Did the stupid middlebrow no-taste simpleminded-liberal insular no-taste dumbass undiscriminating motherfucking moronic sheep just annointed fucking Crash best picture?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!!?!?!!?!!?!!?!?!?
[18 hours later...]
Alright, I've calmed down. Here's the thing. I've never even seen Crash, a movie I've tried to stay as far away from as a sneezing chicken. From everything I can glean about it, it sounds like a complete abomination, a haughty, schematic, and simpleminded race-ralations tract that only self-congratulatory Westside liberals can love. Did I just type self-congratulatory Westside liberals? I guess all of those well-paid Oscar prognosticators (is the Oscars really that important that we need a NY Times blog to fill us on the breathless horserace developments?) reading the tea leaves were right that Crash actually did stand a chance.
The level of vitriol that's been unleashed since Crash's Oscar nominations and now win (this Oscar predix piece by Slant's Ed Gonzalez and Eric Henderson is the funniest of the lot), not only from fellow movie nerds (many of whom called it the worst movie of the year, at least one called it one of worst he's ever seen) but also notably from a number of non-movie buffs, has became so histrionic that I've actually grown kinda curious about the movie, in that proverbial you can't avert your eyes from a car crash kinda way. The apogee may be an Oscar gabfest of LA-based film critics, where Larry Mantle, a normally mild-mannered host of a low-heat NPR talk show I listen to, expressed astonishment that Crash, "one of the worst films he's seen in the last two or three years" was even nominated. Imagine Terry Gross going apeshit. It's like that.
Can it really be that awful? It'd be quite an achievement if the movie even approach the singular awfulness of the slow-mo finger-bang-in-front-of-a-burning-car interpretive dance calamity, a number so jaw-droppingly bad it makes the 2002 Lord of the Dance number look like Nijinsky's Rite of Spring by comparison. (I guess it's always possible that this dance folly was a subversive critique of Crash's alleged literal-mindedness. Otherwise: What. The. Fuck.) But if there were any doubts, during his acceptance speech for original screenplay, Paul Haggis said the magic words that confirmed Crash's crappiness. The magic words? "Bertolt Brecht." The last refuge of a hack. For more, see Matt Zoller Seitz's impassioned post, currently Destination A for Crash-haters nursing an Oscar hangover. Checking out Defamer's implosion is kinda fun as well.
Was it homophobia that forestalled the coronation of Brokeback Mountain, the best movie Oscar has nominated in at least eight years? Not being well connected to Academy members, I'm forced to consider the gossip passed on by the usually worthless Nikki Finke. Finke, Ken Turan, and Jeffrey Wells rely on anecodotal evidence to support their claims that no amount of acclaim for Brokeback can overcome many voters' aversion to the idea of watching heavy petting by two dudes in cowboy hats. Perhaps. The other popular theory is that LA votes for well-connected Angelenos. My theory: Oscar voters, as a whole, are generally pretty dumb. Sometimes they do okay (see: 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2004). And sometimes they award Best Picture to dreck like Forrest Gump and Chicago. Get a load of the mind of a typical Oscar voter:
'Crash' was far more representative of the our industry, of where we work and live," said David Cohen, one among hundreds of Hollywood players joining in the festivities. " '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."Last night's Oscar telecast reminded us that neither of the two greatest working American directors have a Best Picture or Best Director attached to their work. In a way, Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman are the living embodiment of Oscar's enduring lameness, confirmed by the Best Picture result this year.
The telecast itself was quite superb, I thought, in line with the sentiments expressed here. Stewart's first few jokes were lame and obvious, but he ad-libbed some hilarious lines, including "If you're trying to escape a burning car, my suggestion would be to not move in slow motion." The highlight were the political ad parodies, which were also perhaps the most pronounced "Daily Show"-type gag. Like Scott, I was shocked to wake up to generally poor reviews of Stewart from the mainstream press, many of whom disliked Stewart commenting on his own material or mocking Hollywood politics. Personally, the self-important narcissism of this industry awards show would be difficult to sit through without a gently prodding outsider emceeing. Bob Hope is dead, guys. Pre-irony was so 1994.
Jon Stewart is also my hero for finally popping the most important question in Oscar telecast history: What is the freakin' point of these montages? If the Academy is willing to humiliate award winners to make sure Oscar goes under 3:30, why stock the show with these time-fillers? I don't get it. Who tunes in to the Oscars thinking, man, I can't wait for the montages this year! Do they think that, after seeing a two second clip of "The Day After Tomorrow," I'm suddenly gonna go out and rent the damn thing? Or the biopic montage is somehow going to enter into a sixteen year old's unconscious, only to spring up in unsuspecting moments? ("Hey, let's hold off on XXX: State of the Union. I'm kinda in the mood for a black & white movie about Louis Pasteur.") And those are the interesting selections. Mostly, we have the iPod shuffle of familiar clips: the Jets! Terry Malloy, his face swollen! Chariot race! ET phone home! Tara! Rick and Elsa at the airport! Jack LaMotta in the ring! Chaplin doing the little tap dance! Climb e'vry mountain, Maria! Get up on those steps, Rocky! Kiss Deborah Kerr good, Burt, and watch out for the wave!
Iconic images all. Excellent movies (mostly). But stick 'em in an AFI special, okay? I suggest "the Top 100 Best Shots for Use in an Oscar Montage." The thing is, they're not even very clever montages. Turner Classic Movies shames the Oscars with their monthly montage promo spots, with like a tenth of the budget. Just cut it out already.