The AP movie writer David Germain has joined the merry band of speculators that think that Crash may pull off a surprise Oscar win.
Whilst Brokeback Mountain has been the clear frontrunner for most of the awards season it isn’t too outlandish to suggest that Paul Haggis’ LA set drama could score an upset. I’m still sceptical that it will walk off with the Best Picture Oscar on March 5th but if it does, here may be a few reasons why:
- The SAG Awards Win: The recent triumph at the SAG awards would seem to indicate that it has a lot of support from the largest voting block in the academy.
- Lionsgate’s DVD blitz: Unlike the other Best Picture nominees Crash has been out sine May in the States and is already on DVD. Without any DVD screener/piracy issues to worry about Lionsgate – the studio releasing the film – have bombarded voters with DVDs. Last month Variety reported that:
"While most studios consider the mailing of 12,000-15,000 screeners to be a major push, the indie distrib is sending out north of 130,000 — including the unprecedented move of including all members of the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild”.
It remains to be seen whether this ‘unprecedented’ move has any effect but it is hard to see it doing any harm.
- The LA Factor: In a recent Q&A with readers, Manohla Dargis of the New York Times hit on some simple but telling points about the film:
“There are a few obvious reasons why “Crash” connected with the Academy. First, Los Angeles, where most of Academy members live, is a profoundly segregated city, so any movie that makes it seem like its white, black, Asian and Latino inhabitants are constantly tripping over one another has appeal. If nothing else it makesLos Angeles seem as cosmopolitan as, well, New York or at least the Upper West Side. Second, no matter how many times the camera picks out Oprah Winfrey on Oscar night, the Academy is super white. Third, the Academy is, at least in general terms, socially liberal. You see where I’m going, right? What could better soothe the troubled brow of the Academy’s collective white conscious than a movie that says sometimes black men really are muggers (so don’t worry if you engage in racial profiling); your Latina maid really, really loves you (so don’t worry about paying her less than minimum wage); even white racists (even white racist cops) can love their black brothers or at least their hot black sisters; and all answers are basically simple, so don’t even think about politics, policy, the lingering effects of Proposition 13 and Governor Arnold. This is a consummate Hollywood fantasy, no matter how nominally independent the financing and release.”
The last point is a little harsh but the LA aspect to the film is well made. Although a film set in the present rarely wins Best Picture (the only two I can think of in recent years were American Beauty and The Silence of the Lambs) a film about big, important issues is always going to go down well, especially if they are issues on your own Californian doorstep.
- The Critical Reaction: Although it would be fair to say critical reaction to the film has been mixed-to-favourable, it is a film people that people tend to have strong opinions about. Roger Ebert named it as his film of the year. Scott Foundas of the LA Weekly hated it. People agree, disagree and word of mouth about people’s reactions just raises its profile further.
- The Brokeback Backlash: Maybe because it has been frontrunner for so long, potential voters have become sick of Brokeback Mountain. Perhaps they will vote for Crash – or another of the nominees – just to be different. Nikki Finke of the LA Weekly speculated last month that Crash could emerge triumphant due to liberal hypocrisy and “Hollywood homophobia”. That notion seems a little too fanciful to me but if the clear favourite doesn’t win then expect the phrase “peaked too early” to be all over the awards blogs like a rash come the morning of March 6th.
So, who will win? For me, it still has to be Ang Lee’s film. Despite the reasons listed above it is surely too far ahead to be caught. That said, the idea of a Crash win seems more plausible by the day.