AT THE 81ST ACADEMY AWARDS, HELD AT THE KODAK THEATRE IN HOLLYWOOD ON SUNDAY, FEBUARY 22, 2009, THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES BESTOWED THE OSCAR FOR BEST ACTRESS OF 2008 ON THE WIDELY FANCIED KATE WINSLET FOR “THE READER”.
However, all in attendance at the Dolby Theatre that night knew that Kate’s Oscar was really Harvey’s. It was his award for running the greatest Best Actress Oscar campaign in history and everyone, from the natives of deepest Amazonia, to the shepards of Outer Mongolia, to the scientists in Antarctica, to the cosmonauts on the International Space Station knew that, thanks to Harvey, it would be Kate at the podium that evening – and she didn’t even thank him!
It’s been almost fourteen years now. A lifetime really. Harvey is in prison where he belongs, and we are in a post-#METOO world. So, it’s quite easy to forget what a FORCE Harvey Weinstein was in the movie industry. Even the old Hollywood studio heads could not hold a candle to Harvey.
The area where Harvey absolutely excelled was in decoding the workings of Award Season and sometime in the late Eighties, with his company Miramax waiting in the wings, he figured out how it all worked.
By the time the 62nd Academy Awards rolled around in 1990 for the Best of 1989, Harvey had two big movies: “Sex Lies and Videotape” and “My Left Foot” with the latter winning for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
From that moment until things began to unravel in the #MeToo department sometime in the mid-teens, Harvey Weinstein OWNED the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Let’s take a quick look at just a little of Harvey’s legacy and how Oscar will always live in shame because of this one man:
Roberto Benigni – Best Actor.
Renee Zellweger – Best Supporting Actress
Meryl Streep – Best Actress (over Viola Davis)
Nicole Kidman – Best Actress (over Julianne Moore and Diane Lane)
Gwyneth Paltrow – Best Actress
Shakespeare in Love – Best Film.
Brenda Fricker – Best Supporting Actress
Life is Beautiful – Best Foreign Language Film.
Mediterraneo – Best Foreign Language Film.
The King’s Speech – Best Film (over ‘The Social Network”)
The Artist – Best Film. Jean Dujardin – Best Actor (Who?)
But Harvey was not always a bad influence.
Harvey was Quintin Tarantino.
Harvey was Krzysztof Kieslowski and “Three Colors Red”.
He was Peter Jackson and “Heavenly Creatures”.
If he believed in you, he instructed the Academy who to vote for and that was that.
If “The House of Mirth” had been a Miramax movie, Gillian Anderson would be the Best Actress of 2000.
If “Far from Heaven” were a Miramax movie, the record books for 2002 would show:
Best Director: Todd Haynes.
Best Original Screenplay: Todd Haynes.
Best Actress: Julianne Moore.
Best Supporting Actor: Dennis Quaid.
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Clarkson.
2008 was not good year for Harvey. All he had on the books was this thing from Kate that she had been championing for years. She said it was a German literary masterpiece. The first cut that he saw did not excite him. It was directed by Daldry (Stephen) from a script by David Hare and what was Roger Deakins doing replacing Chris Menges (or was it the other way around?) on the cinematography? He remembered thinking about the enormity of the struggle ahead; to get both of them Oscar nominations.
As for the plot! What was Kate thinking? She was barely in the thing! The story centered on a young German boy (David Kross – at least he was cute) who, after the war, has an affair, and falls in love with, an older woman who used to work in a Nazi concentration camp! This secondary role (a Nazi worker and collaborator, just one step back from being a party member herself) was played by Kate! The same little Kate who Harvey had mentored all those years ago, after he made the very astute decision to purchase and distribute “Heavenly Creatures”.
Daldry, who he had also mentored so carefully since “ Billy Elliott”, had decided not to use subtitles, so Kate spoke with this goddam awful Melanie Griffith-esque German accent. And, even though her character had been involved in the extermination of hundreds if not thousands of people, we were STILL supposed to feel sorry for her, even love her like David did, because she COULD NOT READ (too late – spoiler!). Her character was evil and Harvey knew, instinctively, that even his own people at the Academy would have a tough time voting for Kate on this one.
Then there was another problem. Kate was starring-in, and just about to release, an infinity better movie, distributed by Dreamworks, entitled “Revolutionary Road”. At first, Harvey thought he had an insurmontable, challenge.
“Road” was directed by Kate’s then husband Sam Mendes and, although everyone knew that Kate and Sam were finished as a couple, he had managed to make a superb adaptation of the Richard Yates novel with an Oscar worthy performance by Kate, this time in a real leading role, and goddamn clever work by Leonardo DiCaprio and this new guy named Michael Shannon. And the music by Thomas Newman! Wow!
It was then that Harvey thought of “Chocolat”, a gigantic piece of merde which he managed to get nominated for Best Picture, Actress and Supporting Actress in 2000. If he could do that, he could do anything.
He would put the squeeze on his people in the Academy even more than usual. Always the consummate heavy, he would use his skills to persuade those weaklings over at Dreamworks to back off in their Campaign for Kate as Best Actress for “Revolutionary Road” .
He had never wanted to win an Oscar campaign like this one, and he would see it all the way through to the end.