The New York Times has published a major new report detailing decades of sexual harassment allegations leveled against influential producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein has served as producer on dozens of films that have had a presence at the Oscars, including multiple Best Picture winners like The King’s Speech and The Artist. So is that going to be the case this year? Will the Academy nominate a film produced by a man at the center of a major sexual harassment scandal?
The Weinstein Company often produces films that seem like a lock for Best Picture, but this isn’t really one of those years, though there are two movies that could have some presence at the show. The first awards contender that the Weinsteins have this time is The Current War, a biopic about Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. On paper, it’s the perfect Oscar film, a historical drama from an acclaimed director starring Benedict Cumberbatch. But the movie has been absolutely savaged by critics, and it currently holds a score of 31 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
For comparison, Argo and The Artist both received a score of 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics don’t decide what gets nominated at the Academy Awards, but rarely is the critical consensus so out of step with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (though there’s always a rare exception, like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close picking up a Best Picture nomination despite having a Rotten Tomatoes score of 46%). So even before these Harvey Weinstein allegations, The Current War already didn’t have much momentum heading into Oscar season, and the negativity surrounding The Weinstein Company right now certainly doesn’t help it, though Harvey Weinstein himself will be taking a leave of absence and likely will not be with the company during Oscar season.
The other film The Weinstein Company has this year that could definitely make its way to the Oscars is Wind River, a murder mystery starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. Reception to the film has been extremely positive, with Entertainment Weekly describing it as a dark horse that could pick up some nominations including Best Original Screenplay. The film’s director, Taylor Sheridan, received a nomination last year for Best Original Screenplay for Hell or High Water. Wind River could sneak its way into the Best Picture category like Hell or High Water did last time, but it’s not a frontrunner at this time.
When trying to assess whether the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will still nominate a film distributed by Harvey Weinstein’s company, keep in mind that they did recently give the award for Best Actor to Casey Affleck despite his numerous sexual harassment allegations. They have also continued to nominate Woody Allen, who has been accused of sexually abusing his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, when she was seven years old. But if a Weinstein Company film does become a major player this year, it will certainly spark an intense debate about whether that is okay. And if a Weinstein movie does get nominated at the Oscars, it might be the last time, as there are now serious questions about whether The Weinstein Company can survive in light of this, especially when it was already struggling in recent years.
The 90th Annual Academy Awards will air March 4, 2018. At this time, it’s generally thought that the major frontrunners for Best Picture nominations are Dunkirk, Call Me By Your Name, The Big Sick, Get Out, The Shape of Water, Battle of the Sexes, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.