There are some new things to report in the Oscar race, some good, some not so hot. Old wounds have been reopened in the last couple weeks, and a very public family battle that may have sunk an Oscar favorite’s chances.
On to the easy stuff first. The WGA gave out their awards and Spike Jonze won for Her and Billy Ray won for Captain Phillips. Where the original screenplays map out and match with the Oscar nominees, John Ridley wasn’t nominated for 12 Years a Slave at the WGA’s, which could throw off that category’s ability to predict the winner.
What’s interesting here is that Jonze won over David O. Russell. One would suspect that American Hustle, which is by no means a lock for best picture, would be the presumptive favorite, which makes this loss perhaps telling that Hustle is falling out of favor. But I wouldn’t count it out for best picture or best original screenplay just yet.
Where Alfonso Cuaron won for best director at the DGA awards. It seems safe to say at this point that Cuaron can clear off a place on his mantle for his upcoming Oscar, but you never know.
Which leads us to Cate Blanchett. The odds-on favorite since Blue Jasmine came out, she may lose because she got caught in the crossfire. For those not paying attention, Mia Farrow started taking shots at her former partner Woody Allen during the Golden Globes, which led to her son Ronan Farrow to bring up the molestation charges filed against Allen during their custody battle in the early nineties. Robert Wiede then wrote a piece defending Allen for The Daily Beast, which led to this weekend Dylan Farrow airing out her side of the story in The New York Times.
Now, this case was made public in 1993, and at the time the police, etc. found no evidence to suggest Allen sexually assaulted his daughter, and so he was never tried. Allen was exonerated by the law. And though this case was closed over two decades ago, it’s now fresh meat for tabloid headlines. On one hand you have a filmmaker who made a film about being in love with a seventeen-year-old, who started dating (when she was nineteen) and eventually married the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, and who — while never a fiscal titan — is known and revered, which could have tilted the court’s opinion in his favor. You also have Dylan Farrow going forward and putting a face to the abuse charges. It isn’t something that can be shrugged off, nor should it be. We live in a culture, a society where rape is not only still a huge problem, it’s mostly unreported. And for a victim to speak out against their attacker is a brave thing.
On the other hand, fame likely can’t save anyone from a child rape investigation, Allen was put through the legal system and wasn’t charged because there wasn’t enough evidence, the custody battle proved vicious, the incident in question raises questions, while Farrow’s son Moses has claimed that her mother “brainwashed” the family. And, going by the Wiede piece, it seems Farrow tried to strong-arm the family’s nanny to corroborate Dylan’s story. There is no black and white, no obvious “aha, it’s this” moment here.
At the end of the day, my opinion from a movie lovers perspective is that I am here to analyze the shoe, not the cobbler, though I understand that with all great art, we want to know from where it came from. There are enough odd things about this case for me not to have a conclusive opinion one way or the other, and in some way I support both Dylan and Woody. But also, my personal opinion on the subject is meaningless. I don’t know if it makes Annie Hall less of a masterpiece, just as the fact that Charlie Chaplin had a predilection for underage and barely legal women bears no weight on my opinion of Modern Times. As I tweeted at the time, terrible people can make great art, that doesn’t make the art less great, or the person less terrible.
All of that said, if voters haven’t submitted their ballots yet, this hot potato of an issue that casts Allen in the worst possible light could wreck Cate Blanchett’s Oscar chances. How can she thank her director now? And can Allen work again? These are all much weightier issues than awards show coverage deserves, but also point out that politics often trump merit (especially when it comes to something as unquantifiable as art) when it comes to awards.
Would you still vote for Cate Blanchett?