Casey Affleck Wins Best Actor Oscar Despite Backlash Over Sexual Harassment Allegations

The "Manchester by the Sea" star has been surrounded by controversy this awards season.

For months now, the media has been taking Casey Affleck to task over his past sexual harassment allegations, which resurfaced in September in a Mashable article. But, as we predicted, it appears all the backlash over the 2010 incidents had no effect on the actor’s Oscar chances.

At the 89th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, a teary-eyed Affleck took home the golden statue for Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in “Manchester by the Sea.” He made no mention of the controversy during his speech, but did have this to say:

“Man, I wish I had something bigger and more meaningful to say.”

ANGELA WEISS via Getty Images

There’s no doubt Affleck gives one of the best on-screen performances of the year in Kenneth Lonergan’s film about a man who becomes the guardian of his teenage nephew following the untimely death of his brother. But in this day and age, must we celebrate and honor an artist when unsettling personal transgressions haunt our perception of that person?

In 2010, Affleck was accused of harassing two women on the set of the Joaquin Phoenix mockumentary “I’m Still Here,” which he directed. One of the women was Amanda White, a producer with whom he had worked for 10 years, and the other was the movie’s director of photography, Magdalena Gorka. Both claimed they were subject to inappropriate sexual comments and unwelcome advances, which you can read more about here. At the time, Affleck denied the allegations and countersued, but later settled the case out of court to the apparent satisfaction of all involved parties. But after this year’s Oscar race heated up, his unsavory past was brought to light again, spawning think piece after think piece. Due to the terms of his settlement, Affleck is not legally allowed to address the incidents ― not that he would anyway. Some of the only words he uttered on the issue were to The New York Times in November.

“It was settled to the satisfaction of all. I was hurt and upset — I am sure all were — but I am over it,” he told NYT. “It was an unfortunate situation — mostly for the innocent bystanders of the families of those involved.”

Although the conversations we’re having about this case are very much warranted, they apparently happened a little too late, as despite it all, Affleck took home the Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Critic’s Choice, Gotham and National Board of Review awards for his performance in “Manchester.” The only major award he lost was the SAG for Best Actor, which Denzel Washington won for “Fences.”

All this being said, we must use this situation as a lesson moving forward. Let’s speak out against casting notices and hold studios accountable for hiring alleged harassers from the get-go. Yes, Affleck won the Oscar, but “Manchester by the Sea” also succeeded at the box office, earning over $46 million domestically. Moviegoers championed the film, and most likely enjoyed it.

As we’ve said before, the media can make an impact by pinpointing the right time to start a discussion.

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