The Oscar Quest: Reconsidered (Best Picture, 2005-2006)

The Oscar Quest began in May of 2010. I finished about fifteen months later, and wrote it up for this site. That was essentially the first thing I did on here. Five years have passed since then. I’ve grown as a person. My tastes have changed, matured (or gotten more immature, in some cases). So it feels fitting, on the five year anniversary of the site and of the Oscar Quest, to revisit it.

I want to see just how my opinions about things have changed over the past five years. I didn’t do any particular work or catch-up for this. I didn’t go back and watch all the movies again. Some I went back to see naturally, others I haven’t watched in five years. I really just want to go back and rewrite the whole thing as a more mature person, less concerned with making points about certain categories and films than with just analyzing the whole thing as objectively as I can to give people who are interested as much information as possible.

This is the more mature version of the Oscar Quest. Updated, more in-depth, as objective as possible, less hostile. You can still read the old articles, but know that those are of a certain time, and these represent the present.


Brokeback Mountain



Good Night, and Good Luck



Brokeback Mountain is one of those movies… it was such a big deal in 2005, but when time goes on, what’s it gonna look like?

Presumably we’ll reach a point where the subject matter is so normalized, people are gonna go, “I don’t get what the big deal is.” Which is kind of the way I watched this.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are two cowboys who take a job herding sheep for the summer. Over the course of the summer, they become intimate. And this relationship becomes an annual thing for them, even as they get married and raise families.

It’s a really great film and a wonderful romance. I think a lot of people went in on this because it was so progressive — a gay cowboy romance. And a lot of people turned on it for the same reason. If you view this from the perspective of just being a film — it’s great, but I don’t necessarily think it was the best film of this year. A second choice for me in this category, but not my favorite and not something I feel I need to vote for.

Though sure, going into the year specific, knowing how the voting was going, I may have thought to throw support behind this to prevent what happened from happening, but outside of that, I don’t see how I shouldn’t focus on what I think the best film in the category is. And for me, that’s not this.

Capote is a biopic of Truman Capote, focusing on the time where he went to research what became his novel In Cold Blood.

It’s a great movie, featuring sublime direction by Bennett Miller (who has made three incredible movies thus far, all of which were nominated for either Best Director or Best Picture), a tour de force performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman and just great storytelling all around.

I completely get why they nominated this. Extra solid biopics, particularly those with performances that get nominated and win, tend to sneak on as fifth choices. That’s what happened here. It unfortunately doesn’t help the category get any stronger (even though I think it’s a very solid category anyway), but it is well worth being nominated. A fourth choice for me and for history, but a solid nominee.

Crash is the greatest film that’s ever been made and the film that solved racism forever.

Which is good. One less thing.

I don’t know how to describe this except — a bunch of people deal with racism in its many forms.

You’ve either seen this movie or know all about it. So I’m not gonna waste my time getting into specifics.

Everyone knows where this stands historically (I hope), and I’m not gonna waste my time here — not voting for it. Would never vote for it. Not that great a movie. We’ll get into it more in a bit.

Good Night, and Good Luck is just a perfect movie. George Clooney made a real winner here.

It’s about Edward R. Murrow’s attempts to stand up against the bullying of Joseph McCarthy, in an era where everyone was terrified to speak up despite horrible scare tactics being put out there by the Communist witch hunters. He stands up to McCarthy and almost brings down his network. It’s GREAT.

I love this movie, and I unabashedly would take this over Brokeback Mountain. I said this at the time. This was, to me, the best film of that year. I don’t see why this didn’t have a stronger chance at winning. But, hey, it is what it is. I’m just gonna keep doing my thing.

Munich is Steven Spielberg’s film about the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics of a bunch of Jewish athletes by Palestinian terrorists. And Mossad’s plan for revenge, sending assassins in to murder those responsible.

This movie — I remember when this all was going down. Spielberg only started shooting this movie in early 2005, and was racing to get it done in time for the Oscars. It was October and the film still wasn’t finished. And then it came out just under the wire, and people were wondering if it actually could be good despite being so rushed, and then it came out, was great, and got a bunch of nominations. Someone like me, who was like 17 at the time, who didn’t see it and had strong opinions about the Oscars, developed a ‘god, this movie’ feeling about it. Because at 17 it’s about “my film needs to win and fuck everything else.” This felt like the “obvious” Oscar film so I developed a dislike for it. Despite not having seen it. Then I saw it while doing the initial Quest in 2011, and I loved this. It’s an amazing film. It’s not something I love enough to take, especially in this category, but it’s a solid third choice for me in the category. Really well done, and a movie I want to go back and see in a few years to see how much it’s holding up. This might be one of Spielberg’s more underrated films.

– – – – – – – – – –

The Reconsideration: This category is the 2016 Presidential Election of Best Picture winners. How’s it looking, now that more time has past?

That’s what I thought.

The mistake people make with this category is thinking (and saying) that it’s simply a vote of Crash vs. Brokeback Mountain. Sure, that’s what it was in 2005. But now, you’re not beholden to that. The best film is the best film. Sure, Brokeback Mountain might be the best film here. But don’t just take it because that’s what you feel you need to do to fit in.

I don’t make these proclamations often, but if you vote for Crash here, you’re a garbage human being.

I know people like that movie. I think it’s fine. But don’t vote for Crash here. Not even as a joke.

Anyway, my vote is, and aways has been, Good Night and Good Luck. I think that’s the best film. The fact that the category boiled down to two other choices made that difficult at the time, but now, I think it’s perfectly okay to take it, because I think as time is going on, that and Brokeback are holding up as the two best films in the category. Munich’s good, but it’s not great like Spielberg has been, and Capote’s good, but it’s not something you vote for. It’s Brokeback and Good Night and Good Luck. I think both are great choices here. I’m taking the one I’ve always preferred.

– – – – – – – – – –

Rankings (category):

  1. Brokeback Mountain
  2. Good Night, and Good Luck
  3. Munich
  4. Capote
  5. Crash

Rankings (films):

  1. Good Night, and Good Luck
  2. Brokeback Mountain
  3. Munich
  4. Capote
  5. Crash

My Vote: Good Night, and Good Luck


Brokeback Mountain is essential. Don’t be a dick.

Good Night, and Good Luck is essential. This movie is fucking great. This is a masterpiece and I think everyone ought to see it just to be better people. Don’t not see this and come around here trying to talk about movies. That doesn’t work for me.

Munich is Spielberg, and it’s great. If that doesn’t say essential to you, then I can’t help you.

Capote is, if not essential, a very high recommend. At this point I think Bennett Miller has proven himself an essential filmmaker. So I’m calling it essential. It’s fucking great. If it’s not, see it for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Crash is essential, because it’s the most notorious Best Picture winner of all time. More so than Shakespeare in Love. That means you need to see it so you can say whatever you want about it as a winner. At the time, we all liked it. That was the problem. It was a movie we liked. And then the reality set in when they voted for it, and we all went, “Oh shit.” But as a film, you gotta see it. The Academy has decided this was the best film of 2005.

The Last Word: I think “the 2016 Presidential Election of Best Picture winners” about covers it. This is the single worst Best Picture winner of all time. But you know what, sometimes you need to embarrass yourself on a massive level in order to change. Though millions of people aren’t gonna die from lack of healthcare and basic human rights aren’t being set back decades because Crash won. So at least there’s that, right?

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –



The Departed

Letters from Iwo Jima

Little Miss Sunshine

The Queen


Babel. It’s that tower. You know, where I think God played Jenga or something, and then all the Dragonballs got scattered all over the place. How am I doing?

It’s three separate stories, set all around the globe. One is about an American couple on vacation in the Middle East. One is their nanny taking their children into Mexico for the wedding of her son. One is a deaf Japanese girl looking for a connection. It’s Traffic, but with existential human crises instead of drugs.

I like this movie a lot. I saw it in theaters at the time and thought it was quite good. Alejandro Inarritu is a master filmmaker. He’s topped himself twice over since this, but at the time, this was a big, classy film and this was a major threat to win Best Picture. I wouldn’t have taken it, nor would a lot of people, but this is a really solid nominee.

The Departed is just a fucking great movie. Clearly not one of Scorsese’s masterpieces, but if you watch a movie over and over and can constantly put it on and enjoy the shit out of it —

It’s a remake of Infernal Affairs, a great Hong Kong film. It’s about a cop undercover in the mob, and a mole for the mob undercover with the cops. It’s so fucking good.

This is one of those movies, we all loved it and Scorsese was so overdue, and the year shook out the way it did that this was the film that we all considered the one to take. How you gonna argue? It’s awesome, and the others don’t really fit the mold of a choice. This is an easy one for me. It was no shoo-in to win, but man, did they make a great choice.

Letters from Iwo Jima is Clint Eastwood doing a war film.

This was fantastic at the time because he made two war movies at the same time, both telling the story of the same battle from both angles. Flags of Our Fathers discussed it from the American end, mostly through the lens of that famous photo of the soldiers putting the flag back up. And we see what happened to them as they came back home and all that. This one is from the Japanese perspective, trying to hold this island from American forces.

It’s a great film. Great war scenes, well directed. Was it the best film of 2006? No. Would I take it? No. But it’s a second choice… well, historically it’s a second choice. For me it’s a third choice. Solid, but I wouldn’t go anywhere near voting for it. I’d make an awful choice historically over this. Because here, all bets are off and it’s all about what you like best.

Little Miss Sunshine is such a great comedy. No idea how this managed to get nominated (and get so close to winning. Since it won the PGA), but man, was this good. Still holds up, too.

Abigail Breslin is a little girl obsessed with beauty pageants. She wants to be in them, even though she doesn’t have the look or the… training, or whatever. She wins a local pageant which allows her to qualify for the regionals. Though that means her family must travel from Arizona to Los Angeles in the next three days to get her there. They do so, which means she’s in a van (that famous yellow VW bus) with Mom trying to keep everything together, Dad wrapped up in his own self-help shit that he can’t sell to anyone, her brother who has decided to stop speaking, Grandpa who’s taken to snorting heroin, and her uncle who recently attempted suicide and can’t be left alone.

It’s pure indie all the way, but goddamnit if it’s not one of, if not the most charming film of 2006. Love this movie. Wouldn’t take it, but almost would, given the category. The Departed’s always gonna be the choice over this, but after that, this is the film I like best, even though this wouldn’t have held up at all.

The Queen is a film about the royal family’s reaction to the death of Princess Diana.

That’s really it. Helen Mirren is Queen Elizabeth and she’s wonderful, and the film is very good.

Nominee but not the vote. All around, that’s what this is. No one actually votes for this. This makes it on the list, but after that — ehh. No one really likes it enough to take it. Which is fine. Fifth choice and a solid nominee, but not gonna get anywhere near the vote.

– – – – – – – – – –

The Reconsideration: It’s The Departed. That’s the film I considered to be the best of the year (that was nominated. I’m not gonna get into what the best film of the year was, and how they didn’t nominate it). Nothing else comes close to holding water. My second choice is a fourth choice most years. My third choice is usually a third choice. The other two are fine, but wouldn’t make good winners at all, really. The Departed wins because that’s what the category gave us.

– – – – – – – – – –

Rankings (category):

  1. The Departed
  2. Letters from Iwo Jima
  3. Babel
  4. Little Miss Sunshine
  5. The Queen

Rankings (films):

  1. The Departed
  2. Little Miss Sunshine
  3. Letters from Iwo Jima
  4. Babel
  5. The Queen

My Vote: The Departed


The Departed is essential. It’s Scorsese, it’s all these great actors, and it’s fucking awesome. Don’t be fahckin’ retahded. This movie’s fahckin’ great. Okay, Chahlene?

Letters from Iwo Jima is a very high recommend. Somehow not really essential, but also very much worth seeing. It’s essential for Eastwood. But otherwise is just something you should see. Don’t bother with American Sniper until you’ve seen this.

Babel is probably essential. Inarritu is pretty much all essential at this point, right? So see this. It’s awesome. It’s great stuff all around. No reason not to.

Little Miss Sunshine is essential because it’s amazing. Not essential because it’s an all-time masterpiece. But god, does this movie do everything right, and it makes you feel so happy by the end of it. I’d tell people to see this movie over like, 2/3 of that list of the 100 best movies ever made compiled by all those pretentious people.

The Queen is essential for only Oscar buffs. Otherwise just a high recommend and a very good movie with a great Helen Mirren performance. If the Oscars don’t matter to you, and the subject matter doesn’t matter to you, then you can probably skip it. But it’s good, so there’s that.

The Last Word: Historically, The Departed isn’t a great Best Picture winner. But it’s fine. It’s a good movie. We like it. In context, it’s a good winner. I don’t see anything that’s markedly better than it. We’re not that far removed, but I really don’t think anything else here is gonna look like it would have been a much better choice. So I think they made the right choice and the best one they could have made.

– – – – – – – – – –

(Read more Oscar Quest articles.)

2 responses

  1. “This category is the 2016 Presidential Election of Best Picture winners. How’s it looking, now that more time has past?”

    (Actually not as bad as liberals predicted it would be, let’s be serious here.)

    “I don’t make these proclamations often, but if you vote for Crash here, you’re a garbage human being.”

    (Whatever happened to people liking what they like? Not that I would vote for Crash myself, but it’s not the “single worst Best Picture winner of all time”. I don’t know anyone who isn’t moved by the scene involving Michael Peña giving his daughter his “magical cloak” and the subsequent scene with the Persian shop owner. Also, you’d have to chalk this as one of Roger Ebert’s mistakes since he both gave it perfect score and regarded it as the best film of 2005. I guess he’s now a “garbage human being” in your view.)

    May 10, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    • Devin

      To be honest that was indeed one of the better moments of the film, though, the rest of it’s flaws are clear

      December 9, 2017 at 9:07 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.