Author Topic: Post-Oscar news coverage  (Read 65656 times)

Offline ethan

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #120 on: Mar 12, 2006, 01:20 PM »
hidesert, thank you for posting the last two great articles. I really like the one which I quoted below. It sums well and speaks how I really feel.

Many won’t understand my disappointment. Why did I need validation of a gold statue and a spot on the wall at the Kodak Theater? Because I’ve never had it.

Year after year, I keep taking partial acceptance of my history and my life "the best I can get." I want more. I am no longer satisfied with nominations, critical acclaim and straight people portraying my life.

After 40 years you would think I could wake up tomorrow and forget it all, blend back into the world. Not this time. Because for once I honestly believed it was going to happen. The landmark portrayal of a gay life would win. Immortalized with an Oscar. This "once in a lifetime" moment was my lifetime. And it didn’t happen.

Remembering Pierre (chameau) 1960-2015, a "Capricorn bro and crazy Frog Uncle from the North Pole." You are missed

Offline hidesert

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #121 on: Mar 12, 2006, 01:49 PM »
hidesert, thank you for posting the last two great articles. I really like the one which I quoted below. It sums well and speaks how I really feel.


Many won’t understand my disappointment. Why did I need validation of a gold statue and a spot on the wall at the Kodak Theater? Because I’ve never had it.

Year after year, I keep taking partial acceptance of my history and my life "the best I can get." I want more. I am no longer satisfied with nominations, critical acclaim and straight people portraying my life.

After 40 years you would think I could wake up tomorrow and forget it all, blend back into the world. Not this time. Because for once I honestly believed it was going to happen. The landmark portrayal of a gay life would win. Immortalized with an Oscar. This "once in a lifetime" moment was my lifetime. And it didn’t happen.

Good selection Ethan.

Many have said that there were two gay themed movies this year BBM and Capote, but I don't see Capote as a gay themed film.  Sure Truman Capote was gay but his homosexuality was not the focus of the film, the focus was the making of his masterpiece, "In Cold Blood". 

George Clooney mentioned in an interview that they discovered in their research for "Good Night, and Good Luck" that Edward R. Morrow was gay.  I've never read that anyplace, but again the focus of that film was not sexuality, but a meglomaniac and the mass paranoia he created in the US.

Ironic that BBM was gay themed, though the two characters would never identify themselves as gay.

« Last Edit: Mar 12, 2006, 01:55 PM by hidesert »

Offline Lost_Girl

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #122 on: Mar 12, 2006, 02:32 PM »
http://community.livejournal.com/wranglers/728050.html#cutid1

This article from Advocate

Homophobia? Hogwash!

Who isn’t bummed that Brokeback didn’t mosey away with the Best Picture Oscar? But if fingers must be pointed, blame the loss on gays for not standing up to endless parodies and jokes about the film

By Karel


“And the Oscar for Best Picture goes to Crash…”

Even before Jack Nicholson handed the naked gold statue to the movie’s producers, cries of homophobia echoed from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. What? No Brokeback Mountain? How could this be? There is no doubt that Brokeback was the favorite to win, and one would think a film that had just won for Best Score, Best Adapted Screenplay (go, Diana and Larry!), and Best Director would, in fact, be the Best Picture. Well, not according to Oscar.


Obvious homophobia again, right? The Academy just couldn’t stomach awarding an unashamed love story with gay sex, right? Those damn cultural elitists caved to the pressure of Middle America and the religious right and played it safe by awarding a movie about racism in the LAPD, right?

Say it with me: “Poppycock!”

That’s too easy an answer and one to which we all too often defer when things like this happen. So what happened?

First, Brokeback burnout, and for that we are all to blame. In fact, gays are probably more to blame for Brokeback not winning than almost any other group (if there is one to blame). Why? Because we allowed it to become a national joke. Oh, sure, the parodies are funny. Oh, yeah, the jokes, including Billy Crystal and Chris Rock at the beginning of the Oscar show, got laughs. But at what expense? Simple—ours.

Brokeback Mountain is a tragic story with a tragic ending. I have yet to hear anyone explain to me what is funny about two people who can never really admit they’re in love, a society that wouldn’t accept them if they did, and the possibility that one of them dies by fag bashing (oops, was that a spoiler?). It seemed like a laugh riot on paper, right?

But most gays and lesbians have allowed Brokeback parodies to flourish. Where was GLAAD when all the jokes were being made and all the clips were being produced? Oh, no, it’s cool to laugh at gay people. Look how funny they are. And the thought of gay love? Hysterical! Let’s make it a joke. In fact, in 2006, “Brokeback” became the “Hollywood Word of the Year” as reported by the nonprofit Global Language Monitor group. Hey, it’s good for the box office, right?

The problem is that Academy members may not have wanted to vote for a joke, and unfortunately that’s what the media, comics, and Hollywood have done—turned Brokeback into a giant joke, a comedy skit. It’s a shame, because Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry’s script is anything but funny and Heath Ledger’s and Jake Gyllenhaal’s performances are worthy of praise more than parody.

And then there’s Brokeback fatigue. By the time Academy members got around to voting, they were probably tired of hearing about the movie, especially in the new, lighthearted way it’s been presented. There was no balancing voice from any gay group or organization to refocus them or the nation on how important and serious the discussions about this movie should be.

Dialogues that should be happening are not, and that’s a shame. For instance, no one stood up and said, “Stop calling this a gay movie!” Capote is far more gay than Brokeback, including the characters. I believe Ennis to be straight and the affair to be situational. What a great dialogue to have: that sexuality isn’t cut-and-dried, that sometimes you can fall in love with a person and not a gender, and that just because you’re straight and have sex with the same gender doesn’t make you gay. Just as if you’re gay and have sex with the opposite gender doesn’t make you straight. I’m legally married to a woman and haven’t had sex with anyone of any gender since July 2005. Does that make me straight? Trust me, no one believes that.

Why not talk about how being gay is a way of life, a lifestyle, an essence of being, and not about gay sex? There are gay celibates, for goodness’ sake. Straight men have gay sex. I know—I’ve had it with them. And gay men have straight sex (yes, I’ve had that too). Sexuality is complex, love is unexpected, and sometimes we enter into unexpected relationships. That’s the thing to be talking about. Talk about breaking down barriers so straight men might feel more at ease to explore their sexuality. But instead, we get a Brokeback to the Future parody—and laugh.

And then there’s the question of which nominee is simply a better movie. But gays don’t want to address that because Brokeback is a holy grail now.

Look, you can’t compare art. Van Gogh or Cézanne? And the winner is? Please, I’d take a work by both or either. Each film is unique. But in terms of complexity of story line, the way the story was told, subject matter, and all that goes in to a film, if pressed, I’m forced to admit that Crash and Capote were actually better films. I love Brokeback and all it says and does, and I can’t thank everyone enough for their labor of love, a labor that will lead to much better things in Hollywood for gays and lesbians when it comes to film. But when you compare it to the other nominees, while it certainly deserves to be nominated and deserves every single award it has gotten, was it the best picture made last year? Well, the Academy didn’t think so, and in reality, many nongay people don’t think so either. We must remove ourselves from our emotional attachment to the film and simply judge it as any other piece of celluloid. How many of you even saw Crash, Capote, or Munich? We run a very dangerous risk of blind allegiance to anything, films included.

The star of the night was Brokeback, no doubt. It got three statues. Why can’t that be enough? The fact is that 10% (or so, depending on whether or not there’s alcohol involved, or in this case, isolated men with sheep) of America loved this film. Ninety percent of America didn’t have that much of an investment, so they liked it. Many liked it a lot. But many also couldn’t relate. Racism, on the other hand? We’re still fighting that, as we have for thousands of years as humans. Everyone has a stance on that. And a troupe of talented actors weaving multiple story lines that all collide in one explosive place is not that easy of a feat. In this case the Academy thought it made for a better movie.

Brokeback Mountain is a serious, wonderful movie about serious, forbidden issues. If it’s your best picture of the year, fine. But leave Oscar alone. As an icon with no genitalia, he’s got enough problems. And not everything that happens to gay people or gay-themed products has a direct relationship to homophobia. As a mainstream talk-show host, I’ve had to learn that. We have to be more than gay; we have to be good. Being fired because you’re gay is wrong, but being fired because the straight guy next to you is just a little better at your job isn’t homophobia; it’s just a fact of life.

So the Academy didn’t think Brokeback was the brilliant work millions of others thought it to be. To scream homophobia is to yet again prove that we want to blame everything on something else and take no responsibility. Maybe if we took ourselves—and our movies—more seriously, others would too. Maybe things would be different if in our quest for acceptance, we didn’t allow ourselves or our media to become a parody. Not just on the Oscar stage, which is all make-believe anyway, but in real life.

I was fine with the Oscars. Every movie won something, and as a gay person, I’m willing to share. Congratulations to all the winners, and especially Ang Lee, Diana Ossana, and Larry McMurtry. And congratulations to Paul Haggis and his wonderful group that raised important social questions as well. We’re not the only ones struggling for equality: blacks, Hispanics, Persians, women…hell, almost every minority still is. And I’m glad Hollywood tackles it all.

Oh, and by the way, it’s an award, not a social statement. Which film won Best Picture last year? Bet you had to think, or maybe you don’t even remember. But when Crash is in the $5.50 bin at Wal-Mart or Target it will still be a great film, while Brokeback will, in fact, become a classic spoken about for many years to come. So we win after all.


Karel (Charles Karel Bouley II) is a talk-show host for KGO AM 810 in San Francisco and is heard Saturday and Sunday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. or online at kgo.com. He is a columnist for Advocate.com and In Magazine Los Angeles, and his book of essays, You Can’t Say That, is published by Alyson Books. He maintains a blog, podcasts, and message boards at karelchannel.com and can be reached at showcomments@karelchannel.com.
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Offline Lost_Girl

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #123 on: Mar 12, 2006, 02:34 PM »
Annie Proulx

Saturday March 11, 2006

Guardian

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.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
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Offline hidesert

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #124 on: Mar 12, 2006, 04:56 PM »

Thanks Lost Girl.  I saw that article "Homophobia? Hogwash!" and debated with myself about posting it.  I disagree with the writer on so many of his statements that I guess I didn't want to raise my blood pressure, but since you posted it, I'll reply.

1- The gay community has no say in how people respond to a film.  Comedians will always make jokes and ordinary straight people especially straight men respond with jokes when a topic makes them uncomfortable - it's human nature. And BBM made many many people uncomfortable.  Karel's statement that Academy members didn't vote for BBM because it was a joke makes no sense. 

Of course homosexuality should be taken seriously.  Race (Crash), the murder of Jewish athletes (Munich), multiple murder (Capote) and McCarthyism (Good Night and Good LUck), were not the subject of jokes during the lead up to Oscars and at the Oscar ceremony, but gay cowboys were.  Hollywood has always taken homosexuality humorously - just look at American TV, "Will and Grace", "Straight Guy" etc.  There are quite a few gay writers in Hollywood who have contributed to these shows and other TV shows and films.  BBM fans could not stop the gay cowboy jokes because it's part of our homophobic culture.       

2- As I posted before in this thread, Capote isn't a gay film.  The subject of the film is a gay writer but the movie is not about his sexuality. There are no sex scenes.  It's like stating that a movie about John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missle crisis is about his Catholicism, because Kennedy just happened to be Roman Catholic.

3- Undoubtedly there were Academy members and movie critics who saw Crash as a better film.  Everyone including Roger Ebert are entitled to their opinions.   

4- I do agree with part of his last two sentences, "But when Crash is in the $5.50 bin at Wal-Mart or Target ... Brokeback will, in fact, become a classic spoken about for many years to come. So we win after all."


Offline ennisandjack

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #125 on: Mar 12, 2006, 05:53 PM »

Thanks Lost Girl.  I saw that article "Homophobia? Hogwash!" and debated with myself about posting it.  I disagree with the writer on so many of his statements that I guess I didn't want to raise my blood pressure, but since you posted it, I'll reply.

1- The gay community has no say in how people respond to a film.  Comedians will always make jokes and ordinary straight people especially straight men respond with jokes when a topic makes them uncomfortable - it's human nature. And BBM made many many people uncomfortable.  Karel's statement that Academy members didn't vote for BBM because it was a joke makes no sense. 

Of course homosexuality should be taken seriously.  Race (Crash), the murder of Jewish athletes (Munich), multiple murder (Capote) and McCarthyism (Good Night and Good LUck), were not the subject of jokes during the lead up to Oscars and at the Oscar ceremony, but gay cowboys were.  Hollywood has always taken homosexuality humorously - just look at American TV, "Will and Grace", "Straight Guy" etc.  There are quite a few gay writers in Hollywood who have contributed to these shows and other TV shows and films.  BBM fans could not stop the gay cowboy jokes because it's part of our homophobic culture.       

2- As I posted before in this thread, Capote isn't a gay film.  The subject of the film is a gay writer but the movie is not about his sexuality. There are no sex scenes.  It's like stating that a movie about John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missle crisis is about his Catholicism, because Kennedy just happened to be Roman Catholic.

3- Undoubtedly there were Academy members and movie critics who saw Crash as a better film.  Everyone including Roger Ebert are entitled to their opinions.   

4- I do agree with part of his last two sentences, "But when Crash is in the $5.50 bin at Wal-Mart or Target ... Brokeback will, in fact, become a classic spoken about for many years to come. So we win after all."


I agree with you especially about the issues around humour, which is clearly a mainstream tactic used to ridicule gays and trivialize gay issues. The fact that the film deals with gay bashing and other painful subjects makes it even more appalling. However, I'm sure if glaad or anyone else criticised people making jokes like jay leno they would have just used it against us.

The other thought that hit me when I read this article is how in denial people can be about the reality of homophobia. We all know that the academy wouldn't honour black actors and actresses because of racism. Its reality. However, when it comes to homophobia no-one seems to want to call it for what it is. Ever other excuse possible is conjured in its place despite documented proof that academy voters were refusing to even watch the film, were voting against brokeback so it wouldn't win and that the outcome for BP went against 77 years of academy history.

Offline hidesert

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #126 on: Mar 12, 2006, 07:12 PM »
I agree with you especially about the issues around humour, which is clearly a mainstream tactic used to ridicule gays and trivialize gay issues. The fact that the film deals with gay bashing and other painful subjects makes it even more appalling. However, I'm sure if glaad or anyone else criticised people making jokes like jay leno they would have just used it against us.

The other thought that hit me when I read this article is how in denial people can be about the reality of homophobia. We all know that the academy wouldn't honour black actors and actresses because of racism. Its reality. However, when it comes to homophobia no-one seems to want to call it for what it is. Ever other excuse possible is conjured in its place despite documented proof that academy voters were refusing to even watch the film, were voting against brokeback so it wouldn't win and that the outcome for BP went against 77 years of academy history. 

You're right E&J, telling people not to joke about gay cowboys would have backfired and caused negative publicity for BBM.  I just wish that the comedians and the Oscar show would have been equal opportunity jokers and given us some jokes about the other Best Pic nominees.  Somehow race and religion are off limits for most humor, but jokes about homosexuality like those about sex in general are almost always acceptable.  A double standard.

Your comment about the extent of homophobia is right on.  Karel is in the San Francisco Bay Area and some people in that liberal area see things through rose colored glasses.  I lived there. It's not representative of the whole US.   Much of the homophobia is caused by religion - such a shame because religion should be comforting and healing but it is the cause so much emotional pain.

Karel has an ego problem and isn't a great writer, but I agree with some of his statements.

"We have to be more than gay; we have to be good. Being fired because you’re gay is wrong, but being fired because the straight guy next to you is just a little better at your job isn’t homophobia; it’s just a fact of life." 

What he should have said is that job performance has nothing to do with being gay - it's about competency.  It's the same argument that woman have used in asserting their rights - gender should not be a factor, only job competency.  And racial minorities use the same valid argument.   

His second sentence should have been that if you're fire because of incompetence and replaced by a straight guy, don't blame it on homophobia.  It had nothing do with it. 


Offline ennisandjack

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #127 on: Mar 12, 2006, 08:22 PM »
I think Karel is a little biased against Brokeback anyway. He also wrote this piece:

"It's very brave of them"

http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail.asp?id=23334

Everyone who’s tired of the media—and Madonna—calling Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger “brave” for acting in Brokeback Mountain, please raise your hands. Then say it with me: “poppycock”

By Charles Karel Bouley II

Offline Lost_Girl

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #128 on: Mar 13, 2006, 02:52 PM »
http://www.afterelton.com/movies/2006/3/affair.html

A Harrowing Affair: Commentary From a Brokeback Mountain Fan
by Mark Salamon, March 13, 2006

During the run-up to the Academy Awards Tony Curtis told Fox News that he hadn't yet seen Brokeback Mountain and had no intention of doing so. He claimed he wasn't alone in the sentiment and other Academy members felt the same way.

Furthermore, Curtis contended, his contemporaries no longer alive to speak for themselves wouldn't have cared for the highly acclaimed Best Picture nominee either." Howard Hughes and John Wayne wouldn't like it," Curtis said in an interview.

I am not a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but I have seen Brokeback Mountain, and I did like it tremendously—as did millions of others. Our bewilderment over its defeat at the Oscars has been misinterpreted. Would you humor us by considering the following analogy that better explains our position?

Let's simply recast Brokeback Mountain as the story about the intolerance faced by a white woman and her black husband in rural Wyoming in the 1960s. At the end of the film, her husband is murdered in a brutal hate crime because of others disgust over miscegenation.

Now imagine that, before this film even premieres, it is the butt of racist jokes. Conservative news commentators decry its very existence as a mistake, calling it a profane plea for acceptance of the sin that is a mixed marriage. They repeatedly predict--and hope for--its failure at the box office.

The movies opens and critics rave that it is an exquisite, poignant, and supremely-well crafted film. The actors are ideally cast in their parts and play their roles with pitch-perfect honesty and involvement. The screenplay is sublimely spare and genuinely evocative of the American west of the recent past. The cinematography, the musical score, the landscapes, the set-pieces: together, they achieve perfection, or something close to it.

Nonetheless, all during its cinematic run, talk show hosts, humorists and live comedy-ensemble network programs can't seem to let a day go by without satirical reference to that "jungle fever cowboy movie." Black and white celebrities play out creepy parodies of "BrokeBlack Mounting." Often these skits are done in whiteface and blackface.

Award season commences and Brokeback Mountain wins almost every precursor "Best" award bestowed by the most prestigious film institutions. It also has the greatest box-office take of all the likely Best Picture nominees, and, by most accounts, is the best reviewed film of the year. And when the Oscar nominations are announced, Brokeback Mountain receives the highest number of nominations for all of the Best Picture nominees.

Shortly thereafter, an Academy member proudly proclaims he has no intention of watching the film because he and his contemporaries don't care for mixed marriages. Their reasoning is,"D.W. Griffith (or insert the name of a famously racist Hollywood Golden Age actor here) would be rolling over in his grave." Consider, too, it is also likely that a significant proportion of Academy members are silently acting out this same bigotry by failing to see Brokeback Mountain before marking their own ballots.

No one objects to these glaring violations of the Academy's own rules, or the institution's ethics. Nonetheless, it is widely predicted Brokeback Mountain will win Best Picture. Even Las Vegas odds-makers make it the overwhelming favorite.

Then Brokeback Mountain  loses to Crash in what, almost everyone agrees, is one of the—if not the —most shocking upset ever. Is it unreasonable that some might ask if racism had been a factor?

This example is not an overstatement of the abuse that has been hurled at Brokeback Mountain, nor have its accolades been exaggerated. Merely substitute "gay male relationship" into the analogy provided above and you will have an accurate picture of the scathing climate Brokeback Mountain has had to endure.

Consider another scenario. Imagine the gay themes of Brokeback Mountain were received with benign acceptance and treated with quiet respect during its run in the theaters. Reviews were mixed and it did so-so at the box-office. Meanwhile, the issues of race relations in Crash were the subject of daily derision, culminating in an announcement by a prominent Academy member he would not be viewing the movie because it was about “colored people.”

Then, suppose that leading up to the Oscars, Crash received more "Best" awards, not only among all pictures in 2005, but among all movies in history.

Don't you think there might have been a tiny tempest if, under those circumstances, Brokeback Mountain had then won "Best Picture" over Crash? Wouldn't questions of racism within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences be asked legitimately? Accusations of unfairness within the Academy's voting procedure and the uproar would continue until heads rolled and changes occurred. Spike Lee and the NAACP might well be in the forefront of the campaign.

But Brokeback Mountain is a tale of the love between two male ranch hands. Mr. Curtis--and who knows how many other Academy members--flouted the long accepted conventions of their own guild by dismissing Brokeback Mountain without ever screening it. Is there really a problem with that? Or are those homosexuals just "sore losers," who are "pushing an agenda?"

Homophobia--yes, there's that "h" word--is still so ingrained in Hollywood and within American culture that disdain for gay relationships is accepted as "normal" and "natural". So much so, that the Tony Curtises of this world express it as if by right, feeling no shame and fearing no censure from their colleagues or the public.

In his column entitled "The Fury of the 'Crash'-lash" Roger Ebert concludes by writing: "The nature of the attacks on Crash by the supporters of Brokeback Mountain seem to proceed from the other position: Brokeback is better not only because of its artistry but because of its subject matter, and those who disagree hate homosexuals. Its supporters could vote for it in good conscience, vote for it and feel they had made a progressive move, vote for it and not feel that there was any stain on their liberal credentials for shunning what Crash had to offer."

Let us overlook the fact that Ebert succumbs to the slippery temptation to misrepresent our point, and then finds fault with that misconstruing of our position. What he seems to be suggesting is that "supporters of Brokeback Mountain" are "attacking" Crash because we failed in our attempts to turn the Oscar for "Best Picture" into a competition for "Worthiest Oppressed Minority".

I, and those who agree with me, will freely admit to being Brokeback Mountain supporters, yet let us please speak for ourselves. Few of us have argued Brokeback Mountain deserved the Oscar because it is about gay love. That has nothing to do with it.

What's done is done. Crash won this year's Best Picture Oscar and there is no taking that back. Nor should it be. But given the facts outlined above, is it really asking too much to admit that homophobia may very well have played a part in that outcome?
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Offline ethan

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Should have seen signs of 'Crash' coming
« Reply #129 on: Mar 13, 2006, 04:57 PM »
March 08, 2006

Should have seen signs of 'Crash' coming

By Martin A. Grove

Oscar outcome: Looking back at how "Crash" climbed over "Brokeback Mountain" on Sunday night, the question isn't "Why didn't we see it coming?" but, "Why didn't we believe we were seeing it coming?"

Despite the fact that "Brokeback" had swept the most meaningful best picture races from December through February, the buzz was that "Crash" was gaining momentum while "Brokeback" was losing steam. Nonetheless, most Hollywood handicappers (including yours truly, sorry to say) just weren't willing to believe the Oscar outcome would differ from all those earlier votes by members of the Producers Guild of America, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. and the British Academy.

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.

If that's what happened -- we'll never know, of course, since the Academy's not about to let us audit the voting -- it becomes easier to understand how "Brokeback" got trumped by "Crash." With 6,188 voting members of the Academy, if 20% of them abstained from voting that would remove 1,238 votes from the mix and leave just 4,950 to determine the outcome. In a race where every vote typically counts, that alone could dramatically alter the results.

Moreover, insiders are also pointing to a little known piece of Oscar trivia -- which I'm happy to say I pointed out here last Friday -- which is that not since 1980's "Ordinary People" has a film won the best picture Oscar without also having had a nomination for best film editing. As we now realize but weren't thinking about pre-Oscars, "Brokeback" wasn't a film editing nominee this year. "Crash" was. In fact, "Crash" film editor Hughes Winborne wound up taking home the Oscar for his work on the picture. Insiders claim that film editors don't vote for best picture nominees that aren't also best film editing nominees. There are 239 members of the Academy's Film Editors branch. If we add their votes to the 1,238 votes that quite possibly weren't cast at all, that's a total of 1,477 votes -- nearly 24% of the total Academy membership -- that didn't go to "Brokeback."

And let's not forget that actors make up the Academy's biggest branch. There are 1,359 actors who vote and they represent nearly 22% of the Academy's membership. While we don't know for sure who the actors voted for, it's a safe bet that they preferred "Crash" to "Brokeback" since the Screen Actors Guild stiffed "Brokeback" in late January and gave "Crash" its Best Ensemble Cast award, the Guild's equivalent of a best picture honor. The SAG contest was the only important best picture vote that "Brokeback" missed out on, but it sent a signal at the time that the movie wasn't resonating with actors.

By sending about 110,000 "Crash" DVDs to SAG's full membership, Lionsgate made sure that all of the guild's members had an opportunity to watch the film at home. This was the first time anyone had ever sent DVDs of an Oscar contender to the full SAG membership. Because this marketing technique worked so well, other distributors are likely to adopt the same approach next year. It's worth noting, however, that the reason Lionsgate was comfortable doing this was that "Crash" had opened in theaters last May and had gone into DVD in September. The DVDs sent to SAG members didn't need to be specially watermarked or encrypted because awards season piracy wasn't something Lionsgate was worrying about at that point. In future campaigns, however, studios with films opening in November or December will find themselves at a disadvantage compared to those whose contenders opened theatrically earlier in the year and arrived in DVD release a few months later. Year-end theatrical releases have a much greater risk of being turned into pirated DVDs and sold on street corners worldwide. Their distributors will have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of sending them on DVD to all SAG members.

"Crash" had an additional advantage with SAG and other guild members because it was shot in the Los Angeles area. Unlike "Brokeback," which filmed in Canada, "Crash" provided jobs for actors and other L.A. based workers, who are increasingly frustrated by runaway productions that travel to far-flung locations where cheaper costs and tax deals are increasingly helping producers stretch their budgets.

Moreover, because "Crash" was a story dealing with complex racial relations in Los Angeles, it was something that L.A.-based Academy members could easily relate to. Nearly 80% of the Academy's membership lives in the L.A. area and Lionsgate was very perceptive to recognize how important a constituency that could be for "Crash."

All of these were factors that should have told Hollywood handicappers that "Crash" was a very strong contender that would give "Brokeback" real competition for best picture. But that message didn't really get across. Insiders were regarding "Crash" as having a better shot of winning than "Capote," "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "Munich," but not until Oscar weekend were they starting to predict that it could knock "Brokeback" out of the ring.

Wandering around the Weinstein Co.'s pre-Oscars party at the Pacific Design Center last Saturday evening, I ran into several media friends who were just starting to focus on the potential of a "Crash" victory. Mostly, they arrived at this view after talking to people they knew who are Academy members and being told that not only had they voted for "Crash" themselves, but that all of their friends had done the same. These were, of course, small anonymous samplings and that made it difficult to judge how reliable they were.

On the other hand, what "Brokeback" had going for it was a steady stream of big victories over the entire awards season. In past years, that level of success would typically have translated into Oscar gold for "Brokeback." Not so this time around. Beyond the film's sensitive subject matter and the possibility that it was more of a problem for Academy members than it had been for other awards givers, it's also possible that Oscar voters rebelled at the prospect of looking like the last group to jump on the "Brokeback" bandwagon.

The Academy's made no secret of the fact that it wishes there were far fewer awards shows in the marketplace. By moving the Oscars from late March to late February (but going to March 5 this year to avoid competing for ratings with the Winter Olympics) it tried but failed to put an end to some of those other awards shows. In applauding "Crash" over "Brokeback" Academy members were saying, in effect, that you can't take their votes for granted. Even though we may think that we've already seen the Oscar results played out on other televised awards shows and that we've already seen the Oscar winners walking down other red carpets, what "Crash's" best picture win really tells us is that at the Oscars it's not over till it's over.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/columns/grove_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002117648
----------------------------

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Offline chameau

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #130 on: Mar 13, 2006, 05:06 PM »
Thanks for posting this Ethan, very interesting
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Offline frenchcda

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #131 on: Mar 14, 2006, 04:08 AM »
Have you guys seen this? It was posted at Steve Pond's Oscar Beat:

http://oscarbeat.latimes.com/awards_oscar/2006/03/the_academys_ma.html#comments

Academy gets lashed by another anti-"Brokeback" sentiment
When Oscar Beat called Bruce Davis to ask about voters who refused to see "Brokeback Mountain," the academy's executive director was unaware of the dozens of angry comments we'd received from readers lambasting Oscar voters for failing to give the film the best picture award.

He hasn't noticed, because he's been too busy reading angry mail from people who are furious at the academy for saluting "Brokeback" with eight nominations and three Oscars.

An hour after we first spoke, Davis called back, in the interim having perused the invective on our comments pages.

"In our mail, we've gotten maybe two dozen emails and letters along the lines of your responses," he said. "But we've gotten more than 1,000 responses from people who are outraged that we gave 'Brokeback Mountain' anything at all."

Those responses, he says, have come not from academy members, but from "all over the place. From red states, I betcha. I understand that some people are upset that 'Brokeback Mountain' didn't win best picture, but our perspective has been colored by this onslaught from people who didn't want to see it nominated, much less win anything.

"It's a perfect no-win situation for the academy. Some people are condemning us for not giving the film our highest award, and many, many more are condemning us for giving it anything."

What the hell? They only received two dozen responses from BBM fans?Huh I don't believe that. Maybe we should all send another letter to AMPAS addressed to Bruce Davis. Maybe they need to see several hundred over the next couple of days.
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Offline scruffy

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #132 on: Mar 14, 2006, 06:01 AM »
FrenchCda -- Well, Bruce Davis finally answered but I'm not sure I like what he had to say...


AMPAS policy: If you skipped 'Brokeback,' you shouldn't have voted

In the continuing furor over the upset in best picture race, one constant among "Brokeback Mountain" fans is their anger due to the perception that some academy voters voted without seeing all five best picture nominees.

There's no way to tell how many voters fall into this category, but we know that a couple of high-profile members skipped "Brokeback." Tony Curtis, for instance, told Fox News that he hadn't seen the film and had no intention of doing so, and that he knew other members who felt the same way.

And the night of the ceremony, Ernest Borgnine told Entertainment Weekly, "I didn't see it and I don't care to see it.… If John Wayne were alive, he'd be rolling over in his grave."

Neither Curtis nor Borgnine stated that they cast ballots, though many readers were quick to assume that they had.

Asked about the comments this week, AMPAS Executive Director Bruce Davis said that academy guidelines are unmistakable: Members who skipped any of the nominees should not have voted in the best picture race.

"The ballot contains a very clear instruction that you're not supposed to vote in the categories in which you haven't seen every nominee," he says. "So we assume that the people who haven't seen all five of the films don't vote for best picture."

Photo: Paul Haggis greets Jack Nicholson, one of many who were surprised by the best picture win for "Crash"
(AMPAS)

Davis wouldn't speculate on how many members ignore the ballot guidelines. "All I can say is that we hope that the people who haven't seen everything leave those categories blank."

When told that Rick Rosas, one of the two PricewaterhouseCoopers partners who supervise the count, recently told Oscar Beat that very few voters leave any categories blank, Davis paused.

"Rick told you that?" he said. "That's odd, because we've asked them about it in the past. They've told us that there has been quite a difference in the total number of votes cast between the different categories listed on the main ballot."

As for the idea of requiring voters to document attendance at all nominated films to vote in a category — which is currently done in the foreign film, documentary and shorts categories — Davis dismisses it as logistically impossible.

"We can tell with a fair degree of certainty who's seen the five foreign film nominees, but it's difficult to verify," he says. "And to do it in every category is just not possible."

It's also not something the academy feels an impetus to do, despite the controversy over the "Crash" best picture victory.

"It's important to point out that 'Brokeback Mountain' got more nominations than any other film, and won Oscars in three major categories," he says. "And clearly, the best picture race was close, because Ang Lee won for best director."

In other words, the academy will not be scrutinizing this year's result any more closely than they would any other year.

"I think it's interesting," Davis adds, "that any time there's an upset like this, people analyze it in political and sociological terms: 'This must be at work, or that must be at work.' It's never that more people liked picture A than picture B.

"In this case, I think you had a very close race in which more people liked picture B."

Davis also addressed an assertion made on the "Live with Regis and Kelly" television show the morning after the Oscars ceremony, in which "an academy source" suggested that this year saw an abnormally low voter turnout, with the usual return rate of close to 100% falling to about 80%.

"First of all, we have never had a year in which there was a 100% return, or anything like it," he says. "We have a good rate of return, but it's never 100%, or even 90%."

As for this year's exact rate, he says, nobody inside the academy knows the figures. "PricewaterhouseCoopers have standing instructions to report to us if anything unusual happens with the voting patters, and they have not reported anything this year," he says.

"They would consider a 20% drop a very unusual occurrence — in fact, they'd consider a 10% drop unusual. They haven't said anything to us, so we know that the turnout was similar to other years."

Offline tpe

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #133 on: Mar 14, 2006, 08:20 AM »
Davis is a bare-assed hypocrite.  Let him drown in his own dog vomit.

Offline hidesert

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #134 on: Mar 14, 2006, 08:25 AM »

Gays: Oscar Betrayed Us[/b]

Tom O'Neil, LA Times  | March 14, 2006


The reason gay people are so eye-popping furious over what happened to "Brokeback Mountain" at the Academy Awards is more than just disappointment that a gay-themed movie lost best picture. To put it in classic Hollywood terms, many gays believe that Oscar — ruthlessly, deliberately and mercilessly — plunged his sword into the backs of those who love him most.

Who the heck does he think he is, anyway? Bette Davis?

If the Oscars gold derby is regarded as the sporting event that it really is, there's no doubt who the cheerleaders are: gay guys.

If you don't believe that, you haven't been paying attention to who organizes your office Oscars pool every year. Don't those chaps all seem to be a little too well groomed and well-spoken?

Go ahead and ask any gay man you know if he's ever fantasized about winning an Oscar and he'll instantly blurt out his acceptance speech. Even the part — a la Julia Roberts — where he warns the orchestra conductor not to dare interrupt him because he may never make it up to the podium again and there's so much to say.

Of course, Chris Rock wasn't kidding when he notoriously said last year, "What straight guy that you know cares? Who gives a f---?"

So "Brokeback's" loss was more than just mere disappointment by a group of people who rooted for it to win. Finally, gay people — who'd been unofficially in charge of whipping up Oscars ballyhoo nationwide forever — had their own horse in the derby. And it wasn't another one of those pity-poor-us-because-we're-dying-of-AIDS films starring Tom Hanks.

The "Brokeback" pony had similar hopelessly straight guys in the saddle, yes, but it was a love story. If it won best picture, its victory would be a milestone moment in showbiz history as important and validating to gays as the "In the Heat of the Night" best picture win was to African Americans and the "Schindler's List" victory was to Jews.

Imagine gay people's excitement and glee throughout this Oscars race! Even better, it looked like "Brokeback" was the easiest bet in any Oscars pool because it could not be denied. It led with the most nominations, which almost always assures triumph, and it had previously been rubber-stamped the best pic of the year by 23 other award groups, including the Producers Guild, BAFTA, Indie Spirits, Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., New York Film Critics Circle, the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. and Golden Globes (where "Crash" wasn't even nominated).

Its subsequent Oscars loss was "blatant homophobia" according to Ann Northrop, cohost of "Gay U.S.A.," the nationally syndicated TV news show. "Come on! It won every other best picture award in the world, but I don't think they wanted to give it to us!"

Her cohost Andy Humm added with sad resignation, "It's the typical conservatism of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which is composed of old straight guys."

More than two-thirds of respondents to a poll at gay news site Advocate.com agree, blaming homophobia for "Brokeback's" loss. Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan concurred, too, writing, "In the privacy of the voting booth, people are free to act out the unspoken fears and unconscious prejudices…. And at least this year, that acting out doomed 'Brokeback Mountain.'"

Meantime, more and more actual evidence of bias mounts. No longer is Tony Curtis alone among older academy members who publicly admitted that they refused even to consider "Brokeback." Oscar's best actor of 1955 Ernest Borgnine ("Marty") told Entertainment Weekly: "I didn’t see (‘Brokeback Mountain’) and I don’t care to see it. I know they say it’s a good picture, but I don’t care to see it." Then he added the most ridiculous, illogical, slam ever uttered against the gay cowboys: "If John Wayne were alive, he’d be rolling over in his grave!"

Perhaps we can no longer assume that apparently hip Sarah Jessica Parker isn't homophobic. She made a shocking confession to Conan O'Brien and his national TV audience: she voted for best picture at the Oscars without watching "Brokeback Mountain." Instead, she accepted input about it from her three-year-old son who watched about 20 minutes of the DVD screener out of curiosity. Presumably, Sarah ended up voting for something else.

How can gay people not feel betrayed by Oscar when so many voters publicly admit that they never even gave "Brokeback" a chance? Worse, that didn't stop them from giving "Brokeback" all of the other Oscars it was expected to get: best director, screenplay and musical score. But they just couldn't go that last step, just couldn't install such a historic milestone on a financially successful and critically acclaimed film — worthy of Academy Awards for writing and direction — and place it in Oscar's best pic pantheon.

Can gay people ever forgive Oscar? If not, just think of what the Academy Awards will be like in years to come without their cheerleading? Will anybody care?


« Last Edit: Mar 14, 2006, 09:01 AM by hidesert »

Offline hidesert

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #135 on: Mar 14, 2006, 08:38 AM »
AMPAS policy: If you skipped 'Brokeback,' you shouldn't have voted


Asked about the comments this week, AMPAS Executive Director Bruce Davis said that academy guidelines are unmistakable: Members who skipped any of the nominees should not have voted in the best picture race.

"The ballot contains a very clear instruction that you're not supposed to vote in the categories in which you haven't seen every nominee," he says. "So we assume that the people who haven't seen all five of the films don't vote for best picture."

Davis wouldn't speculate on how many members ignore the ballot guidelines. "All I can say is that we hope that the people who haven't seen everything leave those categories blank."

When told that Rick Rosas, one of the two PricewaterhouseCoopers partners who supervise the count, recently told Oscar Beat that very few voters leave any categories blank, Davis paused.

"Rick told you that?" he said. "That's odd, because we've asked them about it in the past. They've told us that there has been quite a difference in the total number of votes cast between the different categories listed on the main ballot."



Davis also addressed an assertion made on the "Live with Regis and Kelly" television show the morning after the Oscars ceremony, in which "an academy source" suggested that this year saw an abnormally low voter turnout, with the usual return rate of close to 100% falling to about 80%.

"First of all, we have never had a year in which there was a 100% return, or anything like it," he says. "We have a good rate of return, but it's never 100%, or even 90%."

As for this year's exact rate, he says, nobody inside the academy knows the figures. "PricewaterhouseCoopers have standing instructions to report to us if anything unusual happens with the voting patters, and they have not reported anything this year," he says.

"They would consider a 20% drop a very unusual occurrence — in fact, they'd consider a 10% drop unusual. They haven't said anything to us, so we know that the turnout was similar to other years." 


The best reason to get rid of all of the secrecy surrounding the voting process and publish the vote totals.   Who is going to make Academy voters do anything - it's useless to have regulations as they are a paper tiger.  Davis and PWC are not even on the same track with their information.

The Academy is a joke.

« Last Edit: Mar 14, 2006, 08:40 AM by hidesert »

Offline hidesert

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #136 on: Mar 14, 2006, 10:37 PM »

It's apparent that AMPAS Exec Dir Bruce Davis is clueless. In effect he's saying,  We don't talk to PWC unless they tell us there is a problem because we don't look at any of the ballots.  And PWC undoubtedly collects a big fee for all of their services.  I'm not hearing Davis say that the Academy recognizes that there may have been irregularities and they will investigate.  Or even better, that an outside auditor will investigate and make their report public.


Offline BBM Obsessed

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #137 on: Mar 14, 2006, 11:14 PM »
Nice, yet too brief, article on Annie Proulx's reaction to the Oscar loss for Best Picture:

http://movies.msn.com/movies/article.aspx?news=218583&GT1=7701
"I'm not a human being having a spiritual experience, rather I'm a spiritual being having a human experience."  :)

Offline BBM Obsessed

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #138 on: Mar 14, 2006, 11:17 PM »
Here's the write-up on Annie Proulx's reaction:

'Brokeback' Author Peeved About Oscar Loss
Mar 14, 6:01 PM EST

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Annie Proulx, whose 1997 short story inspired the film "Brokeback Mountain," has penned a scattershot blast in a British newspaper unleashing her anger over the film's best-picture Oscar loss.

Proulx criticizes Oscar voters and the Academy Awards ceremony in the 1,094-word rant, which appeared in Saturday's issue of The Guardian, a liberal paper boasting 1.2 million readers daily.

The best-picture Oscar went to "Crash," which focuses on race relations in Los Angeles.

Academy members who vote for the year's best film are "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," Proulx writes.

The 70-year-old Pulitzer-prize winning author points out that "Brokeback," which was nominated for eight Academy Awards, was named best picture at the Independent Spirit Awards one day before the March 5 Oscars.

"If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices," Proulx advises.

She even lashes out at Lionsgate, the distribution company behind "Crash."

"Rumour has it that Lionsgate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash — excuse me — Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline," Proulx writes.

She decries the "atmosphere of insufferable self-importance" inside the Kodak Theatre, the Oscars site, and describes the audience as a "somewhat dim LA crowd." The show, she writes, was "reminiscent of a small-town talent-show night."

"Clapping wildly for bad stuff enhances this," Proulx writes. She notes that "Brokeback's" three Oscar wins, for original score, adapted screenplay and direction for Ang Lee put it "on equal footing with King Kong."

When Jack Nicholson announced "Crash" as the best-picture winner, "there was a gasp of shock," Proulx writes.

"It was a safe pick of `controversial film' for the heffalumps," she writes, using the elephant-like "Winnie the Pooh" character to describe academy voters.

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

Calls by the Associated Press to Proulx's Wyoming home and her literary agent, Elizabeth Darhansoff, were not immediately returned Tuesday.

"I'm not a human being having a spiritual experience, rather I'm a spiritual being having a human experience."  :)

Offline Toadily

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #139 on: Mar 14, 2006, 11:24 PM »
Here's the write-up on Annie Proulx's reaction:

'Brokeback' Author Peeved About Oscar Loss
Mar 14, 6:01 PM EST

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Annie Proulx, whose 1997 short story inspired the film "Brokeback Mountain," has penned a scattershot blast in a British newspaper unleashing her anger over the film's best-picture Oscar loss.

Proulx criticizes Oscar voters and the Academy Awards ceremony in the 1,094-word rant, which appeared in Saturday's issue of The Guardian, a liberal paper boasting 1.2 million readers daily.

The best-picture Oscar went to "Crash," which focuses on race relations in Los Angeles.

Academy members who vote for the year's best film are "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," Proulx writes.

The 70-year-old Pulitzer-prize winning author points out that "Brokeback," which was nominated for eight Academy Awards, was named best picture at the Independent Spirit Awards one day before the March 5 Oscars.

"If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices," Proulx advises.

She even lashes out at Lionsgate, the distribution company behind "Crash."

"Rumour has it that Lionsgate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash — excuse me — Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline," Proulx writes.

She decries the "atmosphere of insufferable self-importance" inside the Kodak Theatre, the Oscars site, and describes the audience as a "somewhat dim LA crowd." The show, she writes, was "reminiscent of a small-town talent-show night."

"Clapping wildly for bad stuff enhances this," Proulx writes. She notes that "Brokeback's" three Oscar wins, for original score, adapted screenplay and direction for Ang Lee put it "on equal footing with King Kong."

When Jack Nicholson announced "Crash" as the best-picture winner, "there was a gasp of shock," Proulx writes.

"It was a safe pick of `controversial film' for the heffalumps," she writes, using the elephant-like "Winnie the Pooh" character to describe academy voters.

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

Calls by the Associated Press to Proulx's Wyoming home and her literary agent, Elizabeth Darhansoff, were not immediately returned Tuesday.



YeahI read that it's great!  I love when old broads go off, she is right too.  I love the self importance line.
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Offline hidesert

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #140 on: Mar 14, 2006, 11:25 PM »

Nice, yet too brief, article on Annie Proulx's reaction to the Oscar loss for Best Picture:

http://movies.msn.com/movies/article.aspx?news=218583&GT1=7701

Annie Proulx's article in the Guardian was published on Saturday or Sunday and most of the mainstream press are just now commenting on it - it's old news now.    Interesting commentary on the American press.

« Last Edit: Mar 15, 2006, 09:19 PM by hidesert »

Offline bnjmn3

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #141 on: Mar 14, 2006, 11:28 PM »
Annie Proulx is correct. The greatest truth of her argument is that Crash is not worthy. Richard Roeper says the best film winner is NOBLE. I wish more media would just focus on Crash as a film and not as a message. When you look at Crash on its own merits without baptizing it as a treatment of racism, it is clear the Academy (and some media and critics who blast BBM fans for complaining or who attack Annie) leapt to the safest choice.  This article is for them!

Racism is worthy of much discussion---especially since our President was playing golf the day after Katrina hit--Crash is not worthy of a Best Picture nod, not to mention Best Picture. Looking at Crash on its own without comparing it to  BBM or GNAG reveals Crash to be a terribly weak film. Furthermore, the Academy voted against Good Night and Good Luck because of it's politics of nailing crooked Republicans.
Please, there were only two towering great films from 2005..Good Night and Good Luck and Brokeback Mountain. Great films have three elements. 1. GREAT STORY/MESSAGE 2. GREAT SCREENPLAY, and 3. GREAT FINAL RESULT ON SCREEN. CRASH only has #1. You can say there are great actors---I agree---but the things they say and do are for the most part unbelievable!!!

Film is a Director's medium. Only on rare occasions do actors (Clooney, Redford, Streisand, Beatty) serve as the makers of a film.
The only positive thing anyone can say about Crash is that it deals with racism. That is it. The screenplay is ludicrous and the technical aspects are nothing special. Notable is the somber music and slow motion photography---both elements remind you that this is a SERIOUS film.
 Remember the Director said in his acceptance speech at the Oscars that Art is Hammer. He hits hard, but his hammer is made of Jell-O.
The opening line..."We just Crash into each other so we can touch each other." Are you kidding me? Ever heard of DWI, sleeping, talking on the phone, etc.? The characters are only caricatures that the screenplay earnestly screams, cries, chats, or whines through.
The DA's wife does channel Driving Miss Daisy with the "your my best friend" line she delivers to her maid..which is delivered with no motivation at all. Did you notice how both the Detective and TV Producer (both African-American) sacrifice their integrity by the end of the film? The former sacrifices his professional integrity to be blackmailed with his brother's freedom and a new job to get the DA a black hero to pin a medal on at a news conference! The TV producer sublimates his integrity by having the African-American TV character sounding "authentic" to keep his boss happy. 
The European-Americans get everything or away with everything they want. The racist cop doesn't get his Dad to the ER, he just cries with him in the bathroom! There's your Oscar moment---not waiting in the ER. The racist cop doesn't pull his molestation victim from the car the first time..he goes back in again since it is more dramatic and in the nick of time, too! Why didn't he go through the Driver's side? The camera angle would not have been so effective!!! Not to mention the young rookie who kills then burns his car..no problem for him!
How sweet that we all need those Patron Saints of travel on our dashboards! Have you ever heard more intellectual carjackers? Well, it is great the magic cloak worked, but the Locksmith does not call the police about the store owner trying to murder him or his daughter??? How many people say I Love you whilst the snow falls purifying the LA smog?

The "aw shucks" smile of Ludikris as he drives away in the stolen, human trafficking van (whose driver he ran over earlier) is exactly what Crash expects us to feel as we leave the theater. We are sooooo wonderful to see that racism is still a problem, that even racists can be super special people, and we should congratulate ourselves for thinking about racism..at least at the movie theater. There have been better treatments of racism...Spike Lee films, 70s films such as Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and the Learning Tree. Even Lear sitcoms like All in the Family and the Jeffersons have more integrity in dealing with racism than Crash. The truth is 2005 was not a great year for film: The artistry of Brokeback and Good Night and Good Luck were voted against by the Academy because of gay sexual content and liberal politics, respectively. The only other option was Crash. Period. Other than referring to  Racism and the great actors, how can  anyone who think that Crash is anything more than a feel good, tear jerking, contrived, retreading, oversimplified, self congratulatory film experience?
"You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself". (Can you believe a carjack victim would have the time or thought processes to say that in such a situation where he is at gun point?) Laughable.
 
You know, lots of critics rewrote their reviews for other "controversial" films like Bonnie and Clyde. Its never too late for Roger and Richard.
 
When Roeper rants and call BBM a film about two gay cowboys, he really shows how dismissive he can be. He plays right into the hands of the Academy homo-backlash feeding frenzy.
Everyone,spend some quality time looking at Crash: the Lifetime Movie on its own (lack of) merits--not its so-called message: racism. 

We can't change it. We will have to stand it.

Offline hidesert

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #142 on: Mar 15, 2006, 12:20 AM »

A Harrowing Affair: Commentary From a Brokeback Mountain Fan[/b]

by Mark Salamon, March 13, 2006   afterelton.com


During the run-up to the Academy Awards Tony Curtis told Fox News that he hadn't yet seen Brokeback Mountain and had no intention of doing so. He claimed he wasn't alone in the sentiment and other Academy members felt the same way.

Furthermore, Curtis contended, his contemporaries no longer alive to speak for themselves wouldn't have cared for the highly acclaimed Best Picture nominee either." Howard Hughes and John Wayne wouldn't like it," Curtis said in an interview.

I am not a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but I have seen Brokeback Mountain, and I did like it tremendously—as did millions of others. Our bewilderment over its defeat at the Oscars has been misinterpreted. Would you humor us by considering the following analogy that better explains our position?

Let's simply recast Brokeback Mountain as the story about the intolerance faced by a white woman and her black husband in rural Wyoming in the 1960s. At the end of the film, her husband is murdered in a brutal hate crime because of others disgust over miscegenation.

Now imagine that, before this film even premieres, it is the butt of racist jokes. Conservative news commentators decry its very existence as a mistake, calling it a profane plea for acceptance of the sin that is a mixed marriage. They repeatedly predict--and hope for--its failure at the box office.

The movies opens and critics rave that it is an exquisite, poignant, and supremely-well crafted film. The actors are ideally cast in their parts and play their roles with pitch-perfect honesty and involvement. The screenplay is sublimely spare and genuinely evocative of the American west of the recent past. The cinematography, the musical score, the landscapes, the set-pieces: together, they achieve perfection, or something close to it.

Nonetheless, all during its cinematic run, talk show hosts, humorists and live comedy-ensemble network programs can't seem to let a day go by without satirical reference to that "jungle fever cowboy movie." Black and white celebrities play out creepy parodies of "BrokeBlack Mounting." Often these skits are done in whiteface and blackface.

Award season commences and Brokeback Mountain wins almost every precursor "Best" award bestowed by the most prestigious film institutions. It also has the greatest box-office take of all the likely Best Picture nominees, and, by most accounts, is the best reviewed film of the year. And when the Oscar nominations are announced, Brokeback Mountain receives the highest number of nominations for all of the Best Picture nominees.

Shortly thereafter, an Academy member proudly proclaims he has no intention of watching the film because he and his contemporaries don't care for mixed marriages. Their reasoning is,"D.W. Griffith (or insert the name of a famously racist Hollywood Golden Age actor here) would be rolling over in his grave." Consider, too, it is also likely that a significant proportion of Academy members are silently acting out this same bigotry by failing to see Brokeback Mountain before marking their own ballots.

No one objects to these glaring violations of the Academy's own rules, or the institution's ethics. Nonetheless, it is widely predicted Brokeback Mountain will win Best Picture. Even Las Vegas odds-makers make it the overwhelming favorite.

Then Brokeback Mountain  loses to Crash in what, almost everyone agrees, is one of the—if not the —most shocking upset ever. Is it unreasonable that some might ask if racism had been a factor?

This example is not an overstatement of the abuse that has been hurled at Brokeback Mountain, nor have its accolades been exaggerated. Merely substitute "gay male relationship" into the analogy provided above and you will have an accurate picture of the scathing climate Brokeback Mountain has had to endure.

Consider another scenario. Imagine the gay themes of Brokeback Mountain were received with benign acceptance and treated with quiet respect during its run in the theaters. Reviews were mixed and it did so-so at the box-office. Meanwhile, the issues of race relations in Crash were the subject of daily derision, culminating in an announcement by a prominent Academy member he would not be viewing the movie because it was about “colored people.”

Then, suppose that leading up to the Oscars, Crash received more "Best" awards, not only among all pictures in 2005, but among all movies in history.

Don't you think there might have been a tiny tempest if, under those circumstances, Brokeback Mountain had then won "Best Picture" over Crash? Wouldn't questions of racism within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences be asked legitimately? Accusations of unfairness within the Academy's voting procedure and the uproar would continue until heads rolled and changes occurred. Spike Lee and the NAACP might well be in the forefront of the campaign.

But Brokeback Mountain is a tale of the love between two male ranch hands. Mr. Curtis--and who knows how many other Academy members--flouted the long accepted conventions of their own guild by dismissing Brokeback Mountain without ever screening it. Is there really a problem with that? Or are those homosexuals just "sore losers," who are "pushing an agenda?"

Homophobia--yes, there's that "h" word--is still so ingrained in Hollywood and within American culture that disdain for gay relationships is accepted as "normal" and "natural". So much so, that the Tony Curtises of this world express it as if by right, feeling no shame and fearing no censure from their colleagues or the public.

In his column entitled "The Fury of the 'Crash'-lash" Roger Ebert concludes by writing: "The nature of the attacks on Crash by the supporters of Brokeback Mountain seem to proceed from the other position: Brokeback is better not only because of its artistry but because of its subject matter, and those who disagree hate homosexuals. Its supporters could vote for it in good conscience, vote for it and feel they had made a progressive move, vote for it and not feel that there was any stain on their liberal credentials for shunning what Crash had to offer."

Let us overlook the fact that Ebert succumbs to the slippery temptation to misrepresent our point, and then finds fault with that misconstruing of our position. What he seems to be suggesting is that "supporters of Brokeback Mountain" are "attacking" Crash because we failed in our attempts to turn the Oscar for "Best Picture" into a competition for "Worthiest Oppressed Minority".

I, and those who agree with me, will freely admit to being Brokeback Mountain supporters, yet let us please speak for ourselves. Few of us have argued Brokeback Mountain deserved the Oscar because it is about gay love. That has nothing to do with it.

What's done is done. Crash won this year's Best Picture Oscar and there is no taking that back. Nor should it be. But given the facts outlined above, is it really asking too much to admit that homophobia may very well have played a part in that outcome?

Offline frenchcda

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #143 on: Mar 15, 2006, 01:11 AM »
Petition on : Oscar Voters Who Have Not Viewed All Nominees Should Be Disqualified From Voting


NOTE: The COUNTRY of CANADA is not listed on this petition, I have sent them a notice to that effect, hoever the rest of the world can sign up for this petition



                                                  http://www.gopetition.com/region/237/8222.html
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Offline Italian_Dude

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #144 on: Mar 15, 2006, 01:33 AM »
Petition on : Oscar Voters Who Have Not Viewed All Nominees Should Be Disqualified From Voting


NOTE: The COUNTRY of CANADA is not listed on this petition, I have sent them a notice to that effect, hoever the rest of the world can sign up for this petition
                                                  http://www.gopetition.com/region/237/8222.html


Canada is listed in the petiton, its listed at the top as "CA" and Australia and France have similar titles

France "FR" and Australia "AU"

their names can't be found in full in the list, its just their abbreviations! thanks for this petition though !
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Offline frenchcda

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #145 on: Mar 15, 2006, 01:41 AM »
it would be nice if this petition be kept up and front on this board, they have only 242 signatures, it be nice to have millions so we can imput our will in some meaningfull manners
       what is a belief if not a lack of knowing


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Offline BBM Obsessed

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #146 on: Mar 15, 2006, 11:08 AM »
With my signature it's up to 258 and I also sent notices to a bunch of friends to sign it too.
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Offline Lost_Girl

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #147 on: Mar 15, 2006, 03:49 PM »
http://towleroad.typepad.com/towleroad/2006/03/annie_proulx_ra.html


Annie Proulx Pelts the Academy with Sour Grapes

With her typically brash economy of language, Brokeback Mountain author Annie Proulx offers up her Academy Award experience, "three-and-a-half hours of butt-numbing sitting" which ended, as we all now know, with a shocker.

Proulx spins her Pulitzer Prize-winning prose into a no regrets diatribe directed at Tinseltown in this Guardian commentary.

On entering the venue:

"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."

On "the Academy":

"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."

On the Best Picture:

"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."

And on choosing a Best Actor:

"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?"

Proulx ain't happy. And she calls her bitterness as others might see it, signing out: "For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW BAD IT GETS !!!!

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Offline Lost_Girl

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #148 on: Mar 15, 2006, 03:52 PM »
http://books.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1727309,00.html

Blood on the red carpet

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

Saturday March 11, 2006
The Guardian

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.

Article continues
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.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW BAD IT GETS !!!!

"There are places we can never return"
"When you ain't got nothing, you don't need nothing"

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Offline ennisandjack

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Re: Post-Oscar news coverage
« Reply #149 on: Mar 16, 2006, 05:18 PM »
March 15, 2006

http://www.oscarwatch.com/moveabletype/archives/afterwards/index.html#000754#more

Hit & Run - What's the Real Reason for Crash's Oscar Upset?
Matt Brunson
Creative Loafing

At this point, I figured I'd be through with the Oscars and ready to concentrate on upcoming summer popcorn flicks such as the X-Men and Mission: Impossible sequels. After all, my annual modus operandi is to cover the nominations, offer predictions and then be done with it -- leave the reviews of the actual broadcast, the acceptance speeches and the cleavage-enhancing gowns to the rest of the media world. But that was before Crash upset Brokeback Mountain for the Best Picture Oscar at last week's ceremony.

In the decades that I've been following the Academy Awards, I have never before seen a Best Picture selection generate such immediate controversy as this year's selection. Of course, there have been upsets before -- Shakespeare In Love over Saving Private Ryan -- as well as plenty of dubious selections -- Titanic over L.A. Confidential. But in all past cases, the choices could be rationalized with the usual reasons: box office too great to ignore, a movie tapping into the national zeitgeist, bullying campaign tactics by Harvey Weinstein, etc. One of the reasons that arguably influenced this year's choice is different from usual -- and far more disturbing.


We're talking, of course, about the love that dare not speak its name
-- apparently even in open-minded Hollywood. Homosexuality. At a time when anti-gay initiatives are spreading like wildfire across the US, here comes the Academy -- with its headquarters in the bluest of Blue States, no less -- to smack down a groundbreaking drama as if it were a pesky gnat there for the sole purpose of causing the members irritation and discomfort. Instead of Brokeback, the Academy awarded a different "message" movie, one that wouldn't ruffle anyone's feathers.

First, a confession: I didn't hate Crash like so many other critics and audience members did. Yes, it was easily the weakest of the five Best Picture nominees and didn't deserve its lofty nomination. But despite its flaws, I gave it a soft 3-star review, stating that it "would be even better had [writer-director Paul Haggis] eased up on the gas every once in a while: For all its relevant themes and clever plotting, the film's overly didactic nature and moments of whopping coincidence dilute some of its impact."

For people passionate about cinema, Oscar season becomes tricky when movies we somewhat enjoy inexplicably become top-tier award contenders, beating out more deserving titles and souring our own memories.
Gladiator was a decent example of popcorn escapism, but watching it take the Best Picture Oscar over the likes of Traffic and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was infuriating. Similarly, while Life Is Beautiful devolves into an extended episode of Hogan's Heroes, I enjoyed the first half of the film (pre-concentration camp material) enough to give it a modest recommendation; today, in the wake of its Oscars for Best Actor (Roberto Benigni) and Best Foreign-Language Film, I can't hear the title without doubling over with stomach pains. Now, Crash has joined this dubious company.

Thinking back to this year's Oscars, most people will recall the names of winners like Reese Witherspoon and George Clooney. Yet the two names that for me will always be synonymous with this year's contest are Roger Ebert and Nikki Finke.

Ebert, of course, named Crash the best picture of the year and tirelessly championed the film. A veritable one-man publicity machine, he wrote extensively about the movie -- even comparing Haggis to Charles Dickens -- and pooh-poohed the opinions of those who didn't share his enthusiasm. In one of his columns, he stated, "More than one critic described Crash as 'the worst film of the year,' which is as extreme as saying John Kerry was a coward in Vietnam." (Huh?)

While practically every critics' group was handing its top prize to Brokeback, Ebert and his sycophant/TV co-host Richard Roeper were strong-arming the Chicago Film Critics -- tellingly, the sole critics'
organization to name Crash the best film of 2005. And the ink wasn't even dry on the Oscar nomination list when Ebert proclaimed Crash would upset Brokeback for the Best Picture Oscar. I can't help but believe his blessing helped steer some Academy members afraid to vote for Brokeback (more on that later) to check Crash on their ballots. As for now, Ebert's continuing post-Oscars tirade against the Crash critics marks him as the biggest "sore winner" since James Cameron watched his Titanic earn 11 Oscars and still felt the need to lambast those who didn't jump on his bandwagon.

Nikki Finke, meanwhile, is a writer for LA Weekly, and she predicted a Brokeback loss and Crash victory all the way back in January, before the nominations were even announced. She insisted both then and in a post-nom column that, based on her conversations with various industry insiders, Academy members weren't nearly as liberal as they pretended to be and that there was no way in heaven, hell or Hollywood that people would vote for a movie about homosexuals. At the time, it appeared that maybe Finke was just fulfilling the expected role of an alternative journalist and trying to stir things up; now, she looks like a psychic. After the Oscars, Finke noted that "Brokeback lost for all the Right's reasons."

Is Finke correct? Did Brokeback lose because of homophobia lurking deep within the Academy's bowels? It's one of several theories and, sad to say, it's the one that makes the most sense to me. Other theories have been advanced, some more credible than others. The most absurd is that the Academy voted against Brokeback because it didn't want to vote for the front-runner. Come on. The Academy has a history of voting for the front-runner: Schindler's List, Chicago, The Return of the King, you name it. In fact, it's rare when the group doesn't vote for the odds-on favorite.

Easier to accept -- though also filled with holes -- is that Crash won because it's set in Oscar's hometown of Los Angeles, and members could more easily relate to its story about big-city travails than to a story about sheep-tending cowboys in the middle of nowhere. Of course, by that logic, movies set in distant times or distant lands -- The Last Emperor, Out of Africa, The English Patient -- should have lost to their respective years' more geographically friendly flicks, while non-nominated titles like The Player, Short Cuts and L.A. Story should have been automatic winners.

Easiest to accept is the long-standing argument that Academy members prefer bombast to subtlety. While the other four Best Picture nominees are far more low-key in terms of either shooting style or the presentation of narrative themes -- even Munich, for all its Spielbergian flash, remains morally ambiguous and therefore immune to easy absorption -- Crash is about as subtle as a hatchet to the forehead, repeatedly shouting its hardly revelatory message that Racism Is Very, Very, Very Bad.

What these arguments ignore, and what makes homophobia the most likely reason for Brokeback Mountain's Oscar loss to Crash, is the overwhelming support Brokeback got before the ceremony. It isn't as if Brokeback and Crash were neck-to-neck throughout awards season, in the manner of, say, Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator the previous year.

Brokeback completely dominated. It won a dozen critics' awards. It won the Golden Globe (Crash wasn't even nominated). It won the Producers Guild and Directors Guild awards. It even won top honors from the BAFTAS (the British Oscars) and the Independent Spirit Awards, two groups that often deviate from the norm. As the cherry on top, it grossed the most of the five nominees.

I'm not saying the Academy should adopt a pack mentality (though the irony is that it always has in the past). But that Brokeback won everything but cinema's most visible prize says less about the merits of the movie than the hypocrisy of the Academy. It looks like the organization especially went out of its way not to honor the cowboy flick, giving credence to the rumors that some members not thrilled by either Brokeback or Crash voted for the latter simply because it had established itself as the most likely candidate to topple the former.

A constant complaint about the Academy is that because members are there for life (like the Supreme Court), the fogies in the establishment tilt the awards toward more conservative choices. Every once in a while, something hip wins ("It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp,"
anyone?), but for the most part, it's the old-timers who control the debate. This year apparently was no exception. Tony Curtis, now 80 years old, doubtless spoke for this vast voting bloc when, during an interview with FOX News, he stated that he had no intention of watching Brokeback Mountain and that he knew most of his friends in the Academy also had no plans to pop the screener into the DVD player. He objected to the idea of gay cowboys ("Howard Hughes and John Wayne wouldn't like it"), and this strain of intolerance is especially disappointing since it comes from a man who starred in that classic cross-dressing comedy Some Like It Hot. (For the record, Curtis' favorite movie of 2005 was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.) And Entertainment Weekly quoted 89-year-old Ernest Borgnine as saying, "I didn't see it and I don't care to see it ... If John Wayne were alive, he'd be rolling over in his grave." Forget Borgnine's muddied thinking for a moment (if Wayne were alive, he wouldn't be in a grave suitable for rolling): This time around at least, it appears Curtis and Borgnine -- two presently irrelevant actors hardly typical of the current Hollywood scene though probably typical of Academy membership -- are the organization's poster boys.

Other industry insiders lend support to the anti-gay initiative. LA Weekly's Nikki Finke wrote, "I found horrifying each whispered admission to me from Academy members who usually act like social liberals that they were disgusted by even the possibility of glimpsing simulated gay sex ... Turns out Hollywood is as homophobic as Red State country." LA Times critic Kenneth Turan noted that "you could not take the pulse of the industry without realizing that [Brokeback] made a number of people distinctly uncomfortable." And in David Carr's wrap-up in the New York Times, filmmaker David Cohen was quoted as saying that "Brokeback took on a fairly sacred Hollywood icon, the cowboy, and I don't think the older members of the Academy wanted to see the image of the American cowboy diminished."

"Diminished." Cohen's selection of this word speaks volumes as to the Academy viewpoint: Homosexuals are viewed as less than human, and by opening up a classic American genre to new interpretations, the makers of Brokeback Mountain were forcing LA faux-liberals to confront their own buried prejudices.

Clearly, it's the Academy's standing that's been "diminished" by this controversy. As I noted in a column two weeks ago, a victory by Crash would immediately place the film on the list of the all-time worst Oscar choices, sharing space with the likes of The Greatest Show On Earth, Mrs. Miniver and Gladiator. Yet, what's lost in all the brouhaha is that the subject they did honor -- the specter of racism -- is one which does warrant serious attention. Yet as usual, the Academy's effort is too little, too late.

In his acceptance speech, George Clooney, an outspoken liberal whose sincerity I don't doubt, eloquently stated that the supposedly "out of touch" Hollywood industry -- and, by extension, the Academy -- was among the first to raise its collective voice on the issues of AIDS and civil rights. He also noted that the Academy gave an Oscar to Hattie McDaniel (for 1939's Gone With the Wind) during a time when blacks were forced to sit at tables in the back of the room. What Clooney didn't mention was that at the very ceremony at which she was honored, she wasn't allowed to sit with white co-stars Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, but instead had to (yup) sit at a table in the back. (Additionally, the studio had written her acceptance speech beforehand rather than allow her to speak in her own words.)

McDaniel's victory hardly meant that the film industry suddenly surged ahead of the rest of the nation in terms of equal treatment for blacks:
Many performers of color who had been forced to perform under degrading monikers like Stepin Fetchit (real name Lincoln Perry), Sleep 'n' Eat (Willie Best) and Snowflake (Fred Toones) continued to do so, and even McDaniel was frequently criticized by other blacks for what they viewed as demeaning portrayals (the poor woman countered in her defense that she had to make a living). And while the Academy loves to honor old-timers with career achievement awards, where were the Oscars for Afro-American pioneers like Oscar Micheaux (who died here in Charlotte in 1951) and Gordon Parks (who passed away last week at the age of 93)?

As for honoring films that touch on race relations, 1967's solid In the Heat of the Night did manage to snag a Best Picture Oscar -- yet for all its merits, that movie was as interested in its standard murder-mystery as in making headway in racial matters. And as I noted in my Oscar story a couple of weeks ago, the patronizing (if well-made) Driving Miss Daisy won the Best Picture prize in the same year that the more challenging films Do the Right Thing and Glory weren't even nominated.

Also not nominated in the top category were John Sayles' sprawling 1991 drama City of Hope and Tony Kaye's 1998 American History X (with a fabulous performance by Edward Norton as a reformed neo-Nazi), two titles whose treatment of the racial divide resonates far more deeply than the button-pushing antics of Crash. Oh, but in its infinite wisdom, the Academy did nominate 1967's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, an especially shameless and simplistic piece of progressive enlightenment masquerading as serious cinema.

So here we are in 2006, and the Academy finally decides to take a stand against racial intolerance ... by honoring a film that, as its critics argue, reduces all of its characters (black and white) to easily digestible stereotypes. Who knows, maybe a movie like Brokeback Mountain -- or, more likely, a movie inferior to Brokeback Mountain -- will eventually break through the anti-gay climate and win the top award. But when that time will come, no one can say. In its typically irreverent style, slantmagazine.com previewed the ceremony and wrote, "Everything's coming up homo at this year's Oscars." Maybe they were looking ahead and commenting on the 2025 Oscar race.