In the lead up to the 86th annual Academy Awards, one prevalent meme was that some Oscar voters simply didn't want to watch "12 Years a Slave." As it turns out, that was true: at least two anonymous members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences apparently never saw Steve McQueen's eventual Best Picture winner, this despite placing the film atop their Oscar ballots.
The surprising revelation comes via the Los Angeles Times: "All the same, two Oscar voters privately admitted that they didn't see '12 Years a Slave,' thinking it would be upsetting. But they said they voted for it anyway because, given the film's social relevance, they felt obligated to do so."
During her Oscars monologue, host Ellen DeGeneres made reference to that kind of thinking with a joke about how the evening might go: "Possibility number one: '12 Years a Slave' wins Best Picture. Possibility number two: You're all racists."
The news that some Oscar voters were not planning to see "12 Years a Slave" came to a head after voting for the awards had closed. During an event hosted by Vanity Fair, publicist Peggy Siegal said she had spoken to voters who were reluctant to give McQueen's film a chance because of its content and subject matter. That was confirmed by one anonymous voter in interview with The Hollywood Reporter. The woman said she didn't watch "12 Years a Slave" because she didn't want "more terrible stuff to keep in my head." Said the voter, who self-identified as a senior: "I have never liked movies that have severe violence." Whether this woman was one of the two anonymous voters polled by the Los Angeles Times is unclear. There are more than 6,000 members in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
For more on "12 Years a Slave," head to the Los Angeles Times.