The 2018 Oscars are rapidly approaching, and while many of us have been preoccupied (and rightfully so) with pondering who is the likeliest winner in each category, who got snubbed and who might be the biggest surprise nominees, it looks like Oscar tides are turning in other ways.
On Thursday, it was announced that 2017 Best Actor Oscar winner Casey Affleck would not be partaking in Oscars tradition and presenting the Best Actress Oscar at the 2018 award show. According to Deadline, Affleck notified the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the artistic group behind the Oscars) that he would not be able to attend the Oscars this year. Deadline also claims (ostensibly as a result of a speaking with an inside source, although they aren’t specific) that “Affleck did not want to become a distraction from the focus that should be on the performances of the actresses in the category and that is why he made the proactive move,” and they go on to say that he may have felt he was in a no-win situation for this year’s proceedings.
Affleck not attending the Oscars to present is a major break with a time-honored Oscars tradition wherein the previous year’s Best Actor presents the award to this year’s Best Actress winner and vice versa. That said, it’s not surprising Affleck feels like attending the 2018 Oscars would be no-win situation. With the noticeable rise in awareness and action being taken in the name of the #MeToo movement as well as Times Up, there’s a good chance Affleck didn’t want a repeat of what happened to him in 2017, especially when it could dim the shine around these contemporary cultural movements.
For those who may have forgotten, Affleck faced major controversy in 2017 while campaigning for the Best Actor Award for his star turn in Manchester by the Sea. Back then, he was swept up in renewed scrutiny over allegations of sexual harassment made by two women who had worked alongside him on the 2010 film I’m Still Here. The allegations made by the women included one woman alleging Affleck had crawled into bed with her without her consent. The other woman alleged Affleck made sexual advances toward her and grabbed her by the arm in an attempt to get her to stay with him in is his hotel room. Affleck settled with both women out of court for undisclosed amounts.
Affleck has kept a very, very low profile since the 2017 Oscars with A Ghost Story being his only film to premiere later that year. While he does have projects on the horizon (so we’ll no doubt be seeing him again really soon), this was probably the right move for Affleck to make. It may be momentarily odd not to see tradition adhered to at the 2018 Oscars, but if there’s one thing we know now, it’s that not all of Hollywood’s established practices are worth keeping up.