Last year the Academy Awards recognized Brie Larson for her portrayal of a sexual assault victim in Room. This year, as the most recent Best Actress winner, it was Larson’s turn to present the Oscar for Best Actor. The prestigious award went to Casey Affleck, who notably faced two sexual assault lawsuits in 2010.
While working on Affleck’s mockumentary I’m Still Here, producer Amanda White and director of photography Magdalena Gorka both claimed to have endured sexual harassment and abuse from Affleck and other crew members.
As Larson opened the envelope that held Affleck’s name, she was clearly reserved. Viewers noted Larson’s unenthused expression and lack of applause, maintaining a stoic, professional stance.
All award season Brie Larson, who starred in a movie about sexual assault, had to present Casey Affleck all his awards. pic.twitter.com/L2WbQvSJNv
— Marnie (@ChrnclsOfMarnia) February 27, 2017
Larson is known for her advocacy on behalf of sexual assault victims. She hugged every single sexual assault victim on stage last year after Lady Gaga’s Oscars performance. A year later, she’s had to present two awards to Affleck for his performance in Manchester by the Sea, first at the Golden Globes and again at the Oscars on Sunday. At the Golden Globes, she adopted a similar dispassionate expression and did not embrace Affleck, while at the Oscars she gave him a polite hug before backing away.
When Affleck took the stage to give his acceptance speech, she quickly stepped back, in essence removing herself from the situation. She did not applaud him or show any sign of approval, and while she was not necessarily cold towards Affleck, she did not display the enthusiasm of most presenters. Affleck and Larson exited the stage with a noticeable distance between them.
Larson has yet to comment on the moment but instead has been expressing her pride in her friend Emma Stone, who took home the Oscar for Best Actress.
However, it is interesting and rather disturbing that the Academy, which has its own strict policies against sexual harassment, would place Larson and Affleck on the same stage. Many have interpreted Larson’s silent and polite reservedness as an act of solidarity on behalf of sexual assault victims.
We may not ever have clarity on whether Larson was taking a stance, but her actions kind of said it all.