Well, this is one way to spin defeat.
At a literary festival in England over the weekend, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom scriptwriter William Nicholson told the audience that his film failed to make a splash and win awards because 12 Years a Slave “sucked up all the guilt about black people that was available.” Unlike 12 Years — which earned rave reviews and took home three Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay — Mandela received mixed reviews and only one Oscar nod for Best Original Song. (“Let It Go” from Frozen ultimately picked up the prize.)
Yet Nicholson — who previously co-wrote the scripts for Gladiator and Elizabeth: The Golden Age — doesn’t think Mandela‘s lukewarm reception was warranted. “I think it worked superbly,” he said of his film. But “[Americans] were so exhausted feeling guilty about slavery that I don’t think there was much left over to be nice about our film. So our film didn’t do as well as we’d hoped, which was a bit heartbreaking.”