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Are Wind River’s Oscar Chances Gone?

November 7, 2017


It pales by contrast to the stories of the dozens of women who were assaulted and harassed by Harvey Weinstein, but the scandal could cause a different kind of fallout: The Oscar hopes for The Weinstein Co.’s Wind River may have dried up. That’s a shame, because I recently caught up with the sleeper hit on VOD, and it’s easily one of the best pictures I’ve seen this year.

The film’s writer-director, Taylor Sheridan, as well as its producers have wisely tried to distance themselves from Weinstein, stripping his company’s logo from the movie online and at Academy screenings. Some critics have commented that the drama’s storyline, which concerns a woman who is sexually assaulted and murdered on a Native American reservation, could make for an uncomfortable juxtaposition given Weinstein’s behavior. But that’s all the more reason why Wind River should be seen; inspired by actual events, it closes with the tragic fact that no statistics are kept for women who disappear on reservations. The film could shine a much-needed light on that issue.

Aside from its social significance, it’s also just a damn good thriller. Jeremy Renner gives his best performance since The Hurt Locker as a fish-and-wildlife ranger who discovers the body, which triggers memories of a daughter he lost under similar circumstances. He’s teamed up with the often-underrated Elizabeth Olsen as an FBI agent sent to investigate the crime, and together they track the killer.

After his deservedly acclaimed screenplays for Sicario and Hell or High Water, Sheridan completes his Western revisionist trilogy brilliantly, and in his debut as a director, he shows an impressive eye for strikingly composed images. Among the flawless ensemble are two gifted Native American actors: Graham Greene (who got an Oscar nomination for 1991’s Dances With Wolves) as Gil Birmingham (who should’ve gotten one for Hell or High Water) as the murder victim’s grieving father.

Oscar voters, please don’t punish Wind River for Harvey Weinstein’s crimes. This film isn’t part of the sexual-assault problem; it could be a part of the solution.

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  1. Yes, it is sad that the film is so tossed out of the window just because of the Weinstein scandal. But, then again, let’s have no illusions: it was not like the film was a front-runner to win the Best Picture. Besides, a film is still a film, and it is not like Weinstein has written or directed the thing. No one is going to strip the honours off “Shakespeare in Love” either.

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  1. The Oscar Race Shapes Up! | Fretts on Film

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