Sunday, March 05, 2006

 

Crash-ing the Oscars!

When I started this column on September 4, 2005, my inaugural posting was a piece entitled "2005 Films So Far: Will Oscar Nod?" In it, I wrote: "These are not predictions. They are films that deserve to be noticed for Best Picture nominations as the glut of late-year hopefuls flood in." I went on to write, "Crash: Some have said this film was too pat, but I found it to be a claustrophobic and masterfully woven tale of the cycle of hatred in this country. It brought me to tears and, at times, made it difficult for me to breathe. A brilliant cast, powerful message, and compelling story." Well, tonight, in the most stunning upset of the last 25 years at the Academy Awards, Crash defied the pundits, and took the Best Picture Oscar over the perceived favorite Brokeback Mountain. Having seen both films, I have to say, I am pleased by this turn of events. Brokeback is a well-made, but highly overrated film. This was not a night of sweeps. In fact, King Kong and Memoirs of a Geisha won just as many Oscars as Crash and Brokeback Mountain did -- all taking home three. Also, as it turns out, the Independent Spirit Awards did not map to the Oscars at all, except for the Best Actor win by Capote's Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The Palestinian/Israeli hand grenade, turned out to be a dud, as both Paradise Now and Munich walked home empty handed. History was made as Ang Lee became the first Asian to win the Oscar for Best Director. For the last 78 years, that category has been an all white male club. But Lee -- whose body of work is as diverse as it is outstanding (Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain) -- was very deserving of the honor. And finally, the penguins marched home with a win over The Smartest Guys in the Room. While not matching the talent of a Crystal, or Carson, Jon Stewart, in his initial hosting duties, kept things light. His best observation of the night: After witnessing the rap song "It's Hard Out There For a Pimp" win the Best Song Oscar, Stewart noted, "For those of you keeping track at home. That's now Three 6 Mafia: 1 Oscar. Martin Scorsese: 0."

Comments:
Crash was overrated!

I would like to see a post about who the Academy is-- how they vote-- and why you think Crash won. Because it certainly wasn't the best film of the year.
 
Crash was underrated!

While all of the films nominated this year dealt with significant aspects of the human condition (love, prejudice, civil rights, holy wars, personality disorders.) Crash however was the most universal in its message. It wasn't the story of one person (Capote), couple (Brokeback), nation (Good Night) or region (Munich) it was about all people.

It mirrored parts of our lives that we would much rather leave unexamined. Crash forces the viewer to come to terms with the fact that everyone regardless of race, gender or economic status carry some bias or prejudice. Likewise, it shows that each one brings some form of love and compassion. None is all good or all bad.

That is hard for us to watch because we have to look at ourselves. So many films easily identify the good guy or the bad guy. It is easy to watch Capote and leave thinking "He was a brilliant writer but a nut." Or what about Munich "Can you believe that they keep fighting like that...glad I don't live there." Crash however identified that the human experience is some of each..good and bad.

I read somewhere that a good film is one that you can't stop talking about. This is certainly that kind of film.
 
Crash was completely overrated. The storylines were contrived; the screenwriters reached as deep as the nearest racial stereotype on their psyche and added some wooden lines and histrionics to fill time. For people who live in the midst of messy race relations on a daily basis, the movie held as much substance as an after school special.
 
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