I don't want to sound bitter or disrespectful, but Crash's Best Picture win last night didn't exactly brighten my faith in the leanings of the human spirit.
I'm not saying it wasn't a deserved triumph for some very good and talented people. Director and co-writer Paul Haggis and co-writer Bobby Moresco, principally, but also the fine ensemble cast, the below-the-liners (including dp's James Muro and Dana Gonzales), producer Cathy Schulman, and executive producer and check- writer Bob Yari (whom I congratulated at the Crash celebration at the Chateau Marmont).
And most especially the vigilant, never-say-die Lionsgate marketers and publicists (along with the Dart Group's Cynthia Swartz) who sold it like total pros.
But deep down, we all know why Crash won.
Kenneth Turan knows, Nikki Finke knows, the "Bagger" knows, and I suspect that even David Poland knows, despite his down-playing the reason in an otherwise fair- minded assessment posted last night.
Most of the pundits are going to try to sidestep or soft-pedal what happened, and if you're looking for that kind of thing you know where to find it. This wasn't a replay of Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan. It was worse...a whole lot worse.
Crash is a good film -- an emotional, well-tooled, sometimes profound look at several racist and heavily bruised Los Angelenos who somehow manage to listen now and then to the better angels of their nature. They do this infrequently and haphazardly, but just enough at the end of the day (and the film) to earn our compassion.
Nice movie massage -- now welcome to real life. The fact is that last night a lot of good-hearted people, bottom line, were essentially cheering the fact that a bunch of retro-graders and hang-backers in the Motion Picture Academy voted for Crash for the wrong reasons.
Is anyone besides me seeing the irony here...the irony that howled and flooded the skies above Los Angeles last night? The very thing that Crash laments -- prejudice against people of different stripes and persuasions -- is what tipped the vote and delivered the Big Prize.
Hell, this might have been more than a tipping factor. It may have been a friggin' landslide for all anyone knows.
So let's all keep it going and dig into our hearts this morning and extend some of that Crash compassion to the small minds and timid souls who voted against (and in many cases probably didn't even see) Brokeback Mountain.
I'm not talking about those who love and respect Crash for what it is -- they're fine and approvable. I'm talking about the duck-and-hiders.
Squeamishness, old-fogeyism (not the kind you can measure in years but which can be found among people of all shapes, ages and nations) and puptent-phobia snuck into the room, and then slowed and stalled the Brokeback bandwagon and finally turned it down an alley.
I don't have a recording of any Academy members talking about the sacrosanct John Wayne macho-cowboy tradition, or confiding their concerns about how it might feel it they watched one of the briefest, most darkly lit, most discreet coupling scenes in movie history, and what the cultural ratification that an Oscar win would mean for Brokeback and gay people everywhere, so I guess there's no proving these views were a factor.
The anti-Brokeback banshee was swirling over and under Paul Haggis, Cathy Schulman and Jack Nicholson as they stood on the Kodak stage last night.
"If they want to be sour grapes about it, let 'em. We made a good film and people loved it and voted us in, and that's that."
And it wasn't pretty and it ain't pretty now. I live in tres gay West Hollywood and I was walking along Santa Monica Blvd. this morning and feeling the air, and I can tell you there's no joy in Mudville this morning.
Earlier today in Salt Lake City, Larry Miller was having a quiet little chuckle over his coffee.
I imagine he was also probably feeling a bit surprised to discover, as Nikki Finke put it last night, that Hollywood "is as homophobic as Red State country...in touch, not out of touch."