Author Topic: Annie Proulx on how her Brokeback Oscar hopes were dashed by Crash  (Read 24090 times)

Offline ennisandjack

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http://film.guardian.co.uk/oscars2006/story/0,,1727312,00.html

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Blood on the red carpet

Annie Proulx on how her Brokeback Oscar hopes were dashed by Crash

Saturday March 11, 2006
The Guardian

Ain't no Mountain high enough ... Ang Lee with his Oscar for best director. Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/AP. More photographs
 
On the sidewalk stood hordes of the righteous, some leaning forward like wind-bent grasses, the better to deliver their imprecations against gays and fags to the open windows of the limos - the windows open by order of the security people - creeping toward the Kodak Theater for the 78th Academy Awards. Others held up sturdy, professionally crafted signs expressing the same hatred.
The red carpet in front of the theatre was larger than the Red Sea. Inside, we climbed grand staircases designed for showing off dresses. The circular levels filled with men in black, the women mostly in pale, frothy gowns. Sequins, diamonds, glass beads, trade beads sparkled like the interior of a salt mine. More exquisite dresses appeared every moment, some made from six yards of taffeta, and many with sweeping trains that demanded vigilance from strolling attendees lest they step on a mermaid's tail. There was one man in a kilt - there is always one at award ceremonies - perhaps a professional roving Scot hired to give colour to the otherwise monotone showing of clustered males. Larry McMurtry defied the dress code by wearing his usual jeans and cowboy boots.

The people connected with Brokeback Mountain, including me, hoped that, having been nominated for eight Academy awards, it would get Best Picture as it had at the funny, lively Independent Spirit awards the day before. (If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices.) We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture. Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good. And rumour has it that Lions Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash - excuse me - Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline. Next year we can look to the awards for controversial themes on the punishment of adulterers with a branding iron in the shape of the letter A, runaway slaves, and the debate over free silver.
After a good deal of standing around admiring dresses and sucking up champagne, people obeyed the stentorian countdown commands to get in their seats as "the show" was about to begin. There were orders to clap and the audience obediently clapped. From the first there was an atmosphere of insufferable self-importance emanating from "the show" which, as the audience was reminded several times, was televised and being watched by billions of people all over the world. Those lucky watchers could get up any time they wished and do something worthwhile, like go to the bathroom. As in everything related to public extravaganzas, a certain soda pop figured prominently. There were montages, artfully meshed clips of films of yesteryear, live acts by Famous Talent, smart-ass jokes by Jon Stewart who was witty and quick, too witty, too quick, too eastern perhaps for the somewhat dim LA crowd. Both beautiful and household-name movie stars announced various prizes. None of the acting awards came Brokeback's way, you betcha. The prize, as expected, went to Philip Seymour Hoff-man for his brilliant portrayal of Capote, but in the months preceding the awards thing, there has been little discussion of acting styles and various approaches to character development by this year's nominees. Hollywood loves mimicry, the conversion of a film actor into the spittin' image of a once-living celeb. But which takes more skill, acting a person who strolled the boulevard a few decades ago and who left behind tapes, film, photographs, voice recordings and friends with strong memories, or the construction of characters from imagination and a few cold words on the page? I don't know. The subject never comes up. Cheers to David Strathairn, Joaquin Phoenix and Hoffman, but what about actors who start in the dark?

Everyone thanked their dear old mums, scout troop leaders, kids and consorts. More commercials, more quick wit, more clapping, beads of sweat, Stewart maybe wondering what evil star had lighted his way to this labour. Despite the technical expertise and flawlessly sleek set evocative of 1930s musicals, despite Dolly Parton whooping it up and Itzhak Perlman blending all the theme music into a single performance (he represented "culchah"), there was a kind of provincial flavour to the proceedings reminiscent of a small-town talent-show night. Clapping wildly for bad stuff enhances this. There came an atrocious act from Hustle and Flow, Three 6 Mafia's violent rendition of "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp", a favourite with the audience who knew what it knew and liked. This was a big winner, a bushel of the magic gold-coated gelded godlings going to the rap group.

The hours sped by on wings of boiler plate. Brokeback's first award was to Argentinean Gustavo Santaolalla for the film's plangent and evocative score. Later came the expected award for screenplay adaptation to Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, and only a short time later the director's award to Ang Lee. And that was it, three awards, putting it on equal footing with King Kong. When Jack Nicholson said best picture went to Crash, there was a gasp of shock, and then applause from many - the choice was a hit with the home team since the film is set in Los Angeles. It was a safe pick of "controversial film" for the heffalumps.

After three-and-a-half hours of butt-numbing sitting we stumbled away, down the magnificent staircases, and across the red carpet. In the distance men were shouting out limousine numbers, "406 . . . 27 . . . 921 . . . 62" and it seemed someone should yell "Bingo!" It was now dark, or as dark as it gets in the City of Angels. As we waited for our number to be called we could see the enormous lighted marquee across the street announcing that the "2006 Academy Award for Best Picture had gone to Crash". The red carpet now had taken on a different hue, a purple tinge.

The source of the colour was not far away. Down the street, spreading its baleful light everywhere, hung a gigantic, vertical, electric-blue neon sign spelling out S C I E N T O L O G Y.

"Seven oh six," bawled the limo announcer's voice. Bingo.

For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays.
« Last Edit: Mar 11, 2006, 10:22 PM by ethan »


Offline septuaginarian

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For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays.


Play it as it lays, indeed! Thank you, thank you, Annie Proulx for saying this for all of us as no one else could say it!

Whip it, Sister! ("Florida Rental," in Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2)

« Last Edit: Mar 12, 2006, 10:15 AM by septuaginarian »
septuaginarian

Offline CherryCake

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Wow.  She can write anything!   
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Offline hidesert

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I'm very happy she wrote this commentary for The Guardian.  I love her turn of phrases - she's a true master.

"We should have known conservative heffalump [elephant] academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture. Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good."

"From the first there was an atmosphere of insufferable self-importance emanating from "the show"..."

"It was a safe pick of "controversial film" for the heffalumps."

The Academy is a self-perpetuating body with an average age estimated to be somewhere in the 60s.  Sure there are many seniors with enlightened and progressive ideas and I support them, but there are also many who look more towards conserving the past than expanding the future.  Why do we even care what a bunch of wealthy conservative Academy members think of films?  Why should their opinions on films be anymore valuable than yours or mine?  The Oscars are only important because the Academy has hyped its own importance.   

I almost feel like starting a boycott of the ABC network which airs the Oscar show.  If all the networks refused to air the Oscars then the Academy might have to make some drastic changes .  Change is a positive first step.

« Last Edit: Mar 12, 2006, 10:51 AM by hidesert »

Offline frenchcda

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Offline septuaginarian

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We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture.

When Jack Nicholson said best picture went to Crash, there was a gasp of shock, and then applause from many - the choice was a hit with the home team since the film is set in Los Angeles. It was a safe pick of "controversial film" for the heffalumps.


A Heffalump is a stuffed bear in a dark hole with its head stuck in a honey pot.

The bear, Pooh*  of course, finds himself there when, by methodically missing the point, he falls into his own trap. Piglet on viewing the apparition:

"Help,  help!"  cried  Piglet, "a Heffalump, a Horrible
Heffalump!" and he scampered off as hard  as  he  could,  still
crying  out,  "Help,  help, a Herrible Hoffalump! Hoff, Hoff, a
Hellible Horralump! Holl, Holl, a Hoffable Hellerump!"


Whatever Piglet would call it.

. . . an enormous big nothing. Like a jar.
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* http://winnie-the-pooh.ru/stories/english/heffalump/
septuaginarian

Offline ennisandjack

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Quote
On the sidewalk stood hordes of the righteous, some leaning forward like wind-bent grasses, the better to deliver their imprecations against gays and fags to the open windows of the limos - the windows open by order of the security people - creeping toward the Kodak Theater for the 78th Academy Awards. Others held up sturdy, professionally crafted signs expressing the same hatred.

I was unaware this was going on...that this was the welcome our crew was met with. Sounds like the start of the evening was almost as bad as the end.

Quote
As in everything related to public extravaganzas, a certain soda pop figured prominently.

Coke.

Quote
The source of the colour was not far away. Down the street, spreading its baleful light everywhere, hung a gigantic, vertical, electric-blue neon sign spelling out S C I E N T O L O G Y.

Paul Haggis is apparently a scientologist.


Offline proulxfan

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Wow!
I guess I'm a bit surprised that she went with the "Trash-excuse me-"Crash", gambit, but maybe she's expressing outrage at the mass distribution of the DVDs to the academy voters. I guess I am still in the dark as to exactly how beyond the pale such tactics are in promoting a given film, but I think I saw that topic elsewhere, so I'll go check it out.
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Offline hidesert

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Quote
On the sidewalk stood hordes of the righteous, some leaning forward like wind-bent grasses, the better to deliver their imprecations against gays and fags to the open windows of the limos - the windows open by order of the security people - creeping toward the Kodak Theater for the 78th Academy Awards. Others held up sturdy, professionally crafted signs expressing the same hatred.

I was unaware this was going on...that this was the welcome our crew was met with. Sounds like the start of the evening was almost as bad as the end.

Quote
As in everything related to public extravaganzas, a certain soda pop figured prominently.

Coke.

Quote
The source of the colour was not far away. Down the street, spreading its baleful light everywhere, hung a gigantic, vertical, electric-blue neon sign spelling out S C I E N T O L O G Y.

Paul Haggis is apparently a scientologist. 


I think the protesters were Fred Phelp's church group out of Kansas.  It's something his hateful members would do.  They picketed Matthew Sheppards funeral in Wyoming. 
http://www.godhatesfags.com/

I wasn't aware that Paul Haggis was a Scientologist, but that explains Annie's comment.
http://www.adherents.com/largecom/fam_scientologist.html

Thanks

Offline Cowboy Cody

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Offline hidesert

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The more they hate, the more they displease the person they pretend to serve.

Very true CC.


Offline ethan

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The more they hate, the more they displease the person they pretend to serve.

Ditto.
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Offline hidesert

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We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture.

When Jack Nicholson said best picture went to Crash, there was a gasp of shock, and then applause from many - the choice was a hit with the home team since the film is set in Los Angeles. It was a safe pick of "controversial film" for the heffalumps. 

A Heffalump is a stuffed bear in a dark hole with its head stuck in a honey pot.

The bear, Pooh*  of course, finds himself there when, by methodically missing the point, he falls into his own trap. Piglet on viewing the apparition:

"Help,  help!"  cried  Piglet, "a Heffalump, a Horrible
Heffalump!" and he scampered off as hard  as  he  could,  still
crying  out,  "Help,  help, a Herrible Hoffalump! Hoff, Hoff, a
Hellible Horralump! Holl, Holl, a Hoffable Hellerump!"


Whatever Piglet would call it.

. . . an enormous big nothing. Like a jar.
______________________

* http://winnie-the-pooh.ru/stories/english/heffalump/   


I had another definition Sept but it's all the same, very strange beings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heffalump


Offline tpe

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Roeper and Proulx
« Reply #14 on: Mar 13, 2006, 08:21 AM »
Roeper published a rather ungracious critique of Annie Proulx's comments in the March 13 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/roeper/cst-nws-roep131.html

I wrote him the following letter in response:

As a writer of true artistic merit who seldom minces words, Annie Proulx deserves more respect than is demonstrated in your comments published in the March 13 edition of the Sun-Times.

I am one among many Chicagoans who share her opinion and disappointment.  I think she is on target with her critical comments regarding this year's Oscars.

As I had said to numerous friends, there can be no grace without justice.  In my opinion, the Academy has been weighed in the balance and has been found wanting.  Time will bear out Annie Proulx's critique -- of this I am sure.

Offline hidesert

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Re: Roeper and Proulx
« Reply #15 on: Mar 13, 2006, 08:35 AM »
Roeper published a rather ungracious critique of Annie Proulx's comments in the March 13 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/roeper/cst-nws-roep131.html

I wrote him the following letter in response:

As a writer of true artistic merit who seldom minces words, Annie Proulx deserves more respect than is demonstrated in your comments published in the March 13 edition of the Sun-Times.

I am one among many Chicagoans who share her opinion and disappointment.  I think she is on target with her critical comments regarding this year's Oscars.

As I had said to numerous friends, there can be no grace without justice.  In my opinion, the Academy has been weighed in the balance and has been found wanting.  Time will bear out Annie Proulx's critique -- of this I am sure.
 

Thanks for the link TPE. Your response was well crafted.  Roeper shoots from the hip - you can see it in his movie commentaries on Ebert&Roeper.   

It's all history now. 

 

Offline ethan

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Thanks, tpe. Reading his commentary makes me really upset. Did he really know what he is talking about? Who is saying that a movie about two gay cowboys is more noble than others? And even with his right prediction of best picture, it doesn't make him "right" either. It just shows that he is able to *think* what the academy would think.

I am going to send him an email.
--------------------------------------------------------------
'Brokeback' bitching

Author Annie Proulx, who penned the original short story on which "Brokeback Mountain" was based, has joined the chorus of "Brokeback" complainers. In the Guardian, Proulx writes:

"The people connected with 'Brokeback Mountain,' including me, hoped that, having been nominated for eight Academy Awards, it would get Best Picture as it had at the funny, lively Independent Spirit Awards the day before. (If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices.) We should have known the conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture ..."

I guess that would be the same conservative voting body that awarded best song to "It's Hard Out There for a Pimp."

One week after the Oscars, I'm still hearing from fans of "Brokeback" who are offended and outraged by the best picture win for "Crash." Some folks are even calling me terrible names for predicting a "Crash" victory and saying I didn't believe "Brokeback" should have been nominated.

What can I say? On my list of 2005's best movies, I had "Brokeback Mountain" at No. 7, behind "Syriana," "The New World," "Crash," "Munich," "Nine Lives" and "Capote." So that means I'm homophobic? Please.

The "Brokeback" camp seems to feel their film is morally superior to the other nominated films, particularly "Crash," and that a vote against "Brokeback" is a vote against tolerance.

What a bunch of bull.

Why is a film about two gay cowboys more noble than a film about race relations? Or a movie about an Israeli hit squad avenging the massacre at the Munich Olympic Games? Or a film about an author's book about the murders of an innocent family? Or a movie about a journalist's crusade against a witch-hunting senator?

In two decades of writing about movies, I have never heard such bitching and moaning and griping about a film not winning best picture. Enough is enough. You lost. Try to handle it with some grace.
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"Why is a film about two gay cowboys more noble than a film about race relations?"

It's not that, Roeper! It's the way BBM was submitted to derision by the mainstream media. What empowered people would want to associate themselves with a thing getting relentless derision?!

See:
A Harrowing Affair: Commentary From a Brokeback Mountain Fan

http://www.afterelton.com/movies/2006/3/affair.html

Offline dirtbiker

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That's it, I'm done with both Roeper's & Eberts childish comments.  I thought Roeper was the more reasonable of the two, but his last rant proved me wrong.  I will be switching channels when I see them on TV just like I do when I see Bush on.   >:(

Offline tpe

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That's it, I'm done with both Roeper's & Eberts childish comments.  I thought Roeper was the more reasonable of the two, but his last rant proved me wrong.  I will be switching channels when I see them on TV just like I do when I see Bush on.   >:(

dirtbiker, please write to him to express your irritation and disappointment.  I truly believe that HE must continue to know that he is not helping the situation with rants like these.

Offline jackie62

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Basically the BEST picture should have won--- regardless of topic.

It is clearly too much to hope that academy  people vote with integrity --- rather than strategically to stop another movie that some clearly lack the humanity to understand.

My belief is bbm cast, crew and fans could cope with defeat if a picture fairly judged to be at least bbm's equal had won. This can't be anything other than petty discrimination.

Makes me concerned that in the 21st century that any young actor (either gender) could come out and expect to work at top of their profession --- at least in hollywood. 

Offline ethan

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Makes me concerned that in the 21st century that any young actor (either gender) could come out and expect to work at top of their profession --- at least in hollywood. 

Good point. Thanks, jackie62. It's still got a long way to go for gay actors to portray gay characters or even straight characters without any scrutiny.
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Offline hidesert

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If all things had been equal and all five films were fairly evaluated by Academy members and a film other than BBM was selected as Best Picture, there wouldn't have been a backlash.  It was the large number of rumors that poured out of LA (home to most Academy members) that members were voting against BBM because of the subject matter, that fanned the early backlash flames.

Roeper and the rest of his ilk are not addressing that issue, they just see it as anti-Crash.  He is entitled to his opinion on any movie, but Roeper, Ebert and the other Crash fans need to recognize that their film didn't win on its merits, it was the spoiler.


Kenneth Turan, LA Times film critic who has a vast amount of credibility in Hollywood wrote about these rumors:

"More than any other of the nominated films, "Brokeback Mountain" was the one people told me they really didn't feel like seeing, didn't really get, didn't understand the fuss over. Did I really like it, they wanted to know. Yes, I really did."   

"In the privacy of the voting booth, as many political candidates who've led in polls only to lose elections have found out, people are free to act out the unspoken fears and unconscious prejudices that they would never breathe to another soul, or, likely, acknowledge to themselves. And at least this year, that acting out doomed "Brokeback Mountain."  - Kenneth Turan, LA Times

Martin Grove of the trade paper, Hollywood Reporter heard the same rumors:

"What some insiders are saying privately is that many Academy members felt so threatened by "Brokeback's" gay cowboy romance they couldn't bring themselves to view it even on DVD. As a result, many votes reportedly were cast much later in the game than is usually the case -- by which time "Crash" was being perceived as a worthy alternative that Academy members could be more comfortable celebrating as the year's best picture. There also may have been fewer votes to count if reports are true that as many as 20% of Academy voters didn't send in their ballots." - Martin Grove, Hollywood Reporter


And Nikke Finke of the LA Weekly predicted it much earlier:

"Way back on January 17th, I decided to nominate the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Bunch of Hypocrites. That’s because I felt this year’s dirty little Oscar secret was the anecdotal evidence pouring in to me about hetero members of the Academy of Motions Picture Arts and Sciences being unwilling to screen Brokeback Mountain. For a community that takes pride in progressive values, it seemed shameful to me that Hollywood’s homophobia could be on a par with Pat Robertson’s. So in the February 1st issue of LA Weekly, I warned that, despite the hype you saw in the press and on the Internet about Brokeback, with its eight nominations, being the supposed favorite to take home the Best Picture Oscar, Crash could end up winning.

Well, turns out I was right. Hollywood showed tonight it isn’t the liberal bastion it once was. That’s pitiful if you’re a progressive, and pleasing if you’re a conservative.

After my column came out, it was picked up by the Drudge Report. Hundreds of angry emailers accused me, and Hollywood, of trying to promote “the homosexual agenda” by somehow “forcing” them to see a movie they found sexually reprehensible. What those emailers failed to comprehend was that the Oscar voters shared their distaste for it."  -  Nikke Finke, LA Weekly


If there is a lot of smoke there is usually a big fire. The rumors were true.


« Last Edit: Mar 13, 2006, 10:13 PM by hidesert »

Offline ethan

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If there is a lot of smoke there is usually a big fire. The rumors were true.

Agree. Hidesert, another great post. Thank you very much. I am going to send another letter to the academy including these quotes from your post.
Remembering Pierre (chameau) 1960-2015, a "Capricorn bro and crazy Frog Uncle from the North Pole." You are missed

Offline Cowboy Cody

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That's it, I'm done with both Roeper's & Eberts childish comments.  I thought Roeper was the more reasonable of the two, but his last rant proved me wrong.  I will be switching channels when I see them on TV just like I do when I see Bush on.   >:(

DB - I think we must have the same tv set or something...mine changes channels automatically when i see dufus on.
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Offline Italian_Dude

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Why is a film about two gay cowboys more noble than a film about race relations? Or a movie about an Israeli hit squad avenging the massacre at the Munich Olympic Games? Or a film about an author's book about the murders of an innocent family? Or a movie about a journalist's crusade against a witch-hunting senator?

In two decades of writing about movies, I have never heard such bitching and moaning and griping about a film not winning best picture. Enough is enough. You lost. Try to handle it with some grace.


Try and find someone who cares what you think.
I love how movies that weren't even nominated for best picture were ahead of BBM on your glorious list.

And its not that two gay cowboys is MORE noble, its that for once in history, its ACTUALLY talked about in a movie thats gotten wide-release and critcal acclaim. How many racist movies have there been? how many movies about jews? Racism is bad. Black people have rights. Hating jews is wrong. The holocaust ended a while ago.. Gays.. nope, still nothing really great. Maybe THATS WHY we're bitching.

If he want us to stop 'bitching' about brokeback.. its not smart to for him to tell us to 'get over it' and start telling the fans off, cuz then we'll stop bitching about it winning what it rightfully deserved and divert our bitching to him. thats right. ugh.
« Last Edit: Mar 15, 2006, 02:20 PM by Italian_Dude »
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Offline ethan

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Why is a film about two gay cowboys more noble than a film about race relations? Or a movie about an Israeli hit squad avenging the massacre at the Munich Olympic Games? Or a film about an author's book about the murders of an innocent family? Or a movie about a journalist's crusade against a witch-hunting senator?

In two decades of writing about movies, I have never heard such bitching and moaning and griping about a film not winning best picture. Enough is enough. You lost. Try to handle it with some grace.

from oscarwatch.com.

"It's worth nothing that, while my seven year-old described Brokeback as a "film about two gay cowboys," I wouldn't really describe it that way. Secondly, In two decades of his writing about the movies rarely has there ever been this much democracy both in terms of writing about movies and access to those who write about movies.

I haven't heard as much bitching and moaning either but I've never seen a film do what Brokeback did and NOT win Best Pic. What I don't get is why Roeper doesn't get it. Or Ebert for that matter. Strange days indeed. "
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Offline bram

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If he's never heard that much bitching and moaning about a movie not winning, doesn't that kind of signal that it's not just because some people liked the movie and wanted it to win? I mean, people have been upset because their favorite movie didn't win before. Doesn't all this hoopla kind of show that this wasn't just some movie that didn't win like all those others?

Also, Crash blew. I would have done a lot less bitching and moaning if something like Munich or really any other one of the choices had one. I still would have been upset, but not nearly as upset as I was.
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"Blood on the Red Carpet"
« Reply #28 on: Mar 15, 2006, 12:36 PM »

Hi people!

How are you. My first post here. Some of you might know me from other boards... By the way does anyone know what happened to the Annie Proulx's board? They took it down yesterday. No reasons given. Anyone knows?

It might be related to the topic of this thread. A lot of homophobic "people" went there to complain about her article at the Guardian. Lots of recriminatory posts.

Anyhow, I was wondering the following... Since she chose as the title of her article "Blood on the Red Carpet", doesn't it imply that homophobia was the REAL reason that Jack was murdered?

So are we finally CERTAIN in what she meant when she wrote: "There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it you've got to stand it."

As Ennis "now he knew it had been the tire iron" after hearing Jack's father talk, then what he KNEW and what he tried to BELIEVE was a bit apart.

With "Blood on the red carpet" it becomes pretty clear that homophobic violence was the thing that Ennis knew, but tried to believe otherwise.

Do you all agree?




Offline bram

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Re: "Blood on the Red Carpet"
« Reply #29 on: Mar 15, 2006, 12:48 PM »
I hadn't really thought about it, but what you said makes a lot of sense.
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