“This year it’s who hugged and kissed who and who didn’t,” Oscar winning “12 Years A Slave” screenwriter John Ridley told EW about the awards season narrative this year. And he’s not that far off. While the past few months have seen much milder mud slinging between contenders than past years, and indeed, one of the largest stories of any film up for awards, was centered around the squabbles between the director and stars of “Blue Is The Warmest Color” (which wound up being nominated for zero awards, partially because it was ruled ineligible for Foreign Film). However, in the wake of the Oscar ceremony, word burbled up that there was a secret, still lingering beef between Ridley and director Steve McQueen, part of a longstanding disagreement over the screenplay credit. And Ridley is working hard to debunk that talk.
Last week, he said he was “grateful” to McQueen and dismissed any notions of a feud, and this week he’s telling press there was nothing intentional about not mentioning McQueen during his Oscar acceptance speech. “I do regret it,” he told EW about not thanking the director. “But just 24 hours earlier at the Spirit Awards I sincerely went on and on about Steve and my work with him. You know, the guy changed my life. At the Oscars you have 30 seconds to talk and it’s like the oxygen drops out of the room. I know [when I heard my name called] I hugged my wife twice, I know David O. Russell, again this person people think I have beef with, was the first guy to hug me, I know Meryl Streep reached out and touched my arm.”
So, was this a story overblown by the media looking for an Oscar angle? We’ll never really know, but certainly if there was any heat between Ridley and McQueen that kept it on the downlow out of respect for the movie. Still, no word from the director though we’re sure he’ll have a statement soon enough.