Ladies and Gentlemen, the Best Picture of 2005 . . . Brokeback Mountain.
I finally watched Crash (the actual winner) last night. Instead of moved, I felt manipulated. Could it have been any more treacly and self-reverent?
ZOMG, that is so totally LA! You mean, like, people's lives are all connected and shit? In a city? No. Way. That could totally only happen there . . . NOT. Replace the Persians with Poles and the Koreans with Irish and voila! - it's Chicago.
Spoiler alert . . . (although I doubt a spoiler alert is necessary 3 years later.)
Things did not start well - The early, pre-carjacking dialogue between Anthony (played by Ludacris) and Peter (Larenz Tate) was cringe-inducing. And look! It's Sandra Bullock. (Never a good sign.)
However, as each of the following vignettes played out, I thought I might be won over:
- The vaunted car wreck scene with Matt Dillon (yum) and Terrence Howard's wife
- The Persian shop-owner and the beyond-sexy Papi locksmith
- Ryan Phillipe's character and Peter in the car
Alack, it was not to be. As the denouement (finally) approached and that ghastly 15-minute-long Sarah McLachlan-esque song played and played and played, I emerged from the emotive haze and realized that without question Brokeback Mountain was five million times better and truly the Best Picture of 2005.
Let Us Now Pause to Reflect on the Perfect Beauty of Jack and Ennis (above) . . . le sigh.
As Annie Proulx, the author of the short story on which the movie was faithfully based, wrote:
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.It's important for me to include the final sentence of that piece:
For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays.Sing it, sister. I attended the GLAAD Media Awards earlier this year at the very same Kodak Theatre (note the spelling of theater) at which the 78th Academy Awards were held on March 5, 2006. The location of the "theatre" could not be less impressive - it's in the midst of a shopping mall that could be an LA version of Water Tower Place in Chicago or Grand Avenue in Milwaukee circa 1987. The Academy Awards are held in a "theatre" in the middle of the King of Prussia Mall!
Why is that relevant? I think Annie Proulx's piece in the Guardian was more evocative of LA's "uniqueness" than Trash - excuse me - Crash was. I am not anti-LA, but there is no way that Crash was better than Brokeback Mountain. To me, the only way to see Crash as "Best Picture" is to view it through a lens of obnoxious, myopic LA-centrism with a dash of Hollywood's own brand of craven, money-driven homophobia.
On a related note, see JMG's piece on how Milk's own stars may already be guiding that film to the same not-Best-Picture fate.
All that said, hello Michael Peña! ¡Cáseme, Michael!
11/30/2008 11:41PM - link to Annie Proulx piece corrected. Duh.