This week, the Motion Picture Academy of America nominated eight films for the Best Picture Academy Award, including Bohemian Rhapsody
While it’s unlikely, I think the Queen biopic stands a slim shot at winning the Oscar, which would be a disaster. If Bohemian Rhapsody won Best Picture it would make its credited director, Bryan Singer, the director of an Oscar-award winning film and the Academy would give its top honor to someone who’s been accused of being a sex predator for decades.
UPDATE: The day after this story posted, The Atlantic published a bombshell article interviewing multiple alleged victims of Singer.
But let’s put the accusations aside for a second and briefly discuss how Singer’s a terrible filmmaker who in no way deserves to win the most famous and prestigious award in professional filmmaking. Singer is the credited director of Bohemian Rhapsody but he was fired from the movie before it completed filming and wasn’t involved in its editing and post-production. The final film appears competently made, unlike Singer’s sloppy messes like X-Men: Apocalypse, Superman Returns and Jack The Giant Slayer.
There are plenty of bad directors. What really makes Singer stand out is his two decades’ worth of sexual assault allegations, starting with a lawsuit by a 14-year-old extra who claimed he was pressured to remove his clothes in Singer’s 1998 movie Apt Pupil.
Once he started directing the X-Men movies, Singer became one of the most powerful gay men in Hollywood. He used his power to access young and, allegedly, underage boys. An unnamed Hollywood executive who worked with Singer on the X-Men films told The Hollywood Reporter Singer always “had young guys around him” reportedly hosted wild drug-fueled parties attended by hundreds of teen boys. His professional friends include the producer Gary Goddard, who’s now facing multiple accusations of child molestation and Brian Peck, a producer convicted of child molestation (Peck produced the X-Men movies and appeared alongside Singer on the commentary track for the DVD of X-Men 2).
Singer was a high-profile investor in the Digital Entertainment Network, an internet broadcasting start-up that imploded after allegations that its founders had sexually assaulted boys as young as 13 (One of DEN’s founders was convicted of transporting a minor across state lines for sex. After the DEN founders fled the country they were arrested in Spain, where they were reportedly holed up with a cache of weapons and child porn). DEN was a central concern of the 2014 Hollywood sex abuse documentary An Open Secret, which featured footage of Singer but didn’t accuse him of anything.
While some of Singer’s friends and close professional associates have been taken down by sexual assault accusations, Singer’s skated through accusations himself. As this detailed timeline of Singer’s legal troubles recounts, four alleged victims have publicly accused Singer of sexually assaulting them while they were teens, with three filing civil lawsuits against the director and one making the accusations on a social media account that was quickly deleted. The first two lawsuits were withdrawn—initial accuser Michael Egan was later imprisoned for two years on fraud charges. The most recent suit, by Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, who claims Singer raped him on a boat in 2003, is ongoing. And judging from reports that Singer’s attorneys have demanded the courts reopen a bankruptcy case Sanchez-Guzman settled in 2014, Singer’s team hopes to discredit another accuser.
Singer has never been convicted of sexual assault. But neither has Harvey Weinstein—he was only charged in March of 2018. Weinstein’s been cast out of Hollywood. The accusations against him gave rise to the #metoo movement. Hollywood’s toxic casting couch culture for boys seems to be equally pervasive as the one actresses have been exposing through #metoo. We can’t say with certainty that Singer is guilty. Still, giving someone with his history of accusations who’s so closely linked to convicted sex predators an Oscar would be a slap in the face for sexual assault victims everywhere.