LOS ANGELES — Will Harvey Weinstein's films get the gold shoulder going forward?
Amid the far more consequential conversations around assault against women in Hollywood, the Oscar race marches on as one of the town's most powerful film producers finds himself booted out of the awards game he revolutionized.
Weinstein's abrupt ouster following last week's New York Times report chronicling decades of sexual harassment allegations and even more shocking revelations in Tuesday's New Yorker article, means the industry will be absent a mogul so notorious for his tactics that Madonna once nicknamed him "The Punisher."
For films like The Weinstein Company's acclaimed summer release Wind River(starring Jeremy Renner) and the upcoming The Current War (with Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison, in theaters Nov. 24), the question remains: What impact will Weinstein's now-toxic name have on their award chances?
"There will be a real reluctance on the part of Oscar voters to vote for a Harvey Weinstein production this year," says Matthew Belloni, editorial director for The Hollywood Reporter, qualifying that it's possible actors, writers or directors associated with those films could still earn individual notices.
This awards season looked dim for TWC regardless. Wind River did reasonably well at the box office and earned critical praise, but the whodunit is hardly a slam dunk for nominations. Weinstein said he intended to qualify Kevin Hart's The Upside, a remake of the French film TheIntouchables, for an Oscar run, but Hart has run into his own PR troubles after confessing to a "error in judgment" that landed him in the tabloids with a woman who is not his pregnant wife.
And The Current War debuted at Toronto Film Festival to what can best be called tepid reaction, with IndieWire calling it "a mess."
It's a stark contrast to a decade ago, when the producer dominated with back-to-back best picture wins for The King's Speech and The Artist. Between his years with Miramax and his time at TWC, Weinsteinraked in 341 Oscar nominations and 81 wins, memorably guiding Shakespeare in Love to a stunning best picture victory in 1999 over Steven Spielberg's heavily favored Saving Private Ryan.
"The scary-sick part of it is, the power he held in Hollywood was because he had an Oscar contender every year and he won a lot of Oscars," says Sasha Stone, founder and editor of the website AwardsDaily. "That really solidified his power, his influence. And his intimidation. He could use that."
Last year, Weinstein's Indian adoption drama Lion scored a best picture nomination (it lost to Moonlight). But despite holding some of the glitziest bashes, from the Globes after-party he co-sponsors with Netflix to a starry pre-Oscars dinner where Oprah and Beyoncé have been guests, Weinstein's awards influence has waned in recent years.
"In the past, if Harvey Weinstein's name was attached to a project, it was a contender," says Stone. "But his name is now mud."
The Weinstein Company now plans to rebrand and rebuild without Weinstein. It'll have that chance with more commercial fare, including upcoming films like the horror movie Polaroid (out Nov. 22), family film Paddington 2 (Jan. 12) and Mary Magdalene, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, which has been pushed to March 2018.
On the small screen, Weinstein's projects will also move ahead, having already been sold and staffed. But there will be one change: Audiences won't see Weinstein's name in the credits. The mogul's name is being scrubbed from upcoming prestige projects like Waco and Yellowstone, along with this week's episode of Project Runway.
It's a name, many believe, that will remain toxic.
"Harvey is finished in Hollywood," says Belloni. "This is a person who has made his entire career based on the relationships he has with creative talent. I just don't see anyone willing to work with him in the future."
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