Academy Award nominations: Should sexual harassment get in the way?

Logan Slusser

If you follow Hollywood and the movie industry as a whole, you are probably aware that we are currently in the middle of another long and grueling award season. You will also know that Hollywood is in the thick of a social and political movement, #MeToo.

The #MeToo movement has been bred out of decades of power and sexual imbalance based on gender in the entertainment industry. Hollywood mainstays such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have already lost their jobs and reputations due to sexual assault allegations and charges spanning over decades. Kevin Spacey lost out on a role in “All the Money in the World,” one where he was quickly replaced by Christopher Plummer, who went on to be nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.

The #MeToo movement has not only caused actors to lose out on roles, but also may have played a deciding factor in one actor not receiving what many considered to be a locked down Academy Award nomination. James Franco, the star and director of “The Disaster Artist,” won a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice award for his starring role. Many thought that he was a shoe-in for an Academy Award nomination, until recent sexual misconduct allegations surfaced. Franco has been accused by five different women of various sexual improprieties in recent years, and the allegations’ timing and severity are believed to have caused the academy to leave him out of the ceremony.

They are completely right to do so. No one accused of such acts should be given any sort of spotlight, and they certainly deserve no honor meant for the best in their craft. I also understand the academy’s desire to distant themselves from the public relations hailstorm that would come from nominating alleged criminals.

However, there’s no logic in the academy not nominating James Franco, but instead honoring Gary Oldman with a nomination for the same award. Gary Oldman played Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour,” and has already won a Golden Globe and SAG award for the role. He is the heavy favorite to take home the Academy Award, but he has also had a sorted past in relations to women. In 2001, Oldman was accused by his ex-wife, Donya Fiorentino, of beating her with a telephone in front of their children. Oldman was never charged for the crime, and vehemently denies the allegations.

But Franco has yet to be charged, and he also denies allegations of his misconduct. This whole situation leads me to wonder: Who decides which cases are worthy of withholding nominations and which aren’t? What makes Gary Oldman’s case forgivable, while James Franco’s case is punishable? If Hollywood is going to react the way that they are, which they certainly should, there needs to be consistency in the judgments and punishments.

Otherwise, it will seem like the only reason Franco wasn’t nominated was because people still remember his sexual harassment case.

Joseph Slusser is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].