Two of this year’s Oscar-nominated films feature an unlikely figure: fallen morning show host, Matt Lauer.
Yes. You heard that right.
Of course, both movies were filmed, edited and started screening at the film festival circuit before Lauer was fired from NBC’s “Today” show in late November, following accusations of sexual misconduct from multiple women.
Both films are period pieces and feature archival footage of Lauer on air.
The first is Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird,” which scooped up five Academy Award nominations last week, including for Best Picture. Also one of the best-reviewed Rotten Tomatoes movies of all time, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene includes a quick shot of Lauer reporting from the Iraq War. It happens toward the end of the film, which takes place between 2002 and 2003 as Saoirse Ronan’s titular character battles her hard-headed mother, played by Laurie Metcalf, with hopes of getting into the East Coast liberal arts college of her dreams — performances that earned both actresses Oscar nods as well.
The second Lauer appearance in an Oscar nominated movie this year happens in “I, Tonya,” starring Margot Robbie as Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding. The biographical film, which takes place mostly in the 1990s and traces Harding’s meteoric rise and fall in her sport, features a snippet of Lauer’s on-air coverage of the scandal — when the attack on Nancy Kerrigan and Harding’s alleged involvement was at the epicenter of media coverage. Incidentally, it picked up three Oscar nods — Robbie for Lead Actress, Allison Janney for Supporting Actress and Best Achievement in Film Editing.
Lauer’s appearance, though perhaps a momentary distraction, doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of these lauded films, both featuring female protagonists.
But his face does stand out as the #MeToo and Times Up movements continue to gain momentum.