Last night, something rare emerged at the Oscars: class. All season long, Film Twitter has engaged in an ugly battle pitting Team “Moonlight” versus Team “La La Land,” a fracas that the makers of either film have never engaged in. Even with the Best Picture mixup, the makers of “Moonlight” and “La La Land” were gracious to each other in both victory and defeat. But it appears that Sony Pictures Classics didn’t get the memo.
Prior to the ceremonies last night, Sony Pictures Classics executive Tom Bernard lashed out Best Foreign Film frontrunner and eventual winner, “The Salesman,” in an uncharacteristically hostile manner.
“It’s fake news that will give Asghar the Oscar,” he told the LA Times. “The media has made the foreign race about a vote against Trump and not about the films.”
“He made one statement [about not attending the Oscars due to Trump’s Muslim ban). Then the media went and blew it up,” Bernard added.
One can’t help but feel Bernard is nursing an ugly grudge against Farhadi and Cohen Media and Amazon, who partnered on the film and distributed it together. The director’s two previous films — the Oscar-winning “A Separation” and “The Past” — were released by Sony Pictures Classics, and for a company that likes to develop long relationships with filmmakers, it must’ve stung to see the film, trophy and acclaim go elsewhere. Not only that, Amazon has also poached Woody Allen from the arthouse shingle as well. Moreover, the buzz for “The Salesman” likely took the wind out of the sails of “Toni Erdmann” which surely would’ve won otherwise, and generally speaking, Sony Pictures Classics usually owns the foreign film space at the Oscars. But it goes to show, you can’t take anything for granted anymore.
The landscape is changing and Bernard is definitely not feeling it, but there was probably a much better way to handle it. Thoughts? Let us know in the comments section.