Dylan Farrow's Op-Ed Targets Woody Allen But Could Hurt Cate Blanchett More (Analysis)

FILM: Woody Allen

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American and U.K. rights to Woody Allen's next film, "Nero Fiddled." It will be Allen's fifth feature to be released by SPC. Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz and Jesse Eisenberg lead an ensemble cast in the Rome-set story.

Is Cate Blanchett's best actress Oscar for her performance in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine as assured as most people believe? Probably -- but being called out on the New York Times' website for associating with an alleged child molester certainly won't help her cause.

This afternoon, on his New York Times "On the Ground" blog, Nicholas Kristof published an open letter by Dylan Farrow, whom Woody Allen and Mia Farrow adopted together during their relationship (which lasted from 1980 through 1992), and who, 21 years ago, accused Allen of molesting her. In the 936-word missive, the younger Farrow, now 28, publicly describes, for the first time publicly and in great detail, what she says Allen did to her when she was seven years old before he parted ways with Farrow and entered into a relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, another adopted daughter of Farrow's, whom he later married.

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(As Kristof writes in a preface to Farrow's post, "It’s important to note that Woody Allen was never prosecuted in this case and has consistently denied wrongdoing; he deserves the presumption of innocence.")

The question of the minds of many is why Farrow, who has heretofore maintained a low public profile, would choose to publicly discuss her history with Allen now? The timing and focus of her piece certainly suggest, to me, that she would like to derail any chance that Allen or those associated with him on his latest film, Blue Jasmine, have of receiving additional awards recognition at the Oscars on March 2. The film was nominated for three Oscars -- best actress (Cate Blanchett), best supporting actress (Sally Hawkins) and best original screenplay (Allen) -- on Jan. 16, and the final round of voting will take place from Feb. 14-25.

In the piece, Farrow asserts that the "torment" that she experienced for years after Allen -- whom she described as "a predator" -- exited her life "was made worse by Hollywood." She elaborated, "All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, 'who can say what happened,' to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart." She went on, "For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away."

EARLIER: Dylan Farrow Pens Open Letter, Alleges Woody Allen 'Sexually Assaulted' Her at Age 7

Last month, Allen was presented with a lifetime achievement Golden Globe Award, in absentia. Kristof writes of Farrow, "She says that when she heard of the Golden Globe award being given to Allen she curled up in a ball on her bed, crying hysterically." On the night of the presentation, Ronan Farrow, her 26-year-old brother and the host of a new show on MSNBC, tweeted, "Missed the Woody Allen tribute - did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?"

But Dylan Farrow, who described herself now as "happily married" (Kristof mentioned that she lives in Florida under a different name), noted that she has managed to handle Allen's other recent awards recognition better. "Last [month]," she wrote, "Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart."

However, she then proceeded to rather provocatively target those who have professionally associated with Allen: "But others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them. What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me? Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse."

STORY: Diane Keaton Accepts Woody Allen's Cecil B. DeMille Award 

Only Farrow herself can say what her objective was in writing this piece when and how she did. But, whether intended or not, the byproduct of her actions may well be that some Academy members will think twice before supporting Allen or those who have chosen to associate with him on Blue Jasmine when they fill out their Oscar ballots. And while that won't matter much for Allen and Hawkins' prospects -- they were both considered to be long shots well before this brouhaha -- it could, conceivably, make the road to victory for Blanchett, who is a heavy favorite -- having already won best actress Critics' Choice, Golden Globe and SAG, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association and National Society of Film Critics awards -- a little bumpier.

Tonight, Blanchett will be in Santa Barbara to collect the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Outstanding Performer of the Year Award. I will be at the event, too. It will be interesting to see if she faces questions about Farrow's comments when she walks the red carpet, is interviewed on stage or at the post-tribute reception. Sooner or later, fairly or not, she will have to address the situation.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg