Although the film awards season has yet to culminate in its grandest Hollywood spectacle — the Academy Awards, which will take place at the Kodak Theater on March 7 — the mudslinging, slander and general poor taste has been ransacking this town since the shiny statue-presenting season began last December. But no one has stirred the pot quite like Nicolas Chartier, one of the four producers of best picture contender The Hurt Locker.
On Feb. 19, Chartier sent out a mass e-mail to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters and significant film industry professionals that solicited votes for The Hurt Locker, which is already considered one of the leading films in the Oscar race, over that “$500M film.” Although Chartier never mentions Jame Cameron’s Avatar by name, chances are he’s not talking about the indie powerhouse Precious.
The Academy must have picked up on Chartier’s cattiness as well, for the executive committee of the Academy’s Producer Branch convened late Monday to discuss how to discipline Chartier. According to the Academy, Chartier disregarded the rule of “casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film.” As a result, the Academy’s Producer Branch announced Tuesday Chartier is prohibited from attending the Academy Awards ceremony. However, if The Hurt Locker were to win the award for Best Picture, Chartier is still able to receive a statue — at some point after March 7.
As The Hurt Locker is already a strong contender for Best Picture, it’s difficult to imagine the thought process behind Chartier’s e-mail. With nominations in also the best director, leading actor and original screenplays categories, the critically acclaimed film on the Iraq war might leave Sunday empty-handed if Chartier’s poor campaigning taste ultimately left an unfavorable impression on Academy voters.
But as entertainment blogger Nikki Finke of “Deadline Hollywood” pointed out in multiple posts on Chartier’s situation, back alley campaigning, badmouthing and bribing are age-old art forms, and to most working in Hollywood, Chartier’s “vote for us” e-mail was just one of many received during award season.
So don’t worry, The Hurt Locker — you still get the highest bid on our ballot.