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The Movie & Story => News Coverage, Reviews & Awards => Oscars => Topic started by: nutstoyou on Mar 09, 2006, 05:03 PM

Title: BBM Oscar Snub
Post by: nutstoyou on Mar 09, 2006, 05:03 PM
The Brokeback Mountain Oscar Snub
by Michael Jensen, March 7, 2006
Sunday night, Hollywood spent over three hours congratulating itself for its
tolerance and progressiveness. But when it came to awarding the Best Picture,
Hollywood's cowardly actions proved louder than its pretty words.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Two days after Crash's history-making upset over Brokeback,
a debate rages over why the upset happened. Was it homophobia? Was Crash simply
a better movie? Did the far right's attack on Hollywood's morals frighten the
voters? Or did Brokeback simply peak too soon?

First, the facts.


During the awards' season leading up to Sunday night's Oscars, Brokeback Mountain
became the most honored movie in cinematic history. It had more Best Picture and
Director wins than previous Oscar winners Schindler's List and Titanic combined.
Just to name a few, Brokeback won various awards at the Golden Globes, the BAFTA's,
Venice Film Festival, NY Film Critic's Circle, LA Film Critics, National Board
of Review, and the Independent Spirit Awards. (Click here for a complete list.)

Meanwhile, of the major awards, Crash managed to win only the SAG Award, the
Chicago Critics award, and an Image Award. And Crash won the Chicago honor mostly
because Chicago-area film critic Roger Ebert relentlessly pushed it. Even then,
Brokeback was the runner-up. How did Crash fare in all of the awards Brokeback
won?

It mostly didn't, rarely even showing up as a nominee. In fact, before the SAG
awards, Crash barely merited mention as an Oscar contender.

Before Sunday night's upset, no film that had won the Writer's Guild, Director's
Guild, and Producer's Guild awards did not go on to win the Academy Award for
Best Picture. Additionally, the film with the most total Oscar nominations almost
always wins the top prize; only four times in the past twenty-five years has
the Best Picture winner not also been the film with the most nominations. This
year Brokeback had the most nominations

Along with all these awards, Brokeback had also won the Golden Globe, all but
assuring that it would win at the Oscars too. Only once, in 1973, did a film
not even nominated for the Golden Globe's Best Picture go on to win the Academy
Award (that movie was The Sting, and it wasn't nominated because of a mix-up at
the Golden Globes). Crash did not receive a Golden Globe nomination.

Like most eventual Best Picture winners, Brokeback Mountain was by far the
highest grossing film of the five nominees. It has earned $120 million worldwide,
while Crash has taken in less than half that. Box-office performance has always
been a factor in how the Academy votes.

One other fact: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a

"conservative institution" (保守的協會).

It is not necessarily conservative in the political or religious sense of the
word, but rather in that its members are firm believers in tradition and precedence.
By every measure of previous Oscar winners, Brokeback should have been the movie
announced by Jack Nicholson. Since it wasn't, there must be a very compelling
reason for Crash to have won instead.

Was it Crash's critical acclaim? To be fair, Crash did come out quite some time
ago and it is common knowledge that Oscar favors, or at least remembers, movies
released late in the year. Was it possible that Crash's earlier critical acclaim
had been overlooked by virtually every others arts organization that dispenses
awards? Perhaps once Academy voters were reminded of Crash's critical acclaim,
they felt compelled to give it the Best Picture.

Turns out that can't be the case. Here again, Brokeback was clearly the
frontrunner. Every year, both Premiere Magazine and Entertainment Weekly rank
the year's movies according to the reviews they received. Brokeback came in first
on both lists. Three other Best Picture nominees—Good Night, and Good Luck,
Capote, and Munich —also placed in the Top Ten on both lists. Meanwhile, Crash
ranked number thirty-six on Premiere's list, and down in the fifties on EW's.
A half-dozen critics even gave it outright pans, saying it was a movie to be
avoided.

Not exactly a critical darling, eh?

That means that in order for the Academy voters to have chosen Crash over Brokeback,
they had to overlook the fact that Brokeback was the favorite by almost every
measure the Academy has used for seventy eight years. And they had to be willing
to overturn decades of Academy tradition as well. Let's be clear about something
else: this disregard for tradition and precedence didn't happen because of a
changing of the guard. It's not a case of new, fresh blood forcing the Academy
to change their old, tired ways. Indeed, it is the old guard that upended their
traditions in order to propel Crash past Brokeback.

Nor is this a discussion about the merits of Brokeback Mountain versus Crash. Art
is subjective, and a Crash fan's opinion is every bit as valid as someone who loved
Brokeback. What isn't subjective are the facts stated above.

The question remaining then is why did they Academy pass over Brokeback for Crash?
Given the facts, there seems to be only one answer: good old-fashioned homophobia,
or at least Hollywood 's fear of being perceived by Middle America as too tolerant
of gay people, which is another kind of homophobia. Or perhaps it was some
combination of the two things. But nothing else seems to fit the facts.

If rank homophobia was the reason, it seems Tony Curtis apparently spoke for many
voters when he said he had no intention of seeing the movie and that it offered
nothing “unique.” Since he hadn't seen it, it's hard to know on what basis
Mr. Curtis made his claim. But clearly many Academy voters did not see anything
particularly unique about it either.

Everyone watching knew this was a chance for the Academy to take a stand on what
is arguably one of the most controversial issues of our time. Battles are being
fought at ballot boxes, in courtrooms, schools and homes all around the country.
Sunday night offered a chance for Hollywood to weigh in with their support.

Up until Jack Nicholson opened that envelope virtually everyone -- even the
Las Vegas odds-makers, felt it a near certainty Hollywood do just that.

But at the last second, the Oscar voters blinked. Or perhaps like a white person
publicly professing their support for a black candidate, only to then vote for
their white opponent in the privacy of the voting booth, Academy voters never
intended to vote for Brokeback.

Some Crash supporters have argued the Academy had to choose between honoring
two very worthwhile movies, one confronting racism, one homophobia, both subjects
the Oscars have overlooked in the past. And while it was a difficult choice, they
argue, it was a fair decision.

Hogwash. Hollywood has already honored numerous movies that confront racism.
In the Heat of the Night won back in 1967, nearly forty years ago. Schindler's
List won in 1993. Other previous winners depicting racism have included Gandhi,
Driving Miss Daisy, and Westside Story. And Halle Berry's Best Actress win was
supposed to be the final nail in Hollywood's racist past. The point isn't to
argue that racism is no longer worthy subject-matter, only that it is not
groundbreaking, especially not nearly enough to overcome Brokeback's reasons
for winning.

Indeed, a gay story, much less a love story, has never even been in serious
contention for an Oscar. Hell, there hasn't even been a mainstream movie about
a gay love story. Given just how groundbreaking Brokeback is, its being passed
over for Crash -- a movie few cared about until six weeks ago -- only heightens
the fact that homophobia is one of the obvious reasons for the Academy having
done so.

Professional awards analyst Tom O'Neil thought he saw something unusual brewing
in Hollywood over the past several weeks. “Something weird is going on among
Oscar Voters,” O'Neil wrote in The Envelope, an online site run by the
Los Angeles Times. "Crash and Good Night, and Good Luck have their passionate
supporters who gush their honest love of those best-picture nominees, but most
non-Brokeback votes I hear from Oscar voters are really anti-Brokeback."
And that translates to anti-gay.

Kenneth Turan, also of the Los Angeles Times, sees something similar in the
aftermath of Crash's upset. “So for people who were discomfited by
Brokeback Mountain but wanted to be able to look themselves in the mirror and
feel like they were good, productive liberals,
Crash provided the perfect safe harbor.”

In retrospect, it's hard not to feel a little stupid for hoping that Brokeback
would emerge victorious. America truly seemed to be changing on the issue of
homosexuality. For every joke that ridiculed the “gay cowboy” movie, there
was a joke mocking the guys who wouldn't see it. Only things haven't progressed
as much as thought.

Some argue Hollywood can't be antigay since the top acting prize went to
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. But I put that right up there with
Tom Hanks' wins for Philadelphia (as a dying gay man) and William Hurts' win
for Kiss of the Spiderwoman (arguably not even gay, since Hurt's character
says he wants to be a woman). This is not meant to take anything away from
Hoffman, but nonetheless it sure appears that Hollywood, like America, has
a much easier time accepting gays when they confirm all their stereotypes
of effete, lisping, asexual men. But a movie about two masculine guys in love?
That's apparently a different story.

Some might even argue that not giving Hoffman the Oscar would have been a
travesty, given that he had won virtually every other Best Actor award leading
up to the Oscars. How could the award be denied to the man who was so clearly
the frontrunner?

But that certainly didn't stop Academy voters when it came to selecting the
Best Picture.

There is a second, more nuanced explanation for the Brokeback snub. As the
presenters made clear during the telecast, Hollywood is feeling defensive
about declining box-office revenue. And since the nominations were announced
in January, much has been made about Hollywood supposedly being “out of touch”
with mainstream America. Indeed, the day of the Oscars, CNN ran a piece called
“Out of Touch” wherein a reporter visited a small town in rural America to
ask if anyone had seen, or would see, Brokeback. The answer for most, of course,
was an indignant, “No!”

Folks in Hollywood may fear the competition presented by today's varied
entertainment choices. Perhaps they were feeling uncomfortable with being
seen as so different from the heartland. Or maybe it is the confluence of
the two. Whichever the reason, it was Brokeback and the gay community they
sacrificed to “save” themselves.

No doubt, had Brokeback won, the media would be reporting that Hollywood had
proven they were wildly out of touch. Now the story is that even Hollywood
isn't crazy enough to give an Oscar to “that” movie. For gay men, that
makes us damned if we'd won and damned that we didn't.

What's so disappointing about this for so many gay men is that Brokeback
was our movie. For years, we've been presented as prancing, mincing stereotypes,
pathological killers, or suicidal depressives. Mel Gibson even threw us out of
a tower in Braveheart. But with Brokeback, we had finally been given a movie
that reflected the real experience and emotions of many of our lives, even if
those reflections weren't happy. And we were even led to believe that our
movie had crossed over and would be honored as Best Picture.

In retrospect, it's arguable that winning final prize was never really an
option, at least not at this time and place in history.

But the story isn't likely to end here. Like the Democrats trying to negotiate
the tricky waters of gay rights, Hollywood 's snub of Brokeback is likely to
please no one. Fundamentalist Christians are unlikely to suddenly decide
Hollywood does share their values. And by selecting Crash, Hollywood
alienated legions of fair-minded Americans who know a cop-out when they see it.

Nor is gay America taking this lying down. Indeed, a backlash against the
backlash is already brewing. Come back tomorrow and we'll talk about it.
Title: Re: BBM Oscar Snub
Post by: The Ultimate Otaku on Mar 10, 2006, 12:15 AM
Very interesting article.

It kind of re-roused the anger in me about BBM not winning. I feel cheated! How could BBM not have won?

I wish I had something deeper to say in thought about all this, but I've just got to mull it over a while first...
Title: Re: BBM Oscar Snub
Post by: carlton5 on Mar 10, 2006, 03:57 AM
What a tremendous letter!!!!!! Wish this letter was attached to all the press releases Dave Cullens forum/members have sent worldwide in their Variety campaign-who is Michael Jensen?
Title: Re: BBM Oscar Snub
Post by: rabjr1 on Mar 10, 2006, 06:28 AM
Roger Ebert, bless his fat pompous ass, gets far too much TV time.  There are other critics, far better critics, out there whose voice is never heard except in their own local media.

There should be a campaign to oust RE from the airwaves.......and his little "doggy" too!