Monday, March 06, 2006

Black Sunday

As all of you presumably know, Brokeback Mountain, a film with a Schindler's List style-tally of unanimous awardage acclaim, social importance, and unexpectedly strong cultural and box office pull --indeed the "it" film of the year, lost to a film with but one significant precursor award: It's as if the Full Monty beat Titanic (sounds like a joke but tis true).

I will have more to say about this later today over here.

But for now...
My Sincere Thanks
To the readers who sent in e-mails of condolence last night, anticipating the black cloud that would be hanging over my head. You didn't have to do that. But please know that you are deeply appreciated (and kind)

My Middle Finger
To the media homophobes who struggled mightily (and triumphantly, are you proud?) to unseat a film that took the very unpopular stance of taking gay relationships seriously and exposing the poison and tragedy of the closet for all people.

My Condolescences
To the fans who are hurting. As I always say: "a great film is its own reward"

My Sincere Huh?--Say What? Who Are You?
To Academy Voters: So you don't like the zeitgeist film that won all the precursors, had strong box office and legend making reviews, that marked a personal best for a beloved filmmaker, a film that became a cultural landmark and a watershed mainstream/traditional cinema moment? The kind of film you ALWAYS love. But not this one? Wow, a first.

If you need some righteous anger and some right-on commenting about the state of the world and their respect (or, rather, lack thereof) for gay people here are some good places to go:
Oh My Trill Shame on you, Academy!
Queering the ApparatusFucking Crash !?!?!?
Modern Fabulousity Gay Bashing at the Oscars
The Envelope "Breaking No Ground"


Anonymous said...

You forget The Full Monty also had the BAFTA going into Oscar night, as well as the SAG ensemble.

Sorry, that didn't help did it?

Maybe in a few days when we've calmed ourselves this will not be the end of the world that it at first seems. The whole media is talking about how it didn't win and what a shock it was. The Crash win (and backlash) may give Brokeback a bigger spotlight in the short term than winning would have done.

Naively optimistic? Trying the make the best of it?


Anonymous said...

I am still in shock. This is a result that is going to be seen as an Oscar injustice for years. How such a beautiful and important film with all the momentum and pre-Oscars Awards behind it can be so cruely snubbed by the Academy is beyond me. (I would not even have nominated Crash as Best Picture as I believe that both Walk the Line and The Constant Gardener were more deserving of its spot in the big 5.)

Chin up Nathaniel, we all know that Brokeback is the best film of the bunch. Looking forward to your tips for next years awards.

Chris, UK.

Poli said...

Well, God knows the Academy couldn't bring itself to recognize genius before, I don't know why I am so shocked/angry as I am.

Maybe it's because of the homophobia. Maybe it's because I truly thought that a movie that was brilliantly made, a movie that was a force of nature, was going to win. The love I feel was going to be validated.

Everyone talks about the severe fuckups of the Academy (Citizen Kane, Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Burton, Judy Garland). I take small solace in the fact that the Academy will be ripped to shreds in the future for this decision.

Nathanial, we all had our hopes up. God help this shitty world we live in.

Anonymous said...

Yeah God knows its all about how everyone hates the gays...pleez

Anonymous said...

I felt physically ill. Clearly I have issues. But cleary the Academy does as well.

adam k. said...

Hi Nathaniel!

I'm so glad your head didn't explode. And that your heart didn't stop. But so sorry too... 'tis a sad, sad day. I am missing class right now because I just can't deal with it... I was up all night in mourning, and cannot face the sun. But all will be well. I am rather excited for the backlash this will create. Frightfully, historically bad decision.

Man, I feel bad for Jack. I don't think he wanted to have to say the dreaded word. My first impulse was to blame him, but don't shoot the messenger, man.

Anonymous said...

Jack said he voted for Brokeback Mountain

Anonymous said...

My God, I feel like someone died. I guess because it's that irreparable & historical. I never expected myself to react like this. I guess I'm just looking for comfort & community online, to know that I'm not alone. Because I had to walk into the office the morning & hear a gloating coworker say to me, "You didn't think they'd really give it **that movie,** did you?"

Anonymous said...

I just spent the last 20 minutes on the phone crying my eyes out to my mother about what a terrible injustice this is. (I too am rather young to the Oscar-watching game, and had yet to be really burned by the Academy).

This will go down in movie history as one of the worst losses ever, in any category.

Javier Aldabalde said...

Whatever. I'm not kidding when I say that I hold the Film Bitch awards and the Venice Film Festival in higher regard than the Oscars, even when I disagree with them.

OhMyTrill said...

Yes Javierag...the film bitch awards are most likely the awards I have the most respect for these days...
still can't believe it

Anonymous said...

From studying film to being enchanted by it, the cinema has always been a major part of my life. My Oscar prognostics began in 1996; the Oscar issue of Entertainment Weekly with Fiennes and Thomas on the cover was the one that finally did it. From there on predicting the Oscar was taken to a whole other level for me. And I’ve had my share of shocks, disappoints and devastations…
…but nothing could have prepared me for the tragedy of March 5, 2006.
The tragedy last night shook me to the core. 95% because one of the cinema’s most haunting love stories was robbed, but because I feel like my work and analysis for the past decade has been an utter joke. I have a question for veteran Oscar addicts? Has anyone experienced such a sting as this in all their prognostic history? How deep will this cut? Many of close friends how sworn off the Oscar, Globes only they say, and while the notion does sound extreme, I have to wonder… is it? Maybe I’m just too new to the whole Oscar prediction community and have never experienced such an upset? FOR ALL YOU VETERAN OSCAR EXPERTS I HAVE A QUESTION; Does the shock and raw sting of BBM’s upset transcend all the past Academy screwups?


a) Will the pain heal? Come August will I be able to dissect the Oscar race with the same zealous passion as I have before?


b) Does this upset chart new territory?

*No matter what happens, I can hope that Nathaniel (a ridiculously talented, witty, film scholar whose passion and expertise of the cinema inspire us all) will imprint some kind of tribute to this tragedy on his website. Yes, March 5 will unquestionable “leave in infamy” and remembered as a dark day for Hollywood but I need to know….
….Can Oscar prognostics go on?


rob -always look for the silver lining. i wish i was better at that. the ken turan piece is an EXCELLENT slap on the wrist for the LA community.

chris -i hope i can muster them up. i feel no enthusiasm for talking Oscar now ;)

justin -i see your black and raise you bathrobe. i haven't even showered. it's TOTAL depression. ha ha

air -you don't have to wait 10 years. everyone knows that brokeback is a landmark. Even those who think it will be dated in years to come (like a guess who's coming to dinner) agree that it's landmark. it will last forever.

polivamp -your shocked and angry for the same reason we all are. This time they had no excuse. Every society group etc.. was saying this is the best. and so by them saying: NO, NO. it really is about the larger issue because history tells us that they follow the precursor leads. so to think for themselves and reject? that is a VERY big deal.

anonymous -if you can't engage in the discussion you might want to ask yourself "why?" or at least "why do other people feel like this?" you might learn something.

potr -exactly.

chofer -sure. absolutely agree. i never think the oscars are about ART. but they are about SOCIETY which is why this rejection is so painful.

julia -i'm so sorry. * big hug*

Anonymous said...

Let's also recognize the irony of recognizing Robert Altman, a 70's iconoclast who wasn't recognized appropriately in his heyday, a man who directed a richly woven narrative set in LA that was ignored, the same year they recognize Crash.

Anonymous said...

"i never think the Oscars are about ART. But they are about SOCIETY which is why this rejection is so painful."

-That's the most genuine and profound comment on this calamity I've yet to hear (media, Oscar websites or otherwise)

Anonymous said...

-I'm going all out; Naomi Watts- 21 Grams style, on this one- and it will take more than a spiritual consolation from Sean Penn to retrieve me from the abyss of devastation.

(I put my faith in Nathaniel in help get us through this without detracting from what a genuine tragedy this is)


chofer -sure. Bush is one thing. this is my thing. it's disappointing that the hatred can so thoroughly sink in to my chosen world as well as the real one.

Anonymous said...

First of all, my condolences Nathaniel. I've had my heartaches in the past (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind)

But I must say, as a Crash fan, I've been dreading going on the internet today. Yes, there are numerous articles on how bad the Academy fucked it up. I was actually happy last night- Picture, Director, Actor, and Actress went the way I THOUGHT they should have.

I dreaded coming online because I didn't want to see rewardng a film I love to be labeled as homophobia. Guess what, everyone? Homophobia is a huge issue today, but so is racism! If we're going to judge movies on the issues they take on, I don't think you can claim homophobia is somehow more important than racism.

Why I think Crash won. Let's remember- individual people vote- it's not a panel:

-It is emotionally wrenching. So is Brokeback, but maybe not so blatantly. We all know the Academy likes emotion- not always a bad thing.
-It's about racism in LA!! People really related and felt convicted and moved by it. Again, same as Brokeback, but Crash is a bit closer to home.
-Brokeback was incredibly hyped. Let's always gonna lead to some dissapointment for some people. Crash was more of a sleeper (like Million Dollar Baby last year).

But when it comes down to it, the reason it won was when it came time to mark the ballot, voters chose what they liked best. A plurality picked Crash (it could have been 25% or 40%- who knows?). Just like in '98 a plurality picked Shakespeare in Love.

I guess my main point is- don't see the win as purely anti-Brokeback. Remember- Ang Lee won, so there was clearly significant support for Brokeback. It's also pro-Crash. You can disagree with the Academy, but don't pretend to know the motives of all the voters.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the best pre-cursor for the Oscars is the annual "ASK CELEBRITIES WHAT THEIR FAVORITE FILM OF THE YEAR WAS" in the People Magazine year end wrap up.

I suppose hindsight is 20/20 - but when Jodie Foster, Denzel Washington, and Shirley MacLaine all cite CRASH as the best film of the year - thats a pretty good indicator that the film is going to have huge cross over appeal in the Academy. At least in the acting branch (biggest voting body).

John T said...

I too, also wore black all day today-it is a sad day for the movies. I'm now understanding what filmephiles must have felt when How Green Was My Valley beat Citizen Kane, or when In the Heat of the Night beat Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate.

Anonymous said...

I know I shouldn't write this because I'll just upset people and get crucified on this board, but I'm happy Crash won because I really thought Crash was a much better movie. As a proud young gay male, I though Brokeback Mountain was a great achievement mostly for its place in history....It was a gay romance that touched the American mainstream. Part of me wanted it to win because I LOVE anything that gets the religious right angry. But I really do believe that it was hyped because people considered it a "gay movie" and different, and it made for good entertainment news. I didn't think it was anything more than a "good movie". Congratulations to Crash. We all know that Brokeback Mountain came in a close second and it will still go down in history.

Anonymous said...

Oh, get over it already. It's a friggin' award that will be forgotten within the month.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chofer-

I respect your opinion on the merits of BBM versus Crash. But let's remember- it's what we each think. This is not speed skating- it's judging works of art. By the way, winning more awards doesn't make a picture better. It means more critics groups chose it then other movies. So the Academy differed.

It's all subjective- I just can't buy the morning-after homophobia chorus.

Anonymous said...

I am truly sorry for what occurred last night. I am not close to being over it either. If you or your fans want another perspective, feel free to link my profile It is all about film and my blog has a lot about the controversy that took place last night. Thanks so much!

Emma said...

Darling, I totally know how you feel. I've been reading your blog for ages now, and I've been like you, sure that BBM would win, not even considering what I'd do if it didn't win, because I was so sure that it would. IT DESERVED IT. IT DID.

Look, if it makes you feel any better:

Emma. xxx

Yaseen Ali said...

Get well soon Nathaniel!

Do not grieve for long (I know it's hard); Brokeback is in good company - it will be deemed a classic a few years from now (hell, this Crash upset will just speed things along).

Anonymous said...

I'm really upset too. What was the Academy thinking? Even if you don't think BROKBACK was the best film of the year (and I don't, although I did think it was better than it's competition on the ballot), there's no way this can look like anything but homophobia on the Academy's part.

One precedent for this, it seems to me, is the New York response to the play cycle, A TEXAS TRILOGY by Preston Jones, back in the 1970s. It got such high acclaim from all the critics around the country and the awards groups, basically winning everything it could on its way, slowly, to Broadway--largely at a celebrated engagement at the Kennedy Center in D.C.--that when it got to the final stop in its journey, a Broadway engagement, everyone in NYC was just out to get it. A theater professor explained to us about this black mark in American Film history in class once: It was as if they all collectively said in New York: "we're not letting anyone out there beyond our little group tell US what's the best play of the year. WE'RE going to decide what's the best play of the year." In short, the trilogy became a victim of its early success.

That's really one of the few legit things the odious David Poland said on his blog, during his whole, obsessive, "anything but BROKEBACK" campaign: That there is always the possibility of something doing SO well in the days leading up to the Oscars that the Academy will vote for something else just to avoid the "us too" sense that would come from them giving Best Picture to BROKEBACK. (Even SCHINDLER and TITANIC lost a few more things than did BROKEBACK.)

Still, now the Academy has to live with the legacy they've created. Instead of saying "us too!" about loving BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, they'll go down in history as having said "not us" to the opportunity to seem enlightened, to seem like they have good taste, to seem like they're politically sensitive in these terribly regressive times. All CRASH says, is what Rodney King said back in the early 90s: "can't we all just get along?" And the film didn't say it any better than he did, frankly.

My old theater Prof. said there was actually a book or article or something written about the nastiness involving the New York Critics' response to A TEXAS TRILOGY. Someone will have to write a book about this fiasco at the Oscars last night.

Shawn said...

Nathaniel, isn't it awful? Just disgusting. Cheer up and buck up today. I know it's hard. I am still in shock and I am not afraid to admit that I cried when it happened. Thanks for all your hard work and determination. *sigh* WHY did this happen?

Anonymous said...

I've only followed the Oscar race now for four years, but, after last night's ceremony, I'm really reconsidering the hobby.

I was burned long before Brokeback Mountain (my seventh favorite film of the year, but still my favorite among the nominees) was so rudely and historically snubbed. I first considered changing the channel halfway through the show, when that completely mediocre Hustle and Flow ditty won. I watched the band accept their undeserved Oscar, and I realized the only reason I even tuned in this year, the only thing that kept me going all season, was the off-chance Dolly Parton might win, and for the year's second or third best song. And that's straight-up ridiculous. Throw a bone, AMPAS!

Anyway, enough about me. This is your blog, after all. I offer my condolences. And I look forward to what will hopefully prove a much better year -- for the Oscars, that is. The cinema is already fantastic.

Anonymous said...


I never said homophobia is not an issue in Hollywood (and by the way I have seen The Celluoid Closet). What I continue to say is that it is unfair to defame those who voted for Crash by calling them homophobic. When Saving Private Ryan lost, did we say "the Academy" had a deep prejudice against WW2 veterans??

The critics groups and the Golden Globes are voted on by a MUCH smaller number of people than the Academy. I think that's why we get some strange surprises every few years (Shakespeare in Love, Chariots of Fire, Braveheart).

There is no obligation to vote for the front-runner. It's not yes or no. It's voting for one of five movies. Again, I think Crash hit a lot of people in the gut, and they went with their gut.If homophobia was the main reason it didn't win, wouldn't Ang Lee and Larry McMurtry also have lost?

If Crash had lost and people had said it was because voters didn't like dealing with racial conflict, I would have made the same argument against that.

Peace out!

Anonymous said...

People are crying over this? I hope that my films never have to suffer the horrible injustice of garnering 8 Oscar nominations and 3 wins. Brokeback deserved to win, yes, and it was cheated out of BP by a vastly inferior film, yeah, but these are the people who gave Helen Hunt an Oscar. BbM has already entrenched itself in our cultural consciousness and it will continue to reach new audiences, whether or not some senile Angelenos give it a shiny piece of gold-painted plastic. I think the rhetoric surrounding this snub - 'virulent homophobia' and so forth - is a dangerous bit of equivocation that shortchanges real victims of homophobia. I mean, I definitely understand everyone's disappointment, but Christ, get some perspective. Zimbabwe imprisons and executes homosexuals; the Academy didn't honour BbM as much as people had hoped. I really can't get too worked up over this.

I enjoy and respect Nathaniel's work and the spirit of community surrounding this website, but I just can't throw my hat in the ring on this particular bit of collective outrage.

Anonymous said...


I have to disagree with you on this. I truly think homophobia was a factor, although I do not believe it was the lone factor in any way. To answer your hypothetical about how they won the screenplay and directing awards: Only Best Picture is decided by the entire group of members of AMPAS. The other categories are decided in smaller, specialized groups. This is especially true for the screenplay award. I think that everyone had to give the directing nod to Ang Lee because he had been snubbed before, and the voters who knew they were making a controversial decision to vote for Crash tried to "make things right" by throwing a bone to Brokeback. The fact is that voting Crash in for Best Picture is WRONG. It was only my third favorite of the nominees (behind GN and GL and Capote), but it deserved the award. Every possible precursor proved this. I am not ripping Crash. I am simply criticizing this end outcome. Brokeback Mountain is this year's Best Picture.

Anonymous said...

"Gay Bashing at the Oscars" – March 5 was also Pier Paolo Pasolini's birthday

Anonymous said...


Am I understanding you when you say it is a fact that to vote for Crash is WRONG??? No voter is obligated to vote for anything. I think it's kind of strange to not vote for your favorite film because another film somehow deserves it. I don't think that's what most Academy voters do.

To clarify, the nominations are done by the individual branches. The winners are decided by everyone (except foreign film, shorts, and documentary). So I think my argument about director and screenplay stands.

Again, many condolonces to those who are dissapointed. I do understand. I'm just trying to defend Crash, which I did love.

Anonymous said...

We can't say Academy is homophobic, not in these last years. P.S. Hoffman has won the Oscar playing a gay star as Truman Capote; Tom Hanks won the statue for "Philadelphia", his character was gay; Hilary Swank won the Oscar playing Brandon Teena we can say the same for Charlize Theron; Greg Kinnear played a gay one in "As good as It gets" and He was nominated; Ian McKellen - a great actor - received two nominations in the last years. And we cannot forget the nominations of James Ivory and the Oscars won by Howard Ashman. And what about the success of a movie like "The Crying Game" (1 Oscar winner for the screenplay? This is what I remember in this moment but sure I'm forgetting something else.
Academy is not homophobic. Hollywood is full of gay people. Isn'It? In the end We cannot forget that "Brokeback Mountain" won 3 Oscars and 2 are very important. They are DIRECTING and ADAPTED SCREENPLAY!!!! It's evident that "Crash" had much supporters in the Academy. But I'm sure "Crash" won for very little votes.

Dario, It.


john p. ---yes put in perspective a little thing like a movie award is not important compared to executions, political turmoil and such. Buit this is the Oscars. The impression they leave us with should not be "oh, well it's only the movies" within this context this is a huge rejection.

and for anyone who is playing the "academy doesn't like to be told how to vote card" -PLEASE. they follow the leader every year. They are total sycophants. So, when they reject something that was as big as Schindler's List prior to Oscar night... it is a purposeful rejection.

Anonymous said...

I am in shock. Beyond shock. I'm devestated--or as devestated as I can be about a film. After much meditation, I can only decided that God has turned his back on us. First Johnny Weir, then Sasha Cohen, then Pete Doherty (ok, maybe that's only me), now this.


Shawn said...

I'm getting sick too of people already rolling their eyes and trying to avoid the possibility of homophobia playing some part in this. What pains me the most is that middle America (where I live) is getting a KICK out of this. They are loving it. And that's what hurts. "The gay movie didn't win!" That's what I heard in the halls some today and that's what I heard last night when those people were screaming when Jack said, "Crash."

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel...stop being a baby. Just get used to the fact that Crash won and stop mourning and whining.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel - I definitely agree that homophobia played a part in the Academy's decision, and I don't think it should go unchallenged. I just feel that for what Brokeback's loss is (and isn't) in the larger scheme of things, the reactions seem a little outsized.

Joe R. said...

Academy is not homophobic. Hollywood is full of gay people. Isn'It?

See, this is where the "quit yer whining" argument always trips itself up. Hollywood can't possibly be homophobic because it's "full of gay people." For one thing, more gay people per capita does not equal "full of." Second, how many out actors again? How many out leading men? We should at least acknowledge that Hollywood is somewhat conflicted about the role it allows sexuality to play in its mainstream films. Hoffman's Capote was sexless, Swank and Hanks's characters died, Theron's was righteously put on death row. This movie was different, and we all knew it, and that's why this is a bigger deal.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and apparently a lot of people were offended/insulted by the Brokeback to the Future trailer - why is that? I thought it was just a clever bit of re-editing in the spirit of the recut Shining/Parent Trap trailers.

Anonymous said...

Nate -

What is up with the ongoing comparisons to SCHINDLER'S LIST? Outside of the heavy percentage of precursors both films shared, BBM is nothing in scope, historical "importance" or appeal (Hollywood is largely Jewish) of that movie.

Yes, I can understand that BBM is important to gay writers/activists but I'm sorry our struggle is nowhere near the injustices of Nazi Germany.

I believe that the writing was on the wall for a CRASH victory, and you knew that too or you wouldn't have written that long article.

CRASH carried the acting body of the AMPAS, as was clearly evident by the SAG awards. It was a very LOS ANGELES movie and fits perfectly into the mold of what the Academy traditionally honors. It appealed to black voters, democratic voters, "socially concious" voters, old voters, young voters and that was probably enough votes to make the victory.

As I've said before - homophobia, I believe, had nothing to do with it. If it did, BBM would have been a complete shut out.

You gotta get out of the gay thinktank at some point...

Anonymous said...

P.S. --

It should be said again - whatever film wins the majority of the ACTING branch's votes is going to win. Period. CRASH was the most actor-friendly film. It had the most actors in it - and it appealed most to liberal actor's sensibilities.

They also mailed the movie to the entire membership of the SAG. It's not homophobia - its savvy marketing.

adam k. said...

Yeah, I still am not the least bit offended by "Brokeback to the Future".

But I am offended by the general attitude of "we can just make fun of this movie all we want and not actually give it its props". It reeks of pandering and hypocrisy. Everyone was willing to give lip service to how great Brokeback Mountain is, but then at balloting time, they didn't step up to the plate. It would be like making fun of the holocaust via Schindler's List and then NOT EVEN VOTING FOR IT. Hahaha, those silly Jews.

It IS wrong for a film this widely acknowledged and parodied to lose when it was expected to be a shoe-in. It shows people's true colors. Whether they are truly homophobic or, more likely, just didn't respond to it or denied their response to it because they just don't "get it" and it's merits... it's still incredibly disheartening.

Middle-P said...

I agree with most on the board the homophobia played a small part, but I agreee more in the aspect that this is a MARKETING win. If BBM had sent of screeners to everyone living within a 25 mile radius of LA then it would have won. Hell ,if King Kong had sent out as many screeners as Crash it would have been up there to!THe fact of the matter is, it hurts. I am grieving as are many others, I am sorry Nathaniel and all in black,robes,underwear today. While I wish you all the best in your grieving process, I hope we can take the messages from Brokeback and Crash to move on from the travesty. From Brokeback: People and society may be homophobic, keep you from what you love/deserve, and tear your heart out, but you must cherish the love that you have even if some homophobic bastards(or a busted car, but we won't even start that argument) take it away from you. And from Crash: Just because people come of as racist/homophobic, we cannot let this stereotypes and assumptions tear us down. We must rise above their ignorance and be the bigger person. Let's put on our invisble cloaks, let's prouldy wear our blood stained t-shirts, and step up from the Academy's enormous blunder. Jack would not want us to wallow, but to smile knowing how he touched us, pun ENTIRELY intened. Even Crashheads realize that this is just strange and confusing, and when we can grieve, and try to understand our confusion, the we will fully be able to appreciate the masterpiece that Brokeback Mountain is.

russtifer said...

Black Sunday is such a fitting title, Nathaniel. *deep sigh*

Anonymous said...


Please accept my commiserations -- I could only face the day dressed in a black turtleneck, worn under a shearling coat.

My wife and I were massively upset as the results rolled in last night -- no BSA for Jake or Michelle, no BA for Heath -- and appalled by the BP snub.

Combined with Felicity's loss, Kate branded the whole show an exercise in homophobia (I know PSH was playing a gay man, but still). I'm angry, but willing to be a little less harsh in my judgment. Here goes:

Crash is OK, but let's face it, the characters are mostly symbols who deliver speeches.

I think for a viewer with a limited frame of reference (e.g. most of the actor's branch; also the retirement-home vote), a movie like Crash -- the brilliant ensemble, the cutting among stories, the bending of narrative -- comes as a revelation.

Film junkies -- directors and cinematographers, e.g. -- have seen it all before.

Even though its basic technique has been used more effectively several times before -- I'll just mention Short Cuts and Magnolia -- and its basic idea (exploring racism and alienation in LA) was done at least as well in Grand Canyon, Crash seems -- on the surface -- complex and challenging.

For me, however, Crash was a finely-crafted and acted Afterschool Special. In a word, pat.

On the other hand, Brokeback is an American classic with a twist (pun intended). It challenges the mainstream audience to accept the love of Jack and Ennis at face value, and feel the tragedy created by the closet, by intolerance.

But the pretty "surfaces" of Brokeback seems less challenging --sweeping western vistas, star-crossed love story told a thousand times before.

And I think a plurality of voters went for Crash's self-consciously "arty" surfaces over Brokeback's nods to its two genres.

What I can't explain is why Brokeback, with its emotional wallop, connected for the plurality less than Crash, which is a pretty cold piece.

The silver lining: mainstream audiences did buy into the film (it made more money than any other movies in the BP 5), and that marks a major moment in our cultural history.

No BP snub takes that away. Great art is its own reward. Thanks Ang, and thanks to you, Nathaniel, for championing this film.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, Michael. BBM is subversive for the way it turns the romance and the western on theirear, but without ever pointing big arrows saying, "Look at me! Look at me! I'm deconstructing two bedrock genres of cinema in one fell swoop!"

It's nice to know that BBM will have the vindication of time and future generations of movie goers on its side.

Anonymous said...

CRASH is a tedious, over-explicit train wreck, but jeez, guys... am I the only gay person in the world who thought BROKEBACK was reactionary in the extreme? I mean, come on. Surely whatever mainstream success it's had is a result of its confirmation of stereotypes the heterosexual orthodoxy holds near and dear: we suffer, we're repressed until it kills us, we eventually die, heartbroken and unfulfilled. It isn't exactly "daring." That said, neither is CRASH. BROKEBACK is fifty times the picture CRASH is, but I'm not crying over any spilt milk because it didn't win. There've been worse Oscar travesties. AMERICAN BEAUTY winning when MAGNOLIA wasn't even nominated is more of an Academy miscarriage, IMHO.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

When I brought up my theory about the Academy not wanting to be told what to do, I didn't mean that as the ONLY reason. There were obviously many reasons, as many as there were voters, in a way. Some voted against Brokeback largely out out of homophobia, probibly enough to swing it, considering all the inside LA sources say it was a razor thin margin. (Remember what Tony Curtis said to the NY Post??) Some, however, voted against it, I'm sure, because they don't want to "follow what others do/tell them to do." I'm convinced the reason Scorsese has never won is because too many people have lectured the Academy that they absolutely MUST give him one. One of the biggest bombing jokes last night was the very joke about "Martin Scorses still having 0 Oscars."

Still, the longer the day goes on the more upset I become. Here was a chance to stand up against homophobia in America, and the Academy blinked. As Shaun said, there were a lot of homophobes celebrating last night because the "gay movie lost," and to one saying "even racists have their reasons/still no one should be racist." On the Today show this morning, Katie Couric said that her daughter's school had been showing CRASH to their students to teach them about racism, which proves my point. Politically and intellectually, crash is at a grade school level compared to Brokeback Mountain.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, I figured out why Munich didn't win!



Anonymous said...

Hey Nat, hope you are well.

I know there are people who genuinely like Crash, (I am one of them) just as there are people who prefer Brokeback Mountain (I am one of those too). But given the critical response and box office support for Brokeback and the fairly lack lustre critical and box office response to Crash, it is safe to say that the only reason Crash won was because it was identified repeatedly in the media as the only alternative to Brokeback Mountain, so those members of AMPAS who wanted Brokeback to lose, for whatever reason, parked their votes with Crash. It's as simple as that. While many members of AMPAS in good faith were voting for their favorite film, be it Crash, Brokeback, Munich, Capote or Good Night and Good Luck, there was obviously a group of voters simply voting for Crash to make sure Brokeback didn't win. How else to explain away the low ratings and mediocre box office for a movie supposedly widely enough loved to pull off such a grass roots upset. As a result Crash will never be remembered as the best picture of 2005 it will be remembered as the club used to bash Brokeback.

Anonymous said...

I’ve been lurking at this site for the last four years, feeding my Oscar obsession, and this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to comment, just to show solidarity with all those who believe in rewarding ‘Crash’ over ‘Brokeback Mountain’ the Academy has made a mistake of monumental proportions. Yes the Oscar is “just an award”, HOWEVER it is an award, as Clooney said that will remain synonymous with the winner from here on in. It is also an award that (in my opinion) comes to represent the ‘feeling’ of the time, rather than what film is really the “best of the year” (does anyone truly believe ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ was the best 1952 had to offer? I think not). When Gentleman’s Agreement won in 1947 Hollywood was seen to be taking a stand against Anti-Semitism, (and although I’m well aware the ‘anonymous’ Munich comment above is intended to make people bite, I feel compelled to point out that this win renders your Anti-Semitism jibe well and truly a moot point) ditto with racism in 1967 with ‘In the Heat of the Night’, and even ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’ sharing awards. 2006 was the Academy’s chance to be remembered as ‘taking a stance’ against homophobia. The greater issue is not whether Crash was a better film than Brokeback (…and in my opinion it wasn’t!), but that Brokeback’s loss now gives ammunition to all those far-right, Christian mouthpieces that purport the ridiculous fiction that homosexuality is a sin. The Academy has [insert whichever expletive you prefer here] up royally.

Anonymous said...

For the record, Crash did excellent in terms of box office performance. Word of mouth alone carried it to 55 million dollars. A heated topic and talk of Oscar got Brokeback most of its money.

Anonymous said...

So, if BBM had won Best Picture, would our lives have changed for the better? Would we have entered a new era of acceptance of gays? "Hey guys! BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN won Best Picture! Let's legalize same-sex marriage! YAY!"

All this hand-wringing and crying is for naught. The Oscar is an award and, like all awards, it will be quickly forgotten.

Why spend so much time focusing on this loss, when the film has clearly accomplished something positive. While I am not a fan of the film, I am thrilled that it has grossed over $78 million at the box office. That indicates to me that mainstream America is watching this film.

BBM has entered the American consciousness. At this point in history, I think that is far more important than whether or not it received the Best Picture Oscar.

Anonymous said...

Shameful. The Academy didn't only forget the 5 best films of the year (i.e. MATCH POINT, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, BROKEN FLOWERS, THE LOST WORLD, KING KONG), but gives the Oscar to the WORST movie among the selected ones!!!Brokeback Mountain is not a masterpiece, but it was BY FAR the best movie out of those 5.
Luca from Italy

Keith said...

am I the only gay person in the world who thought BROKEBACK was reactionary in the extreme? I mean, come on. Surely whatever mainstream success it's had is a result of its confirmation of stereotypes the heterosexual orthodoxy holds near and dear: we suffer, we're repressed until it kills us, we eventually die, heartbroken and unfulfilled. It isn't exactly "daring."

No, you're not the only one; I agree entirely.

Anonymous said...

k all of u whining over Brokeback quiet. It LOST okay??? get used to it.

Anonymous said...

"So, if BBM had won Best Picture, would our lives have changed for the better? Would we have entered a new era of acceptance of gays?"

Earning best picture would have helped the film gain some cultural "legitimacy" that would have helped it reach more viewers. Now people who have been sitting on the fence about seeing it or not, have an excuse not to. As to the effect of art on politics, I'll offer an example: Harriet Beecher Stowe's UNCLE TOM'S CABIN. While the term Uncle Tom is now a prejoritive used to describe deferential blacks, when that book came out it almost single-handedly turned public opinion against slavery. Yes, art can help make people's lives better and an Oscar win for BROKEBACK would have helped that film reach more hearts than it has already.

You know who I’m starting to feel anger toward? Roger Ebert. He did everything he could to try and shove CRASH in as the winner, including a long essay about how the film was like a modern day Charles Dickens novel.—he did that to justify CRASH’s absurd plot twists, something Dickens’ books also often had. If I had a chance, I’d ask Ebert, who just loves films dealing with race (HOOP DREAMS, EVE’S BAYOU, DO THE RIGHT THING, were all number one on his lists in their years), if he thinks it was really worth it to give the Academy’s homophobes a critical justification to vote against BROKEBACK so yet another film about race (which IS ABSOLUTELY an important topic) could win. Films about race have won best picture before: Driving Miss Daisy, In the Heat of the Night, but never one about homophobia and gay love (no, MIDNIGHT COWBOY doesn’t count,) and Ebert did his best to shove this one in there too, even though its yet another film about race by a white director, and one which spends as much time justifying the feelings of racists as it does denouncing racism. In that way, it’s just as morally confused as was MUNICH about terrorism. Happy Roger?

Vertigo's Psycho said...

The Academy Awards are still in the closet when it comes to honoring a gay themed film with its Best Picture award, regardless of how many, many awards the film picks up pre-Oscar. Sure, they'll toss a Best Actor, Best Actress, or Best Screenplay award out there every now and then, but as for the big prize, the message is clear: no way baby, not yet. Too bad as, judging the film solely on artistic merit, 'Brokeback' could have been one of Oscar's most worthy Best Picture winners.

Glenn Dunks said...

Robert, I too liked Crash before last night (in my best of it was nominated for several categories) but now I feel like whenever I talk about it I'm gonna have a voice of disdain. I own it on DVD ($5 from Blockbuster, lol) but am I going to be able to watch it without going "YOU caused Brokeback to lose"

"Jack said he voted for Brokeback Mountain"

That surprises and delights me. The raised eybrows was just... he couldn't believe it either. He kind of stood back as well.


to keith and others who think Brokeback is reactionary. how pray tell can the closet be dramatized without showing repressiong and tragedy?

the film would have been a lie if it was told in any other way. You can't rewrite history just to have a happy ending.

the tragedy IS THE POINT. Until society gets over their homophobia and until gay people get over their internalized homophobia, there will be tragedy and depression.

it's not reactionary. it's truth.

Glenn Dunks said...

But Nathaniel, there are still people saying "if Brokeback was a straight love story, nobody would care" which is the single dumbest point that had been made about the movie.

Some people can't seem to grasp why Brokeback is so monumental.

And this is from someone who was a very early championer of Crash. I saw it before it was releasedin the states and actually commented that it could be a player for Oscars. I'm still pissed off though.

Glenn Dunks said...

Robert go to InContention. Kris posted a whole big 2006 thing.

Anonymous said...

Did it ever cross your mind that more people liked Crash than Brokeback? Is that possible?

stop belittling a good film like Crash.

Vertigo's Psycho said...

It doesn't belittle the merits of 'Crash' to make the point that, until March 5th, in the Academy's 78-year history a film with over 25 Best Picture honors (that movie would be 'Brokeback', of course) pre-Oscar night has never lost the Best Picture Academy Award to a film that had won no major Best Picture prizes before suddenly achieving victory at the Oscars.

Sure, plently of 'Crash' voters genuinely liked the film, but the idea 'Crash' won only on merit, with no other factors and/or agendas coming into play is a hard, no, make that an impossible pill for people to shallow when looking at the history of the Academy Awards pre-2006.

Nathaniel made a keen observation concerning this situation: put 'Crash' in the same position 'Brokeback' was in this year (namely, have 'Crash' picking up 25 Best Picture prizes), then have 'Crash' lose Best Picture to a film which had not challenged it for awards prior to the Oscars. A valid point could certainly be made that factors other than the quality of both films played into the upset win, based on the number of prizes 'Crash' won, and the history of the Oscars. However, somehow when 'Brokeback' is placed in this situation, many poo-poo any notion that unsavory factors could be at work to ANY extent. Of course not every vote for 'Crash' had to do with snubbing 'Brokeback' for political reasons but, as it would be fair and clear-headed to defend 'Crash' if it lost Best Picture to an upstart after racking up countless awards (and with no precedent for this occuring in Oscar history) it is equally suitable for many to take umbrage over the fact 'Brokeback' was suddenly shut out of a Best Picture win after dominating the awards season, and for these observate souls to wonder what issues could have come into play in the 'Crash' win/'Brokeback' loss.