Today in “Harvey Weinstein says something narcissitic and dickish and I’m really upset about it,” this quote about the Oscars’ diversity problem, via Vulture:
“People were talking about diversity in this year’s awards because of Selma? Try this one on … I did $130 million for [Lee Daniels’s] The Butler, $16 million for Fruitvale [Station], and $25 million on Mandela [Long Walk to Freedom]. Three movies, and I didn’t get an Oscars nomination for all three! They said “Okay, well it’s 12 Years a Slave that’s going to be the movie that gets nominated.” And I go, “Well, what happened? You can’t put three black actors in the Best Actor category? You can’t put two black screenwriters in? Oprah Winfrey, who killed it, or Forest Whitaker? Or David Oyelowo, who’s a great actor?” So I was just thinking, Wow, you know, where were you defending me last year? I just wanted to do three at once. It was in my mind to do more than one. I’ll still do it again, though; I don’t care.”
Before I get into the RAGE TYPING: Harvey absolutely has a point about the conception that there can only be one “black” film to get awards season attention in any given year—that the Academy somehow proves they’re hip and racially aware by nominating 12 Years, so everyone else they nominate can be white—being fucked up. That’s true.
The meeeee, meeeee, it’s all about meeeeeeeee vibe here is what’s really cheesing me off. The Butler just wasn’t good, and Mandela, says TK (the only person I know who actually saw it), was “utterly inadequate”: “For the record, I’m a South African ex-pat who saw Mandela IN SOUTH AFRICA, one week after Mandela died. It was a perfect storm of circumstances for me to be sobbingly sentimental over it. But I wasn’t. Because Mandela simply isn’t a very good movie. And Elba was good, but not great. It’s not even in the same zip code as Selma.”
Fruitvale, though. Sweet, sweet Fruitvale Station absolutely deserved Oscar nominations, at the very least for star Michael B. Jordan. That movie had “sleeper Oscar hit” written all over it. It was socially relevant, it was about injustice, it was capital-I Important (the Oscars love capital-I Important), and more than that, it was an amazing film, and Jordan was a revelation playing a young black man who was murdered by police on New Years’ Eve 2008. He never would have won—Matthew McConaughey had that shit on lockdown—but Weinstein could’ve campaigned hard and gotten him in the race, like they did with Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game.
But no. The Weinstein Company spent that Oscar season trying to make August: Osage County a thing. Remember August: Osage County? No, you don’t, because no one gives a shit about August: Osage County and it wasn’t that good. Every year TWC picks one film that they think has the best chance at winning Oscars, and fuck everything else on their slate. In 2014, Fruitvale Station got sold out because having a movie with Meryl Streep in it that they could throw their money at instead made itty-bitty Oscar statuettes jump in front of their eyes. HOW’D THAT WORK OUT, HARV?
Yes, Harvey. The Oscars have a diversity problem. But you chose not to campaign for Fruitvale. Don’t act like you not getting Oscar nominations is the problem here.