Me Too and Hollywood’s Big Night
By Zeke Trautenberg
The Academy Awards are Hollywood’s Swarovski crystal-bedazzled barometer of the film industry and the culture at large. This year, the Me Too movement and revelations of abuse by the producer Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men in Hollywood served as the backdrop for the awards. Even before the ceremony began, Me Too was front and center in the form of Ryan Seacrest, the host of E’s red-carpet show. Seacrest is facing allegations of sexual harassment by his former stylist. In a move that reassured no one, E aired the coverage on a thirty-second tape delay, allowing the network to cut away from any uncomfortable moments.
Whereas Seacrest’s presence reflected the entrenched power of alleged harassers and abusers in Hollywood, the onstage appearance of the actress Annabella Sciorra, a survivor of Weinstein’s abuse, represented a symbolic recognition of the damage done by sexual harassers and abusers in Hollywood. In the most moving and symbolically powerful moment of the evening Sciorra, standing next to her fellow actresses Time’s Up declared: “This year many spoke their truth.”
Jimmy Kimmel reprised his role as a genial and self-aware host. He poked fun at the stars and acknowledged the Me Too movement, joking: “If you are a nominee who isn’t making history, shame on you!”. Among the history-making nominees was Rachel Morrison, the first woman nominated for Cinematography in the ninety-year history of the Oscars. The Chilean film Una mujer fantástica, which tells the story of a transgender woman (played by Daniela Vega) dealing with the loss of her partner, also broke ground with its Best Foreign Film win.
Reprising a joyful moment from last year, Kimmel brought Gal Godot, Armie Hammer, Emma Stone, Guillermo del Toro, and other Hollywood stars to a movie theater across the street from the Dolby Theater where they surprised an audience mid-movie. However, the visit to the theater carried a deeper significance, reflecting anxiety about the disjuncture between films recognized by the Academy and those favored by the movie-going public.
The only surprise at this year’s show was Jordan Peele’s win for Best Original Screenplay for the social satire-cum-horror film Get Out. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, with its broad allegory of outsiders in an unforgiving world, was a fitting winner of the Best Picture award. However, Coco, which won the award for Best Animated Feature, a transnational production with stars from across the Americas that represents a profitable and inclusive future for Hollywood.
Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock