I only see movies on DVD, for reasons that are all too familiar (basically, other people; oh, and add in inconvenient start times and commercials, and I'll stick with my big-screen TV), so I haven't yet seen any of the Best Picture nominees (a few of them have come out on DVD by now, but to be accurate I should say I see movies on DVD -- eventually). So I have no opinion on the big surprise victory of Crash over Brokeback Mountain, except to say -- and I should have posted this earlier, I know -- I wasn't surprised. In case I get credit for Monday-morning quarterbacking, here's my e-mail to V:
No dis on Crash, which I've heard is very good (like all the nominated films) [see below for backlash], but it's a much safer choice. Rewarding a film that supports racial harmony is much less likely to alienate the audience than the gay cowboy film. It's all about the box office -- well, it's mostly about the box office, but it's also about controlling perceptions of Hollywood's morals and realizing there are large "Christian" [please note the ironic quotation marks, since fundamentalists aren't really Christians] and black audiences that have been ignored.
Also, our Intranet poll at work last week was on the best picture nominees and to my surprise after an initial lead by Brokeback Mountain Crash soon surpassed it and every other film, and this in a (notoriously) gay-friendly environment [San Francisco].
The runner-up to Crash in the poll was not Brokeback Mountain (third) but "Was this the best they could do?" which also surprised me, since the nominations are exactly the type of film that people who say things like that claim they want, proving once again that people just say things for effect without thinking them through.
As for the presenter who said, "And I can guarantee that none of these nominees ever finished a scene and wondered, 'How will that look on the DVD?'"; I can guarantee that every single one of them has not only thought that but been consoled for the loss of a scene with assurances that it will be on the DVD, or has filmed stuff that is meant strictly for the DVD special edition.
And the guy who went on about the magical effect of being in a movie theater, as opposed to watching a DVD -- what theater is he going to? Large screen? Most multiplexes these days have screens the size of televisions. Surrounded by sound? Yeah, but not from the movie -- from cell phones, crinkly wrappers, crying babies, chewing, the movie next door, and stupid, stupid comments. And don't forget sitting through the commercials! [OK, I guess I did go into the reasons. I can't help it; I'm a ranter.]
Selma Hayek is a total babe but why is it every time she appears on these things her breasts get larger and her English gets worse?
I've noted quite a backlash against Crash since its victory, most unfortunately from Annie Proulx, who wrote a childish ("Trash I mean Crash") and condescending (oh, those shallow Hollywood types -- what would writers do without them?) piece for the Manchester Guardian. (I've also heard from people who genuinely hated the movie.) I think given the general hopelessness and misery generated by the Bush presidency, there was desperation for some sort of hopeful sign of social progress, which Crash isn't going to fulfill because there pretty much already is a consensus that racial harmony would be a good thing.
But here's why the Academy shouldn't have been so timid, in the form of another e-mail to V from the week before the Academy awards:
Ace Young of American Idol is pictured prominently on the front upper flap of USA Today today. The story (and this is probably the entire thing) is that tonight "the boys" are on stage. I find this terminology odd since several of the contestants are married and have children. Anyway Ace is there to represent the boys, because as contestant Patrick [since booted off] noted, he's the prettiest. [He's serving the same function on the cover of this week's People, even though he was almost booted off last week.] And in the middle of the paper is a big picture of Heath and Jake in their Brokeback pose (I don't know what the story is -- I'm guessing some Oscar thing). So I've concluded that America is just a totally gay country and our inept foreign policy and huge Hummers are just compensation.
(As a postscript, I should note I have no opinion on American Idol. It's not really my kind of music.)