Will Woody Allen scandal cost Cate Blanchett an Oscar?
Cate Blanchett has won just about every acting award for which she’s been eligible for her acclaimed performance in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine’’ — but is her best-ever shot at Oscar’s Best Actress in danger of becoming collateral damage?
That’s the question everybody’s asking after this weekend’s bombshell open letter by Allen’s long-estranged adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow — in which she details 22-year-old allegations of sexual abuse against Allen (which were investigated at the time by authorities, who did not bring charges against the filmmaker).
Farrow’s letter provides details no media outlet would have printed in 1992, and calls out several actors who have worked with Allen, including Diane Keaton and Alec Baldwin.
“What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett?’’ Farrow, 28, wrote — and it’s hard not to believe she’s speaking directly to Oscar voters, who are scheduled to receive their ballots on Valentine’s Day.
How will this affect the Best Actress race?
If you go strictly by history, it won’t.
Allen’s “Husbands and Wives’’ was released not long after the scandal broke — with the media focusing on his affair with longtime companion Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi rather than the child abuse allegations.
The film received a pair of Academy Award nominations: Allen, for Original Screenplay, and Judy Davis as Best Supporting Actress. Oscar voters ignored Farrow, just as they had for her 11 previous roles in Allen films.
Even if the scandal slightly depressed Woody’s box office for a time (and that’s debatable — it might have been the kind of movies he was making), his films continued to rack up Oscar nominations for their screenplays and actors — with Dianne Wiest and Mira Sorvino winning back-to-back Best Supporting Actresses in 1995 and in 1996.
In recent decades, academy members seem to have drawn a firm distinction between personal behavior and artistic achievement, at least based on nominations and awards. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of Roman Polanski, who fled the United States in 1977 before sentencing after pleading guilty to raping a minor.
Polanski was nominated for Best Director in 1981 (“Tess’’). And he won the award in 2003 for “The Pianist.’’
Of course, there are some crucial differences between Polanski and Allen. A decade ago, Polanski’s victim publicly expressed not only forgiveness — but urged both prosecutors and the academy to let bygones be bygones.
Allen, by contrast, has never been charged with a crime, much less pleaded guilty to one. But while authorities say he can’t be tried for the old allegations, they’re being re-aired in the court of public opinion, with his adopted daughter as the star witness.
Even before the current controversy, nobody thought Allen had much of a chance of winning the Oscar he’s personally nominated for this year — Best Original Screenplay for “Blue Jasmine.’’
That definitely wasn’t the case for Blanchett, who has been the one to beat in the Best Actress race since the film came out. She’s hugely respected in her profession, with four previous Oscar nods, including a win as Best Supporting Actress for “The Aviator.’’
“It’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some kind of resolution and peace,’’ Blanchett said Saturday night when a reporter buttonholed her after Dylan Farrow’s statement came out.
She handled it gracefully, but the outcome of the Best Actress race may be in the hands of the other players in this family drama.
So far, Allen has denied the allegations through his lawyer and his publicist, with the latter promising the filmmaker would personally “be responding very soon.’’
Hopefully, Allen will not be calling a press conference like he did in 1992. I covered that odd event, in which his insensitivity to why people were shocked seemed to do as much harm as good — at least as far as the public was concerned.
What will be the next move by Mia Farrow and their son Ronan Farrow (who has a new TV show to promote)? They kicked off this ruckus by attacking Allen via Twitter the evening he received a lifetime achievement award from the Golden Globes.
Have we heard the last from Dylan Farrow?
And could all of this end up actually gaining sympathy for Allen and his collaborators?
Even before she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama, there was speculation that Blanchett might be slipping in the Oscar race.
Given the unusually long time — a month — between the Screen Actors Guild Awards (where Blanchett won again) and the start of Oscar balloting, voters might well decide she’s won enough awards for this year and give it instead to Amy Adams of “American Hustle,’’ winless in previous tries.
If Adams is indeed surging, could the Allen allegations put her over the top? Sure.
Will we ever know if that made the difference? Not really.