The morning after Brokeback Mountain lost I got an email from a reader, a very young reader in a foreign country, who told me that he would have killed himself that night had he not found Oscarwatch. The reason was mainly that he’d found a place where people were bitching about it – loudly, as is our wont. We knew it meant a lot that Brokeback Mountain, which had won an unprecedented amount of awards heading into the race – taking even the Producers and Directors and Writers Guild awards. But one other movie was pushing through the crowd, one that won the SAG ensemble, the Eddie and the Writers Guild. Crash had a couple of things going for it over Brokeback Mountain, though for many of us (with the exception of a scant few like David Carr, for instance) it was unthinkable. Not to dump on Crash continually as I don’t think it’s the worst film to win Best Picture, but all four of the other nominees were superior in terms of ambition and artistry.
But Crash had much in the way of appealing to actors. It was also strong on themes of race and at that time racism trumped homophobia. Perhaps it still does. Perhaps you can’t even compare the two as I don’t think you can. They represent separate histories, separate fights, separate aches. The Academy could do the racism thing back then but they just couldn’t go there wholly with Brokeback Mountain, this because many of them refused to see it. The same fate was awaiting 12 Years a Slave if voters hadn’t put their might behind a film that would mean more than just the usual “like” button being clicked. So good for them – I feel confident that if they saw 12 Years they would be more than proud of their vote, just as if they’d seen Brokeback Mountain they would have seen one of the most richly told and moving stories of 2005.