It wouldn’t be movie award season without controversy. This year, Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer faces allegations of sexual misconduct. In and of itself, this is nothing new for him; now, however, those allegations are coming with consequences.
Both Singer and Bohemian Rhapsody were subjects of controversy long before the Queen biopic was released in November to both critical and commercial success. Singer was fired as director before filming finished, after reports of pandemonium on set. But due to Directors Guild of America rules, he still earned credit as the movie’s sole director.
Singer has reportedly been an on-set menace for years, and accusations of sexual misconduct have followed him for just as long. From early on in his career, he’s been accused of everything from filming boys nude for a shower scene to sexually assaulting young actors.
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Ahead of the BAFTA award ceremony, Singer was removed from consideration as best producer, due to recently resurfaced allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Still, Bohemian Rhapsody managed to take home two BAFTAs on Sunday night.
The movie is also nominated for five Oscars, including Best Actor and Best Picture. Singer isn’t nominated in the directing category, although four of the five directors who were nominated also had their movies on the Best Picture shortlist.
Singer has continued to deny these allegations, and this isn’t the first time they’ve been levied against him. He’s fought off misconduct allegations before and has had a long career despite them, including producing the TV show House and directing four X-Men movies. But with his next project, Red Sonja, being pushed back, Singer might finally be facing the music.
Based on recent history, it seems likely that the scandal following Singer will impact the Academy’s view of Bohemian Rhapsody. 2016′s The Birth of a Nation appeared to be a shoo-in for the Oscars, but after rape allegations against director Nate Parker resurfaced, the film didn’t even receive any nominations.
Still, the allegations against Singer haven’t affected the movie’s success too much. Bohemian Rhapsody performed well at the box office and managed to earn two surprise wins at the Golden Globes. And star Rami Malek has collected several awards, including a BAFTA for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. In his acceptance speech for that award, Malek thanked replacement director Dexter Fletcher and made no mention of Singer.
The fact of the matter is that 20th Century Fox continued to hire Singer despite these frequent allegations. If Bohemian Rhapsody ends up faring poorly at the Oscars, the studio will have nobody to blame but itself for it.
This seems like the most diverse year for Oscar nominees in recent history. Though movies like Green Book have faced some backlash recently, nominations for BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, The Favourite and Roma indicate that both audiences and the Academy are ready to recognize the talent and success of both women and people of color in film.
For some reason, movie award season is almost never about one thing: movies. The controversy following Singer and Bohemian Rhapsody shows that until the industry is ready to stop and expel people like him, the time meant to honor good films will instead be spent discussing instances of avoidable conduct.