Starting at 3:40, Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil, Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson and Variety‘s Tim Gray begin discussing the Best Actor mano e mano between Fences‘ Denzel Washington vs. Manchester By The Sea‘s Casey Affleck. And for over four minutes all they talk about is Denzel — he’s got the momentum, choosing him will send a message to Trump Nation about inclusion (if DW wins he’ll have three acting Oscars — that’s inclusion!), the industry loves him, Troy Maxson was a seriously meaty character, etc.
The Gang of Four never even discusses Affleck or his performance…nothing. By the measure of their interest or enthusiasm Affleck could be a wooden carving. O’Neil doesn’t allude to the thing that I’m not going to acknowledge but which has probably chipped away at Affleck’s support — he doesn’t even mention it! At one point Thompson says “not to take anything alway from Casey” — that’s the only time his name ever escapes.
If I had been there I would have said, “You guys are completely ignoring the midsize elephant in the Affleck room, and you need to show a smidgen of some backbone by acknowledging it and giving your opinion about whether it’s hurt him and, if so, whether that’s right or fair.
“My view is that it may have hurt him to some degree — it’s been in the news enough to give fence-sitting Academy members a reason not to vote for Affleck. And if you ask me it’s harsh and unfair that certain journos (i.e., The Daily Beast‘s Melissa Zimmerman) have attempted a Casey takedown.
“In the general scale of things Affleck’s 2009 offense boiled down to boorish behavior. He didn’t hurt anyone or break any laws. Not voting for someone because they’ve acted like an entitled asshole once or twice…well, wouldn’t that cover an awful lot of Oscar winners over the decades?
“Affleck’s performance in Manchester was, is and always will be monumental. Affleck and director-writer Kenneth Lonergan revealed a brand new aspect to the familiar template of the Sad White Guy, which is a SWG who can’t find his way out of the thicket, who “can’t beat it.” Maybe another film has delivered this kind of thing, but when I first saw Manchester a year ago I said to myself, “This is new, this is something else.”