Monday, March 06, 2006

Dazed. Not Confused: Oscar Night in Review

I've finally gotten this out of my system. Herewith my last words on "Black Sunday"

In a scene apparently repeated across the world last night, this Oscar obsessive was just merrily enjoying his annual favorite holiday (Oscar Night) with a bunch of friends. Suddenly a foul spirit swept through the room leaving the collected revelers slack-jawed, nauseous, and with the wind completely knocked out of them. Twenty people laughing, drinking, whispering, smiling transformed into dead eyed abandoned children with one sucker bunch from an elite group of 6000. The moment of which I speak will live in infamy: Jack Nicholson announced that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were bucking tradition--or rather "traditions" (yes all of them) to deprive that big beautiful gay breakthrough, Brokeback Mountain, its expected and deserving prize. Not for the Academy their 77 year tradition of going with the flow.

Read the Rest


Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

March 6, 2006
I've spent a good part of today trying to figure out why I am so angry about Brokeback Mountain not getting the Oscar for Best Picture. I think I've put my finger on it. To me, it's another body blow to gay people as human beings. It has stirred up in me for the second time in a few months what I assumed were long forgotten feelings of not being good enough -- being inherently faulty. It all came back to me today, much as it did when I first saw the film. Everyone has their own feelings about whether movies are good or bad; it's an emotional or sometimes intellectual response. But, from my view, Brokeback is an epic love story, a tragedy that moves the heart, a beautifully shot and deeply moving tale of human choices and loss. Crash is clearly not in the same ballpark, but it was the safe choice for a seemingly liberal Hollywood not yet ready to embrace us. How could Hollywood let us down? Easy; the Academy voted without anyone looking over their shoulders -- in the privacy of their own home theatres. They did not have to be politically correct. They are still squeamish about gay people even though "some of their best friends are gay." Why? Sex. Humor me for a moment. Let's just say there was no sex at all. Babies came to us in some other way. If this were true, no one would care with whom you chose to live, marry or go camping. Let's face it, straight people, despite many years of trying, can't seem to handle our sex. It's the first thing they think about when meeting a gay person. I'm convinced that this is the very basis of discrimination against gay folk. So, when voting they chose the mediocre film that won the Screen Actors Guild award. It was an easy out.

Then, I started to ponder, maybe it was for the best. Too much too soon often spells disaster. Rollback to 2003 -- when the Supreme Court struck down a Texas sodomy law paving the way for Karl Rove, to use that victory against us. Seems that we took one step forward but two back. I really think George Bush doesn't dislike gay people -- he just used us -- which is eerily worse. Maybe a Best Picture nod for Brokeback would have energized the religious zealots against us and the "homosexual agenda" with which they often link Hollywood.

I am depressed about the outcome of this Oscar race because I feel that this was our one chance to have our struggle exposed -- seen, heard and felt. We're not going to have that chance again for a long time. Maybe the timing was just not right, but I wanted so badly that moment of adulation. I wanted to hug my boyfriend and feel that maybe we're OK, finally -- we have a pulse.

Crash, the only likely best picture contender for Brokeback is a film about our society's injustices toward each other. Ironic, isn't it then, that the one class of our citizenry, gay folk (who, by the way, were strangely absent from the film), were dealt the biggest blow -- a kick in the gut again. But this is not Hollywood, this is our lives.

Glenn Dunks said...

I've calmed down a bit since last night, but it's still making me angry. It just seems so weird. How could it be? "Black Sunday" - so true.

But the bit of your article that I liked was the whole gay people love the Oscars. Surely the Academy knows this. As you said, Chris Rock made many jokes leading up the night that no straight man would watch the Oscars. Quite a lot of the Oscar obsessives on here, I would assume, are gay.

And then they go on and give the award to Crash.

Although there is one positive to come out of all of this. Possible 2.

1. Maybe it will mean that studios will start releasing movies throughout the year without fear of being forgotten.

2. The next time there's a big epic gay story - it'll win. Or... we can only hope.

Anonymous said...

I was happy that Nicholson, who's always seemed like a "good guy" to me, mouthed "wow" is shock after reading the name "Crash." I heard that he's said he voted for "Brokeback" and I can believe it. Anyone who's friends with Michelangelo Antonioni (and was the star of a true LA classic, CHINATOWN) knew it was just wrong for CRASH to win.

Other than the "wow" I have to say I also appreciated Lilly Tomlin and Meryl Streep's Altmanesque intro to Altman. One bright moment worth remembering....

J.J. said...

To use the cliched example, How Green Was My Valley beat The Maltese Falcon, Citizen Kane, The Little Foxes and Sergeant York in '41. As much as we might want validation from the Academy, they do not bestow credence. Time does. The public consciousness does. The public has spoken. Time will eventually.

More distressing for me, though, was that awful underscore during acceptance speeches. It's like everyone was being perpetually played off. A disastrous decision.

Glenn Dunks said...

me and a (gay) friend were talking on MSN last night after the awards (in Australia we got them hours after you guys so after my friends left i immediately jumped on here) and we came up with the plan that every single gay person should go out and see Brokeback Mountain this coming weekend.

It's currently at $79mil (and it grossed $2.5mil this last weekend) and if enough people support it can get to $100mil and it will be the ONLY movie of this years' releases to gross that much. And if it gets to $110mil it would have made twice as much as Crash. Like, everyone who liked it needs to see it again and made the Academy feel even worse than they already should.

I think I'm gonna wear black all day too, like the guy in the other thread.

Glenn Dunks said...


You know what I just realised...?

The Independent Film Spirit Awards curse is alive and well.

Anonymous said...

I have loved the Oscars since before I was even old enough to watch most of the nominated films. I loved everything about them. The stars, the elaborate production, the competition, the celebration of cinema's best, down to the short movie clips they show for all the acting nominees. As I got older, I started to follow them more closely, and I became more and more familiar with the politics. Every year, it seemed, the Oscars became more predictable and more boring. Every year I would long for an exciting upset, and would give anything to have my favorite performance of movie win one of the big awards besides screenplay (which seems to be the only award they ever give to the right films these days). It was the year that Lost in Translation was nominated for best picture that I first became so loyal and attached to one movie that I would spend hours reading every article about the Oscars, hoping to find some glimmer of hope that my favorite film might pull off a big win. Of course, with Lost in Translation, just being nominated was an accomplishment on its own and I gracefully accepted its only win in screenplay.

However, this year it was different. Brokeback Mountain was more than just a movie, it was a masterpiece. It was a whole body and mind experience that truly moved and broke the hearts of everyone who watched it. Even my friends who felt a bit uncomfortable with the subject matter saw the movie and would admit that it was indeed an amazing piece of cinema. Then, when critics and awards groups started aknowledging Brokeback, I was beyone elated. Could it be possible that just this once the true Best Picture and my favorite nominee may just have a real chance at the Academy Awards? Of course Brokeback became the true frontrunner with the DGA, PGA, Globe, WGA, and so much more. Everyone was predicting it, it had the most nominations, and it seemed impossible that it could lose. Whenever I would even hear any critic or pundit predict Crash, I would actually laugh. That is why when Jack Nicholson read aloud this year's Best Picture winner, I honest to God expected him to follow it with "just kidding!" and one of his famous grins. I did not even believe it. I just shut off the television and thought to myself, "Boy, this Oscars sucked!" and went to bed. It was not until today when I realized how angry and sad I was over Brokeback's monumental loss.

It simply does not seem right or fair. How could it have lost. It statistically and historically does not make sense. I read your article and I think your argument about the Academy just not being ready for anything gay like Brokeback to become entirely embraced, but it just kills me so much to think about that being true. Of all places, one would think the Oscars is the only place something such as Brokeback winning may be possible. However, it has become very apparent to me that the Academy is just the opposite. They never choose what really and truly is the best, but they always choose what is safe and already accepted.

But this also goes beyond the reasons why Brokeback lost for me. What pains me just as much is that now Crash will be considered 2005's best film by the general public in the years to come. The average person will probably forget about Brokeback, and Crash (which in my opinion was an amazing film but in no way carried the same magnitude of power or the same caliber of film making as Brokeback Mountain) will be remembered as the best of the year. Us Oscarwatcher's will not forget, we will always remember what really and truly was the Best Picture of 2005. But most everyone else will forget. That is what truly kills me.

I have lost a lot of faith in the Academy Awards. Before, I could accept them as they were even though I rarely agreed with them (the only true Best Picture winner I can remember in my opinion of recent years is American Beauty) I still could love them and appreciate their foolish crowning of every obvious winner possible. Now, however, they have completely betrayed me. They have finally gone against the expected and obvious, but they did so the only time they should not have. Not only that, but they have completely defied every single precurser that we use to predict the Oscars and done so in such a foolish way. I do not know now if I can ever fogive Oscar for the stunt it has pulled, but I know that I will never be able to ever to enjoy the Academy Awards the way I once did as a small and naive child. Good Riddance 78th Oscars, you have truly let me down.

(On a side note: I thought this really was the most boring Oscar show ever. Betwen the horrendous music played during speeches, the ugly stage, and the boring wins in every catagory but the one that mattered, this Oscar show actually made me fall asleep for a good five minutes at one point. I was throughly dissapointed in every way possible. The only awards I actually enjoyed were Reese, Ang, and Brokeback's score and screenplay - and even those bored me).

Anonymous said...

I just wanted you to know, it's not only gay people who feel the way you do. I'm a straight woman who believes fiercely in gay equality, and I was devastated by this. Am still devastated, actually. Thank you for posting this.

Yaseen Ali said...

Nathaniel - Thank you for that moving, illuminating response from the heart. I was truly moved by your words, really. It is a crushing blow; although Brokeback was my second favorite nominee (to Capote - which had no chance), I was seriously rooting for it. I pretty much took the win for granted - it took me several minutes to digest Jack Nicholson's words (I seriously thought it was a joke/mistake/hoax).

Glenn - That's a great idea! I think I may just do that...

By the way, is there a more disgusting sight than watching Oprah gloat about Crash's win? No, I don't think so.

Glenn Dunks said...

Yay for Shannon.

What WAS up with the music being played over people's speeches. and then it seemed that when someone started going on too long the music STOPPED. Did somebody screw up the tape?

You know what's also bugging me about Crash's win. They didn't even mention Bob Yuri. Without him the movie wouldn't exist. And now Bob Yuri is sueing everyone. Good on him.

And, yes, I too have been watching the Oscars for many years, before I had even had the chance to see the nominated films, and while some of my ALLTIME favourites have been nominated (Moulin Rouge! and Lost In Translation predominantly) and snubbed, this loss by Brokeback is the worst. Those other movies were never really going to win and I had resigned myself to that fact. But this one is hurtful.

It's unforgivable. I truly don't even know if I care enough about Oscar now to wanted to.

In terms of speeches, the best were George Clooney (taking a jab at "Hollywood is too liberal" assholes), Reese Witherspoon (thankfully she didn't go down the "i'm not tennessee, y'all" path too much), Ang Lee, the winner for Tsotsi and there were a couple of other nice ones.

It's odd but I honestly do no remember a single thing about Rachel Weisz's speech. I was happy she won, so why don't I remember her speech at all? Or even what she was wearing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that.

Glenn Dunks said...

"Ali, the only joke here is your fucking hair and sense of style!"

Omg, is that a joke? If not you are a horrible horrible person. I hope you were being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

"Ali, the only joke here is your fucking hair and sense of style!"

Another asshole. I like your hair, Ali, and I like that you have Ingmar Bergman on your blog as one of your favorite directors. I'm just finishing my dissertation on Bergman and his films' subtextual queerness. Did you know that Ang Lee has said that Bergman's VIRGIN SPRING is the most important movie to him and the one that has influenced him ever since. I see a bit of VIRGIN SPRING in BROKEBACK.... =)

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, thanks for the very smart and heartfelt analysis of Black Sunday. It's comforting to know there are other people out there who are feeling the same way I am. I mean, I couldn't sleep last night. As you've said, it felt like more than an Oscar loss; it felt like an injustice, yet another kick in the teeth.

And it IS hard to rationalize how CRASH won without coming back to the elephant in the room--homophobia. Not hatred of gays homophobia, but uncomfortable with gays homophobia. Brokeback's loss is pretty much unprecedented. I mean, it won NYFC and LAFC and Broadcast Film plus a majority of the crit prizes; it won big at the Globes; it won PGA, DGA, WGA. BAFTA, Independent Spirit. It received the most nominations. It's earned the most at the box office. It was the "zeitgeist" movie, leaking into our national consciousness--"I don't want to quit you" etc. The story has epic qualities and wears its heart on its sleeve. Since when has that not been the Academy's cup of tea?

In short, I can't think of a single example when a movie has won all of this and lost the BP Oscar. It just doesn't happen.

Unless, apparently, the movie is "gay."

Am I wrong to wonder if the story itself, where the men are "masculine" and "straight acting" and yet want to be with each other, makes people more uncomfortable than if they were flamboyant "Jack!" characters from Will and Grace? I mean, the latter reinforces a certain stereotype that the "straight" community may be more comfortable with.

I know, I know. Bittercakes and rehash. But I'm pissed! And not only pissed, but...let down. Hurt even. The sting, the sting!

I feel your pain, Nate.


Yaseen Ali said...

Hah, the claws are coming out. This blog has become a battlefield of sorts...

Anonymous, that sense of "style" you are referring to is an Indian outfit called a "sherwani". Perhaps you should re-watch your beloved Crash for some cultural sensitivity training.

Thanks Glenn and dannyboy. By the way, that sounds like a fascinating dissertation project! I'll definitely look out for Virgin Spring inspiration during my next screening of Brokeback.

Anonymous said...


I know how you feel.

This is not the first time my favorite movie of the year lost. In fact of my 10 favorites movies of all time only LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, GONE WITH THE WIND and ALL ABOUT EVE are BP winners.

What saddens and infuriates me is that BBM lost because of the subject matter.

No, don't think every single vote for CRASH has homophobia behind it. Ebert was the most conspicuous
CRASH cheerleader. But he also loved BBM. He gave it 4 stars and the number 5 slot in his TOP TEN. He simply thought CRASH was better. And so did the majority of CRASH voters (I hope).

But I do believe that enough voters voted AGAINST BBM instead of for CRASH. I believe the majority of those votes did have a problem with a movie that argues the homosexual love is morally the equal of hetero love.

The media made a big fuss about CRASH being the "only" alternative to BBM. So the anti-BBM crowd went for it. They could vote for it and still feel good about themselves.

Paranoia? I don't think so. AMPAS collectively decided to make BBM the FIRST movie in HISTORY to win all those precursors and still lose the Oscar. Is it just a coincidence that it is a homosexual love story?

Are the AMPAS voters so different in their taste? If so, why it has never happened before? If CRASH is so good, why it did not even get a GG nomination. Why is it number 58 in the PREMIERE list of the critics? With exception of Chicago, all the critics groups ignored it.

This is certainly the biggest upset EVER. Nathaniel and I know our Oscar history. For 77 years, the precursors have always point to the possible outcome. Even upset winners get some love from them. SHAKESPEARE and CHARIOTS got a couple of major precursors. CRASH got none. NONE. BBM won almost all. Even a CAPOTE or GOOD NIGHT win would have had some precedent.

This has never, ever, happened before. In almost 80 years. NEVER.

Glenn Dunks said...

Crash won three awards to BBMs innumerable (read: too many to count) wins. It won SAG, WGA and Chicago. I think that's all. Crazy. Another thing about Shakespeare in Love is that it actually had the highest number of nominations that year! Had three acting nominees (and one win). Private Ryan had one acting nomination and for a perenial favourite (Tom Hanks). And yes it had won the Globe and other precursors as well. Plus, it was the lighter nominee. People probably liked it more as a film.

But it's not like Crash is light and fun like Shakespeare was in comparison to Saving Private Ryan.

Ali, nice joke about the cultural sensitivity.

Glenn Dunks said...

Glenn Dunks said...

I meant to write "that's funny" after it. The Bunnies are brilliant.

Shawn said...


Thank you so much for that response. Wow. I was in tears all over again reading it. Just...thank you. It's everything I have wanted to articulate, but couldn't.

qta said...

Thank you Nathaniel for putting into words the betrayal and the sadness that I was unable to find words for.

Anonymous said...

Have really enjoyed your oscar coverage... one of if not the best oscar watcher site on the internet.. The entire oscars this year would have been just perfect if the words out of Nicholson's mouth had been "Brokeback Mountain"... the difference of one word can change it from the best oscars to the worst oscars EVER!

Brokeback Mountain was truly robbed.. it's not the biggest upset, but the biggest oscar crime in history. Don't think they'll be a worst snub than this...

the only consolation we'll get is that Crash will join the ranks of Greatest Show on Earth and Around the world in 80 days as the "worst" best picture winners... (I'd put it on top of that list now...) Brokeback Mountain on the other hand will join the ranks of Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz and LOTR: The Fellowship of the Rings as the classics that were overlooked...

It's not a just a sad day for brokeback Mountain fans... it's a sad day for people who are fans of good films in general...

Oscars, I swear... (u suck!)

adam k. said...

I don't get why people keep referring to Shakespeare in Love as this big "upset". IT WAS NOT. It won more golden globes, won the SAG, and had more oscar nominations than Ryan. It was barely an upset at all... it was just a very close race from the get-go.

I also don't understand why people are going "Crash was a great film, but it doesn't hold a candle to Brokeback" etc. GREAT FILM!? Excuse me? Why would anyone be upset if Crash were a great film? People are upset because IT IS NOT. It's mediocre. Its win is embarrassing.

I feel so bad for Jack Nicholson. You can tell he'd voted for Brokeback and did not expect to have to read the name "Crash" as best picture.

And thank you, Nathaniel. As always, you articulated the sentiments perfectly.

par3182 said...

the oscars are dead to me now.

which is kind of a relief after all these years.

Anonymous said...

Nate -

Thank you for a well written and level headed arguement. Thank you for voicing your opinion without shutting down your web site and swearing off our beloved Oscar forever.

I maintain that this was not a gay vs. straight agenda, but that CRASH was simply the more popular film in the industry (I know two voters for AMPAS - both gay - and neither voted for BBM for Best Picture).

I think the gay community should take the lead from the lovely letter from GLAAD President and be thankful that so many gay/transgener characters and stories were honored this year. THAT is what will make a difference in the long run - not a Best Picture win for a gay cowboy movie...

Brian said...

Thanks for this post. I really like your site and thought you might be interested to read my thoughts about it all -- they're are some points of connection. Go to my blog -- I quote from you.

OhMyTrill said...

Wow...that is really great Nathaniel...I shared feelings very similar to the ones you had...why did I end up feeling so close to this movie? And why did I end up feeling so robbed? Your response is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Nathanial, why are you a hypocrit? I like how last year you cried foul when Jamie Foxx got a Best Supporting Actor nomination, when he was obviously a lead. You were upset, refused to even fill out certain info on that aspect of the competition even...but this year with Jake, you had no problem putting him on the Oscar pages. So...what's the deal?

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel...wut the hell is wrong with you? Homophobia....thats why Brokeback Mountain didnt win. keep thinking that. I cant come up with an answer as to why they didn't pick Brokeback Mountain, but Crash was the better movie and I expected a lot more out of you if Crash won. But WOW talk about being a with the fact that Crash WON and Brokeback Mountain LOST.

Glenn Dunks said...

"If Paul Haggis had won best director for his best picture, this fear would be unfounded, but the illogical split vote must make us wonder."

That's what I mentioned in the other thread. Nobody can claim that not enough people watched Brokeback Mountain. it won Best Director, for crying out loud. It shows that they are willing to reward the straight men who made the picture (Ang Lee and Larry McMurtry) yet not the film itself.

Vertigo's Psycho said...

Sage words (as usual) from Nathaniel. The 'Crash' win would make sense if the film had bested 'Brokeback' for ANY other big Best Picture prize; if the Academy, even occasionally, in its 78-year history totally bucked precedent and threw the Best Picture Award to a film which had not won ANY major Best Picture prize before the Oscars; and if there was any instance, going by the Academy Awards tract record from 1927-2005, that a film widely considered inferior to the frontrunner for Best Picture and with, again, no major BP awards to its credit going into the Oscars, had suddenly been honored with the big prize.

Looking at Oscar's past history is an excellent method of illustrating the fact that political forces were at work en masse during the voting for this year's Best Picture. You're 100% right, Nathaniel.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel - I thought you'd be interested to know that this blog entry has been the subject of a very big debate on another message board:

Anonymous said...

what an eloquent response to 'black sunday'. thank you. let me echo shannon's comments, i'm a straight woman too, and am still reeling from last night. my housemate always suggests that "trauma and time" make for the best stories. in this case, in 50 years time we can only hope that 'crash' will join the ranks of the forgotten and 'brokeback' will be remembered as the classic that deserved victory.

Kris said...

If it's not "just a movie," it certainly maintains its importance within your heart with or without an Oscar. Too much. Count me amongst the "enough drama" crowd. And if that makes me a homophobe that is the decidedly flat thinking of others, and not my own.

The value of Brokeback Mountain will survive beyond any award it lost at this year's Oscars. And it is inherently a mistake if you love a ceremony that is the collective opinion of 6000 people, a collective that, in the long run, is no more or less valuable than the next guy's.

I'm sorry for those so taken aback by what occured. But I think it should serve as a wake up call to never put so much stake into something so meaningless - the Academy Awards that is.

Anonymous said...

I loved BBM and also Crash .. after reading all the Drama "Kings" reports of homophobic Hollywood for the reason BBM did not win Best Picture, I more than ever was glad that Crash won... it is not the end of the world as many of you seem to feel today... movies are for everyone's enjoyment and even stars say their work is not rocket science material .. I quote a scene from Moonstruck when Cher says "Get over it..."

Vertigo's Psycho said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vertigo's Psycho said...

The Oscars aren't "meaningless" when placed in the context of what the Academy Awards represents to the general public- a huge audience watches this show every year, and many of these viewers probably DON'T take the Oscar choices with a grain of salt, and readily accept the Academy's picks as valid- the Academy's 6,000 member voting block certainly KNOWS their pick for Best Picture will hold more water with the public (and receive more publicity) than all the other awards combined.

I agree the Oscars shouldn't have a strong influence on how one views the best films of any given year, but (unfortunately this year) for a substantial segment of the populace, they do; Oscar Best Picture picks are frequently used to offer the masses a review of Hollywood's finest movies.

Again, if Nathaniel and the rest of us claiming something was afowl last night were just being overdramatic, and politics weren't involved, the 78-year history of the Oscars would point out our error in judgement by illustrating at least ONE example wherein the favorite film was overtook by a movie that had won no major BP prizes prior to the Academy Awards. Outside of the early years of the Academy (late 1920's to the mid 1940's), wherein there weren't a lot of critics organizations around passing out awards, no example of what happened this year occurs. The conservative branch of the Academy was obviously looking for a way out of their 'Brokeback' dilemma, and opted for the safe harbor provided by 'Crash.'

Even if one regards 'Brokeback' (and 'Crash', for that matter) as "just a movie," the "drama" found in the aftermath of the Oscars is real and warranted, as other circumstances besides simply picking the Best Picture of 2005 were involved in the surprise Best Picture upset. There's a bigger picture besides the Best Picture award involved in the 'Crash' win, and these issues should be discussed. I think Nathaniel has presented the situation surrounding the Best Picture Oscar in an intelligent, rational light.

Kris said...

It's simply about momentum and where it is placed, the one point Nathaniel conveniently doesn't attempt to shoot down. The inundation of DVDs at the right time and BBM peaking in December rather than in January (a lack of guild mentions outside the majors looks to be foreshadowing at this point).

Lionsgate kept an eye on the game and played the AMPAS like a fiddle. A vast collective surge of private homophobia remains one of the most absurd notions to play into a film's loss, at the very least to be seen as the biggest contributing factor. And far too easily scapegoated as such, but I say again, BBM's reward will always be in is own essence, not in ow it was viewed by a body of 6000 people.

Glenn Dunks said...

But Kris, as someone who runs your own Oscar blog and writes about them all the time, surely you even you have to think something is not right when a film that wins SO MUCH can lose. How is it that a film that was so ingrained into the culture and psyche could lose to a small movie released in May.

I'm not saying a movie released in May or any time of the year doesn't deserve to win, but why THIS one NOW? There have been plenty of worthy contenders that got swept away. And now that a movie like Brokeback looked inevitable it does seem like at least some portion of AMPAS figured it was that or Crash - and they would probably prefer Crash to represent them.

Kris, you also CANNOT blame people for getting emotionally invested in a) the movie and b) the awards. Again, you run a Oscar blog and write constantly about it - surely even you can see the pull they have. And when a movie such as Brokeback Mountain is poised to win you should be able to forgive people getting a bit crazy when it loses to a movie like Crash. It also helps that Crash was your #2 movie (or was it #3?) of the year.

Vertigo's Psycho? Well put my good man.

Anonymous said...

I too am have a prediction site of the Oscars each year and I follow the whole thing as closely as you do. And I am gay.

And I did not like "Brokeback Mountain". I admire its ambitions, its acting and many aspects of it. But did I like it? No.
I thought, and I have done so all year, that "Crash" was the best film of 2005. Period.

Nathaniel, I know you are hurt, but please concider this as well. Would so many critics take the "chance" of saying that their favorite movie last year was "Brokeback Mountain" - and THEN would so many actors (the most gay-friendly profession in the world) be afraid of saying EVEN when they, like with the Oscars, can say it WITHOUT putting their personal name on that statement?

Yes, some Academy members probably didn't watch it because they were afraid. But HOW many refused to see the the most critically acclaimed film of the last decade, REALLY? All those who DID see it can't have been afraid of voting for it. And no, if gay is okay ANYWHERE, it's within the acting community. Don't TELL me they SUDDENLY became homophobic compared to all the straight critics out there.

If they really were, they would NOT have given "BEST DIRECTOR" to the film! Yes, one could argue that they didn't really give it to the film but to Ang Lee as an artist, BUT COME ON!

If they were AFRAID to vote for Brokeback or if they HOMOPHOBIC ... then Brokeback Mountain WOULD NOT HAVE WON BEST DIRECTOR AT THE OSCARS (or the screenplay or the score for that matter).

Maybe we should all just realize that "Crash" was about L.A. and about issues today. A very direct picture with a direct message. Hollywood is very political now, and they can relate to "Crash" as a scene in their every-day life. "Brokeback Mountain" is epic, a story of the past - it's the "English Patient" of the year. Period. Oscar and Hollywood want to be MORE political than just saying "the gay epic is okay, even for straight people". They want to say "look at this super cheap movie. It deals with one of the worst problems in our country: racism - and we could all learn so much".

And please, Nathaniel, I know you love Brokeback Mountain, but don't let your love overshadow so many possibilities. When you love a picture ("Cross fingers for anything Brokeback") you can't go out afterwards and blame people for not loving it as much as you did. You make it sound like that's the case. Voting for "Crash" was the right thing to do for the people of L.A. - voting for "Brokeback Mountain" was the right thing to do for critics, and many of them probably even named it their best film to AVOID being pointed out as some of the only ones who did not DARE to say that "Brokeback Mountain" was the best film of last year.

Bottom line: Some people were just moved more by "Crash", Nathaniel. I was, even though I am gay. I thought "Brokeback" is the weakest of this year's "Best Picture" nominies. Sorry, but that's how I feel. And I know a lot of gay people who feel the same way.
"Crash" is closer to home for people in L.A. - it goes straight to their hearts. So it might not be as political, homophobic, strategical etc. as you think. They probably just voted with their heart, like they did last year. They were moved the most by "Crash". So was I. Is that so hard to believe for some people?

Has anyone concidered that even the Globes, Guilds etc. voted "Brokeback" just to go with the flow of things and not to be know has "avoiding" the gay picture? Maybe the Academy was the first to step back and say: "We refuse to vote for it just because everyone else does. We want to vote with our OWN hearts".
Maybe the snowball just got rolling back when the first critics revealed their favorite movies of the year. If the first, say, 10 or 15 critics had NOT announced "Brokeback Mountain" as their favorite film of the year, then would they rest have done it? Was it just a snowball that no one wanted to avoid joining because the word "homophobic" would be the easy case to through after them?

Who knows...

I just know that I refuse to believe that the Academy is THAT homophobic. It is simply a joke. Otherwise a film like "Brokeback Mountain" would not have won a screenplay, and more importantly, a BEST DIRECTION Oscar. "Crash" was the best film for many L.A. people last year. The Oscars are all about L.A.

I loved "Crash". So did many. Don't blame "Crash" because you feel robbed. It was just the movie that most Academy members were moved by. Period. The homophobic viewpoint just doesn't stick. Cause Brokeback WAS nominated for more Oscars than any other, it DID win for screenplay and it DID win for its director.
Does that sound homopobic to you...?????!

Anonymous said...

I'm falling somewhere in the middle of this argument. I think Brokeback was the best film of the year, but I think Crash had 3 or 4 of the most visceral, affecting scenes of the year, and it's easy to get blindsided by them. Maybe that's what happened. I don't think we'll ever truly know if this was anything more than the appeal of an underdog. Depressing, unprecedented, but possible. But how telling does Stewart's: "Raise your hand if you were NOT in Crash!" comment now seem?!

Nonetheless, as I previously said, I think the PR traction from NOT winning will only help Brokeback in time.

However, to respond to the rest of your article though, I fully agree about the greatness of Stiller and Streep/Tomlin. Yet I have to disagree about Clooney's speech...

On the surface it was sweet, but look deeper and - hang on - he's just won an award for Syriana. Did he mention ONE member of the Syriana cast and crew? Did he thank the director who steered him to an Academy Award? No, he used his time for nice-guy self promotion. I thought it was undignified to not mention anyone involved with the reason he was standing there. It lacked class for him to assume that he only won because he had several other nominations; however well-judged that observation may be.


P.S. I've just noticed there's a new Rob on here; this could get tricky!

Glenn Dunks said...

Firstly, I liked that Clooney had a jab at the people complaining about "liberal america" or whatever.

To Rob.

If movies about LA are so loved how much they rarely win. How come stuff like The Player and Short Cuts weren't even nominated for Best Picture. They're very much about the city if I remember correctly.

And, I also think the "not enough watched it" thing is stupid because they gave it Best Director. Surely enough saw it. Which then leads to you thinking - well, enough did see it, it had everything that a Best Picture winner has, it had a prize from almost every organisation under the sun, it had the box-office, it had the buzz, it had the "historic" thing going for it. So why when they ticked the boxes for Ang Lee and the writers did they say:


huh? There really does seem to be an undeniable undercurrent of something sinister.

And btw, the acting profession may very well be the most gay-tolerant profession there is, but how many of those gay actors, how many of those are a member if the Academy. How many of the old-school segments of the Academy voting pool do you think were out there in the 40s, 50s, 60s and were thinking about how accepting their profession is to homosexuals.

I must say (and I read this somewhere else) that throughout the night they kept talking about the Academy's ability to choose films based on issues. There was racism, terrorism, etc... yet they never mentioned homosexuality/homophobia directly. They called it "intolerance" or whatever, but never what it's actually called.

And lastly, being gay has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether Brokeback was the best film of the year. People can like whatever they like, but the argument hear is that after EVERYTHING that has happened this award season, it is strange that the Academy would give the movie prizes like Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay and then decide it wasn't the Best Picture after almost uninimous calls for it.

We're just sayin, is all...

Glenn Dunks said...

Oh, sorry - i thought the Crash man was Rob. The comments I made are meant to be directed at the ANONYMOUS person.

Anonymous said...

Good job Nat. Thanks for your latest posting.

And in response to some of the comments to this post and the previous ones:

I don't think of myself as being racist, but if someone accused me of it my first reaction would be to stop and examine what they were saying and give it serious thought. Because although I try to see the world from outside the filters of my racial, cultural background I know it is a difficult task to accomplish.

So I am always suspicious of people who quickly take umbrage with the homophobia argument. Their inability to even consider the possibility speaks volumes.

I don't want to be a racist and am willing to be corrected if I make a false step. The homophobes want to be what they are, yet are unwilling to be called what they are.

Anonymous said...

I think you got it just right. I was at my professor's Oscar party and she loved both Crash and Brokeback. I hated Crash and loved Brokeback. When Crash won, everyone in the room was excited and she immediately just took the opportunity to comfort me. It was bizare, but I needed it. I'd spent the entire Oscar season so glad that this short story I loved had been adapted into a movie the world was in love with. Now suddenly it had lost to Crash?!

She and I just had this moment that history had just been seriously fucked up.

Thanks for your post. It's nice to know that others understand why this is a blow.


i really thank you all for your responses. it's been very cool to read everything. Unfortunately... and I don't know if this is a problem with my writing or a problem with meaning retention in the readers but many people seem to be missing a point.

i never ever ever ever ever said that people were homophobic for liking Crash (though some other critics have suggested that people are confused about their own racism if they love it)...

I am merely documenting my personal response to a breaking of 77 years of tradition in the 78th year of this thing. The only time in which such a breakage occurs is when a gay picture is in the hotseat? 1 in 78 failing and the 1 that does is gay.


if you can't allow gay people their suspicions about this you are either:
a) a jerk
b) stupid
c) too stubborn and fearful that they have a point that you don't want to have to look at. because, whatever your feeling on brokeback that is a painful thing to have to examine.
d) a homophobe

In other words: EVEN IF I PERSONALLY THOUGHT CRASH WAS THE SUPERIOR FILM, this would read as suspicious to me given what I know about the Oscars.

I hope that clears it up.

J.J. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J.J. said...

FYI, kamikaze camel: Crash producer Cathy Schulman thanked Bob Yari twice before she was cut off by the music. Probably doesn't take the sting away from being denied an Oscar, but he wasn't forgotten in the speech.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nathaniel.

Sam said...

Thank you for a beautifully written piece. I saw all of the BP nominees and thought Crash was by far the lease worthy. It was, at it's heart, a conventional Hollywood feel-good movie masquerading as an IMPORTANT FILM. It was shamelesly derivitive, and not just from Magnolia. My God, Sandra Bullock actually hugged her Hispanic maid and said "You're my best friend"...HOKE. Sandra told us that it was all about her anger and loneliness but her character wasn't developed enough for us to figure out why she was angry and lonely. Crash was obvious and heavy-handed, probably well-intentioned, but poorly executed.

Middento said...

I am sorry to comment so late -- I was in Vancouver for the Oscars and left yesterday morning, so only got to check the blogs this moring -- but you make a rather convincing argument. I agree with all the others that say, "Well, just because Brokeback lost the Oscar doesn't mean it won't be remembered." More than likely, it will be. (I, for one, can remind my students about it. Along with A History of Violence, which I am forcing them to watch in my class this semester, heh heh.) I am gearing up for the likely debate on this in my upper-level film class this afternoon, where they had to watch the ceremony for an assignment.

I am particularly concerned at the vitiol spouted on your site. I mean, really. Not so surprisingly, however, such comments are laced with evidence of ignorance. Case in point: the recent anonymous poster who "quotes a scene from Moonstruck where Cher says 'Get over it.'" The poster would do well to make sure s/he quotes propoerly: take 30 seconds to check on IMDB and you'll find that the oft-quoted line is actually "Snap out of it!"

Now I'm just trying to figure out if I should just boycott Hollywood product. But that wouldn't do any good, because then all I'd be left with would be foreign films. On second thought, that's not such a bad idea after all....:)

Anonymous said...

Check out Roger Ebert's piece:

I especially like this section:

"My impression, also based on anecdotal evidence, is that the usual number of academy voters saw the usual number of academy nominees, and voted for the ones they admired the most. In a year without "Brokeback Mountain," Finke, Turan and many others might have admired "Crash." Or maybe not. But it's a matter of opinion, not sexual politics.

It is not a "safe harbor," but a film that takes the discussion of racism in America in a direction it has not gone before in the movies, directing attention at those who congratulate themselves on not being racist, including liberals and/or minority group members. It is a movie of raw confrontation about the complexity of our motives, about how racism works not only top down but sideways, and how in different situations, we are all capable of behaving shamefully."

Yes, Roger was a cheerleader for Crash, but BBM was also in his top 5, and he would have been happy if it won as well.

I like Roger's article because it doesn't disparage BBM, it defends Crash and those who voted for it. Based on my own anecdotal evidence, Crash really did hit people in the gut. I watched Crash at my (liberal, GLBT-friendly, gay marriage performing) church with a mixed-race group of folks. The issues it brought up and the emotions that came out were deep and astonishing. It really hit a nerve, and I bet it did even more so for those who live in LA.

Of course prejudices and personal preferences and screeners sent out will always affect what people vote for. I think each of the 5 movies this year had people who didn't vote for them because they didn't like the subject matter (gay romance, racial strife, death penalty, a view of the Middle East not slanted toward Israel, liberal POV). The truth is we can't no every person's motives, so it's all guess work.

I give BBM supporters my sympathy, but I shouldn't have to feel guilty that Crash won though- it is a life-changing film to many people.

Anonymous said...

Take a moment to consider the vitriol issuing from both sides of this debate. Because the passionate anger isn't just coming from suspected homophobes or Crash supporters. It's also coming from us: gay men who are perhaps taking a movie and how any movie can "change" societal attitudes a little too seriously. If it's fine for folks to attack Crash on artistic grounds, it's equally fine to attack Brokeback on those grounds. It may come as a surprise to some that there are-- yes-- even gay people who think Brokeback is every bit as traditional and staid a film as is Crash, albeit a far more elegant slice of filmmaking life. I think we have to check our righteous indignation about what is really just-another-one-of-those-Hollywood-behind-the-scenes Oscar thangs.

And where is the anger directed towards P. S. Hoffman coming from? Geez, guys, let's take a reality check. Brokeback was made ENTIRELY by straight people who have taken every opportunity to REMIND us they are straight. Why is that ok?

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for writing this. It says everything that I and millions of other movie fans were thinking. Bravo!

thales said...

Ok, this is a fun place to whine and stuff. Now it's my turn.

It's very sad to watch the team you're supporting win all the matches and lose on the exactly last minute of the finals. And the fact that your team won't play again ever is worse. (I mean, Julianne still got a chance to win one some day, but movies don't get that lucky!)

But I'll try not to talk about the movies. I love movies. And BBM and Crash I'll be the same movies they were before the Oscars were handed. Everyone will be able to make their judgement. I'll even rent Crash when I stop refering to it as the non-gay-cowboy movie.

I used to love the Oscar but i'm disappointed with the Academy. My first reaction was that they broke my heart. Last sunday they screw it up. They set themselves on a diferent reality from all the other award shows out there. And while all the precursors somehow try to achieve the Academy greatness by congratulating their nominees and sometimes picking the deserving winner, the Oscars keep trying to be ordinary and make fun of movies that were supposed to be the best of the year. They throw those random montages and the vintage scenario and the political nominees and the boring Gil Cates speech about DVDs or piracy or whatever and when you put it all together it's meaningless. They just don't know who they are. I'll wish for a snub for my next favorite filme so the Academy won't taint it. But again, those movies will always remain the same movies. I'll focus my love only on movies and not on the Oscars.

I'm actually sorry for Paul Haggis and Ang Lee. The results of last night put their careers on a weird perspective. What it means when you make a great work but you aren't a great artist yourself? Or you are a great artist but can't make a great work? That's weird. I'd rather be Spielberg or the Capote guy. Why the Academy can't back up Crash from the beginning if they really believe it's the best film all this time? I would feel more confident if Haggis winning director. Now I look at the Best Pic / Best Director split and it is wrong.

And it's also sad that the Academy stopped to reward pure moviemaking but chose all the lobby-screener-oscarblog-crazyness-momentum-ass-kissing package. It's not about movies anymore. And since I love movies, i'm not interested. maybe I'll skip the show next year.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, thanks for your thoughtful words. I get some comfort from reading you, since you're more experienced at Oscarwatching. Have been going through all the stages of grief since Sunday night. Can’t believe how deeply upset this loss has left me. No real reparation is possible, when you lose a historical award like this. You get left out of the record books. That can’t be fixed (or "stood," despite Ennis' stoic words). I think that’s why it feels so final, like a kind of death, and why I’m so furious this movie was cheated out of what it deserved. I don’t care about “future” films that may “make up” for this oversight. This one, specific piece of art, the one that was so beautifully done, is what got tire-ironed. That’s what troubles me. As if someone slashed a painting. The desecration to the historical, on-the-record reputation of this particular movie.

Anonymous said...

I think I'll start referring to myself as Rob2 in order to avoid confusion w/ the other Rob(s)? on this site.

I want to make a comment about the Ebert segment that was quoted on this blog. Not only Ebert but many other Crash supporters note that one of the things they love about Crash is how it confronts racism in people who don't think of themselves as being racist. In Ebert's words, the movie is "directing attention at those who congratulate themselves on not being racist, including liberals and/or minority is a movie about the raw complexity of our motives, about how racism works not only from the top down but sideways..." etc etc. If this is true about racism, then why is it such a stretch for some of us to wonder if homophobia might not operate in the same way? That even people who congratulate themselves on being liberal and not homophobic may sometimes harbor some phobia or discomfort, and that discomfort may get expressed in ways that are more sideways than direct (you know, like not wanting the gay movie to win BP).

Obviously no one is arguing that a vote for Crash makes you a homophobe. That's just silly. But Tom O'Neil in his Envelope article and other things I've read on blogs suggest that some Academy members were hinting they were voting "against" Brokeback more than "for" another movie. You know, kind of how I vote for president. I rarely am voting FOR a candidate, I'm just voting against the Republican candidate. That "anti" vote, even if small, may have been enough to sway this tight race.

I suspect the Crash win had to do with a number of factors--the word of mouth/hop on the bandwagon effect; the Oprah/Ebert stumping; the Crash/Cinderella story; the fact that so many actors starred in the film and were behind it etc. Maybe even some Brokeback fatigue. And sorry, some plain straightforward discomfort with the gay cowboy movie.

As Nathaniel points out, when 78 years of voting patterns fly out the window to unseat a formidable frontrunner, and that frontrunner is the "gay cowboy" movie, one has to at least consider if some degree of below-the-surface homophobia was a contributing factor to Brokeback's loss.

Then again, doesn't it seem like all voting patterns have flown out the window in the past few years? Hey, maybe the Academy had to vote by Diebold(?)electronic voting machines this year. The voting machines made sure Bush got reelected, and they made sure Brokeback didn't win pic.

Just ending on a joke... I think.


Anonymous said...

Very gracious Rob2, though I in no way meant to pee over shared territory!

Rob (1?)

Anonymous said...

Well, the problem with trying to figure out why "Crash" won is that you can't really prove any theory conclusively unless you can mind read all of the voters. It's all speculation. We don't even know how close the race was.

Anonymous said...


What about THIS:

Okay, so the Golden Globe didn't go for Crash. REMEMBER: They went for "The Aviator" in stead of "Million Dollar Baby" and "Bugsy" in stead of "Silence of the Lambs" and so on and so on. When they give the award to someone else than the one that Oscar goes for, it ALWAYS for a "Big Movie". Like this year.

Okay, so the Producers Guild didn't go for Crash. Well, as with the Globes, they never go small. This award is about PRODUCING! In other words: More is more! They gave it to "Moulin Rouge!" over "A Beautiful Mind"... Get the picture?

Okay, the Directors Guild went for Ang Lee, a legend. Period. They gave it to him for the same reason the Academy gave it to him: The film was great, and Ang is a legend.

Okay, so the critics went for Brokeback. Maybe they really liked it more than any other film. Maybe they wanted to make a statement. Maybe the rest of the critics didn't want to be regarded as homophobic by NOT giving it to "Brokeback" after the first FIVE critic groups had gone for it. Maybe it just became the collective thing to do. Let's ALL go for "Brokeback" to make a statement. Or maybe they just really loved it.

The Globes would never have gone for "Crash". The Producers Guild would never have gone for "Crash". The director was too unfamous (which is why the Globes ignored Crash AND Capote, I think, and in stead went for Woody Allen, David Cronenberg and other Oscar-ignored legends). The Directors Guild, well: Directors love Ang Lee. Directors don't know Paul Haggis. Maybe there's a reason there.

But too put all down to a question of homophobia - concider this:

"Brokeback" was this year's most nominated film at the Oscars. Homophobia? Not.

The critics weren't homophobic. The producers weren't homophobic. The writers weren't homophobic. The directors weren't homophobic.
BUT: Are we then trying to say that the ACTORS (of Screen Actors Guild and the majority of the Academy) ARE homophobic?? Please...

Whether they went for "Crash" because it was an L.A. movie or a BETTER movie or a more important movie or just to go in another direction than any one else, please don't put it down as a question of homophobia. ACTORS are more homopobic than writers, producers, directors and critics? No. Any way you twist it, it's a no.
"Crash" was maybe just TOO L.A. for the critics and TOO small for the Globes and Guilds. Maybe it was the one to beat all along - and Brokeback was just the lush runnerup that had more epic production values for the guilds to go crazy over, and we all were blinded, forgetting "Crash".

Bottom line: A few were maybe too homophobic to see or vote for "Brokeback". But a few were maybe too homophobic to see "Capote". Or too anti-semetic and patriotic to see "Munich". Or too politically un-Clooney to see "Good Night, and Good Luck". And maybe people were too racist (or whatever reason) to vote for "Crash". Oscars come down to taste, momentum, snub-making-up, in-the-moment, comebacks, political stands, sexual stands, technical stands, artistic stands, fans, box-office, being small, being big, giving a helping hand to the films in need, giving the cold sholders to the films that want it the most and vice versa.

THOUSANDS of factors play in. And the main factor this year was NOT homophobia. Actors AREN't more homophobic than producers, critics, writers and directors. Period.

Anonymous said...

Forgot my last point: You don't vote for a gay love story as your favorite screenplay or give the director of that movie your vote if you are homophobic. So there...

Anonymous said...

From your post, Nathaniel:

" deprive that big beautiful gay breakthrough, Brokeback Mountain, its expected and deserving prize."

All subjective. You can't say that Brokeback deserved to win more than Crash. YOU think it did. It's not a fact. It's an opinion. You really make all your comments about this year's Oscars sound like something went wrong and murder was commited.
YOU think something went wrong. I mean this in the kindest way, and not as an insult: Ask your self, if Crash or any of the other Best Picture-nominated films this year was YOUR favorite film over Brokeback, would you still think it was such a crime?

Okay, history was written with Crash taking the Oscar, as far as precursers and odds goes. But that doesn't make it Oscar's worst moment. It just means that YOUR favorite movie lost, and the one (almost) everyone thought would win, didn't.

L.A. (where race issues just ARE bigger than sexual issues) simply liked Crash better. It was not a conspiracy.

By the way: Rasums, I agree with your comment. Good one.

adam k. said...

I'm sorry, but all the "it CAN'T be homophobia" people just don't get it. First of all, homophobia doesn't mean you hate all gay people or commit hate crimes. It means "gay" makes you afraid or uncomfortable. The fact that "homophobia" was never even mentioned among all the talk about racism, etc. during the show speaks for itself.

Also, despite the 8 nominations, the fact is, they could've given it more. It could've been nommed for art direction. It SHOULD have been nommed for editing. And Ang Lee won because he is Ang Lee, and given his oscar history, denying him this win would look like an unforgivable personal slight. I'm sure even many people who didn't like Brokeback voted for him out of respect, if nothing else.

There were surely a lot of factors, but subtle homophobia is surely among them. The academy doesn't mind being "told who to voted for" any other year, but why did they care this year? Because they were being told to vote for THE GAY COWBOY movie. It peaked early, yes, but when films peak like this one did, the peaks last... example: Schindler's List. American Beauty. etc. These peaked early and just stayed there, because they were too big to lose. So was Brokeback.

Plus, I'm sorry, but Crash was just not a very good movie. Period. It was just not good storytelling. One can like it all one wants, but to call it the best film of the year is to make a false statement. It was just not that good. As many are fond of saying, dealing with a touchy subject DOES NOT make a film great. Crash was about racism, but was just not a well-told story or a well-made film. I think a lot of the problem here was just the academy's typical bad taste, as much as anything. sigh.

Anonymous said...

You've just describel he way I feel. You made it clearer to myself. Thank you very very much from Italy.

Anonymous said...

You've just described the way I feel. You made it clearer to myself. Thank you very very much from Italy.

Anonymous said...

I agree with those who DON'T think homophobia was the big issue. So Crash won. I think it deserved it, but so what?

Why are so many people behaving like it's a funeral. Brokeback Mountain is not DEAD because of losing the Oscar. Pulp Fiction knows that. Citizen Kane knows that. Star Wars knows that. Jaws knows that. Indiana Jones knows that. Usual Suspects knows that (and it wasn't even nominated!). L.A. Confidential knows that. E.T. knows that. They all lost. And they all live on as classics.

Losing an Oscar is not a death mark. Come on!

I too don't believe, like Rasmus said, that when critics, producers, directors and writers go for a gay movie, the ACTORS are the ones with ALL their homophobia to cause to defeat of Brokeback Mountain. They were, like many of us, more blown away emotionally by Crash.
And like Rasmus said, if they were all afraid of the "gay-ness", they would not have handed it a writing AND directing award...


jones you ask:

"Ask your self, if Crash or any of the other Best Picture-nominated films this year was YOUR favorite film over Brokeback, would you still think it was such a crime?"

I'll tell you this much. If no movie about racism and prejudice had ever won... and even if I still disliked Crash but it had Brokeback's precursor seasonal triumph and the most nominations and the ACADEMY was the only group that didn't vote for it as the best, I would think there was a problem. I would think they were racist.

It just doesn't add up.

the simple fact is this (Whether or not you think it deserved to win or not) no movie with this much force, this successful, this acclaimed, and this awarded has EVER lost. in 78 years.

so you ask yourself: Why has this NEVER happened? And the one time it happens the subject is gay and you can't even allow for the "maybe" of homophobia. Go on living your fantasy and I'll keep talking about the reality. YES, it's an opinion. But I wonder why no one can address why the only time such an event has ever occurred is when it involves "gay"

and to people claiming that actors can't be homophobic.


Even homos can be homophobic. Ennis Del Mar, fer chrissakes, is a homophobe. Think about it.

That ENTIRE community is complicit in hiding everyone else's sexuality. Jodie Foster is still not out of the closet for crying out loud. How is this not a community that awards and perpetuates homophobia?

Some years ago I had a boyfriend who was an actor and he was terrified of people knowing --and completely anti getting involved with gay activism or gay community because he didn't want to "ghettoize" himself. (I never dated anyone with that particular problem again --learned my lesson)

anyone who assumes the acting community can't have homophobia in it has just never thought it through (all prejudices can be found anywhere. they're part of human nature) or is lying to themselves.

Why did they snub Rupert Everett who was considered a lock in 1997?

Why does Ian McKellen keep losing the Oscar?

OUT actors rock the boat. And closeted gay actors don't want other actors to rock the boat. It exposes their own lie.

and as to the "murder" comment, Jones.

Yes, I know it reads dramatic. It's supposed to. This is an historic event for gay people. You know how Halle Berry broke down and called herself a "vessel" because she won best actress?!

Did anyone begrudge her that overstatement. She was JUST Halle Berry after all. Not "every black woman who ever lived" But history was being made.

So by dropping 78 years of voting habits the Academy have just exposed their unwillingness to treat gay people with the same respect that they are now trying to treat people of color.

For better or for worse (and often for worse) films and people become emblematic of other things. You can't deny that they do.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Adam K., but "they could have nominated Brokeback for art direction"!? In stead of WHICH nominee?! Art direction was NEVER Brokeback's strong side. One of this year's best art directions? For what? The mountain? The living rooms? The bed rooms?

Editing? Yes, maybe. But what was so special about the editing? Crash, for example, was ABOUT editing. But yes, they could have. But it isn't like you think of "Brokeback" as WOW, a really great EDITED movie.

And by the way, why is it so hard for Brokeback lovers to just accept Crash lovers? They yell homophobia - aren't people who are againt homophobia just trying to say that it's okay to like the things you like and people should LET them like or love the things they do. Okay, so many people LOVE Crash - LET them! Don't tell them they SHOULD like Brokeback better - cause then, actually, you are no better than the very homophobic straight people who are trying to say that liking ONE thing is wrong, and that you should like THIS in stead.

People have diffent tastes when it comes to sexual preferences AND movie preferences. Let them HAVE their opinions and accept them. It's okay to like different things. Brokeback fans shouldn't try to put down Crash fans for not liking the RIGHT thing.

I know this sounded way off, but when I really think of it, I think I just made a very good point, actually.

Anonymous said...

But Nathaniel, about your latest comment here, HOW can you claim that the Academy (roughly actors) apparently are MORE homophobic than critics, writers, producers and directors? It just doesn't add up!

Sure, some of them are, but let's face the fact, the guilds and Globes wouldn't go for such a small film with such an unknown director as Crash. THAT's probably why it didn't win. And Oscars decided they didn't care if it was small.

SO many people loved Crash, regardless of their feelings about Brokeback Mountain. People are making it sound like they ALL were homophobic and just gave the Oscar to some movie nobody likes, just to get rid of the gay movie that they on the other hand gave this year's Best Director and Screenplay award. Riiight...

Anonymous said...

So again: Why did the Guilds and Globe go for Brokeback? It was the only big original film to go for. Crash, Goodnight, Capote, A History of Violence etc. were just too small and too art house.

Oscar didn't care and made a statement. They could have made another statement. They just didn't. Period (in MY opinion).

People yell homophobia just because Crash won. Yes, a precurser hit like Brokeback have never lost before. But such a small movie as Crash never won before, either. The Academy voted with their hearts, just like they did last year. And the majority of people were just more heartbroken with the Crash story and messages and with a romance between two men.


Sure, we gay people get heart broken over straight love stories - because that's ALL WE'VE seen! I know this sounds corny, but gay people get turned on by straight sex scenes, when they don't have other options. Give them 10 years of gay sex scenes, and then show them a straight sex scene and ask them if it turns them on. IT DOESN'T!

Had there been gay love stories on film forever, we would be more indifferent with straight love stories.
And truth be told, I can't blame straight people for not LOVING Brokeback Mountain. WHY ... SHOULD ... THEY?

Should they vote for it just because it's groundbreaking? Well, many movies every year are groundbreaking. Taboos are broken every year in movies, and new standards are set. Just because this is the first big budget gay love movie, should that automatically make it worthy of Oscar?


Anonymous said...

One last thought: If Scorsese had won Directors Guild last year, we would have been EXACTLY where we are know. "How could critics favorite Sideways and Guild favorite The Aviator lose to a little movie like Million Dollar Baby!!!?"

Just because Clint DID win the Directors Guild (and he is CLINT, for God's sake - who is Paul Haggis!??), this Crash victory is a first.

Million Dollar Baby had ONE guild and no Globes and no critics last year. Crash had the same thing - ONE Guild (SAG) and nothing else. Is there REALLY such a difference? No, cause if Paul Haggis had directed Million Dollar Baby and made the exactly same movie, he would NOT have won Directors Guild. Clint won the guild because he was Clint, just like Ang Lee won because he was Ang.

The difference is smaller than you think...

Anonymous said...

Chofer, why CAN'T they just vote for the movie that touched them the most!??? Isn't that what "Best" is about - best is not about "oh this is probably the most important to vote for". It's about what gets to you the most - and Crash did for the Academy members. Let the critics do the "statement votes" - why can't the Academy vote for what touched them, like they did last year, when they chose "Million Dollar Baby" over "The Aviator"?

Why should the Academy be obliged to vote for something? And why are gay issues suddenly more important this year than race issues? BOTH issues needs to be confronted. And should Brokeback win an Oscar JUST for being the first of its kind?

Why can't Crash be the first movie solely about racism to win an Oscar for Best Picture? Why does it HAVE to be the first movie about a gay couple to win an Oscar for Best Picture?

Says a gay man here...

Anonymous said...

Chofer, calm down and take a deep breath because you are in danger of crossing the line from rational to irrational debate.

First of all, your argument for what makes a picture "best" is deeply flawed. Being "touched" is not the criterion by which artistic achievement is usually measured. Were it so, there'd be a whole bunch of sentimental dross winning accolades every day. (Um.... come to think of it... that does happen! But never mind.) Even if it were the sole criterion by which most folks judge such stuff, Crash still wins the Best Picture Oscar because that film did "touch" many, whether you or I like it or not. So think about this before you start shouting in unattractive capitals all over again.

It may also surprise you to know that most Best Picture winners are not seen by the majority of AAMPAS voters. Are you the last person on earth to know this? Brokeback may have attracted a little more screener-into-bin tossing than, say, Munich, but probably not much more than Crash did. Your industry-wide conspiracy theory mongering helps nothing and truthfully, it sounds like a temper tantrum thrown by an infant whose favorite toy isn't everybody's favorite toy.

Too many people have taken the time here to gently let you take your foot out of your mouth; not I, I'm afraid. Your shrillness is precisely what our community doesn't need. And while your upset may be genuine and your devotion to Brokeback Mountain admirable, your demeanor in the face of what should be a relatively insignifcant matter (the losing and winning of Oscars, or all things!) is anything but admirable.

For the record: I am a gay man who lives and works in Los Angeles. I wish I were an AAMPAS voter for were I one, I would not have votet for either Brokeback Mountain or Crash. Neither of them "touched" me in the least and I found both to be lacking in a certain intellectual vigor that, yes, I require to be entertained. Now, are you going to tell me that I'd be "wrong" to cast my vote for something other than your personal favorite?

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed this blog immensely until today with all the homophobia backlash about the loss of BBM as Best Picture ... come on... half of Hollywood is gay and I do not think there is a problem with them for voting BBM if they thought it was a great movie... it wasn't !!! If this is a totally gay blog site then I am out of here even though I have enjoyed it up until now.

Shawn said...

And that post in and of itself, Mr. Anonymous, is homophobic. It's exactly what Nathaniel is talking about.


though i feel good that there's at least this discussion going we do need to keep it calm.

anonymous. i hope you'll stay (I love all my readers) but if gay scares you. yeah. i'm gay. it's my site. you'll read gay stuff sometimes. that's just the way it is. the only reason it's all gay all gay right now is that brokeback is the subject at hand. Your probably mature enough to handle it even if it's bugging you right now and if you aren't "bye"

back to the points at hand:

the million dollar baby thing is not a good example.
we're talking about years where this is unanimity. like a schindler's list kinda year. plus mdb was as big of a hit as the aviator. plus it was not widely seen when the first precursors started (crash certainly was -it had plenty of time).

crash isn't as big as brokeback. I wonder what all this talk of how its' an audience favorite and people love it SO much comes from. Certainly fans are passionate but it was less of an audience favorite than Brokeback (by some 30 million dollars).

crash is not the first "small film" to win an Oscar.

the it's set in LA argument doesn't wash since most LA set movies have not won the Oscar when they were nominated. (look it up)

on voting for Crash
if you read both articles i wrote on this i never claimed it wasn't OK for people to vote for their favorite if it wasn't BBM. I'm saying, based on past history, this is too fishy to just let pass.

I absolutely emphatically do not believe that Crash had enough votes to win without anti-gay sentiment helping it along. If it did (again no offense to those who voted for it who genuinely believed it to be the best of the films -that's perfectly fine as i stated previously) have that broad of support you would have seen that reflected in some other way during awards season. And we can't start with the SAG argument again because nobody thought that GOSFORD PARK or SIDEWAYS was going to win the Oscar just because they won SAG. SAG has never before been a determining factor.

Rasmus I love this question:

my answer is YES. I can. That's the saddest question I've heard all day. If people don't have it them to understand the humanity of people who aren't exactly like them than we are all, gay straight bi, black, white, brown, muslim, christian whatever in BIG BIG trouble as a human race.

I can be heartbroken by any great tearjerker, no matter how far removed it is from the particulars of my life (gay, urban, 30something). I don't need movies to show ME in order to love THEM.

do you see?

If 90% need this... there is a problem.---it's simple human compassion. it's not about gay or straight. anyone should be able to respond to a story well told.

and i find it wildly depressing that fans of Crash (Crash of all things) can't see the prejudices at play here.

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous who said I was out of here because of all the homophobic talk on the BBM topic... I am gay and I still would like to get on with it .. and not have people in mourning and crying all day ,etc, because BBM did not win Best Picture.

Anonymous said...

A few random thoughts:

1) If John G. is right, and a lot of Academy members don't watch the movies they're voting for, then that explains why AMPAS historically has gone with the flow and voted for the movie the guilds and/or crits have anointed as "the best." Gee, I wonder what's different about this year's frontrunner that made them NOT vote for the movie they haven't seen?

2) I don't buy the whole argument that homophobia can't be factoring in the Academy's choice for BP if they voted BBM the director and screenplay awards. These awards are given to individuals, who all happen to be straight. The Academy doesn't seem to have a problem honoring a straight person's achievements in a gay-themed movie--Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ang Lee, William Hurt in Kiss of the SW etc. Their "bravery" is frequently lauded. But, as someone pointed out, the Academy doesn't seem quite so responsive when it comes to rewarding the gay-themed film itself, or a performance by a gay actor playing gay (McKellen, Rupert E).

3) I'm bothered by the arguments that Crash won because the Academy is more "moved" or "touched" by it than with BBM. I hope the underlying implication isn't that people aren't going to be moved by BBM unless they are gay themselves. Sadly, even some of the posts here suggest some people feel this way. I agree with Nathaniel--it's a sad, sad day if that's the case, and sort of proves the whole homophobia argument. I mean, if the epic doomed romance of Rafe Fiennes and Kristen Scott Thomas moves the academy so much, and Leo and Kate's, but they aren't moved by Heath and Jake because they're, you know, two GUYS--well, that's a problem.

4) Finally, I also agree with Nathaniel how ironic it is that many supporters of CRASH can't seem to entertain the notion that some anti-gay sentiment played a factor in BBM's loss (it's not the whole picture, but part of it). Again, I come back to Ebert's praise of CRASH for showing how racism can lurk even in the hearts of people who are liberal and don't consider themselves racist. It seems so clear to me that the same can be said about homophobia. Just because Hollywood is allegedly so "liberal" doesn't mean they can't carry some anti-gay sentiment below the surface (in the form of not being comfortable with two "straight"-type cowboys loving each other). Apparently the idea of how prejudice lurks in the hearts and minds of the best of us was one of the big "lessons" of CRASH, yet so many people can't see how it can apply to BBM and being gay and this discussion.


Anonymous said...

Wow, very well said. But you had me in tears for the third day in a row.

"It's not just a movie."

It's true. I am a twentysomething Texas girl with a degree in film who obsesses over movies and the biz (who still dreams of going to L.A. somday). The Oscar ceremony is a highlight of every year that I look forward to with so much enthusiasm. I especially love the years when I LOVE the films. I was so excited this year, encouraging everyone I know to go see Brokeback (I even bought my parents tickets to get them to go). I wanted them all to experience the film that most seemed to love (judging by the precursors, right?)

And then to have something like this happen. I cried; I did. I was shocked. I was depressed all day yesterday, my boss encouraged me go home. I stuck it out but didn't go in today (Tuesday) even though I was going for a perfect attendance year (only 1 month to go!). That's how bad I took this loss. And others might think I'm crazy for being this down but,like you so eloquently said, it's not just a movie. Not to me and, thankfully, to you and so many others.

Thanks for your site and wonderful insights. I really enjoyed your matters on all thing Oscar this season (even if it ended on such a sour note).

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the number of precursor awards won by BBM is repeatedly cited as a reason that it should have won the Best Picture Oscar. There was a similar consensus regarding Phillip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal, yet Nathaniel championed Heath Ledger's performance. If Nathaniel can disagree about Hoffman, then why can't others disagree about BBM? I am disturbed by the almost fascistic demands that everyone must love BBM, and the assumption that if you didn't love it, then you must be homophobic. I am a gay man who saw three of the five nominated films: CAPOTE, BBM, and GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK. Of the three, BBM was my least favorite. Does that make me a self-loathing homosexual victimized by internalized homophobia? A right-wing, ultra-conservative, gay-bashing, neo-Nazi? Of course not, although I'm sure some people would insist that it does. All it really means is that the stories told in the other two films touched me more than the one told in BBM.


anonymous -and all your post means is that you didn't really read the article.

one of my closest friends who attended my party and who i stayed up with me for hours afterwards during the depression zone is gay and doesn't like brokeback. this is not the point.

nobody is anything for not liking any particular movie or preferring any one particular film within a group of five (provided they've seen all of them -which is a whole other despicable thing about the academy and their rules. but that's a topic for another time).

i personally think it's lazy to never go against the grain (the Hoffman thing and up until sunday night the brokeback thing) and if the Academy did this regularly or even at.all. i would not be so hurt or suspicious. but when multiple decades of history are broken in such an obvious and visible way and the sole victim is the piece of gay art?

if you aren't suspicious you're just wilfully naive. or maybe it's just too painful for some people to address so they choose to say 'no, it's just an underdog thing. people love it.' that might hurt less. so i'm beginning to understand the response. it's just not mine.

it's a nice fantasy. but it's not a reality. I'd rather be hurt and see things clearly than pretend something that does not exist.

I've gone through so many emotions in these past 48 hours it's almost unreal. but the various outpourings of responses both private and public here and elsewhere have assured me of two things;

1. i'm not wrong about the abundance of homophobia in hollywood (or about them rarely living up to their media-created image of progressive/liberal) and elsewhere. The absolute refusal of anyone on "the other side" to consider the homophobia equation only reinforces its existence. The way people often preface stereotypical comments with: "I'm not prejudice but..." or "some of my best friends are gay/black/whatever but..." or even Simon Cowell's hilarious self-deluded "Not to be Rude but...[insert rude comment]

2. just as there's a lot of homophobia, there's a lot of love and compassion too. More than I often admit when i get angry or start miserabilizing.

I have been amazed at some of the things I've read here and elsewhere from people who either
a) get it.
b) have compassion for all the people hurting whether or not they get it
c) realize how much more a brokeback win would've meant to the world even if it wasn't their favorite of the five. if any of the five films win life goes on for everyone. if any four of the five films lose life goes on for everyone. The only win that would have truly meant something in the grander 'cultural ratification' (borrowing from jeffrey wells) scheme of things was the obvious one. The one the academy shunned.


but wow. we should really wrap up this conversation. if any good can come out of this oscar night it's that everyone is talking. the exchange of ideas is always always always a good thing. it's the only way any of us ever see anything other than what's right in front of us. (and of course that includes me)

Anonymous said...


Frank A.

Anonymous said...

And all your post means, Nathaniel dear, is that you cannot discuss this subject without resorting to name calling and condescending remarks.

Glenn Dunks said...

I kinda skipped a lot of the replies cause my computer was randomly skipping down giant chunks of writing at a time.

But, i don't know about anyone else, but personally (and I think this is how Nat feels) I think the problem is not that BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN lost Best Picture. It's that ANY movie lost in the position it was in. No movie has EVER been a position that Brokeback was and then gone on to lose. NONE. It just so happens that the film that had won the DGA, PGA, WGA, Globe, BAFTA, Venice and 33 critix + many other awards, was a movie that many MANY people extremely close to and one that we all felt was important and complex and articulate and excellent. We all felt it deserved to win, and so did all those groups (you would think) that awarded it Best Picture throughout the last few months. And we had no right to even assume that a movie that had won the WGA, SAG ensemble (by no means a great predictor), ACE and 11 critix prizes (yes, exactly ONE THIRD of the amount for Brokeback) would win. By all counts, Crash really should've been a moot point.

But then to see the film, that had won all those prizes, lose? That felt cruel. That felt nasty. That felt suspicious.

If Crash had won every prize that Brokeback did and then lose, well - people could be crying outrage. How could it? But that's the thing. It wasn't winning. It wasn't anywhere near Brokeback. On the Empire list it came in at #58!

That's the thing that's weird. That's the thing that's frustrating. It just so happens that the film that had won the DGA, PGA, WGA, BAFTA, Globe and 33 Critix prizes was Brokeback Mountain an epic American love story (since when doesn't AMPAS love those?)... the couple just happens to be men.

And I think it's stupid to not even have a lingering possibility of foul play in your mind.

I'm sure many who voted for Crash did indeed vote for it because they liked it more. But when you have people like Tony Curtis out there saying people from his generation aren't even going to WATCH the movie...? Well...

Anonymous said...

I still can't believe how some don't understand Nat's logical argument. For 77 years, it had been shown that it's mathmatically, statistically impossible for a film to have that big a dominance in precursor awards and lose, so why did it happen this year? That's the basic question, and we have to assume there are some unusual reasons because all the usual ones, such as tired of frontrunner, better campaign by the underdog, and cast's friends' influence, have always been there one time or another, and they combined had never been able to overthrow the frontrunner when the precursor awards were this dominant. It's like if Munich had gotten 86% at RT and won all those awards and ended up losing, we would have searched for a similar type of explanation too (I'd bet anything though that Munich wouldn't have lost).

Anonymous said...

If the industry is homophobic in deed, tell me this: How come it went NUTS over "Angels in America" last year and gave it more nominations and awards at the Golden Globes AND Emmys?

"Angels in America" is even more gay than Brokeback Mountain. A homophobic would be MORE offended by Angels.
Are you trying to tell me there is a HUGE difference between Emmy voters and Oscar voters in that regard???

Anonymous said...

The above user still didn't get it (btw, I'm the anonymous before that). It's not the whole Hollywood is homophobic. It's just that there is such group exists in the industry. we don't know how big, but big enough to change the outcome of best picture race. Angels in America didn't have that type of competition, and even if a similar group was determined to go against it, it wasn't nearly enough.

Again 77 years of history had shown that give any two random films without gay content, assign film A with the kind of awards and pedigree Brokeback Mountain won, and assign film B with similar awards that Crash won, then film A will win best picture Oscar every time. There is no proof that homophobia by some voters is the determining factor, but if one believes in "coincidence", well, then I don't have much else to say.

Glenn Dunks said...

Angels in America dominated the Emmys and Golden Globes. Emmys being TV and Golden Globes being tv and movies. And the Golden Globes clearly supported Brokeback as well as other films with gay themes.

It didn't award it three of the highest prizes and then skip out on it. In fact, Crash wasn't even nominated, so...


Angels in America is not about gay romance but about AIDS... which is, apparently, a much more palatable subject for straight people.

the anonymous before
about the name calling thing. sorry if i sound harsh. I just emphatically believe that the gay community (in addition to the straight community) needs to be vigilant about uncovering their own prejudices. I believe that people are naive IF they are unwilling to hear out arguments about internalized prejudices as possibilities.

I feel the same way about racism. When people start screaming "racism has nothing to do with this" i always think: 'the lady doth protest too much.'

There are SO many gay people who are apologists for straight people and homophobia in general that it sometimes feel like we'll always be fighting a losing battle. Homophobia is not OK. And as Brokeback so beautifully shows, it poisons everyone. Not just the gay people. It destroys straight people too. Can I get a raised hand : who thinks Lurene or Alma" are better off living in their homophobic Wyoming and Texas environs? Who thinks Jack Twist's parents are happy campers? Anyone? Anyone? Nah, didn't think so.

Gay people need to stop accepting homophobia from straight people. Straight people need to stop shrugging it off in themselves.

We've seen progress in regards to racism. Most people don't want to think of themselves as racist these days or be called it publicly. People don't seem to have issues at all (Tony Curtis!) displaying their negative feelings about gay and lesbian people in public forums. This has to change or civil rights will continue to crumble.

Anonymous said...

I am a straight male who loves the Oscars, has an annual party and contest and rarely agrees that their choice for Best Picture actually represents the Best Film of the Year. No exception this year, as I felt CAPOTE was the best. I saw all the nominees, even viewing CAPOTE, CRASH and BROKEBACK twice. I think BROKEBACK was hurt in the race for Best Picture because it was competing with HUGE hype, was emotionally restrained with bursts of melodrama while CRASH was more emotionally charged and hyperbolic. Here is where the Academy stayed true to form...restraint rarely wins the day at the Oscars. I also think that the SAG win for ensemble was telling for CRASH and that their were probably fewer individual nominees because of vote splitting among the cast, as frequently occurs in Altman and Anderson films, I suspect. CRASH also won WGA and I am reminded that many critics did pick CRASH as best screenplay when not splitting between original and adapted catagories. A further explanationof the CRASH victory may be that many of the technical craft members voted for other of the nominees. I think CAPOTE, MUNICH and GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK all siphoned votes more from BROKEBACK than CRASH and that the supporters for CRASH were vocal and loyal (Oprah, Ebert). Such vocal and loyal support sounds loudere when in support of an underdog than when in support of a front-runner. I don't see the academy as homophobic, but simply think a slim majority voted for CRASH rather than the other 4 nominees. Homophobia could have reasoned a victory for Howard or Phoenix in the best actor race, citing a split of the Hoffman/Ledger support, but that did not happen.

I will continue to watch the Oscars and will continue to be most surprised when the Best Film wins Best Picture in any year, regardless of subject matter. Those disappointed with the BROKEBACK loss can take heart that it will be remembered as being a deserving near-miss and that it will continue to stir more debate and interest in its loss than it may have enjoyed in it's anticipated victory. I think the message of BROKEBACK, which moviegoers and film lovers of every persuasion are getting, is the devastating personal impact encountered when individuals repress their identity in the face of ANY societal pressure or prejudice. There may truly be a fate worse than death.

Anonymous said...

Oh, poppet. I actually hated BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and I am gay as the day is long. I think that CRASH was a much better film. I felt that BBM was too drawn out. I think it was a good movie, but not a Best Picture. However, when I read your blog it really touched me. Poor guy...I wish it would have won so you didn't feel this way.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the bloc of voters impacted by racism as dissected in CRASH were stronger or larger than those championing the acceptance of the gay discussion in BROKEBACK. The Academy has struggled to overcome the perception of not honoring African-Americans in the past (Denzel and Halle)and CRASH may have seemed a great vehicle to continue to smash this perception.

Maybe the Academy is more secure in its treatment and appreciation of gays than in those of ethnic difference, thereby feeling compelled to embrace the movie dealing with race relations rather than homosexual relations.

Maybe homosexuality is no longer considered the problematic issue that racial/ethnic prejudice is among the Academy.

Maybe CRASH just struck a stonger nerve with Academy.


Anonymous said...

Chofer, sorry for confusing you with another message poster.

Nathaniel... those of us who are unwilling to wear our oppression like some kind of hair shirt grow weary of the shrill sour-grapes-- for that is what it increasingly appears to be-- of our allegedly more sensitive gay brethern. Calling other gay men "naive" for refusing to buy your arguments is as ridiculous as the argument itself (i.e., homophobia killed Brokeback's Oscar chances.)

Gay men in America, as a socio-economic force, are amongst the elite. Where have you been? We have our mitts all over most things and our ability to politically organize is awesome. If you think we don't control a huge element of the entertainment industry in this country, I would submit that you, sir, are naive.

Ultimately, Brokeback Mountain is just another movie, drawn from the same tasteful (read: DULL) bad of tricks Ang Lee's always carried around in his arsenal. I think I've asked this question before, but I will ask it again: why is it fine that Brokeback was made entirely by straight men who continually remind us they are straight? The actors have even gone so far as to state in print that their characters aren't even gay! Yet, you (or perhaps it was someone else here) complain about Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-win? Please. Give us a break.

And before you kindly accuse me of self-loathing queerdom, think again. My objection to the melodramatic, Hollywood-conspiracy theories abounding here and elsewhere on the gay internet circuit stem not from self-loathing but out of horror that this kind of knee-jerk, totally overblown response emanates from my community.


john g,
i love your code words for "sissy": shrill, sensitive, etc... funny.

I'm sorry it sounds shrill. but I'm PISSED. this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. they fucked it up.

i get that the shrillness grates on the ears of people who want everyone to just quietly move on from setbacks. I get that crying makes people look like "sissies" to people who are very concerned with how masculine they and their community appear.

but whatever. I don't think it's very tough to bend over and take it from homophobes just so we don't look like "whiners"

You know what's even more ridiculous than my argument? Your unwillingness to address that it MIGHT be true. That their MIGHT be a reason connected to a very prevalent problem that caused a 1 in 78 year anomaly of Oscar history.

Christ, even the straight Oscar scholars (like Sasha Stone at Oscarwatch) and straight media talking heads (like Stephen King) are calling it the way I'm seeing it "homophobia". If they can see it, plain as day, why can't you even consider it?

the filmmakers and actors being straight has nothing to do with it. Those powers that be in hollywood -you know the gay people who you say control good portions of everything? They don't fund mainstream gay movies with out gay actors and gay filmmakers --why is that? call me curious.

p.s. 2 wealth is not a determining factor in whether or not people are right with themselves or other people. sorry.

p.s. 3 our awesome power to mobilize politically sure has been a kick in the pants to watch this past six years hasn't it?


wow. i obviously have more anger about this than i realized because i keep talking about it.

i really thank all of you who have stuck it out even if you haven't agreed.

LEE: thanks for visiting. stick around. you have some good points about BBM's "restraint" being a non-Oscary thing. But for the best actor race the homophobia obviously doesn't apply. these are all well publicized straight men. so whether thye choose hoffman or anyone else. it doesn't really have anything to do with it (other than that they prefer the flamboyant portrayals to the subtle ones which also says something. Hanks, Hurt, and Hoffman all won for more typically queeny roles -Ledger shut out for most of the season for a more masculine one.)

ANONYMOUS BBM HATER: Hey one of my close friends doesn't much like it either and my boyfriend only thinks "good, not great" My point was never that people had to like it. Just that any movie in history with its rep/force/awards haul going into oscar night has won the award. the only time there's ever been upsets is years where there were battles going on PRIOR to Oscar night (like the clooney vs. giamatti thing for example)

ANONYMOUS MAYBE: yeah, maybe. especially the first part. AMPAS has been whipped by the media frequently about "racism" and not as frequently about "homophobia" so maybe they were just more scared of not honoring the race movie. that could've played into it, too.

Anonymous said...

I just read the Stephen King article over on, and yes, he doesn't come right out and use the H word, but he makes it pretty clear that he thinks Crash won because it was a movie with an easy "safe" lesson, which the Academy likes, and therefore they could go home feeling that "the good movie" won and "the gay movie" didn't. Seek it out. Good article. Of course, he also says we need to move on, but here I still am...

John G: the reason no one has much commented on your remark about BBM being made by straight actors who constantly remind people they are straight is because it's basically irrelevant to the discussion. That doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the movie or what was/wasn't going on with the Academy when they bypassed it for BP. Yes, Heath and Jake have gone on talk shows and seemed a little nervous at times and wanted to send out strong signals that they aren't gay. A couple times I've even been uncomfortable by their obvious discomfort. But if anything, that seems to support the argument that Hollywood DOES have more than a little squeamishness swirling around the gay topic. Otherwise, why would actors constantly feel they have to "report" their heterosexuality etc?

Again, I think it all comes down to the type of gay life depicted in BBM. Hollywood seems to prefer movies that depict gay men dying (sorry for the harsh wording, but...), or gay men as cartoons or wacky-funny or "feminine." We can laugh at them then, or even feel bad for them in a kind of distant way. But BBM treads into the "masculine" area. These guys have wives, manly jobs. They ride horses, and well! They can shoot a gun and even have good aim (well, okay, Ennis did)! They're cultural icons (cowboys, even if they're really sheepherders). For some straight men in particular, I think that's the part that makes them uncomfortable. The movie starts moving into that "masculine" area, and damnit, the gay boys are supposed to be girly!

Nathaniel--I'm one of those people who is relatively new to your site since Black Sunday. I promise I will start looking at other things on the site as well.


Larry James Gianakos said...

I wish to commend Nathaniel R on his superbly composed and obviously profoundly felt eulogy for the grandly missed opportunity of AMPAS last Sunday night. I have posted the following, first on Sasha Stone's OSCAR WATCH, as my own observation and summation regarding whither the Academy goes from here:

First and foremost, I want to commend Sasha and all that work on behalf of OSCAR WATCH for its ceaseless assimilation of facts and commentaries regarding the annual AMPAS awards. And I want to commend all who post comments and argue passionately about their choices in fine cinema, an artistic medium which is quite personal, even if witnessed collectively.
But something much more lethal occurred in last night's Oscar telecast. For in conferring to CRASH the best picture, AMPAS denied their imprimatur to BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. The action itself, in which the most awarded motion picture of its year has not gone on to acquire an Oscar as best picture as well is without precedent in this regard: in all other circumstances, from "Shakespeare in Love" to "Chariots of Fire" to "Rocky" to even the unusually substandard "The Greatest Show on Earth," each film awarded Oscar's best also had other honors, in years in which accolades were divided. This time, the only award actually titled "best picture" conferred to the AMPAS winner was by the Chicago Film Critics, whose vociferous and esteemed veteran member Roger Ebert played a key role in a lethal subterfuge. Remember that the SAG award is to recognize an ensemble, and is not properly meaning a best picture. Remember also that such SAG ensemble awards have only a fifty- percent probability as presaging Oscar best picture wins. Thus, a gay themed film such as "The Birdcage," can be rendered the best ensemble, but it in no way suggests that it was the finest of its year. Thus, the conveying of best picture to CRASH, a film long ago on home video, and without much prospect in furthering a theatrical gross (and running contrary to the Academy's relentless insistence that one should witness a film theatrically), over BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, certainly one of the most awarded motion pictures ever, has a far greater significance.
Something more was amiss, and some grander mischief was afoot. If BROKEBACK had been conferred the high honor, it would have meant AMPAS imprimatur, and an entirely new way of depicting gay characters on screen. No longer stereotypical or palatable (such as Jack and Will on NBC's "Will & Grace") and no longer fey image acceptable (Truman Capote, in life, yet on video, and in Phillip Seymour Hoffman's interpretation), but rather in now that most majestic and indelible of American iconographies--the Western Cowboy. But this meant having to accept a whole new way of seeing, and that meant transcending both color and type. And it meant that both within and without AMPAS, prejudices would have to be pierced at last. This also meant that all ethnic and racial types would have to reexamine their thinking of gay men and women. And it even meant that even some gay men and women would have to reexamine their way of thinking. In other words, one can actually be gay and think as a homophobe, just as one can be African-American and think as a racist, or one can be Jewish and think as an anti-Semite. It is easier to accept the norm, rather than challenge it. That is why I am not surprised that many gay-friendly or gay themselves Hollywood insiders were turned off by BROKEBACK. It challenges their prejudices as well.
To have awarded BROKEBACK the AMPAS top prize would have meant not merely its imprimatur, but reprisals from both within and without the Industry. But it would have been the Industry's finest honor as well--a courageous move, as even the traditional USA TODAY earlier commented; a milestone far beyond the MIDNIGHT COWBOY win in 1969.
Instead, as several have posted, the Academy went the safest route: three awards each for BROKEBACK and CRASH, with CRASH cementing the highest accolade. It was the only way out, at least in the eyes of AMPAS potentates, to deal with BROKEBACK's astounding critical and box office success, while pacifying the comfortably situated, and waylaying the fears of homophobes both within and without the Industry. And so began the subterfuge, never subtle, so that pundits had long earlier revealed the CRASH "upset" win. This was no upset; the film editing nomination snub; the bowdlerizing of the SAG ensemble win, and the pontificating of Mr. Ebert and his Chicago company, with the grace of Oprah Winfrey, made CRASH the only possible winner.
Except that, the morning after, all is not right with the world once more. And those enraged, as the Academy potentates had predicted, will not ultimately accept. For what gave AMPAS its own imprimatur were those scores of left-leaning progressive types, and those legions of gay men and women who have long toiled in the performing arts. It is THEIR imprimatur for AMPAS which is now gone. And that is why the seventy-eight year old affair is over. AMPAS is now simply irrelevant.
Posted by: Larry at March 6, 2006 10:34 AM

Anonymous said...

As Nathaniel and many others say (aside from it-won-all-the-precursers-so-how-could-it-lose discussion) that they are pissed because this was a "once in a lifetime opportunity". Yes, Brokeback Mountain is groundbreaking. Does that mean that it should have won? Of course, us gay people would/could have a special personal need to see that happen.

But let me say this: Should that mean that the first film to have a black person as its lead character should have won for being groundbreaking, breaking taboos and prejudice? Should the black actor have won? Should the first film about a transsexual have won? Should the first film about a child molested indivial have won?

Every decade MANY taboos as well as sexual and political minorities have their say in movies. Just to be the first movie to do so does not mean you should get the Oscar.

Again, as I have stated before (and people here don't seem to have read that I wrote it), yes, homophobia was A part of it. Some people did not want to see Brokeback. Some saw it and were probably offended. Is that to say that no one was offended by Crash? Are there NO racists in the Academy? Are there NO antisemitic people in the Academy? Some people hated crash and hate black people and didn't vote for it (the industry have shied away from spending big money on black movies and only gave a Best Actress Oscar to a black woman a couple of years ago). Some people are against George Clooney's politics and didn't vote for it. Some people are against gay people and didn't vote for Brokeback OR Capote. Some people say Spielberg betrayed Jews in Munich - some say he did the opposite. Some did not vote for it for either argument. Some people are just too racist and against Scientology and did not vote for Crash.

Crash was "this year's best movie" when it arrived back in the summer. Then many of "this year's best movie" arrived in november and december. Crash should have been forgotten. It wasn't. The Globes thought it were - and the jury is not American, so they didn't bother that much since Crash was SO American for them. But it survived. And yes, people did not vote for it, because they thought that voting for it would be a lost cause. But when the Oscar nominations were announced, Crash WAS the big story. It HAD survived, againt all odds. It was SO small and it was SO old - its survival was amazing, defying all odds for Oscar. When did such a small movie last almost a YEAR after its release? How many times have it happened? Yes, it was a cheap production wise, so it would never have gotten the Producers Guild. Directors Guild would never have given its award to such an unknown director for such a small film. The Globes were so star-oriented in its nominees (Woody Allen, David Cronenberg and all the others who didn't get ANY mentions from other Guilds and award shows) that Crash was too small for them.
Actors love Crash because the acting WAS the best ensemble of the year - and when Crash lasted against all the critics that had gone Brokeback because it was so good, so groundbreaking and such a good statement to go for, and against all the Guilds, how could it not become the sentimental favorite, come Oscar time.

Would Producers Guild have gone to SUCH a small movie? No, cause that would mean that the best PRODUCED film of the year was one of the CHEAPEST star vehicles? No... Directors Guild don't award small arthouse pictures or unknown directors.

Is it really SUCH a surprise that when Crash DID get the nomination and DID become the survivor of the year and the sentimental underdog favorite that it could actually pull it off WITHOUT it being all about homophobia?

Think about it. WHICH Guild could it REALLY have won? Look at the winners of the Guild the last couple of years - they always go big or for legendary people. Crash is neither.

Many critics decided to make a statement by saying Brokeback was the best. The Academy made a statement by saying Crash was the best. Who are we to say if its more important to vote for the first big gay love starring straight people and made by straight people or if its more important to say it does not HAVE to be big and expensive to be great, and yes, by embracing this film, we are FINALLY over racism in this country - or at least confronting that the problem were and/or IS one of the biggest problems in our country.

Why was King Kong or Harry Potter not nominated? The critics liked it as much as the films that DID get nominated.

Had King Kong made 400 million at the box office, it WOULD have been
nominated. But it did not, it was a financial failure and Peter Jackson just won it all two years ago. Harry Potter was #4 in a children's series, so go figure. A History of Violence was small in the way EVERYONE liked small this year, but it was NOT political and NOT biographical, so bye-bye. What about all the independent movies that got some of the best reviews of the year? They either did not make a lot of money of did not have big enough stars in them or did not say something about the state of the U.S. or politics in general. Crash did ALL of that. It made a lot of money for such a small film, it was loaded with stars and was SO political.
Why was it wrong to decide: Yes, it's politcal, it's star-studded, it's the survival story of the year, it's important (whether you think it's well-made or not) and it makes its audience talk for HOURS afterwards.

Is it REALLY all about homophobia - or, when you think of it, was the Academy just trying to say what the Guilds, Globes and many critics were 'afraid' of: It's okay to be small if you're this powerful and this strong a film and survivor - which many people DID and DO think.

People did not vote for a CRAPPY movie just to get out of the homo film.
This year HAS been all about being small, independent and the end of blockbusters. Why can't the Academy embrace that? Do they HAVE to vote for the obvious, just because the guilds and the Globes did not want to bother with such a small movie by such an unknown artist?

Think about it, please. I am NOT homophobic, and I am NOT blind that some of the Academy members must be. But ALL films this year were political. A lot of Academy members had one or MORE of films they were against. But actor (the majority of the Academy) ARE not more homophobic than Guild producers, Guild writers, Guild directors and critics. They simply cannot be. They are the ONE community in the world that KNOWS more gay people, work with more gay people and ARE more gay than any other profession community in the world. If anyone would be FOR a gay movie, actors would be. Especially since they can vote anonymously without people getting to KNOW that they voted or it.

So don't make it to a bigger conspiracy than it is.

Last year The Aviator was destined to win. Until Clint Eastwood won the Directors guild. Ang Lee won this year AND won the Oscar. Just like Eastwood did last year.
Paul Haggis could never have won the Guild - he is too unknown, his movie is too small, and it was not as daring a move than for a straight director to make gay movie.

But awards should not be about daring. It should be about the best. HAD Haggis won the Directors Guild, EVERYONE would said that Crash would win the Oscar. But Haggis just did not win the Guild. Should this ONE defeat make EVERYONE think that Crash could only have won because of homophobia? Really?

Again, I am gay, and I don't "refuse to believe" the fact that homophobia played a part. Of course it did. But really, how big? Everyone was FOR Munich, Crash, Capote and Good Night - but AGAINST Brokeback? Did they vote Ang Lee as their first choice and the film itself as their fifth?

Don't make the homophobia bigger than it probably was. If critics, producers, directors and writers all get behind a gay movie, actors aren't gonna be the ones to turn their back on it.

I am not trying to critize everyone, but is there not ONE person in here who thinks that the "homophobia conspiracy" is being taken just a little bit too seriously?

Anonymous said...

Lemme put this in perspective for you. I've gotten some of these factoids from other message boards, and researched some of it myself. Ready to get your mind blown?:

1. Crash is the first Best Picture winner in 24 years to not win a Best Director or Best Acting award.

The previous winner was Chariots of Fire, and it won the Golden Globe (for foreign film), the BAFTA, the NBR (in a tie), and even an acting award at Cannes. Crash won none of these things.

2. Crash is the first Best Picture winner in 25 years to win with less than 7 nods.

The previous winner was Ordinary People. Which, along with a Screenplay award, also won Best Director and Supporting Actor. It also won a DGA, the NBR, the NYFCC, and five Golden Globe awards including Best Picture. Crash won none of these things.

3. Crash is the first Best Picture winner in twenty-nine years to win only three awards.

The previous film, Rocky, won Best Director instead of Best Screenplay. However, Rocky was nominated for eleven awards. It also won the DGA, the Golden Globe, and the LAFCA (in a tie). Crash won none of these things.

4. Crash is the first Best Picture winner in thirty-two years that failed to receive a Golden Globe Best Picture nomination.

The previous winner to do this was The Sting. But it went on to garner ten Oscar nominations and win seven. It also won a DGA award, the NBR and even the People's Choice award. Crash won none of these things.

Crash received six nominations, won only three with no director or acting award, no Golden Globe Best Film nomination, no BAFTA, DGA, PGA, BFCA, NYFCC, NBR, LAFCA Best Film awards... no Best Film awards of ANY kind except for Ebert's Chicago and an Image award.

What a success story.

And people still think there was no ulterior motive in Crash's Best Picture win? :rolls eyes:

Anonymous said...

"The homophobia conspiracy" is not, ofcourse, a conspiracy but its still is a fact. These closet cases in the actor's guild are the biggest homophobes of all. This justifies their closet - everyone needs a little affirmation sometimes even if its for ones own sorry choices.

Anonymous said...

I think the movie would be more important if one of the 2 leads was gay.

Anonymous said...

Yes only gays should play gays because its not part of the universal human experience. To bad anne and ang and heath and jake didn't realize that.

Glenn Dunks said...

What it all boils down to is that for some obscure reason the Academy decided --for the first time in 78 years-- to reward a movie released in May with good but not great reviews and that only made $55mil, instead of the movie that won the DGA, PGA, WGA, BAFTA, Globe, Venice and 33 Critix awards including about 16 Best Pictures.

And when you consider the movie that Crash beat was the first gay romance movie (remember, AMPAS loves romance!) to be nominated... well, THAT is why so many are upset and frustrated and calling foul play.

Anonymous said...

To Josh!

Glad that I am not alone out here in my theory. Thank you.



anonymous with all the statistics. I love it.
thank you for sharing. this is what i'm always trying to get at when people suggest that it was totally normal for Crash to come from behind and win.

I submit that had ANY OTHER FILM nominated been the frontrunner with all of Brokeback's awards, box office, and pedigree, they woulda done what they've done for 77 years prior, they woulda crowned the general consensus.

and on the "conspiracy" front -it's not a 'conspiracy' it's not like they all sat around planning it. it's just that homophobia was the key motivating reason to break 78 years of traditions. All other reasons, as documented, have occurred in virtually every other oscar race and this has never happened.

and, again, for people who keep saying actors are not homophobic. WAKE UP. Of the professional gay men that I've met in my life they are quite often...

a) the most likely to be in the closet (homophobia)
b) the most likely to be apolitical when it comes to gay issues (homophobia)
c) the most likely to refuse to be publicly "out" even when they realize that everyone knows (i.e. nathan lane until a few years ago. sean p hayes still). (homophobia)

actors can't be homophobic?
come on guys. please wake up...

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Nathaniel, for articulating so eloquently my own anger, hurt, and disappointment. BROKEBACK is the film that will live on, CRASH is already forgotten. This was homophobia for sure, I've loved the Oscars all my life, now with this betrayal , I've learned "how to quit you, Oscar"! ( And I do mean it.) doug

Anonymous said...

Nathianiel, of course some gay actors are afraid to be "outed". But when they can vote anonymously...? What would they be afraid of?

Anonymous said...

See this Movie review over on MSN for a movie coming out this next weekend? (interesting back story by the by) But what caught my eye is the quote at the end of a long article. People this sh#@ has legs:

“Ask the Dust” will play a short while before disappearing to DVD (maybe there’s even a Director’s Cut version in its future) but if you’re in need of a beautiful story and you’re still in a state of shock that a cliché piece of L.A. trash like “Crash” can win a best movie Oscar than see this movie; it’s a real L.A. story, one that is dirty and dusty with characters that yearn for redemption."

And Rasmus, if you would bother to read the posts, its not about being outed its the internalized homophobia of the closet and an industry that promotes it, which causes such a rediculous outcome in the Oscar vote

adam k. said...

Um, I think what the person meant with the "it would be more important if one of the two leads was gay" comment is that it would be more important if one of the two lead ACTORS was gay... a la McKellen in Gods and Monsters.

And while I agree that that would've been interesting, and a whole new level of acceptance and bravery exists for a straight actor willing to do gay love scenes, etc. with a gay actor, that takes nothing away from what WAS great about the film and Heath and Jake's performances.

But perhaps it would've been "more important" in a way if one of the actors were gay. Interesting point. I don't disagree.