IN a climate of fear and unease not seen since the McCarthy witch-hunts, and with the makers of at least one nominated film threatening a boycott, Sunday night’s Oscars look like turning into open season on Donald Trump.
Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto opened the assault two days early by attacking the president’s stand on school bathroom rules for transgender students.
“I believe it is all of our responsibilities to stand up and be authentic,” Quinto said as he accepted an Oscar Wilde Award for his contribution to film as an Irish-American.
In a volley aimed squarely at the new president, Quinto feared, “as an openly gay man in Hollywood”, that there had been a retrenchment towards Wilde’s time over the “reversal of protections for transgender children in this country”.
Meanwhile, across town, the director and the star of an Oscar nominated film were both saying they would not attend the awards in protest at the president’s immigration policies.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose movie, The Salesman, will compete for the best foreign language film, announced he would skip the ceremony whether or not he was allowed to enter the country.
The film’s star, Taraneh Alidoosti, tweeted: “Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist. Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won’t attend the Academy Awards 2017 in protest.”
Farhadi’s film, A Separation won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2012.
It has been an awards season dominated by politics, with Meryl Streep kicking off proceedings by blasting Mr Trump without naming him at the Golden Globes.
“There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart,” she said, referring to a rally in South Carolina when the presidential candidate appeared to make fun of a journalist with a congenital joint condition.
But political protest on the stars’ big night out is as old as the Hollywood hills, with Marlon Brando, Richard Gere and Vanessa Redgrave among those who have turned the podium into a political soapbox for the crusade du jour.
The 1999 choice of the director Elia Kazan for an honorary Oscar took the film community back to the depths of the McCarthy era, when Kazan had given the Un-American Activities Committee the names of eight former associates from the Communist party.
“His lifetime achievement was the destruction of lives,” said the blacklisted screenwriter, Norma Barzman.
Marlon Brando was a no-show in 1973, when his Best Actor award for The Godfather was accepted by a native American activist named Sacheen Littlefeather. He had sent her, she said, to protest at “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry”.
Richard Gere, in 1993, brought up brought up human rights abuse in China.
But Miss Redgrave’s reference in 1978 to “a bunch of Zionist hoodlums” fell on more deaf ears than is likely to be the case during Sunday’s oratory.
She was named Best Supporting Actress in 1977 for Julia, a film dealing with opposition to the Nazis, at the same time as producing The Palestinian, which presented a sympathetic portrayal of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The Jewish Defence League picketed the Oscars in protest.
SIX YORKSHIRE OSCAR WINNERS
1. Yorkshire’s proud record at the Oscars which dates back to 1933, when Scarborough-born Charles Laughton became the first British actor to win an Academy Award in the title role in The Private Life of Henry VIII.
2. Born John Barry Prendergast in York in the year of Charles Laughton’s breakthrough Oscar win, John Barry went on to become Britain’s most successful composer. He won five Oscars during his glittering career: 1967 - Best Original Song and Best Original Music Score, Born Free; 1969 - Best Original Music Score, Lion in Winter; 1986 - Best Original Music Score, Out of Africa; 1991 - Best Original Music Score, Dances With Wolves; 1993 - Best Original Music Score - Chaplin.
3. A former pupil at Ermysted’s Grammar School, Keighley-born Simon Beaufoy receive a Best Original screenplay Oscar nomination for The Fully Monty in 1997 before winning an Academy Award two years later for Best Adapted Screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire.
4. It seems something of an injustice that Heworth-born Judi Dench has picked up an Oscar just once from the seven times she has been nominated for an Academy Award given the consistent high quality of her performances. The win came in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love as Best Supporting Actress for her role as Elizabeth I. She was also nominated in 1997 - Best Actress, Mrs Brown; 2000 - Best Supporting Actress, Chocolat; 2001 - Best Actress, Iris; 2005 - Best Actress, Mrs Henderson Presents; 2006 - Best Actress, Notes on a Scandal; 2013 - Best Actress, Philomena.
5. Born in Snainton, Scarborough, Ben Kingsley won an Oscar as Best Actor in a Leading Role in the 1983 movie Gandhi. he has also been nominated on three other occasions: 1992 - Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Bugsy; 2002 - Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Sexy Beast; 2004 - Best Actor in a Leading Role, House of Sand and Fog.
6. Film director Tony Richardson was born in Shipley in 1928. The father of actresses Natasha and Joely Richardson won two Oscars in 1963 as Best Director and Best Motion Picture for Tom Jones, an adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel starring Albert Finney and Susannah York.