The Academy seemed to profess a desire to weed out men who had been accused of misconduct in this year’s post-#MeToo Oscars: Harvey Weinstein is persona non grata, and James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” was well-reviewed but passed over for nominations after the actor was accused of sexual harassment. “All the Money in the World” was nominated for best supporting actor for Christopher Plummer, the replacement for Kevin Spacey, who was accused of sexual assault. But some viewers felt that the Academy may have missed a few men.
One winner was Kobe Bryant, for his short animated film “Dear Basketball.” Bryant was charged with sexual assault in 2003, when a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado accused him of rape. “She said he then grabbed her by the neck, bent her over a chair and violated her as she cried and protested,” Sylvia Moreno wrote for The Washington Post in 2004. Bryant claimed that the sex was consensual, and the case was dropped after his accuser refused to testify in court. Bryant settled a separate civil case for an undisclosed sum.
Another winner was best actor Gary Oldman, who took home his first Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.” Oldman’s ex-wife, Donya Fiorentino, accused him of assault in 2001, according to papers she filed in L.A. Superior Court.
“As I picked up the phone to call the police, Gary put his hand on my neck and squeezed,” she alleged. “I backed away, with the phone receiver in my hand. I tried to dial 911. Gary grabbed the phone receiver from my hand, and hit me in the face with the telephone receiver three or four times. Both of the children were crying.”
Oldman denied the allegations, calling them “replete with lies, innuendoes and half-truths.” No charges were filed. A judge awarded Oldman sole custody of their two children. Oldman has also been criticized for defending Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic remarks. In an email to The Post in November, Oldman wrote, “This was a deeply personal and painful time in my life and I appreciated the due diligence of all involved. I was most thankful for the outcome.”
These earlier incidents were the subject of discussion in the media and on Twitter after Oldman won earlier this year at the Golden Globes, where he was photographed wearing a Time’s Up pin. He did not wear the pin to the Oscars.
After a year full of fraught conversations about whether a person can separate art from the artist, Oldman’s past behavior rang alarm bells for some viewers who saw his award as undermining the Time’s Up movement.
In his acceptance speech, Oldman reflected on how “the movies, such is their power, captivated a young man from south London, and gave him a dream.”