Saturday, February 25, 2017

Natalie Portman, Best Documentary Short Nominees Are Not Attending the Oscars

Natalie Portman in Jackie
Even if there's plenty to look forward to on Oscar Sunday, there will be a few missing faces at the ceremony. A few weeks back, The Salesman's Asghar Farhadi and Taraneh Alidoosti announced that they wouldn't go due to the Muslim Ban. Now there's more names added to the list. While there's plenty related to the the Muslim Ban, there's one particular absence that is brought about for different reasons. Best Actress nominee Natalie Portman (Jackie) has already missed the Spirit Awards and is looking to be staying home tomorrow night as well. Read on to discover which stars won't be on the R.S.V.P. list.

It was only a few months ago that Portman was picked to win Best Actress at this year's Oscars ceremony. While the race has changed a little and Emma Stone (La La Land) is looking to be the front runner, there is a reason that the Jackie star will not be present. As plenty of people know, she is currently pregnant and is expecting her child in a matter of months. She isn't in a perfect physical condition to show up, especially since she's already done the awards circuit pregnant before for Black Swan in 2010. While she isn't expected to win, it does seem likely that she'll be watching from home, ready to see the results along with the rest of us.

While Farhadi isn't expected to show up to the Oscars ceremony, he has picked a few names to accept the award on his behalf if he wins. Considering that the controversy has lead many to predict The Salesman as the Best Foreign Film front runner, it does seem likely that we'll be hearing more from the film across the evening. The two names that he chose were Anousheh Ansari and Firouz Naderi. Ansari was the first female space tourist, and Naderi was a former director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA. There's no telling what will be said, but it's likely to be politically charged.

To make matters more interesting, the five Best Foreign Film nominees have published a joint letter. According to Rolling Stone
On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.
The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on—not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly “foreign” and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different.
So we’ve asked ourselves: What can cinema do? Although we don’t want to overestimate the power of movies, we do believe that no other medium can offer such deep insight into other people’s circumstances and transform feelings of unfamiliarity into curiosity, empathy and compassion—even for those we have been told are our enemies.
Regardless of who wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, we refuse to think in terms of borders. We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.
Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist – for everybody. For this reason, we dedicate this award to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever. By dedicating the Oscar to them, we wish to express to them our deep respect and solidarity.
This was a letter approved by the filmmakers behind The Salesman, Toni Erdmann, A Man Called Ove, Land of Mine, and Tanna.

In a final note, the stars of the Best Documentary Short nominee The White Helmets are also barred from entering the country due to the Muslim Ban. This is specifically in relation to its cinematographer Khaled Khateeb with the Department of Homeland Security finding "derogatory information" that keeps him from entering the country. With it dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis, it also makes it a very pointed entry in this year's nominations and its win would be politically charged even without the current ban. Still, it seems like this year is going to see a lot of empty seats and potentially many winners M.I.A.. One has to wonder how political this year will get. If nothing else, it has been one of the thorniest lead-ups to the ceremony in recent memory, and it will be difficult not to point out the missing elephant in the room. 

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