Polanski’s Euro-Sweep Doesn’t Bode Well for Awards Season

Published 4 years ago by

Ghost Writer Polanskis Euro Sweep Doesnt Bode Well for Awards Season

The European Film Awards hardly have the stateside cache of the Oscars – or even the People’s Choice Awards – but this year’s winners should send a chill through those who still insist movie awards matter – or that they truly honor the best cinematic achievements.

Director Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer swept the awards, winning Best European Film, Best European Director and Best European Actor (Ewan McGregor), as well as receiving top kudos for its screenplay, music and production design.

Did Polanski’s public trial over his decades-old rape charge factor into the decision making? It’s hard to see how it didn’t. The Ghost Writer earned respectable reviews from U.S.-based film critics, but it hasn’t even shown up on the Oscar radar.

Does anyone think McGregor’s work in the film outstripped Javier Bardem’s devastating performance in Biutiful?

The artistic community has been the most eager to accept Polanski back into the fold despite his actions, and directors like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese have gone on record supporting him against further prosecution. So it’s not hard to imagine artistically-minded voters letting their affection for Polanski influence their decisions.

Simply stated, The Ghost Writer is a tightly crafted affair but hardly worth award consideration – let alone the stuff of sweeps. So watching it Hoover up Euro-awards should make one’s Spidey senses tingle.

This isn’t the space to rehash the arguments against Polanski the defendant, but it is worth noting yet another example of movie award voters using their power to make a statement rather than honor true film achievement.

And each time that happens, the public trusts the award in question – and its cultural significance – a little less.

The timing of Polanksi’s sweep is instructive, given The Wrap‘s story on a warning regarding the Golden Globes. A PR executive for the awards accused the Hollywood Foreign Press Association of “unsavory business practices.”

Perhaps the Pia Zadora debacle wasn’t an isolated incident.

Emotion often plays a factor in movie award voting, and sometimes it’s hard to quibble with it. Consider Paul Newman’s 1986 Best Actor Oscar for The Color of Money. No, it’s not his best performance, but it’s hard to argue that a screen legend of his caliber should go Oscar-less for his entire career.

Other emotionally charged votes are more damaging to the integrity of the award in question. Consider the 2006 Best Documentary Winner, An Inconvenient Truth. Yes, the film impacted the debate on global warming, but it came out the same year as Deliver Us From Evil, a film far more powerful, well crafted and haunting. What will stand the test of time better, Al Gore running through a Power Point anecdote or a priest explaining away his dastardly deeds? Yet “Truth” had politics on its side – and the feel-good vibe from voters who thought they were changing the world with their vote.

The Oscar voting process got sillier last year when news spread that voters might not select Mo’Nique for her dazzling turn in Precious because she wasn’t playing by the unofficial Oscar rules. She went on to win all the same, but the thought of her tremendous work being negated for diva-like behavior is enough to rankle any movie fan.

The Oscars and other major awards still have inherent biases that hurt their credibility. Genres like horror, action and comedy rarely get the attention they deserve.

But every time a film like The Ghost Writer scoops up more honors than it deserves, or a politically charged documentary runs roughshod over far more compelling material, the awards category as a whole takes a hit.

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Reminds me a little of Gran Torino. That was an exceptional movie and one of Eastwood’s best, in my opinion, and it managed not to get a single nomination at the Oscars. I don’t know the politics (if there are any) but I feel like it’s similar. I’m not so sure about the Golden Globe nominations either…

    • A good point, regarding Gran Torino. I can’t help but feel that Affleck’s The Town will receive similar snubbing.

  2. Though one needn’t be a screenwriter to imagine an argument where the illustrious powers that be claimed Polanski “deserved” the award for all he “suffered”, it’s just another reminder that most awards are about causes and egos and less about the actual worth of performance and art. Lifetime achievement awards are a great way to remember legends but it seems it’s become more popular to award for a collected body of work as opposed to a single role. Then there are others who receive nominations simply for showing up. Awards shows are essentially about boasting, not integrity.

    • @ Jason

      You speak the truth with such great insight. Hypocrisy and politics abound.

  3. Aw, come on, give Roman Polanski a break…It’s like the constitution says, “If a man be famous enough, and if his wife was stabbed to death by a notorious serial killer, then the government shall impose no laws preventing him from raping little girls, and he shall be given prestigious awards that he does not deserve.”

  4. About declining his Oscar for Patton, George C. Scott infamously declared
    “The whole thing is a g****** meat parade. I don’t want any part of it.”

    I remember him saying too the best acting was done by actors accepting awards.
    George thought the concept of artists competing was simply illegitimate.
    The European Film Awards this year prove Scott’s assertion.

  5. sorree..i beg to differ here ..it was a great film!! deserving of its merits occalades and awards!!you seem to be stuck in the popular culture that prevails and wins the most so unashamingly often!!!grr!!

    • I agree. This article is all wet. Like that hot little teenager in Polanski’s hot tub! MMM Give me a piece of the pre-pubescent snatch!!

  6. Funny how the “don’t diss Mel Gibson’s movies because of his real-life problems” brigade don’t mind dissing Roman Polanski’s movies and incidentally, all of those who worked on them, because of HIS real-life tribulations.

    I’m not making light of the accusations brought against Polanski, but if we are to ignore Gibson’s tirades and judge only his “Art”, then the same latitude should be given Polanski.

    That said, in my opinion, the Oscar’s mean squat. They tend to pick the most whoreish films of the year.

    • Hey, let’s not jump to any conclusions, alright? I’ll take Polanski over Gibson any day.

    • @ Mike E

      I’m not condoning Gibson’s woeful actions BUT to the best of my knowledge, he has never raped a child.

      I believe all men are accountable for their crimes no matter how long ago they were committed., no matter how artistic, creative or famous they have become.

    • @Mike E.

      Gibson SAID some horrible things and ALLEGEDLY hit his wife (no proof).

      Roman Polanski DID rape a child.

      That pretty much sums it up. And for what it’s worth, I’ve heard MUCH more support for Polanski while Mel Gibson has been painted as a vile human being. I firmly believe that actions speak louder than words and I’ll take Mel’s rants over Polanski’s rape of a child any day. We are quick to judge Mel but we’ve all said some terrible things at some point in our lives but I don’t think any of here (I HOPE) have raped anyone.

  7. I agree with the points in this article. Very insightful…
    Reminds me of the time (few years ago)when Robert Downey Jr, won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor in Ally Mc Beal.

    He had just been released from a court ordered rehab center. His relapse occured during shooting of Ally Mc Beal, and it looked like he was on his way out of Hollywood.

    He showed up at the Globes won the award and gave a speech that was humble and totally won over the crowd.

    After that his drug problems were forgotten and he went on to star in a bunch of films leading to his huge comeback in Iron Man.
    I remember that because I was backstage that night…

    Downey came in through the back where nobody saw him. He wasn’t in the audience and he arrived minutes before his catagory came up. A coincidence, hardly.

    I was standing next to a LAPD officer (who was working security). When I saw Downey in deep thought (thinking about his speech, no doubt), I told the cop that Downey will win.
    He was skeptical. 5 minutes later Downey was on stage receiving the Globe.
    Not a very perceptive cop,,,
    So to address Polanski’s sweep, yes its political, conspritorial and meant to show the world that Hollywood supports him. No matter what.
    As SR goes into registration soon, and I totally fade away,,, I hope the new SR writers, write more articles like this that expose Hollywood for what it is, and has become. A big show to keep you all distracted, and to influence your children.

    • @ 790

      I miss your posts. Always an interesting read . Please don’t totally fade away. Have a safe & happy Xmas dude!

    • Actually he deservced that award becuase he was really good in it.

    • So your argument is that you witnessed RDJ’s arrival backstage and that must obviously be the only reason he won? Um. Did it occur to you that with all of the hooplah around his arrest and served time that he showed up quietly because he was nominated and didn’t want to create a scene or face the inevitable press who would grill him, not because he somehow had any inkling he would actually win? I’m sorry if I’m being bratty here, but as a lifelong fan of his and someone that interned on the set of Chaplin, I have to interject here and shoot down your comparison. You definitely can’t compare the sexual assault of an underage girl to a stint in prison for drug possession/use. Especially when you look at how hard he has worked to stay sober since then and he went through hell just to get to where he is today, essentially starting his entire career over because no company would insure him – it was actually by the grace of Mel Gibson’s kindness that he was cast in The Singing Detective. I don’t even know how you can say his past has been forgotten when it’s all these years later and even YOU are still bringing it up. Have you paid attention to the stories in the last year that came out about Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen? Because you might notice the pattern of every available media outlet grilling RDJ on his promotional tour for Due Date, asking him about his thoughts on both situations as someone who has been addicted to drugs and alcohol before. Not to mention invasive questions about his time served in prison in relation to Lindsay Lohan. While I’m on the fence about the politics behind Polanski’s nominations, there is no doubt in my mind that they played no part in RDJ’s GG win when even the majority of Hollywood had scorned him for his drug-ridden antics. They wouldn’t have voted him through if he didn’t legitimately deserve it, he didn’t have that many supporters back then. If he had, he would have gotten his Oscar for Chaplin, as he deserved. Instead, he was passed over for Pacino. Who, arguably, is a tremendous talent that’s deserving, but for Scent of a Woman of all things? Please. Your entire point is undermined by this RDJ example.

  8. Gotta love all the shameful support that they give a child rapist. Pedophilia is apparently very popular in the so called ‘artistic community.

    • That’s because pedophilia is an art.

      • Zombiehunter I’m assuming that’ your attempting to be funny, but I find no humor in the subject.

    • Daniel speaks to truth.

  9. 790™

    I missed your interesting posts here on Screenrant. I rarely post anything on SR and seeing your comment has made me smile.

    Word of caution: stick around here or face the wrath of Mr Elusive! :)

  10. This is an interesting article, I mean its all wrong, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

  11. I’ve been “beyond fanatic” for Ewan McGregor for nearly 10 years and yet, sadly, I agree with you on this one. It’s one of his better performances in years, but still not quite up to the caliber one would think of for an Oscar nod. Nevertheless, I’m no critic. I’m still scratching my head about “No Country for Old Men.”

  12. “Does anyone think McGregor’s work in the film outstripped Javier Bardem’s devastating performance in Biutiful?”
    No, but I’m fairly certain “Biutiful” premiered too late to be qualified for the 2010 awards (it wasn’t even nominated for any of the categories).
    It will most likely win quite a few of the 2011 awards tho.

    And yes, “The Ghost Writer”, allthough being a really good film, didn’t deserve all those prizes. But look at the competition, outside of “Lebanon”, there were hardly any (and ofc, an Israeli film got to be extremely good to have a real chance at winning at the Felix).

  13. Good article. Please provide more like this and tell Vic to give you a raise!

  14. The “artistic” community stands behind their creative members and “indiscretions” are forgiven(forgotten)..It’s a travesty that nothing in Hollywood’s inner circles is really taboo..stealing innocence and subgigating a child’s free will is one way to insure the worst Karma..pay back is a b!tch!

    It happens everywhere in society though and not just the artistic community..it happens in the medical profession, in law enforcement, with church leaders.. and I could go on and on…Look the other way to protect your own or to protect a “gifted” artist..Again Polanski has been banned from the shores of America and will never fully basque in the glory of the Oscars no matter how many his “peers” seem fit to award him. I was never a fan of his films regardless..

  15. This was one of Screenrant’s most obviously slanted articles yet. It reads like a passive-aggressive version of yahoo or fox.
    “gee.. he’s winning everything for, like, a sorta ok movie.. do you think it’s because the ARTY TYPES are all FORGIVING of his “actions”??.. but.. like.. we’re not here to REHASH all that, heh heh.. it’s all about, like FILMS, right?.. but, gee, he sure has a DARK PAST, and the ARTY TYPES (as in “euro-centric”) are eating it up.. so, it must be because they all embrace a twisto-perverto sex criminal, right”?… you guys are usually great- enthusiastic about all the right geek-orgy new films, spot-on about action flicks, etc.. but when you drift into ‘cultural critique’, it inevitably takes on a status quo, conservatively-tinted veneer. how about justsaying “we think his film isn’t as good as our other choices”, and leave the broad (enough to drive a truck through), thinly-veiled kneejerk jingoism where it belongs- on Fix® and cnn?

    • What was knee jerk jingoistic about my column? I didn’t just include the Polanski matter, but others that have nothing to do with politics. And don’t you agree that “Truth” won what it won for political reasons? Do you really think it was the most artfully crafted, visually arresting doc of that year?

  16. I think ‘The Ghost Writer’ is an excellent movie – almost perfect, definitely one of the best I have seen in the recent years. It deserves the recognition it got. I have watched it 5 times already.

  17. “Sends a chill through those that insist movie awards matter…”

    This intrigues me simply because it begs the question: Why do movie awards matter? What is their purpose? Honestly, any awards show is a matter of opinion, whether it is critics, actors, the public, etc. The author of this article, Christian Toto, assumes that his opinion about “The Ghost Writer” being undeserving of the awards it won will be shared by all. Obviously, this is not the case.

    My OPINION is that movie awards matter for this very reason! It stimulates discussion about an art form people are very passionate about, and it informs people about movies they might not have seen. I have not watched “The Ghost Writer” yet. I’m not a huge fan of Roman Polanski’s movies. However, I will be watching this much sooner than I would have because it won some awards, and I’m interested to see if I will be outraged or think those awards were justified.

  18. Definition of a pedophile: Somebody with a sexual attraction to a pre-pubescent person. Samantha Geimer was not a pre-pubescent person when Roman Polanski was with her. Ergo, Roman Polanski is not a pedophile.

    Polanski liked/likes young girls, but not *little girls*. In many places in the world, including the United States, the age of consent is 13. It just so happened that in California in 1977, the age of consent was higher. BUSTED!!!!!!!

    My grandmother got married at 15 years old, and had my mother at 16. When Roman Polanski was growing up in Poland, that would’ve been quite normal. And, European teenagers (and I have seen a few) are far more mature than American teenagers. Polanski probably mistook Samantha Geimer for Nastasha Kinski.

    Now that I have defended Polanski, I’m going to do a one-eighty and blast him. If the girl said no, and if she said she wanted to go home, and he didn’t listen to her, then that’s rape. Take him back to Swiss jail :-D

  19. @LT, my comments (that I already regret) were intended to provide an example of exactly what Christian’s talking about when it comes to award shows and how they are setup and politically motivated.

    I didn’t mean to rehash RDJ’s situation, but since I did have that experience I thought I would pass it on.
    Take note, you had to be there…

    I have nothing but the upmost appreciation for Robert Downey Jr…

    I only wish he had broken into my apt looking for booze. We would have partied like it was 1999. It would have been one of the hightlights of my life. Ahhh well.
    Thanks!,,, Mag Eye!, and Mr Elusive! and of course GK333!…

    • Thank you, but I already understood what your aim was with your remarks and if you failed to comprehend it, my point is that any reference to RDJ does not belong here and it’s NOT a perfect example of what this article refers to.

  20. Good article. It reminded me of the year Whoopie Goldberg was snubbed as Best Actor for her excellent performance in “The Color Purple” yet won for “Ghost” (are you kidding me?)the next year.

  21. @LT,,,,

    So you interned on Chaplin, what are you up to these days?

  22. I prefer not to say as it isn’t relevant to this post.

  23. That’s cool LT, just curious.

    Take care.