The Power of the Dog is nominated for 11 Academy Awards—the most nominations of any film this year.
Included among its 11 nominations are Best Picture, Best Director for Jane Campion and Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch.
The critically acclaimed film tells the story of unruly cowboy Phil Burbank who finds himself forced to face his toxic masculinity and repressed homosexuality after his brother's new wife and stepson begin to live with them on their ranch.
As reported previously, not among the film's fans is Academy Award nominated actor Sam Elliott.
Elliott, a veteran of several Western films, openly criticized the film in an appearance on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron. Elliott derided The Power of the Dog, calling it a “piece of sh*t" and took particular exception to any "allusions of homosexuality" being in a Western.
Cumberbatch addressed Elliott's criticisms as part of The British Academy of Film And Television Awards (BAFTA) Film Sessions.
While never mentioning Elliott by name, the two-time Oscar nominee brought up all the criticisms unleashed upon the film.
"I’m trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction that happened the other day on a radio podcast over here."
"Someone really took offense to—I haven’t heard it so it’s unfair for me to comment in detail on it—to the West being portrayed in this way.”
Cumberbatch emphasized how important it was to tell Phil Burbank's story, as there were definitely men who struggled with those issues during the period the film was set and who face the same struggles today.
"There's also a massive intolerance within the world at large towards homosexuality still, towards the acceptance to any kind of difference."
"These people still exist in our world."
" Whether it’s on our doorstep or whether it’s down the road or whether it’s someone we meet in a bar or pub or on the sports field, there is aggression and anger and frustration and an inability to control or know who you are in that moment that causes damage to that person and, as we know, damage to those around them."
Cumberbatch was hopeful that the lessons taught in the film might have an effect on the way we look at repression and toxic masculinity.
"There’s no harm in looking at a character to get to the root causes of that."
"This is a very specific case of repression, but also due to an intolerance for that true identity that Phil is that he can’t fully be."
“The more we look under the hood of toxic masculinity and try to discover the root causes of it, the bigger chances we have of dealing with it when it arises with our children.”
Cumberbatch's eloquent response received praise on Twitter.
While other's took the opportunity to call out Sam Elliott.
This wasn't the first time Cumberbatch addressed criticism directed towards the multi Oscar-nominated film.
Cumberbatch addressed blowback he received for agreeing to play a gay character.
"I feel very sensitive about representation, diversity and inclusion."
“One of the appeals of the job was the idea that in this world, with this specific character, there was a lot that was private, hidden from view."
"It wasn’t done without thought."
"I also feel slightly like, is this a thing where our dance card has to be public."