Sunday, December 11, 2011

Academy Awards Best Picture Revisited: Brokeback Mountain (2005)

brokeback mountainI took last weekend off but as the critics pick their top ten lists, and as award season starts to roll out, hear comes 2005 and the year Brokeback Mountain was snubbed as the Best Picture winner.  The other nominees this year were: Crash (winner), Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, and Munich.

Brokeback Mountain was directed by the masterful Ang Lee.  Lee's work includes 1995's Sense and Sensibility; his adaptation of one of Jane Austen's most famous books shockingly did not earn him a nomination in the Best Director category.  Lee's first pair of nominations came in 2000, when he was nominated as a producer and director for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  Looking back at this year, Lee was a favorite to win this award, not the eventual winner Steven Soderbergh.  Crouching Tiger earned him wins at the Golden Globes, the Director's Guild Awards, and at the British  version  of the Academy Awards (BAFTA).  Soderbergh was a double nominee that year for Erin Brockovich and Traffic; he won for Traffic.  While Brokeback Mountain did not win for Best Picture, Lee was the winner in 2005 for Best Director, and he deserved this honor.  Lee's direction is often lyrical, and he does a good job capturing every emotion,  and every beautiful aspect of the scenery.  Lee's direction was the best in 2005.

Every time I look back on this year, I yawn.  I took a week of because I honestly have not watch many of the best picture nominees in a long time.  I have watch both both Brokeback Mountain and Crash more than twice, while i have probably only seen the other three films once.  Many people complained that Brokeback was a letdown, or too slow moving, but the beauty of the story always captivated me.  2005 was the year with so much hope, but more letdown.  Peter Jackson was back with a reinvention of King Kong.  While the film's technical aspects were great, and his direction was decent this film was did not live up to the standards.  Woody Allen had two films the first Melinda and Melinda was not good, and the second Match Point was solid, but not deserving of a Best Picture spot.  Rob Marshall was fresh of the train riding high on his year with Chicago and he failed to excite with Memoirs of Geisha.  Sam Mendes had Jarhead which was solid but not good enough to crack the best picture barrier. City of God director Fernando Meirelles followed his this amazing film with the ever solid Constant Gardener. The Constant Gardener was too divisive, but had a lot of support in the technical categories.  The films that ended up having the most support were safe, and solid. The one film that would have added some excitement to this year was David Cronenberg's A History of Violence.  This film should have replaced Capote.

The biggest story to come out of 2005 was the David and Goliath battle between Crash and Brokeback Mountain.  Brokeback Mountain was juggernaut going into the night of the Academy Awards.  This film swept 99% of the major precursor awards, had the most nominations (8),  and was the highest grossing film of the nominees.  These are key elements to a film's eventual win.  There were however two things that were signs the film might lose.  The first sign came when the nominations were announced and Brokeback missed out on an editing nomination.  The Best Picture winner typically has a nomination in this category.  Brokeback won no awards from at the Screen Actor's Guild Awards (SAG).  While none of the actors were slated to win that night, and the Crash ensemble had a lot of famous names this loss showed there was an interesting lack of support.  SAG has gone both ways.  Sometimes SAG honors an ensemble on sheer cast numbers/the amount of famous people within the cast-Traffic, and other times they have crowned films because they are on a steamroll to the Best Picture Oscar-No Country for Old Men.

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I will never forget the night Brokeback lost the Oscar for Best Picture.  The film went into the night with 8 nominations including: Best Picture, Best Director-Ang Lee, Best Actor-Heath Ledger, Best Supporting Actress-Michelle Williams, Best Supporting Actor-Jake Gyllenhaal, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Score.  Throughout the evening the film won Score, Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, while Crash won Original Screenplay and Film Editing.  I would have honored Brokeback with Best Cinematography as well but that went to Memoirs of Geisha. As Jack Nicholson cam on stage to announce Best Picture, and as he opened the envelope his reaction was priceless; he was shocked, he said "Wow."  Crash came out of nowhere to undeservingly steal the Best Picture prize (I would not have even nominated the film for Best Picture).  

Brokeback deserved the Best Picture award, and after watching this film last night, I am sure that there was some homophobia that prevented its win.  Even liberal Hollywood has some bigots. Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine who starred in and won an Oscar for Lead Actor in the film Marty stated "I didn’t see it 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, "If John Wayne were alive, he’d be rolling over in his grave!"  This is hard to digest, and guess what Ernest, John Wayne never played a sheep herder.  Liberals in Hollywood picked Crash because it focused on an issue that was still controversial, as to not raise suspicion about the deep seated discomfort with a gay male love story.  This was a year the Academy got it so wrong, it's embarrassing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.