When the Academy Award nominations were announced this week, there was the usual talk of which pictures and performers were snubbed. Among those, much attention has been given to Saving Mr. Banks, which was nominated for Best Original Score only (ironic, since much of the music is borrowed from Mary Poppins) and its stars, Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
While many articles are discussing potential reasons for the snubs, few (if any) are talking about one obvious reason: a day before Academy members had to submit their ballots, Meryl Streep spoke at the National Board of Review Awards and slammed the memory of Walt Disney saying he “had some racist proclivities” and “supported an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group and [was] a gender bigot."
Just how damning were those remarks with just hours left to nominate? Very, it seems. While Saving Mr. Banks was considered a front-runner for Best Picture and several other awards, it received only one. Many Academy members wait until the last minute to vote (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/audience-heckling-disneys-legacy-a...) and submit their ballots online, and with a group of voters that is incredibly sensitive to equality issues for all races, genders and religious groups, having someone like Meryl Streep speak out like that so close to voting time may have been all voters needed to leave Saving Mr. Banks off their lists.
It should be noted that Streep also commented that Disney “brought joy, arguably, to billions of people.” Her words, though harsh, do not seem to have been made with malice and certainly not with intent to harm Saving Mr. Banks' chances to earn any accolades, but regardless of intent, Streep is nominated for Best Actress (and rightfully so) while Thompson is not. Could all of this simply be a case of a jam-packed year, full of excellent film and even better performances? Of course. But with 9 nominations in the Best Picture category, it's easy to think that there could have been 10 had Streep made her remarks one day later. Alas, the world will never know.