Saturday, March 11, 2006

Much ado about Brokeback

Ok, here's the deal. I think 'Crash' has got to be the worst choice for Best Picture the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has ever made. It sits right up there (or down below) with other royal stinkers like "Shakespeare In Love" and "Dances With Wolves". And that they actually decided to ignore other more deserving nominees like Brokeback Mountain, Munich and Capote is beyond my understanding.

Brokeback Mountain: Admittedly, this is actually a rather simple story about two people secretly in love (lust?) despite being married to other people. While production values including the choreography was stunning (even better than Memoirs of A Geisha) and the acting was commendable (Michelle Williams was robbed!), what made this film work was its excellent direction by a very deserving Best Director winner, Ang Lee. Everything fell into place, from the sunrise drive down a dusty road opening scene to the now infamous "I wish I knew how to quit you" tearjerker moment, making Jack's And Ennis' heartaches as palpable as if you were really there. It's interesting to note that had the main characters been heterosexual, this film might not have received as much attention that it had. In the end, what made people sit up and take notice of this movie was sadly also the cause of its failure to win the Big Prize.

Munich : Any other year, Spielberg would have run circles around the other nominees with this taut and revealing thriller. I can say that it ranks among his best works, Schindler's List and ET. Eric Bana was a joy to watch as the conflicted leader of a Mossad-like squad of assasins investigating the terrorist killings of the Israeli team at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Its subject matter was controversial to say the least and angered a lot of political groups both Jewish and Palestinian; perhaps that's why , in view of the current volatile political climate, the voters decided not to give this film any more attention that it already has.

Capote : The whole of this movie's brilliance can be summed up in one name: Phillip Seymour Hoffman. This brilliant character actor has been getting choice supporting roles for the past ten years in a string of Oscar nominated films like The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain and my favourite performance of his, Boogie Nights. In this tour-de-force lead performance, he gives it his all and is so convincing, it gave me goosebumps everytime I watched the film. In any other year, Capote would have won Best Picture hands down but in a year so dominated by gay-themed films, it was invetible some worthy films would fall by the wayside. Well, at least it can boast of a Best Actor win.

Crash: Where do I begin on how undeserving this Best Picture winner is? From the annoying Officer Ryan played by an equally annoying Matt Dillon to the improbable yet stereotypical racially charged dialogue that the LA bigoted characters spout out like free candy, it was painful to watch and did I say Matt Dillon is annoying?

The Academy voters could have shown its maturity in taste and honoured a more deserving nominee like Capote or show that it does not shy away from controversial subject matters (Munich or Brokeback), but no, it decided that a bi-polar story of racial bigotry that's neither realistic nor engaging is the best movie released last year. What a cop-out.

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