Sunday, March 05, 2006

Crash and Burn

by Brian
So Crash ends up the big winner, providing yet another year with an inferior winner. It's like Gladiator all over again.

I thought Crash was easily - and I mean, far and away - the least worthy of the award of the five movies that were nominated. I wrote about a few reservations I had about it back at the old place, and reading those comments now, I see that I was overly kind. It has not aged well for me. At all.

On the other hand, a hearty "Congratulations" to Rachel Weisz for her Supporting Actress win. I've made no secret of my disappointment that The Constant Gardener didn't find more Oscar success (Ralph Fiennes's snub in particular), and Weisz well deserved her win in a very strong field.

Also, I thought Jon Stewart did just fine. Very well, in fact.

That is all.


Blogger Professor Wagstaff said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/06/2006 01:21:00 AM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

I'm already tired of the media of the biggest upsets in Oscar history. PLEASE! THIS is why I can't stand it. If it's so obvious, then why vote? Why have the show? Are there really polls among voters?
I mean, it's not like tracking a nationwide election...there are a finite number of academy voters. If gallup or zogby or whoever is polling those members and getting a statistical sampling then...fine. If not, then there is not a sure-fire way to tell. It aggravates me to no end and I just can't express it in the comments.

Having said that, a friend called me at 5:05 (pacific) and asked me to record the oscars. I really had no intention of watching at all but got sucked in so I could record the thing in HD for this guy. BOO to you Foster! I am tainted! But John Stewart was pretty swell. And I did laugh at the Ben Stiller was good.

3/06/2006 01:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Colin said...

Stewart was good, but not great, basically on the same level as Steve Martin, which is on a tier above all of the other hosts.

I'm fine with Weisz winning, but I still had her as third best behind Adams and Williams.

And this year felt a lot like the year that "The Pianist" gained a lot of late momentum and almost 'upset' "Chicago." Unfortunately, it didn't quite make it while "Crash" did. Another black eye for the Academy. It's probably a bit unfair of a statement, but the basically proved themselves to be both racists and homophobes last night.

3/06/2006 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Professor Wagstaff said...

Just watched a large chunk of the Oscars now (it's delayed several hours in Australia). My short observations of watching it for the first time in several years:

- Didn't like the gay cowboy montage at the start. Cheap laughs and isn't this the sort of thing 'Brokeback Mountain' was fighting against?

- Tom Hanks's can't do comedy anymore

- The Ferrell/Carrell thing was a good comic idea, although undone somewhat by the two of them referring to it. They should've done it straight and let the visuals do the job

- In the montage to the politically gutsy and groundbreaking films, what the hell was '9 to 5' doing there?

- It was strange how most of the speeches given by the awards receipients in the 'minor' categories were either obnoxious or corny. What the hell was that with bringing those penguins on stage?

- Maybe it's because I've forgotten as I haven't watched it for a few years, but I was amazed how many of the presenters had trouble saying their lines without glitches. Overall it did seem a more technically inept production then usual.

- What was striking was how spooked the Hollywood establishment is by the box office slump last year and how they put forward the case of the importance of seeing movies on the big screen.

- Agree with Colin's assessment on Jon Stewart

3/06/2006 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

Black eye? Racist and homophobes? Was it because they awarded best song to 36 Mafia singing about life as a pimp? Or because they gave the acting award to someone playing an openly gay man? Or because they gave the directing award to the helmer of Brokeback?
Or are you hanging that statement ONLY on the fact that Brokeback did not win best pic?

And as far as predictors go, isn't winning best director a more-often-than-not sure sign that his/her movie won't win best pic?

3/06/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Colin said...

Well, as I said, it was a bit unfair of a statement, but...


An acting award to Hoffman playing a gay writer. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Just look at nominee William Hurt, who won before for "Kiss of a Spider Woman." And, of course, "Capote" was not about his sexuality in any significant way.

Not awarding "Brokeback" best picture is not the issue. It's, as been reported in many places, older male Academy members refusing to see/screen it. And why? Because it's a Western. Because it's explicit in putting their sexuality out there.


Awarding Best Song to a black hip hop group in no way proves to me that the Academy isn't racist. And as many have reported, "Crash" was essentially comfort food for the Academy. It told them that it was okay to be racist because, hey, everyone's racist. Again, I'm not sure how fair this is, but to a large degree, I think it's true.

3/06/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Again, I'm not sure how fair this is, but to a large degree, I think it's true.

Well, now. The truth is always fair.

But I think you're pretty far out on a limb, frankly. It's one thing to argue that Crash "told them that it was okay to be racist because, hey, everyone's racist," but it's another thing entirely to posit that as fact. I think that's where you're making the leap from "truth" to "theory".

It's pretty hard to psychoanalyze people from a distance, and even harder when you don't really know the reasons why people voted for "Crash" anyway. It could very well be that a lot of people genuinely thought it was more moving, for all the right reasons, than Brokeback. If that's the case, you and I would never know the difference.

After all, no one says that Academy voters are anti-Semites because they voted for Chicago instead of The Pianist. Sometimes their taste ... well, just kinda sucks. And despite my gripes about Crash winning, even I can concede that it's in no way as egregious as Chicago's win.

3/06/2006 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Colin said...

Just to clarify, what I'm referring to as "true" is the way people are perceiving the way that the Academy acted, not the way they actually acted. And when I say that I don't know if it's fair, I'm saying basically what you said -- who knows what they were thinking?

That said, with my review of everything that has been written about what transpited, etc., I think there's a pretty argument there that the actual merit of the movies went a bit by the wayside.

3/06/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

I just don't buy the racist (Crash = Comfort Food) or homophobe (brokeback kills the marlboro man stereotype) arguments.
While they may vote to right previous wrongs (giving an oscar to someone long overdue) I don't think the Academy votes one way or another to destroy or build up any one stereotype. A vote for Halle Berry and Jamie Foxx does not end racism just as a vote for Crash does not condone it.
A non-win for Brokeback does not propogate homophobia just as a win for The Crying Game does not end it....

3/06/2006 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Colin said...

I understand that just based on results, there's no significant proof of homphobia. But you don't think that the various reports about people refusing to see/screen "Brokeback" b/c of its content is evidence of that?

3/06/2006 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

I'm not entirely familiar with the reports you're referring to, but it seems like it would have to be a lot of people refusing to see it in order to show widespread homophobia. Those who did refuse to see it should be off the voting list or at least have their votes discounted. If it was part of my job to see all the nominated films and make an informed decision before voting, and I didn't, I think I would not be doing my job.
Link the reports and I'll read them and let you know.

3/06/2006 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Colin said...

That’s because I felt this year’s dirty little Oscar secret was the anecdotal evidence pouring in to me about hetero members of the Academy of Motions Picture Arts and Sciences being unwilling to screen Brokeback Mountain.

Wells has been reporting on this a bunch as well if you look through some of his columns and blog posts. I've seen some similar reports, which I might look up later and link.

3/06/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger jaydro said...

People always gripe about the Oscars. That's part of what makes it entertaining. If the "right" movie doesn't win, there's always something wrong with the Academy, with the usual saw being that they're too old. One would think that the people who are too old now are the ones who voted for Midnight Cowboy. Frankly, I think there are plenty of Academy members who don't take it all that seriously, who never see all or even any of the nominated films, and either vote based on the usual popularity contest or just give the ballots to their grandkids to fill out. So go figure.

As to the punditry and predictions of Oscar wins--hey, it's all just part of the fun. The Academy isn't all that big, anyway (though still a couple of orders of magnitude larger than the Golden Globes' Hollywood Foreign Press Association), so people in the know like to think they can get a read on how it's going to go down. And often as not they are just as much wrong as right. So what? It gives them something to write about.

3/06/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I don't think it's about racism or homophobia or anything else. The academy just doesn't get subtlety or realism, that's why Brokeback didn't win. If the academy was homophobic, all this year's gay themed movies would never have been nominated in the first place.

I don't beleive the stuff about older academy votes not watching BBM due to innate homophobia, I think an entertainment jounalist just needed something to write about and made it up after reading that Larry David article.

They liked Crash because it has important things to say and it screams these things at the top of its lungs to make sure you get it. There is not a hint of subtlety or nuance in the entire movie, and that is why it won.

Crash wasn't saying that Racism is okay. Here is what I got from it: "Racism is in all of us, at least a little, it is part of human culture. You have to actively recognize and subdue your racist tendencies or they will get you into a lot of trouble." I agree with this message and believe that it is good that Crash got it out there and made people talk about these issues. Sure there were many movies that were better than Crash that were released this year, but the best of the best never win and are hardly ever even nominated.

3/06/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Colin said...

Well, the people around here (in New York) have gotten more pissed off as the day goes on. I can see some validity to their criticisms and I can see some validity to what you guys are saying. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. It will be interesting to look at these movies in a few years and see how we react then.

3/06/2006 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Rushed to the bus this morning and spent most of the day in the library, trying to remember if there was something I should be remembering.

Then I saw an article saying 'Oscar dresses!' Ah, no, there wasn't.

The only thing I can add is that it I wouldn't call it a 'Gladiator-like upset' when a $5 million independent film, with an excellent cast, on inherent cultural racism taking place in the LA suburbs, wins Best Picture over a gay cowboy movie.

I also like Brokeback more than Crash, but I also like A History of Violence more than both of them. I think all wins were well deserved.

3/06/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

It looks like things move pretty fast here and if people start deciding to post more often, these comments will get left behind, so this will be my last comment on this topic so people don't have to keep scrolling down to find new replies.

Let me say that I did read the Nikki Finke blog and a few of her links to her own articles. I'm not completely sure who she is, though I can gather she's a reporter for LA Weekly and I have heard Wells mention her before, but her journalism seems sensational at best. Why was all anecdotal evidence coming her way? And has anyone researched the definitions and fallacies of anecdotal evidence?
Her conclusions seem drawn from an idealogy steeped in anti-conservative bias. I don't sense an iota of objectivity there.

I think it gives creedence to what jaydro said: "It gives them something to write about"

3/06/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Sherry said...

"I don't think it's about racism or homophobia or anything else. The academy just doesn't get subtlety or realism, that's why Brokeback didn't win. "

You know, I'm glad that Brokeback didn't win. Not so much because of homophobia or anything like that...but because I honestly don't think it was anything exceptionally good.

3/06/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger Professor Wagstaff said...

The box-office performance of 'Crash' when it was released in Australia last year was interesting.

Despite good reviews and a 'name' cast it just didn't capture the attention of the public as it only gathered $2 million (Australian). To illustrate how low that it was, it was the 94th most popular film in Australia last year, behind such films as 'Alfie, 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' and 'Raise Your Voice'.

My question is (not having seen the film myself): is this a film that will really only resonate to LA residents, and to a lesser extent American residents? A film that those outside America aren't going to appreciate as much?

3/07/2006 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

It's like something fucking happens to the film itself when it wins Best Picture. No longer judged on its own terms it now has to be judged in the pantheon of the Best films of all time.

Crash was a great little film that could. Was it the best film of the year? No. Sure as shit no. But I'm in the end happy it won.

When Shakespeare in Love won over presumptive winner Saving Private Ryan - the same shocked outcries of the Academy being overturned by a barraging marketing campaign and predicitions of the winning film being forgotten in ten years time. I'm glad now that Shakespeare won, cause in comparison to Ryan it's the superior film. Ryan has an amazing opening but loses it after that. Shakespeare is still wonderful and inventive throughout.

About the Academy caving into political pressure/prejudice - please. Considering the barrage they're receiving now over Crash it's more like they went against it. A whole armada of journalists saying 'Brokeback must win' and they give it to Crash. Fuckin' A.

I said this before, but there is no film this year where regular folks have come out as surprised over being moved as they did. I have friends from all over talking about how much this film got to them. I'm the only one talking about Brokeback. Homophobia? No, no one cares, just a matter of preference. A slow, romantic outback drama, or a preachy criss-crossing urban drama?

And the accusations of the Academy being dominated by 'old-fogeys'. Yes, so? People are coming at this the wrong way. The Academy being dominated by people over fifty means just that. Only that. And this is the choice they made. I really don't know how to make this clearer. I shrug my shoulders and shake my head in wonder. The Academy is dominated by old people. Yes?

3/07/2006 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Wells recently said that he lived in West Hollywood and could feel the lack of joy in the air. I think he was imagining things. I belong to a gay guild in World of Warcraft (gay nerds exist, beware!), and there hasn't been a single post on the issue. I just made one, to gather reactions from the gay community. Most of the people in my guild live in SF and West Hollywood, so hopefully I'll get enough responses to write something about it tomorrow.

I was playing the game during the academy awards (my second Molten Core run warranted catching the oscars on DVR) and the reactions were lukewarm there as well. One guy even got pissed that Brokeback won best score for 15 minutes of guitar noodling, another went off on how much he hated Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Not a single "OMG Brokebock lost, Crash suxx0rz!!" was heard.

Many gays I know were sour about the fact that so many people said Brokback "wasn't really a gay movie," and that straight actors were getting so much acclaim for "bravely" playing gay characters. You want brave, look at Ian McKellen or John Waters. Actors are paid to pretend to be other people. There is nothing brave in playing a gay character, the bravery comes in openly living a gay life despite the dangers and limitations it places upon you.

3/07/2006 02:56:00 PM  

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