One tradition at this year's Academy Awards will be broken, with last year's Oscar winner for Best Actor, Casey Affleck, pulling out of presenting duties. Tradition dictates that the previous year's Best Actor winner would present the Best Actress award, and the Best Actress winner from the previous year would present Best Actor. Sources contend that Casey Affleck has notified the Academy that he won't be attending this year's ceremony, and that he withdrew because he did not want his presence to distract from the attention that should be on the performances of the actresses in that category. The Academy released a brief statement in response to the actor's withdrawal.
"We appreciate the decision to keep the focus on the show and the great work of this year."
During last year's awards season, allegations of sexual misconduct against Casey Affleck re-surfaced. Two women who worked on the 2010 mockumentary I'm Still Here, which Affleck directed, filed civil lawsuits against him, accusing him of sexual harassment. The actor denied the charges, although the lawsuit was settled out of court and dismissed, with both women signing non-disclosure agreements. Casey Affleck's Oscar win also made headlines for presenter Brie Larson, who won Best Actress a year prior for Room, who was visibly disappointed that Casey Affleck had won, following these sexual misconduct allegations.
There has been no indication from the Academy yet as to who will present this award now, but there has been talk that producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd have been considering departing from tradition this year, when it comes to the acting awards. If Casey Affleck would have presented at the awards ceremony, it likely would have caused quite a bit of controversy, especially in light of the #MeToo and Times Up movements that have been growing at an exponential rate since the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal broke in October.
If the tradition continues on the Best Actor side, that means La La Land star Emma Stone would present the Best Actor Oscar this year, but it wouldn't be surprising if all of these traditions are thrown out the window now that Casey Affleck has bowed out. It wouldn't be the first time that the Oscars have eschewed tradition. The 81st Academy Awards in 2009, hosted Hugh Jackman, switched things up for most of the major awards, with numerous presenters for most of the awards, and the Best Actress and Best Actor awards presented by five previous winners apiece. In the wake of all these sexual harassment scandals, a lot is changing in Hollywood, and it seems fitting for the Academy to change with it.
The Academy has already taken action in the aftermath of these scandals, first expelling Harvey Weinstein from the Academy in mid-October, stripping him of his voting privileges, and then less than two weeks later, announcing a new code of conduct that all Oscar voters must adhere by, which includes a policy of evaluating violations to determine if action must be taken against violators. Deadline first broke the news of Casey Affleck bowing out of presenting duties at this year's Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, which airs Sunday, March 4 on ABC.