But then, this entire awards season has been an extended tribute to those who survived the brothers Weinstein and other alleged predators. The biggest drama of the night could involve who oh who will stop on the red carpet to either speak to or spit on E!’s Ryan Seacrest, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by a former employee.
And short of an award category for “talented women we’ve never heard of because some guy who’s now in rehab saw to that,” I don’t know what I’d rather see on my small screen this weekend than the expected festival of implied, off-stage groveling. Or the long-overdue bows to more stories centered on women and other outsiders.
Martin McDonagh’s “Best Picture” contender “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a #MeToo movie on its face, about the revenge-minded mom of a murdered rape victim who is pressuring the cops in her small town to go on and solve the crime already.
The movie’s also been widely criticized for allowing the doofus racist cop played by Sam Rockwell to get off without consequences, but he does not walk away unscathed. There’s also some second-guessing about the suggestion that Officer Dixon may even be redeemed, though it isn’t saints who need redemption. At some point, #MeToo, too, will have to grapple with who can and cannot be rehabilitated.
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Other juicy female characters this year include the mother-daughter duo of Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age “Lady Bird,” and Meryl Streep’s take on Katharine Graham’s professional coming-of-age in Spielberg’s The Post. (That scene with all of Graham’s admiring young female fans staring goofily at her as she comes down the steps of the Supreme Court nearly ruined it for me, though. Less is more, Steve.)
A movie that’s less obviously in keeping with the #Time’sUp moment is Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” about a waitress who seems pretty good at happiness and yet marries a mommy-worshiping, much indulged artiste. Her great love, Daniel Day Lewis’s Reynolds Woodcock, may or may not also be a great fashion designer. Or even the Georgina Chapman, aka Mrs. Harvey Weinstein, of his day. But he’s definitely a genius at getting his own way, and so keenly attuned to his own needs that he can’t bear the stress of hearing the sound of bread being buttered at breakfast.
Anderson has said that “Phantom Thread” is an homage to “Rebecca,” in its characters both seen and unseen. Just as we don’t know what the new Mrs. de Winter sees in the rich old crab she’s run away with to Manderley, nor can we fathom why Alma Woodcock keeps right on smiling as her gloomy bridegroom verbally attacks her.
As it turns out, Woodcock’s older sister and young wife can more than handle him. That the abused can become the abuser is not a revelation, but the way this story plays out is stranger and less straightforward than that. Its conclusion in the current context is only a little less of a tweak than those three billboards that went up in L.A. this week, bearing harsh-but-true messages about the industry’s long, determined complicity in this year’s scandals.
“We all knew and still no arrests,” one of the billboards says.
“Name names on stage or shut the hell up!”
“And the Oscar for biggest pedophile goes to …”
The Trump-supporting street artist Sabo says those were his handiwork, while Joshua “Ginger” Monroe, whose oeuvre includes many unpleasant-looking statues of a naked Donald Trump, has created along with the street artist Plastic Jesus an L.A. street sculpture of Harvey Weinstein on a golden “casting couch.”
Sabo and Monroe (and you too, Plastic Jesus) deserve some kind of an award, too, for refusing to let Hollywood forget that it wasn’t only the offenders themselves who were guilty. And yes, if things are really different now, name names on Sunday, and keep speaking up from now on.