The Oscar Quest: Best Picture & Best Director – 2005
And here we go. The category that caused a thousand scandals. I remember this race fondly. I had seen almost all the films (except Munich, which was released like three days before the ceremony, essentially), and knew the race was essentially between Brokeback and Crash. Now, I had enjoyed Crash. Didn’t love it, but I enjoyed it. And Brokeback — I had seen right around the time all the hoopla had just started to begin.
Now, let me say this now — I never understand why people get so fucking crazy about films like this. Brokeback and The Kids are All Right are two films that deal with gay characters and do so in a casual way. For the most part. They’re gay, and that’s it. They’re obviously wildly different films, but for some reason, just because they’re dealing with gay characters, everyone seems to think that makes the films incredibly better. In the case of The Kids are All Right, I didn’t get it at all. That, to me, was a marginally decent film where the main characters just happened to be gay. Other people saw that and were like, “Oh my God, they’re gay and they’re normal!” And were heralding it the best movie of the decade just because someone treated a gay character the way they’re supposed to treat them — like everyone else. Brokeback, though, is the better film, and I can actually see why it should have been nominated for Best Picture. But seriously, winning? Are you serious? Nothing happens! They go into the woods, do nothing for an hour — there are random little episodes like running into a bear and maybe they say like ten words here or there — and then randomly, they fuck. Dude spits on his hand though, and that’s awesome. But still, they fuck, and then they become lovers, and then they go home. And they marry women. And we see them marrying women. Then their lives are miserable except when they see each other, and we see their lives fall apart. In a way this is kind of like Blue Valentine with an extra half hour of run time. And cowboys. I see why this was good from a “genre” perspective — though it’s really not a western. I mean, it kind of is, but also isn’t. It’s a marginal western at best. I really don’t get why this should have won Best Picture, at all. And to be fair, Crash shouldn’t have won either.
I will say, before I tell you what I think should have won instead (though it should be woefully obvious when you see what the five nominees are and what I’ve already said about them), going into Oscar night, people weren’t entirely sure what was going to happen between these two, and it went right down to the wire. I had been rooting hard for Crash at this point — not because I loved the film but because I hate rooting for the huge favorite, especially since I didn’t even love the film all that much. Whatever love I had for it went right out the window once everyone went ape shit over it. But, when Best Picture was going to be announced, and they had Jack Nicholson come out with the envelope, I knew then and there that Crash was going to win. I even remember saying, the second that happened, “I would lay all the money in the world in Crash winning right now — because there is no way Jack Nicholson would ever announce that a gay cowboy movie had just won Best Picture.” It just didn’t fit. Plus now, I have that image in my head of Nicholson saying, “Crash,” in that Nicholson way of his. I just wanted to relay that story. It’s very memorable for me. (more…)