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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

entry arrow12:58 PM | Are the Oscar Voters Mad? (With Updates)

Crash? As Best Picture? That effing didactic bore? There is no justice in the world. I always thought Oscar has grown up in the last five years, waking up from its tendency to give Best Picture to How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane, or Ordinary People over Raging Bull, or Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction. But, nooooohhh.... A basta, I gotta go to work. Work, at least, is sane.

But I'll leave with this brilliant acceptance speech from Oscar-winner George Clooney (Best Supporting Actor, Syriana), which is lightyears better than the giddy pa-cuteness of Reese Witherspoon:
And finally, I would say that, you know, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while. I think it's probably a good thing. We're the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn't really popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects. This Academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I'm proud to be a part of this Academy. Proud to be part of this community, and proud to be out of touch. And I thank you so much for this.
Right on, Mr. Clooney. And thanks for the bravery.

Later, and meanwhile...

The Crash backlash (Crash-lash, they call it) is surprising a lot of people. Brokeback Mountain's loss seems to have become a whole emotional tsunami of shock. I even know people who cried. Gawker notes that even Google seems to be aware of the Crash-ing disappointment:

The L.A. Times' Kenneth Turan rants: "Crash's biggest asset is its ability to give people a carload of those standard Hollywood satisfactions, but make them think they are seeing something groundbreaking and daring. It is, in some ways, a feel-good film about racism, a film you could see and feel like a better person, a film that could make you believe that you had done your moral duty and examined your soul, when in fact you were just getting your buttons pushed and your preconceptions reconfirmed." Turan really believes Brokeback Mountain was truly robbed.

Roger Ebert, longtime champion of Crash, gives an intelligent rebuttal. And while Ebert remains my favorite film critic, in this case, I do not agree with him at all. Crash the better film? No way, sir. Even his fellow online critic and RogerEbert.com editor Jim Emerson disagrees with him:
If I had had to choose among the Oscar nominees, it would have been between Munich and Brokeback Mountain, because they struck me as the most fluent and compelling in their use of the properties of film. Shot by shot, movement by movement, they were exciting to watch. I would have forgotten all about "Crash" months ago if it hadn't been for the Oscar nominations. (I tried to watch it a second time recently, but I'm sorry: To me it's almost exactly like listening to "When a Man Loves a Woman" sung by Michael Bolton. 1992 Grammy Award-winning Michael Bolton. Remember him?)

Meanwhile, Emerson lists down the reasons for the biggest upset for Oscar's Best Picture since, well, Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction. (Although my friend James Dalman thinks the nearest comparison should be Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan. But I liked Shakespeare in Love because it was witty, it was small, and it turned postmodernism, drama theory, and theater history on their heads. Saving Private Ryan was laudable for its gritty realism and sheer ambition, but I always thought its sentimental bookends of the elderly veteran visiting the cemetery ate away much of its power, and only left me ... giggly.)

Meanwhile, The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek makes sense of things. Erik Lundegard writes:
Then Jack Nicholson, presenting the best picture winner, ruined everything. He didn't say "Brokeback Mountain"; he actually said ... "Crash."

No, he didn't. Did he? He did.

My god.

This is the worst best picture winner since "The Greatest Show on Earth" in 1952. It may be worse than that. "Greatest Show" was a dull, bloated romance set against the backdrop of a three-ring circus but at least it didn't pretend to be important.

Meanwhile, Oscar Watch has all relevant threads concerning the "shock." Bob Strauss reviews life lessons he learned from this year's Oscarcast. Dean declares "Oscar is straight." The Wordsmith's Window calls the whole thing "shocking and awful." Over in Canada, the disappointed Goluboy Chronicles consoles himself by doing an awards tally between Brokeback Mountain and Crash. ExpectoRant calls the whole exercise bullshit. The Coffee Goddess calls the whole thing a bore. And Your Headphone rants about everything else: "Movies that can, essentially, be contained by these two words (gay + film) are never going to be as competent as they aspire. Fuck these stupid labels. Why can't we just watch movies and talk about it afterwards, as movies, not as a 'gay film' for example. I am seriously irritated by this sick attitude of carelessly sticking such labels on movies as if these were price tags you need to look at before you watch."

(And elsewhere, nobody really cared. "It's just the Oscars, Ian," my friend Eric told me.)

Me, I turned off my television in the middle of Reese Witherspoon's speech*, unable to watch what I knew would come from Jack Nicholson's Best Picture envelope. The only delight I took from my wasted Monday morning was the knowledge that Jon Stewart finally proved he is television's IT boy (although Jessica Zafra does not agree he did a great hosting job, and Andy Dehnart just opines that our "big stars just don't get Jon Stewart"); that George Clooney is a good-looking guy, and smart to boot; and that Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep, doing their overlapping dialogue in their apropos introduction of the great Robert Altman, proved to all those troglodytes in the Kodak Theater what talent really was.

*which, I now agree, was actually quite charming


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