Move over Meryl: is it final curtains for Hollywood award heavyweights?

With no Bafta nominations for The Post’s big stars - and the upheaval of the industry post-#MeToo - is it time for a new generation of award big hitters?

We all got Seth Meyers’s joke about The Post on Golden Globes night. The moment he said: “Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks”, an assistant strode on stage, her arms laden with awards. “No, not yet, we have to wait,” Meyers told her, and she shuffled back off. Streep has nine Globes and three Oscars; Hanks four Globes and two Oscars. Other acting nominees that night included Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench and Helen Mirren. They’re the usual suspects, each already multiple award-winners and default frontrunners every season.

But here’s the thing: none of them won! The heavyweights all left the ceremony empty-handed that night. The armful of awards instead went to the likes of Saoirse Ronan, Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand and James Franco. The Post received no Bafta nominations, either. Let’s see what happens when the Oscar nominations are announced on Tuesday but if Streep and Hanks aren’t there, you’ll know things have really changed.

As we all know, Hollywood has been repeatedly, earnestly shaking itself up over the past few years, from #OscarSoWhite to #MeToo, and the ejection of a generation of sexually predatory sleazeballs. Could this momentous changing of the guard affect the acting order, too?

As a consequence of the #OscarSoWhite debacle, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs pledged to increase diversity in an institution whose members in 2016 were 91% white and 76% male. Last year, she brought in 683 new members, 46% female, 41% non-white.

Just as it has wielded (and abused) power in other sectors of the industry, so this white, male contingent has overwhelmingly decided what constitutes good acting and who should be awarded for it (which are not necessarily the same thing). Through no fault of their own, actors such as Streep and Hanks have been the beneficiaries. Had the awards bodies been more diverse all along, the list of past winners might look a little different. Who would put money on Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump beating Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption for starters? Even Meryl Streep’s trophy room might be a little emptier.

Streep’s day is not done, surely, - brace yourselves for the Mamma Mia! sequel - but it would be a cruel irony if she turned out to be the victim of a movement she helped start. Streep was one of the first to put her head above the parapet, at last year’s Golden Globes, and call out Donald Trump’s bullying. Her first movie experience included being slapped without warning by Dustin Hoffman, in Kramer Vs Kramer, which she diplomatically described as “overstepping”. Few could disagree that she’s a great actor, even if The Post is not her greatest role. She has used her position in the best possible way: to fight for others. Now she, and her feted generation, might have to make way for them.


Steve Rose

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Steven Spielberg to direct Pentagon Papers film with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep
The Oscar winners will work together on The Post, a film about journalists challenging the government in 1971 over whistleblowing documents

Guardian staff

06, Mar, 2017 @7:46 PM

Article image
Video killed the Hollywood star: will vloggers take over the film world?
Eighth Grade director Bo Burnham was discovered via social media, the latest in a new cohort entering the industry

Steve Rose

22, Apr, 2019 @9:00 AM

Article image
From Tomb Raider to A Wrinkle in Time: why Hollywood has daddy issues
Whether it’s a traumatic childhood that spurs on a hero or the drive for adventure, the trope of the absent father has long been a catalyst for cinema

Steve Rose

19, Mar, 2018 @10:00 AM

Article image
Steven Spielberg: Oprah would make a brilliant president and I will back her
Calling her the ‘ambassador of empathy’, The Post director endorses Winfrey and says America needs ‘a mindful, empathetic human being in the White House’

Jonathan Freedland and Mark Brown

11, Jan, 2018 @4:49 PM

Article image
The Post review – Streep and Hanks scoop the honours in Spielberg's big-hearted story
Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep star as Washington Post bigwigs fighting to expose government lies about the Vietnam war in the director’s timely drama

Peter Bradshaw

06, Dec, 2017 @2:00 PM

Article image
White House to screen Spielberg's pro-media drama The Post
The Oscar-tipped film, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, will receive screenings at both the White House and Camp David this weekend

Benjamin Lee

05, Jan, 2018 @3:48 PM

Article image
Judi Dench, car chases and bad surf-rock - is this the recipe for a perfect film?
The blueprint for the ideal movie have been revealed in an audience survey. And the most shocking part? It may already exist

Stuart Heritage

02, Mar, 2018 @11:16 AM

Article image
Why The Post should win the 2018 best picture Oscar
Ahead of the Academy Awards, Jonathan Freedland celebrates Steven Spielberg’s timely tale of press freedom

Jonathan Freedland

23, Feb, 2018 @10:00 AM

Article image
The 50 top films of 2017 in the US: No 6 The Post
Our countdown of the year’s best continues with the Washington Post going into battle over the Vietnam war in Steven Spielberg’s exhilarating drama

Peter Bradshaw

15, Dec, 2017 @12:00 PM

Article image
Spielberg’s The Post tells of Pentagon Papers and time when media was trusted
Film on Washington paper’s role in Vietnam leak comes as talk of treason is back and the press is again at loggerheads with a hardline Republican White House

David Smith in Washington

27, Nov, 2017 @7:00 AM