In a year in which the Academy actually managed to choose four really fantastic Best Picture nominees, and in a year that promised something other than lame look at us: we’re famous and rich and we can take a joke humor by choosing Jon Stewart as host, it’s more than ironic that the one undeserving nominee would win Best Picture and that Stewart would fail so miserably as emcee with his second-rate, apolitical, Billy-Crystal-style monologue. Indeed, the 2006 Oscar marathon not only hit new lows in tedium, featuring nearly 72 hours of montage footage (omitting only Stewart’s threatened “Salute to Montages”), but — save for George Clooney’s acceptance speech — there was barely a memorable moment the entire evening. How sad is it, really, that the highlight of the entire show was a performance of a song about the difficulties of being a pimp? And, really, what does it say about an Academy that would choose a film about racism as its Best Picture and yet make such a spectacle of the fact that there were black men rapping at the Oscars! You would’ve thought that last night was 1988 all over again and Run-DMC had crashed the stage, the way that Stewart and the audience reacted to Three 6 Mafia.
At least the actor/actress winners were all deserving (though one of us would have preferred to see Amy Adams win for best supporting actress and another thinks Felicity Huffman was robbed), and it was nice to learn that Phillip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t the dick in real life we’d suspected, but we do take small issue with Reese Witherspoon’s “I’m just trying to matter” comment in light of last year’s Just Like Heaven. And we know that this is an awards show for movies, not TV, and that Don Knotts died in 2006 and not 2005, but (unless we missed it), we do think it’s a shame that no one even mentioned the passing of Barney Fife, especially in light of the warranted tribute made to John Ritter two years ago.
Though Ang Lee got his much-deserved Best Director award, we’d be remiss if we didn’t bemoan the lack of real recognition given to the year’s best film, Brokeback Mountain. Sure, it was the most parodied movie of the 2005, but we believe that pop culture has given an unfair shake to Brokeback, which deserved much more than being the punch line to this year’s running joke. And though we love Academy surprises, the real joke of the night was that the awards for Best Original (!) Screenplay and Best Picture went to Crash, a film that was inferior to its competition in almost every way, salvaged from total lousiness only by the efforts of a great ensemble cast. Our sentiments are perhaps best rendered by our lead critic, Dan, in his blog Slowly Going Bald:
For those who haven’t seen it, or for those who have seen it and are simply a little slow, Crash is a cheesy, ham-fisted melodrama that makes Peter Jackson look like Wim Wenders. It’s bloated, predictable, filled with flat characters, and unpleasant to watch. It’s a tale about racism that never stops reminding you in bright colors and monosyllabic words and arbitrary plot points that you are watching a movie about racism, and it’s your duty to be moved by the film. If not, you don’t understand it. It’s a movie for people who don’t understand enough about movies to pick a good one from a fake one; it’s the cinematic equivalent of Ayn Rand, a film for posers and wannabes and that guy in your philosophy class who thinks he’s on the ball but pronounces the first “s” in “Descartes.”
I’m literally at a loss. I’m monumentally disappointed that Crash won over the powerful Capote, the amazing Good Night, and Good Luck, the thought-provoking Munich, and above all, the phenomenal Brokeback Mountain. In a year when the new version of independent film (small budgets, big names) seemed to be everywhere, Brokeback balanced an emotional story, a solid cast and crew, a well-written script, and an eye to the cultural zeitgeist to become something bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s more than a film; it’s an idea about where film is heading.
We could go on and on about last night’s typically bloated, self-congratulatory shenanigans, but our mission here isn’t to continue spewing our own bile about Hollywood egos and pseudo-liberalism, but rather to give our loyal readers a place to vent their own frustrations. The comments section is right down there. So, please, rant on, folks. Rant on.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.
Jeremy C. Fox is the managing editor of Pajiba and a member of the Online Film Critics Society. You may email him at jeremycfox[at]gmail.com.
Daniel Carlson is the L.A. critic for Pajiba and a copy editor for a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his weblog, Slowly Going Bald.The 2006 Oscars / The Pajiba Staff
Miscellaneous | May 12, 2006 | Comments ()