This morning Hollywood Reporter award-season analyst and handicapper Scott Feinberg finally jumped into the Nate Parker thing (along with THR colleague Gregg Kilday) with an assessment piece that includes four quotes from Academy members about Parker and his situation. Tab Hunter and documentarian Mitchell Block want to cut Parker a break while producer Marcia Nasatir and actress Rutanya Alda (Mommie Dearest) are quite negative about the guy.
The article mostly reiterates a general feeling around town that Parker and his film are fucked as far as Academy or guild member opinions are concerned. I think it’s too late in the cycle to just repeat this by way of quotes. Feinberg should have filed right after the Deadline/Variety stories broke on Friday, 8.12, and certainly in the immediate wake of Variety‘s 8/16 report, filed by Ramin Setoodeh, about the 2012 suicide of Parker and Jean Celestin‘s unnamed victim.
Nasatir: “This is going to set off a thing in this town the likes of which we’ve never seen. I personally find it really hard to separate the man from the film when he wrote, directed and starred in it. Do I want to see a movie from someone who has committed an assault against a woman and who I do not think recognizes his guilt? Right now, based on what I’ve read, I would not go to the movie.”
Alda: “I will probably see [The Birth of a Nation] because I try to see everything. But I have to admit, I’m going to go in with a very biased attitude toward this guy because I think what he and the co-writer did to this girl was terrible — especially how they harassed her after she reported their behavior. They got off but they are not innocent. Parker stands behind his wife and his five daughters, but that doesn’t wash with me. The only thing that would make this better for me would be for him to say, ‘I’m gonna serve my six months in jail.’ Otherwise, it will be very hard for me to vote for this movie. What is the life of a woman worth?”
Block: “The court found Parker not guilty, and they set aside the Celestin conviction, but that’s almost beside the point. I think you have to separate the work from the person. Hollywood continues to embrace the work of Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.”
Hunter: “He wasn’t found guilty, and even if he was, we’re not voting for the man — we’re voting for his film. I’ve never met a Hollywood star who hasn’t had some sensational thing said about him, and many of them won Academy Awards. In Hollywood, people love to see other people fail, but we should judge films on their merits. It’s a shame people have to bring things like this up to try to hurt it.”
Looking to elbow aside The Birth of The Nation and become the African-American standard-bearer in the awards race: (1) Loving (Focus Features, 11.4 — good but not great, fine Ruth Negga performance); (2) Denzel Washington‘s Fences (Paramount, 12.25 — possible powerhouse); 3. Barry Jenkins‘ Moonlight (A24, 10.21 — supposed to be really good, as everyone has heard by now); 4. Mira Nair‘s Queen of Katwe (Disney, 9.23 — sounds light, a bit precious, modest); 5. Theodore Melfi‘s Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox, 1.13.17 — I’m told that the actress who really stands out is not Octavia Spencer or Taraji P. Henson but Janelle Monae); 6. Richard Tanne‘s Southside With You (Roadside, 8.26 — really quite nice, hits the spot, perhaps too light for award-season competition).
I still think that term I used a few weeks ago about Academy members who will probably vote for this or that African-American-themed movie to prove they’re not OscarsSoWhitey types — “Get their black on” — is a keeper.