Director: Paul Haggis
Cast: Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Thandie Newton, Brendan Fraser, Terrance Howard, Ryan Phillippe, and a lot of other people...
Viewed in theaters: 5/24/05
Best Picture - (Won - ugh!)
Best Director - Paul Haggis (Lost to Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain)
Best Supporting Actor - Matt Dillon (Lost to George Clooney for Syriana)
Best Editing (Won)
Best Original Screenplay - Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco (Won)
Best Song - In the Deep (Lost to Hustle and Flow for It's Hard Out There For a Pimp - heh!)
Ever since Crash won the Oscar for Best Picture nearly four years ago, I've always had a burning rage for this film, especially since it stole the Oscar from the rightful winner, my beloved Brokeback Mountain.
This is what I wrote on my Live Journal on March 6th, 2006, the day after the Oscars:
Ugh, I had the worst dream last night: I dreamt that Crash won Best Picture and....oh, wait a minute! Crap! Seriously, when Jack Nicholson said "Crash," I thought he was JOKING! I thought he had misread it. I thought I had misunderstood him. But nooo...Crash had won. I said "WHAT THE F*CK?" out loud when I realized Crash had indeed won. I wanted to cry. There is NO WAY IN HELL Crash is best picture material. Yes, I thought it was a good movie and tackled important issues, but to me, it was only slightly better than an after-school special. Brokeback Mountain was the best movie of the year, and at least the Golden Globes and Baftas among others agree with me. Hell, Crash wasn't even nominated for a Golden Globe.
I wrote that four years ago and has my opinion changed after seeing Crash for a second time? Well, there's only one thing I don't agree with anymore about what I wrote: Crash is NOT a good movie. In fact, I found myself rolling my eyes quite a lot while watching it again recently. But more on that later...
Brokeback Mountain should have won the Oscar that year. Don't agree with me? Well, why don't we compare the two movies' accolades, shall we? Brokeback received an 86% fresh rating (which, IMO, is way too low) at Rotten Tomatoes, while Crash got a 76% rating. Okay, ten points difference, but now look at this: Brokeback won twenty best picture awards including the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Independent Spirit Award. Crash, which wasn't even nominated for a Golden Globe, won less than ten best picture awards, but one of them was tied with Munich and two wins were from the Black Movie Awards (I had no idea there was such a thing) and the Image Awards, and of course Brokeback isn't going to win those because there are no black people in that movie! Yes, Crash did win the SAG award for Best Ensemble, but that isn't the biggest surprise since everybody was in that movie. And if everyone was so great in that movie, why did it only receive one acting Oscar nomination when Brokeback received three, the most out of any movie that year, hmmmm? That fact that Crash won the Oscar over Brokeback is just embarrassing! Pretty much everyone deems it the worst Best Picture Winner of All Time (or at least from the last decade) and all the critics had been predicting Brokeback to win (in fact EW's article about the Oscar nominees that year was called 'Mountain' Tops) and why wouldn't they? Everything was in its favor.
There were two factors, in my opinion, that helped Crash win the Oscar. One was from the support Oprah sprewed its way. Remember when she had the Crash cast on and was gushing over them? It was no secret she was Team Trash...oops, I mean Crash. She even had the gall to call it "the most important film since Citizen Kane." Shut up, Oprah. Okay, does that make any sense to anyone? What do Citizen Kane and Crash have in common anyway, besides both starting with the letter C? The other major factor was homophobia, unfortunately. I'm sorry, but when certain Academy members said they refused to watch Brokeback, then you know that played a major part in the voting.
So, as you can see, I've detested Crash since that fateful day. I think one day the Academy is going to realize what a huge mistake they made because Brokeback is an iconic cinematic masterpiece that will endure the test of time while nobody will care about or remember Crash within the next ten, fifteen years. However, to be fair, I decided I should give it a second chance and that's why I watched it again and I hated it more than the first time I saw it! Of course, it hadn't won the Oscar yet and wasn't a threat when I saw it for the first time, but seeing it again made me realize that people who are saying it's one of the worst Oscar winners ever are right: it's just not a good movie. Sure, it does tackle important issues like race, but take a movie like Do the Right Thing that does that also...and so much better!
While it's clever how the story lines connect and intertwine with each other, they end up in a nicely tied ribbon and it's just too coincidental that I found some of them hard to believe. Take for instance Howard and Newton who play an upper class black couple who are stopped and frisked by racist cop Dillon. He inappropriately touches Newton and the very next day it just so happens that she's been in a horrible car accident (they never tell us what happened) and she's trapped in her upside down car which is just seconds away from exploding...:::rolls eyes:::...and who should be the cop on the scene that saves her? The very same one from yesterday who groped her! What are the odds of that! And remember, they live in L.A. Now if this film had taken place in Nowhere, Idaho, then sure, I could believe that, but L.A.? C'mon!
It's evident Haggis doesn't think his audience is smart and has to spoon feed us obvious things. Take for instance the Mexican locksmith who lives in a shady neighborhood and stupidly tells his daughter that if she wears this invisible cloak it will protect her from gunshots. He's asked to fix a lock for a Middle Eastern man's shop but tells the man he needs to get the door fixed first. The shop is broken into and the shop owner blames the Mexican and takes his gun down to his neighborhood to shoot him. Of course his daughter sees he's about to get shot and believing she's invincible, jumps into her dad's arms to protect him. :::cue slow motion and swelling music::: Of course the guy shoots the moment the girl jumps in his way, but she's okay and there's not a scratch on her. Well, later, we get a camera shot of the shop keeper's daughter putting the gun away next to...get this - a box of blanks. Well, duh.
I will never understand how this film managed to win Best Picture, but how did it also manage to win Best Original Screenplay? It's awful! The "dialogue" sounds more like social commentary than dialogue and doesn't sound natural at all. It sounded like the characters were on a radio talk show debating these issues.
However, there is one scene I did like and that was the one between Ryan Phillippe and Larenz Tate in the car. I thought that was really well-done. So there you go, I at least said one positive thing about the movie!
Crash tries too hard to be serious, but ends up being more eyeroll inducing than anything. Nobody will ever convince me that this film deserved to win the Oscar. Worst. Best. Picture. Winner. Ever.