Ever since a wave of gift baskets turned the tide of the 1998 Academy Awards*, Harvey Weinstein has proved himself to be the King of the Oscars. Manipulating a score of Awards nominations has driven millions of extra viewers and extra dollars towards Miramax and Weinstein Company films over the years. You may not like his tactics, but it’s impossible to argue the results. We’ll get to the results, but first let’s talk about those tactics that have really pissed off the average fan over the years and brought down a variety of rules changes on campaigning from The Academy itself.
Meryl Streep won her third Academy Award this past Sunday for her performance as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 2012 film The Iron Lady. Wait a minute? This movie came out on January 13th, 2012…then why did she win Best Actress for the 2011 Academy Awards? This is where Harvey Weinstein comes in. The Iron Lady was a stinker, nobody liked it and outside of Meryl Streep turning in another great, great performance and it was a disaster at the domestic box office. But if Meryl Streep is nominated for an Oscar, let alone if she wins, it will mean huge amounts of extra revenue in extended box office life and DVD sales. This is what Harvey Weinstein thought and that is exactly what has happened. According to IMDB.com and BoxOfficeMojo.com, the film didn’t have a wide release until January 13, 2012. There was a limited release to four theaters on December 30th, 2011, which still wouldn’t qualify this film for the 2011 Academy Awards. According to the Academy’s Rules of Eligibility the film needs to have a paid theatrical run to the public of at least seven consecutive days in Los Angeles County prior to December 31st, 2011. While Weinstein made this run happen in time, this is hardly in keeping with the spirits of the 2011 Academy Awards. Allowing this tactic to succeed shows the elitist bent of the Academy and shows that they don’t care whether the viewers, who pay the money to profit the films and finance the awards shows actually have a chance to see the film in the year it is being rewarded for. This is unjust and infuriating. There is a disconnect between what the people deserve from the Academy Awards and what Harvey Weinstein is willing to do to increase his return on investment.
*Now back to those gift baskets I mentioned. With full page ads in Variety and gift baskets of swag sent to the right Academy members, Harvey Weinstein managed to fight aginst the public’s opinion to force a surprise Best Picture win for his film Shakespeare in Love over Steven Spielberg’s moving, character driven war film, Saving Private Ryan. This should have never happened. That makes two big black eyes for The Academy when it comes to Harvey Weinstein. Disgusting.
But to be fair, Harvey Weinstein is a genius. He provides a major channel for the release of foreign films in the U.S. in addition to his long-standing relationships with Woody Allen and Quinten Tarantino. Here are some of the best of what he’s distrubuted through Miramax and The Weinstein Co.: My Left Foot, The Grifters, Reservoir Dogs, The Piano, Clerks, Pulp Fiction, Il Postino, Sling Blade, Trainspotting, The English Patient, Swingers, Good Will Hunting, Air Bud: Golden Receiver, Life is Beautiful, Skakespeare in Love, Amelie, Chicago, The Hours, The Aviator, Tsotsi, The Queen, Gone Baby Gone, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, There Will Be Blood, The King’s Speech, and the latest and the 2011 Best Picture winner The Artist.
If you’ve curious to read for yourself the Rules and Eligibility for the Academy Awards, it’s not a bad read. Here’s a link: http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/84aa_rules.pdf