Monday, March 06, 2006
The morning after
The sky hasn't fallen yet, so I can assume the world will move on from BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN's shameful Best Picture loss last night to CRASH. Funny thing is, I don't really hate CRASH, at least not as vociferously as some of my friends. When I saw it last year, I thought it was an OK late spring drama, an obvious torn-from-the-headlines mix of anguish and uplift--no SAHARA, or GODZILLA: FINAL WARS, for that matter, but not bad. Gradually, however, as a clutch of (mostly bad) movies opened with the same tired meandering-in-LA structure (HAPPY ENDINGS being the worst offender), the whole "CRASH as metaphor" thing started getting excess play in the media, and distributor Lions Gate started flinging DVDs left and right to Academy voters, I soured on the film. Couldn't the West Coast liberals who turned the tide against BROKEBACK have gone for CAPOTE, instead? Is your self-love and insularity so great? [Could this whole affair turn into the cinematic equivalent of the East and West Coast rap wars, with Susan Sarandon taking out Arianna Huffington in retaliation?]
I may have to watch it again when it hits cable, but, like the Paul Haggis-written MILLION DOLLAR BABY (already musty after just a year), I have a feeling CRASH will drop to the bottom of my Digital Video Recorder queue (currently chocked full of vintage musicals), then be deleted,unviewed, as other films and TV shows pile up. [For that rare movie that makes good use of CRASH's roundelay structure, check out the excellent Australian film LANTANA, from 2001.] I've finally found a Best Picture winner I dislike as much as others disdain CHICAGO or A BEAUTIFUL MIND, to name two recent examples.
Otherwise, thanks to superior Oscar hosting from Rosemary Rotondi, the evening passed painlessly, if unexcitingly. Jon Stewart proved a polished, if cautious, host, who went a lot easier on the BROKEBACK jokes than I would have thought (we caught just four, one from Ang Lee). The best bit of the evening was easily the faux Best Actress campaign, and more of that DAILY SHOW humor would be appreciated next time (and I suspect there will be a next time, as Stewart was outstanding riffing off Oscar gaffes, like the pointless, time-soaking montages that simply added ballast to a telecast everyone thinks is too long already, and kept the administration-bashing to a maybe too-bare minimum). I was happy to see the "Pimp" song win--goodbye, Dolly--but even happier to see the "interpretive dance" version of the CRASH theme emerge as the unintentionally funny lowlight of the night.
And my only regret about Eric Simonson winning for his short film doc on Norman Corwin was that it couldn't be nominated in more categories, which would've brought my total up from a pretty meager 16. Why didn't I pick KING KONG in more categories? Dion Beebe after he won the ASC award for GEISHA? For the record, I went toes-up on Best Picture, Original Song, Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Makeup, and Animated Short. As an Oscar player, I need a big, category-sweeping movie like THE RETURN OF THE KING to win, I guess, none of this "share-the-wealth" stuff.
CRASH-and-burners are advised to read NY Press critic Matt Zoller Seitz's thoughts on the matter on his blog, The House Next Door. Heath and Michelle are invited back to my place to throw some shrimp on the barbie and commiserate. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, already a watershed film, will endure as CRASH fades from view.