bryant as writer, star, and executive producer of animated short film “Dear Basketball.” A 19-year-old hotel employee accused Bryant of sexual assault in 2003; he later admitted to a sexual encounter, claiming it was consensual. His accuser filed a sexual assault complaint against the former Los Angeles Laker, though the case was ultimately dropped and was settled out of court.

Gary Oldman, considered the Best Actor frontrunner for his role as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” has long been plagued by his own allegations. In 2001, the actor’s wife Donya Fiorentino alleged that the actor beat her with a telephone in front of their two young children. Fiorentino filed papers with the Los Angeles Superior Court, in which she accused the actor of abuse, along with mentions of alcohol, drug, and prostitute binges. Allegations were investigated by the police, which filed no charges. They divorced later that year, with Oldman granted sole legal and physical custody of their children.

Elsewhere in the race, films that speak to other aspects of #MeToo and #TimesUp – including inclusion, diversity behind the camera, and the need for more female talents – also emerged victorious, with Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” picking up five nominations, including a rare Best Director for Gerwig (only the fifth woman to ever be nominated in the category) and Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” earning four nominations. Patty Jenkins’ blockbuster “Wonder Woman,” however, was left out in all categories.

Perhaps surging contender “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” will most keenly speak to the moment. The revenge drama, centered on a mother’s fight for justice for her raped and murdered daughter, has steadily picked up speed, especially for Best Actress nominee Frances McDormand and Best Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell. It’s a timely story, to be sure, and its awards odds speak to perhaps the most fervent desire of survivors everywhere: to come out on top.

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