Content warning: This article mentions sexual assault.
Monday night saw the unofficial-official kickoff of the 2017 film awards season with the Independent Film Project (IFP) Gotham Awards in New York City. Jordan Peele’s breakout horror story “Get Out” won big, taking home three awards, and the top prize for best feature film went to Luca Guadagnino’s dreamy adaptation “Call Me By Your Name.”
If you’re a betting person, now’s about the time you may start eyeing Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet like some promising racehorses, but it’s important to remember that the Gotham Awards aren’t historically that great at predicting winners for the rest of the season. If Monday night’s ceremony indicates anything about the award shows to come, it’s that it’s actually difficult for Hollywood to celebrate Hollywood in the wake of Harvey Weinstein.
According to the New York Times, Monday’s Gotham Awards were palpably chilly, almost somber compared to the typically buzzy atmosphere at events of its kind.
As Nicole Kidman took the stage to accept a tribute award, she remarked, “It needs to get a little louder, a little rowdier. I don’t know what’s happening. It seems sedate.”
Despite Kidman’s claim, everyone in that room, if asked, could point to the source of the tension. Weinstein’s history of sexual assault and harassment was something of an open secret in the industry for decades, but the tide of accusations aimed at the producer have brought his behavior into such clear focus that actors and filmmakers can no longer feign ignorance. The sexual misconduct of many other entertainment figures like John Lasseter, Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey, who have all received accolades from the industry in years past, is also weighing heavily on Hollywood’s conscience.
But truth be told, Hollywood has never had a conscience, or at least not for more than a few months at a time. The Harvey Weinstein wake-up call and subsequent industry firings cannot undo years of turning a blind eye, of Woody Allen and Roman Polanski and Casey Affleck accolades, or the #OscarsSoWhite of 2015 and years prior. The collective guilt that is going to make this awards season so uncomfortable shouldn’t be a new feeling, but it’s a necessary one.
That’s not to say that this year’s many films and performances deserving of awards should have their moment taken from them, as “Moonlight” (2016) did last year with the best picture fiasco, but the Globes and Oscars to come can’t make it on the same song-and-dance and comic ribbing we see year after year. Jimmy Kimmel, who will be hosting the 2018 Oscars ceremony, has shown gravitas when discussing mass shootings and politics on his late night show, so here’s hoping he can balance a necessary seriousness with his typically light comedy.
Weinstein, who has been thanked in more Oscars acceptance speeches than God, will at last be the elephant in the room (or not in the room) at February’s ceremony. In response, let the Academy honor the the talent of artists, not predators.