13 Hours trailer

Every year, a handful of blockbuster movies get to tout themselves as Academy Award nominees due to their technical prowess. Thanks to categories like Visual Effects and Production Design, tonight you will hear phrases such as “Academy Award nominee Passengers” and “Academy Award nominee Suicide Squad” uttered with an entirely straight face. And while we might make jokes about the movies as a whole, there’s no denying that the technicians who work on these films are extremely deserving of these honors. The technical categories at the Oscars are the one place where the parts are greater than the sum.

One phrase you won’t hear uttered, though, is “Academy Award nominee Greg P. Russell.” According to an article in Variety, Russell  —  who alongside several other crew members had been nominated in the category of Best Sound Mixing for their work on 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi  —  was removed from competition after members of the Academy discovered that he had violated Academy rules about campaigning. Here’s the official statement from the MPAA:

The decision was prompted by the discovery that Russell had called his fellow members of the Sound Branch during the nominations phase to make them aware of his work on the film, in direct violation of a campaign regulation that prohibits telephone lobbying.

It’s rare to see the Academy disqualify a nominee, but certainly not unheard of. Back in 2014, for example, songwriter Bruce Broughton saw his Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song be revoked after the Academy discovered that Broughton had actively campaigned Academy members to vote for his song. As The Hollywood Reporter noted at the time, the Academy released a very similar statement as the one above, noting that Broughton’s actions were “inconsistent with the Academy’s promotional regulations.”

While only Russell and the Academy know the full extent of his efforts to secure 13 Hours an Oscar win, this is no doubt a sad day for the entire sound team for the film. Should 13 Hours win the award for Best Sound Mixing, here’s hoping the remaining nominees don’t feel like their good work has in any way been sullied by the campaign efforts of their colleague.

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