Oscars’ most political film is connected to the most political donations
The Post, Steven Spielberg’s historical political drama about the Pentagon Papers, has arguably the most political plotline of the Best Picture nominees at this year’s Oscars. Spielberg himself has said that the first year of the Trump Administration “was the only year to make this film.” It’s unsurprising, then, that some of those who helped to make the film have also made sizeable contributions to political candidates.
Hollywood elites have been a significant source of fundraising for Democratic politicians for decades, and this year’s crop of Oscar nominees is no different. Of the 25 individuals nominated for the top five Oscar categories — Best Actress or Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress or Actor in a Supporting Role, and Best Director — six have contributed a total of nearly $90,000 to political campaigns in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles. Combined, actors Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, and Denzel Washington contributed over $38,000 to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee. Director Greta Gerwig donated $150 to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) presidential campaign, and director Guillermo del Toro donated $1,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The largest amount was donated by The Post’s lead actress, Meryl Streep. Streep, who stars in The Post as Washington Post editor Katharine Graham, was responsible for over half of these donations, giving $50,000 in September 2016 to the Hillary Victory Fund. Streep’s political activism is well known: she criticized Donald Trump in her 2017 Golden Globes speech, spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and personally wrote letters to members of Congress in 2015, urging them to revive the Equal Rights Amendment.
A large share of campaign contributions by the 68 executive producers and producers of Best Picture nominees also came from individuals involved in The Post. Seventeen of the films’ executive producers and producers made donations totaling more than $1.2 million in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles; over $1.1 million of that came from producer and director Steven Spielberg. He donated to a variety of high-profile Democratic candidates, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The Post producers Amy Pascal, Kristie Krieger, and Rachel O’Connor donated smaller amounts to various campaign committees, including those supporting McCaskill and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Several of The Post’s other actors who were not nominated for Oscars are political donors as well. Not including Streep, nine out of the 14 top-billed actors in the film made political contributions totaling over $70,000 in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles. Bradley Whitford, who plays board member Arthur Parsons, was the second-largest contributor after Streep with nearly $34,000 in donations to a variety of Democratic congressional candidates. Tom Hanks, who stars as editor Ben Bradlee, donated $2,700 to Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-CA) 2016 campaign, $2,700 to Clinton’s presidential campaign, and $250 to Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s (D-NJ) 2016 campaign.. Actors Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Carrie Coon, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, David Cross, and Patrick Healy also made donations, ranging from Alison Brie’s $102 to Warren to Odenkirk’s $18,750 donation total, most of which went to support now former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).
It’s anyone’s guess if The Post will win big at the 90th Academy Awards. But it’s already apparent that many of those behind this story of government intrigue are active participants in the political process off the screen as well as on it.