Five Oscar nominations will, it seems, bring a smile to anyone’s face.
On Thursday morning, Bennett Miller’s biopic Foxcatcher surprised most awards pundits and received a total of 5 Oscar nods, including Best Director, Best Actor (Steve Carell), and Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling (presumably for Carell’s prosthetic schnoz). And after two days of letting the positive news sink in, the film’s subject, Olympic champion wrestler Mark Schultz, has decided to recant his scathing criticisms of the movie and sing its praises on Twitter, claiming he was suffering from a bout of temporary insanity.
For the uninitiated, Foxcatcher tells the real-life tale of Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), an Olympic champion wrestler who’s barely scraping by, delivering speeches to local high schools for twenty bucks a pop. He soon catches the eye of John du Pont (Carell), an eccentric millionaire from an aristocratic American family who takes the wrestler under his wing, allowing him to stay at a lavish guest house on his property, train in his state-of-the-art wrestling facilities, and serve as the core of his wrestling squad, “Team Foxcatcher.” If it appears to good to be true, it is. Du Pont’s already bizarre behavior soon spirals out of control, and he becomes wary of Schultz’s close relationship with his older brother, Olympic wrestling champ Dave Schultz (Ruffalo).
Back on December 30, Mark Schultz lashed out at Miller’s film, claiming it painted him in a bad light. He said he was “not emotionally fragile,” “never looked up to du Pont,” and “if du Pont had ever slapped me I’d have knocked his head off.” But his biggest gripe seemed to be the homoerotic nature of the relationship between he and du Pont, which was pointed out by numerous film critics. “The personalities and relationships between the characters in the film are primarily fiction and somewhat insulting. Leaving the audience with a feeling that somehow there could have been a sexual relationship between duPont and I is a sickening and insulting lie,” Schultz wrote on Facebook.
“I told Bennett Miller to cut that scene out and he said it was to give the audience the feeling that duPont was encroaching on your privacy and personal space. I wasn't explicit so I didn't have a problem with it. Then after reading 3 or 4 reviews interpreting it sexually, and jeopardizing my legacy, they need to have a press conference to clear the air, or I will,” he added.
He also referred to Miller as a “punk,” “pussy,” and “liar” on Twitter. Michael DiCandilo, a wrestler for Team Foxcatcher from 1986-1988, corroborated Schultz’s initial problems with the film. In an interview with The Daily Beast, DiCandilo said the scene in which du Pont slaps Schultz “never would have happened in a million years,” that Schultz was merely “tolerating” du Pont to win championships, that Schultz “was not a fragile guy,” and that “the sexual overtones in the movie are awful.” Schultz went out of his way to praise DiCandilo’s account on Twitter.
After the Academy Award nominations were announced, Schultz already seemed to be changing his tune, tweeting the following messages in praise of the cast and crew of Foxcatcher (Tatum, by the way, was not nominated):