Bryan Singer's Bohemian Rhapsody BAFTA nomination has been suspended in light of the latest sexual misconduct allegations made against the director. Premiering in theaters back in November 2018, the Freddie Mercury biopic became one of the year's unlikeliest awards contenders. Despite lukewarm reviews that criticized its adherence to formula and poor handling of its subject matter, Bohemian Rhapsody was well-liked by many, tallying $833.3 million at the worldwide box office and scoring numerous accolades. It's one of the eight films up for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars and star Rami Malek is the favorite to win Best Actor.
With the possible exception of Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody is this year's most problematic awards contender. The reasons why extend well beyond the film's artistic merits. Its association with Singer (who was the project's original director before he was fired following an unexplained absence from the set) has been a sticking point for many, especially given the numerous sexual harassment allegations that have been made against him. In response, Bohemian Rhapsody already lost a GLAAD Award nomination and now the BAFTAs have made a move.
According to Variety, the British Academy suspended Singer's nomination for Outstanding British Film of the Year "until the outcome of the allegations has been resolved." It's important to note that Bohemian Rhapsody remains in the running for British Film of the Year. Singer was one of three members of the creative team recognized in the category, alongside producer Graham King and screenwriter Anthony McCarten. You can read BAFTA's full statement in the space below:
"In light of recent very serious allegations, BAFTA has informed Bryan Singer that his nomination for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has been suspended, effective immediately. BAFTA considers the alleged behavior completely unacceptable and incompatible with its values. This has led to Mr. Singer’s suspended nomination. BAFTA notes Mr. Singer’s denial of the allegations. The suspension of his nomination will therefore remain in place until the outcome of the allegations has been resolved.”
Voting for the BAFTAs has already closed, so this decision won't have any influence on the results. Instead, it reads as the British Academy's attempt to distance themselves from Singer in the event Bohemian Rhapsody wins. While this development is commendable, BAFTA does come across as hypocritical for even nominating Singer in the first place. The recent Atlantic report detailing allegations against Singer is not the only time the director has faced these kinds of accusations. In 2017, he was hit with a lawsuit stating he raped Cesar Sanchez-Guzman in 2003 (the case is still pending), and there are other instances from his past. It's curious why BAFTA members felt it was appropriate to nominate Singer prior to the Atlantic article considering this information, but at least they are attempting to salvage a messy situation. For their part, Fox supports BAFTA's move to suspend Singer's nod.
As for Singer, the latest controversy has not impacted his career in the way some might have thought. He remains attached to direct the Red Sonja reboot for Millennium, though it remains to be seen how far along that project will go. Likewise, it'll be interesting to see how successful Bohemian Rhapsody is during these last legs of awards season. Earlier this year, the film shocked by winning the Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama, but it's currently a long shot to take home Best Picture at the Oscars. Malek may represent its strongest (and only) chance at a win.