The 2018 Oscar nominations have just arrived and one awards season darling is conspicuously absent. The Disaster Artist, despite being nominated for a slew of other awards (including an Independent Spirit Award and a SAG Award), received only one Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. After being honored at previous awards ceremonies this season, the film’s director and star James Franco was snubbed completely. Did Oscar voters simply diverge in opinion with the rest of their industry and deem The Disaster Artist unworthy of recognition? Or did the face of the film, who has been accused of sexually exploitative behavior, tank its Oscars glory?
Voting for the 2018 Academy Award nominees began on January 5. Two days later, Franco accepted the Golden Globe for Best Actor while wearing a Time’s Up lapel pin. The adulation raised some eyebrows, owing to rumors about Franco’s behavior, including a widely circulated 2014 report about his attempt to meet up with a 17-year-old girl in a hotel room. On January 11, the Los Angeles Times reported accusations from five women who say Franco was inappropriate toward or sexually exploited them while they were his students and mentees. On January 12, Academy voting closed.
Franco’s not being nominated for his comedy about the making of a so-bad-it-has-a-cult-following movie wouldn’t be so conspicuous had he not already been nominated for a number of comparable critical awards. In addition to his Golden Globes win, Franco also bagged a Critics Choice Award and a Gotham Award and a bucket load of nods and wins from other film critics associations. It’s quite a change from just a year ago, when the Academy honored accused sexual harasser Casey Affleck with a Best Actor win and had Brie Larson, a sexual assault survivor advocate, hand him the award. (If Affleck is invited to present the Best Actress award this year, as is customary for Best Actor winners, his appearance will be more than a little tone deaf.)
There are dozens of reasons why a nomination does or doesn’t happen. Though The Disaster Artist was pegged as an Oscars contender, it’s also a crowded field — I, Tonya, another hyped dramedy, also missed out on Best Picture. Plenty of Oscar voters could’ve sent in their ballots before the allegations surfaced, or even decided — in private, of course — that they weren’t going to punish him. But public perception is a real factor, and that this comes as so many other famously bad Hollywood men are finally being re-evaluated feels partially like the effect of relentless outcry — to pressure mostly white, mostly male institutions into long overdue change. And though he attended the SAG awards last weekend (whereas Aziz Ansari, whose behavior has also been up for public scrutiny, did not), it wouldn’t be surprising to see Franco skip the ceremony altogether.