The Best Actor category is usually jammed pack with worthy contenders, and the 2017 Academy Awards was no exception. There were five men nominated for the award on Sunday night: Ryan Gosling for his performance in the musical La La Land, Denzel Washington for the racially-charged Fences, Andrew Garfield for the wartime film Hacksaw Ridge, Viggo Mortensen for the indie with a huge heart, Captain Fantastic, and Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea. Of course, only one man could take home the award, and that man was Casey Affleck for his performance in Manchester by the Sea. But this award wasn't awarded without controversy.
You see, seven years ago in 2010, the actor was sued by I'm Still Here film producer Amanda White for allegedly physically and verbally abusing her. But she wasn't alone in her claims. The film's cinematographer, Magdalena Gorka, also sued Machester's leading man, claiming the actor had climbed into her bed without her permission and caressed her back.
These are extremely serious claims, but the actor denies them both. In 2010 he told The Hollywood Reporter that, "the allegations brought upon our clients are preposterous and without merit." Both lawsuits were settled for undisclosed amounts, out of court. Bustle reached out to Affleck's team for comment and did not immediately hear back.
Because of these allegations, even though they remain unproven, some people are upset that Affleck was promoting this film, nominated for the award, and, now, that he won the damn thing. The fact that women have come forward with such claims should, as some people point out, be enough to deter the Academy from giving the man the award for Best Actor.
But for some reason Hollywood has embraced Affleck, and this Oscar win is the definitive proof. Perhaps it's because he's the sibling of big brother Ben, or perhaps it's because he's a white male with undeniable privilege, or perhaps it's because voters decided to separate art from the artist when casting their ballots. It may be none or all of these things, but his win is still distressing regardless. Whether or not Affleck assaulted women in the past, this win is further proof that the industry doesn't take these allegations seriously. If they did, surely they wouldn't endorse such alleged behavior with a nomination and a win, right?
It's hard to say. Just look at Mel Gibson, who was nominated for Best Director during this year's award show. He didn't win, of course, but his nomination — as a man who also has a tough history of alleged abuse — speaks volumes.
Though none of these allegations have been proven, as I feel is important to repeat, I can only hope men and women who are free from allegations are celebrated in Oscar ceremonies moving forward.