James Franco was not nominated for Best Actor Oscar this morning. And it’s not like he had an outside chance. Many experts, up to two weeks ago (and even still yesterday), had James on their prediction lists believing that most Academy members had voted before James’s sexual harassment situation blew up. The thing is, it blew up that week, on voting week, right after the Golden Globes. The Golden Globes happened two days after voting started and continued until the following Friday, when James was headline news. In response, in this climate, Oscar voters decided not to invite him to the party and went with Denzel Washington instead. Which is interesting because, you’ll recall, Denzel was nominated last year for Fences and the Best Actor Oscar ended up going to alleged sexual harasser Casey Affleck. But those were pre-Weinstein times. In this post-Weinstein era, Casey probably wouldn’t have made it. And this year James Franco definitely didn’t make it.
Is it fair? Should the Oscars prioritise politics over performance?
Haven’t the Oscars always prioritised other things over performance? Crash won over Brokeback Mountain and it wasn’t on performance or quality. Popularity wins often at the Oscars over performance. Sandra Bullock basically acknowledged this in her acceptance speech. Here’s what she said, exactly:
“Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?”
She knew. She knows still what the Oscars are all about. We just didn’t complain much then because Sandra Bullock is so likeable. But let’s not pretend that the Oscars have been all about performance in the past and just this year is voting based on other sh-t. You could argue that most of the time they only vote based on other sh-t.
Right now, in the Best Actor category, Gary Oldman seems to be the favourite. DDL and Phantom Thread just came on strong though. And… well… if we’re talking about James Franco and his problematic past, Gary has his own that might turn out to be an issue as we approach the Oscars. Remains to be seen whether or not the Academy will choose to ignore that. They may have decided that eliminating James Franco is enough.
Next question: is Casey Affleck presenting at the Oscars? The previous Oscar winner traditionally returns to present the following year. So far, nothing has been said, at least not publicly, about what to do about Casey and whether or not they will invite him. But I wonder if he and his team aren’t, in advance, making sure he has a scheduling conflict on March 4.