The dirty tricks of Oscar campaigns, and what to expect at the 2018 Academy Awards


The dirty tricks of Oscar campaigns, and what to expect at the 2018 Academy Awards


The Academy Awards are set for Sunday night, the first since producer Harvey Weinstein — a constant figure at the Oscars for almost two decades — was pushed out of the industry following a series of sexual harassment and assault allegations.

Matthew Belloni, editorial director at The Hollywood Reporter, spoke with NBC News about Oscar campaign dirty tricks; the absence of Weinstein; and predictions for the show.

Q: Tell us about your Oscar week. Do you get barraged by fruit baskets?

Belloni: Oscar week is the biggest week of the year normally. Now add in the #MeToo stuff and it becomes this crazy confluence of news. And there’s worldwide interest, and it’s 24 hours a day.

We are constantly barraged by the movie campaigns with positive and negative information. Their clients want to be featured on the roundtables. From time to time, you will hear what’s called the whisper campaigns, the weaknesses [of rival movies] and pointing out things they’re “hearing” around town.

Q: What are this year’s whisper campaigns?

Belloni: For instance, this year it was that “Three Billboards” is racist, or that “Shape of Water” was stolen from a playwright or it was that Gary Oldman is anti-Semitic. [Oldman apologized in 2014 for a remark to Playboy.] These are the political tactics that people use, and in the past there’s evidence these whisper campaigns have been successful.

You look all the way to “Zero Dark Thirty,” there was a whisper campaign about its authenticity, things that were not accurate in the film, or “Slumdog Millionaire,” that the kids were mistreated. There was an allegation that the real-life subject of “A Beautiful Mind” was anti-Semitic. Everyone thought Harvey [Weinstein] was behind that.

Harvey was the ultimate campaigner and the ultimate negative campaigner, and he taught a lot of people who are now doing this professionally.

Q: Has the Oscar race been different without him?

Belloni: I think so. There is something missing. He would say, “I’d love for you to meet so-and-so. I’d love for you to meet the little kid from ‘Lion.’ ” There were always these press releases that would come out from Harvey, that the City of Los Angeles has declared today “The Artist” day, like a fake film festival that would only give awards to Harvey Weinstein.

Q: He really dominated the campaigning?

Belloni: In recent years it was more reserved, and now all the other campaigns are just as sophisticated. Everyone has caught up, and you see the stunts and all the things Harvey popularized.

Q: Why is the best picture a wide-open race this year?

Belloni: There are two things at work. There is no one film that the academy has coalesced around. Typically people talk and the momentum gets behind one or two movies, and it becomes a showdown. This year, because there isn’t that one movie that everyone loves, or the increasing diversification of the academy, there are five movies that legitimately could win best picture and each have their backers: “Shape of Water,” “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” “Dunkirk” and “Three Billboards.”

Q: Are any of those best pictures in your mind?

Belloni: I’m not a critic, and I reserve my personal opinions for my wife and occasionally I’ll tweet about a movie I really liked. I do know talking to academy voters that the favorite is “Shape of Water,” but I would absolutely not be surprised if “Get Out” wins. I feel like there was a late push, and people think it’s the most important movie of the year.

Q: Do you think it’s appropriate, whether on the red carpet or during the ceremony, to address politics?

Belloni: I understand why people don’t like it, but I also understand why people who feel strongly about their beliefs would use a powerful platform to get their message across. The Oscars is the biggest platform of the year. There is a history of the entertainment industry leading on certain social issues.

There is a balance. Plus, in a way, it makes it interesting, bigger than just some statues for movies. Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes influenced what everybody in America was talking about. That was a powerful speech. She knew exactly what she was doing.

Q: What will the Oscar producers do differently this year?

Belloni: It’s the same team as last year, but they just have this gigantic elephant in the room that they have to address. The Golden Globes really leaned in.

Q: Can we talk about the different movements and whether the academy’s new, broader membership has affected the movies that get picked? Is Hollywood becoming less white male and more diverse?

Belloni: It is still overwhelmingly male and overwhelmingly white. However, over the past three years the number of people who have been invited to the academy has dramatically increased. The academy has made a significant push to diversify not just by gender but by race and nationality. There are more foreign members as well.

So consequently, with the electorate changing, the nominees are going to change. I strongly believe that five years ago, if it was the same choice between “Moonlight” and “La La Land” that “La La Land” would have won. The diversification and the age of the audience coming down, they’re more open in my view to nontraditional Oscar best pictures. That is why I think “Get Out” has a shot.

Q: Why don’t the movies I see at the multiplex ever get nominated?

Belloni: The academy increased the number of best pictures from five to as many as 10. The thinking was this will allow the bigger, more popular and populist movies to get a best-picture nomination. In reality, it’s been more of the same. It’s allowed more of these smaller art house movies that the academy members love, but the public doesn’t, to get in.

The argument on the other side is “Wonder Woman” doesn’t need the Oscars to get people to know it’s a good movie, but “Shape of Water,” and “Three Billboards” and “Darkest Hour,” those are the kind of movies people aren’t going to discover unless they get awards attention. And all of those movies have passed $100 million in box office, so people are seeing those movies and they’re seeing them because they’re in the awards competition.

I have mixed feelings about that. I would like to see movies like “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther,” really well-executed mainstream entertainment, I’d love to see them get into the Oscar race, but I understand why the academy thinks the way they do


  1. When I initially commented I clicked the -Alert me when brand-new comments are included- checkbox as well as currently each time a remark is included I obtain four emails with the very same remark. Exists any way you can eliminate me from that solution? Many thanks!

  2. You can certainly see your expertise within the paintings you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart. “In order to preserve your self-respect, it is sometimes necessary to lie and cheat.” by Robert Byrne.

  3. Good – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs as well as related info ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or something, website theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task.

  4. I am extremely inspired with your writing talents and also with the format in your weblog. Is this a paid subject matter or did you modify it your self? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to peer a nice weblog like this one nowadays..

  5. Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your situation; many of us have created some nice practices and we are looking to trade methods with others, please shoot me an email if interested.

  6. We are Daylight Studio, a boutique photography studio in East London available for hire. We are a creative natural light studio space with decorated French walls, lots of props and furniture and massive windows for great natural light. He have a unique selection of chairs, fabric backgrounds and a sofa for your next natural light photography project. The studio is great for fashion, portrait and commercial photography and if natural light photography studio is not your thing we have a lot of lighting equipment available for you as well and that includes studio strobe lights with various modifiers and LED constant lights for video production. We also have facilities for e-commerce photography. Please see the studio’s gallery here.

  7. I needed to post you that bit of observation to help say thanks a lot once again for your nice pointers you’ve discussed on this website. It was so wonderfully generous with you to make without restraint exactly what most people could have distributed as an ebook to help with making some dough for their own end, mostly considering the fact that you might have done it in the event you decided. Those concepts in addition acted to become a easy way to understand that other people have similar passion much like my very own to realize more and more with respect to this problem. I know there are numerous more pleasant times up front for many who browse through your blog.

  8. Oh my goodness! an incredible article dude. Thanks Nevertheless I’m experiencing difficulty with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting an identical rss downside? Anybody who is aware of kindly respond. Thnkx

  9. Aw, this was a really good message. In idea I would like to put in writing such as this in addition? requiring time and also real initiative to make an excellent post? yet what can I say? I put things off alot as well as never appear to obtain something done.

  10. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

  11. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you might be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will eventually come back someday. I want to encourage that you continue your great work, have a nice day!

  12. Youre so awesome! I do not suppose Ive read anything similar to this prior to. So great to locate somebody with some original ideas on this subject. realy thank you for beginning this up. this web site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality. useful task for bringing something new to the internet!

  13. Hi, I do believe this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to return yet again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

  14. My spouse and i got very thankful when John could carry out his preliminary research while using the precious recommendations he discovered out of your web pages. It is now and again perplexing to just find yourself giving out thoughts others may have been trying to sell. So we consider we now have you to appreciate for that. The entire explanations you’ve made, the easy web site navigation, the relationships you can make it possible to foster – it’s got everything amazing, and it’s really facilitating our son in addition to our family know that that matter is thrilling, and that’s unbelievably essential. Thanks for all!

  15. I have recently started a site, the info you offer on this site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work. “Show me the man who keeps his house in hand, He’s fit for public authority.” by Sophocles.

  16. I wanted to draft you that tiny note so as to thank you so much as before over the fantastic views you’ve shared on this site. It’s really particularly generous with people like you to allow extensively all a few individuals could have offered for sale for an ebook to help with making some cash for themselves, most importantly since you could possibly have tried it if you desired. The tactics in addition served to become a fantastic way to realize that most people have a similar eagerness just like my personal own to see more with regards to this condition. I am sure there are a lot more pleasant sessions in the future for people who check out your site.

  17. There are some fascinating points in time on this article however I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There may be some validity however I will take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

  18. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  19. Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return once again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

  20. We stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking over your web page yet again.

  21. Parties can be challenging to put together. Especially during the Halloween season. So how can you make the perfect party no matter the season or your theme?

  22. Arx Nimbus’ Thrivaca Risk Analytics Platform provides the first financially-relevant Digital Risk Profile for the enterprise, underwriters and brokers. Using a patented algorithm developed in collaboration with leading universities, the DoD and federal regulators, Thrivaca consolidates industry historical analysis, your latest analyses and assessments, proprietary vulnerability scans, audit data and actuarial mathematics to produce a complete and detailed valuation of enterprise-wide digital risk, and the top sources of current carrying cost.

  23. F*ckin’ remarkable things here. I am very glad to see your post. Thanks a lot and i’m looking forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  24. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. kudos

  25. I will right away seize your rss as I can’t find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please let me understand so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  26. Can I just state what a relief to find someone that actually knows what theyre discussing online. You definitely understand just how to bring an issue to light as well as make it crucial. More individuals need to read this as well as comprehend this side of the story. I cant think youre not a lot more popular because you most definitely have the present.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here