First of all, is it time for the Oscars yet? Jeez... even I'm ready for this thing to be over, and we've still got about 10 days to go.
Secondly, there's sudden buzz (real or manufactured - what's the difference?) that Crash is actually going to take the Best Picture award. Roger Ebert says:
It's the kind of film people feel strongly about, and I've heard a curious note in the voices of people discussing it: They sound serious and moved, and as if it made them take a longer look at themselves. They think of it as making an important statement.
Brokeback Mountain, another powerful film, was thought to be the Oscar leader, but I sense that its support has faded in recent weeks as voters take another look at Crash. Brokeback has the more purely emotional appeal; it tells the story of two men in love for a lifetime and unable or afraid to act on their feelings.
A bit more blunt, is Nikki Finke of LA Weekly, whose story headline (How Gay Will Oscar Go?) is slightly less subtle than Crash's underlying message:
Given that it's Oscar time, I nominate the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Bunch of Hypocrites. That’s because this year’s dirty little secret is the anecdotal evidence pouring in to me about hetero members being unwilling to screen Brokeback Mountain. For a community that takes pride in progressive values, it’s shameful that Hollywood’s homophobia may be on a par with Pat Robertson’s.
Despite the hype you’re reading in the press and on the Internet about Brokeback, with its eight nominations, being the supposed favorite to take home the Best Picture Oscar on March 5, Crash could end up winning. The issue isn’t which film is better. The issue is more like which movie was seen by the Academy. Frankly, I find horrifying each whispered admission to me from Academy members who usually pose as social liberals that they’re disgusted by even the possibility of glimpsing simulated gay sex. Earth to the easily offended: This movie has been criticized for being too sexually tame. Hey, Academy, what are you worried about: that you’ll turn gay or, worse, get a stiffie by just the hint of hunk-on-hunk action?
It’s not that Crash isn’t Oscar-worthy and Brokeback is. Both are good, if flawed, movies. Crash makes up in aesthetic bleakness what it lacks in subtlety — Los Angeles is a city of minorities divided but colliding, duh! — but it’s also gripping and powerful. Brokeback gives us something we haven’t seen before — closet-case sheepherders tastefully presented so they redefine the notion of love. But it’s also slow and ponderous.