Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Yikes! Bitter much?

by Chris
The people connected with Brokeback Mountain, including me, hoped that, having been nominated for eight Academy awards, it would get Best Picture as it had at the funny, lively Independent Spirit awards the day before. (If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices.) We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture. Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good. And rumour has it that Lions Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash - excuse me - Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline. Next year we can look to the awards for controversial themes on the punishment of adulterers with a branding iron in the shape of the letter A, runaway slaves, and the debate over free silver. - Annie Proulx

Despite the sore loserish feel, this is still a good article and very much worth reading. Annie Proulx is an excellent writer and the main reason that Brokeback was as good as it was, and it shows in this scathing critique of the Academy.

I still stand by my belief that homophobia played a miniscule part in Brokeback's loss compared to the biggest factor: The Academy's disdain of realism and subtlety in film. They only like movies that are loud, showy, and transparent.


Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I think calling Crash, "Trash" is unfortunate, and leads to this being dismissed as sour grapes. But her thoughts on just who votes for these things seem on target.

3/15/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, I thought Crash was a bit overrated but it was hardly trash.

3/15/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger LesterG said...

I sympathize with Proulx's frustration, but this article really doesn't do her any favors.

The funny thing is that I actually feel sorry for Paul Haggis now.

Despite the fact that I don't believe "Crash" to be worthy - Haggis' victory should not be tarnished by attacks from his fellow nominees. It's unprofessional and reeks of sour grapes.

Wait a few years for the dust to settle before venting. Silence is the only classy move right now.

3/15/2006 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

I thought that "Crash" was pretty good, but as with "Million Dollar Baby," Haggins just took things too far over the top. Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon" was somewhat guilty of that as well, but I feel it was a much better film handling similar themes, although I guess that one's been all but forgotten by now.

3/15/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

Excellent comparison, Colin, Grand Canyon and Crash are very similar, but Grand Canyon got little love (I think it got a screenplay nomination, but nothing else).

3/15/2006 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger LesterG said...

Excluding "The Big Chill", Kasdan never gets the love.

3/15/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Kasdan will always have my heart for Silverado.

3/15/2006 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I loved Mumford and The Accidental Tourist, I need to check out more Kasdan.

3/15/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

My thoughts on Kasdan as a director:

“Body Heat” is a superb souther fried noir, with Kathleen Turner making every bit as good as a femme fatale as she did in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

“The Big Chill” is kind of like a yuppie-fied version of John Sayles “The Return of the Secaucaus 7." It’s a fun movie, but too watered down to be of much consequence.

“Silverado” is maybe the most fun Western I’ve ever seen, even more so than “Tombstone.” Both Kasdan and the cast seem to be having a great time.

“The Accidental Tourist” is a pretty somber affair, but of course that’s kind of the point, and Geena Davis’ character gives it just enough life to keep you from getting too depressed. Come to think of it, this is likely Davis’ best performance ever, and she deserved her Oscar.

I haven’t seen “I Love You to Death”

As noted, “Grand Canyon” is like a better version of “Crash.” I’d really like to check it out again after having seen Haggis’ film.

“Wyatt Earp” was a big disappointment after “Silverado.” It just really didn’t have much going for it.

I haven’t seen “French Kiss.”

“Mumford” was one of 1999's great little surprises. It’s a really nice, understated comedy with a cool cast that’s gone on to do a lot of great work. It would be difficult for me to say that Jason Lee has done his best work outside of a Kevin Smith film, but that might just be the case here. Also, as always, Hope Davis is pitch perfect.

“Dreamcatcher” ranks up there with the worst Stephen King adaptations ever. I’m not sure what Kasdan and William Goldman were thinking.

I see that Kasdan is set to direct “The Risk Pool” based on the Richard Russo (“Nobody’s Fool,” “Empire Falls”) book this year. I think that this will work out well because their laidback styles should dovetail. Tom Hanks is attached as the lead, which I’m not so sure about.

3/15/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I would give Tombstone the nod over Silverado--the latter seems too much on the verge of being a total mess plot-wise. You'd think there would be plenty of cut scenes that could have shown up on DVD, but nope. But Silverado is one of my favorites.

Wyatt Earp was a huge disappointment, coming as it did on the heels of the famously troubled, and presumably lesser film, Tombstone.

I had somehow ignored that Kasdan did French Kiss. Maybe I'll check that out sometime when it turns up yet again on Fox Movie Channel.

3/15/2006 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger LesterG said...

"French Kiss" wasn't bad at all.
I think the only reason Kasdan made the picture was because he was looking for an easy slam dunk post-Wyatt Earp. He delivered a typical, SAFE Meg Ryan romantic comedy - nothing more, nothing less. It's certainly enjoyable for what it is.

The film's main problem is the casting of Kevin Kline. Despite the fact that I didn't buy him as a Frenchman, he just didn't have the chemistry with Ryan. Jean Reno (who is also in the picture) or Ryan's "Addicted to Love" co-star Tcheky Karyo would have been far better choices in my mind.

3/15/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Sherry said...

Ah, Mumford. Nice little movie.

I have liked what Proulx I had read, but I think's she's just a little out of her element. Good writer, but maybe the voters just thought Crash was superior to Brokeback.

I know I do.

3/15/2006 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

Josh Olson, screenwriter of A History of Violence, responds to Proulx's rant by writing a letter to the Guardian:

As an Oscar nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay (I wrote A History of Violence), I read Annie Proulx's rant on Saturday with a great deal of surprise and bemusement ("Blood on the red carpet", March 11). Speaking for myself, it was a thrill to be nominated, and even though my film was better reviewed than hers, it never once occurred to me to lash out at my fellow nominees over the fact that I lost, let alone at the entire audience, and other nominees in other categories.

I guess it was somewhat easier on me, because I lost to a movie I respected - Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry's script for Brokeback was brilliant, I thought, and it was an honour to be in their company, as well as Dan Futterman's, Jeffrey Caine's, and Eric Roth and Tony Kushner's. It never once occurred to me either that the Oscars were some kind of final arbiter on anything. They're famous for getting it wrong as often as they get it right. The Greatest Show On Earth, anyone? Around the World in 80 Days? Oliver? Chicago?
If Proulx had won, she might have realised that Three 6 Mafia were the highlight of the show. And did I mention that my movie got better reviews than hers?

3/20/2006 01:34:00 PM  

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