Monday, March 06, 2006

brokeback mountain, crash, and the oscar

after spending my days and nights at other people's homes and hotel rooms with minimal sleep for most of last week i got home on friday and had one of my 12 hour sleeps (from 8am to 8pm saturday). to fill the 36 hour hole that then appeared in my life i decided on a movie marathon and chose to re watch four of the five films nominated for best motion picture (i don't have and haven't seen capote). i must say i had a great time watching all of them while drinking pots and pots of tea interspersed with random browsing and emailings. they are all good enough films though none of them are great imo. since then i had a nap, read the news, had a great dinner, and probably landed on earth. this post will get rid of whatever levitation still with me.

there is minimum amount of spoilers here, but i always recommend that people watch the films before they read any comments (this is not a review) or reviews. that is a courtesy to the film maker.

one of the curious facts about this year's oscar nominated feature films is that they all did less business than one (probable winner) of the nominated documentary features, namely la marche de l'empereur (march of the penguins). here are latest available figures for u.s.a. with budget for each film (courtesy imdb).
gross income
gross as at date
estimated budget for film
la marche de l'empereur
27 november 2005
brokeback mountain
19 february 2006
19 february 2006
11 september 2005
good night, and good luck
19 february 2006
19 february 2006

it's probable that some of these movies will go past the penguins (especially if they win) but then they may not (penguins will probably win too). however one has to ask; were these films really that good that they deserve to be nominated even though they seem to have made only respectable amounts of money (and munich a loss)?

with the exception of crash (and capote since i have not seen it) imo the answer is no. if hollywood cannot find very good high grossing films to compete in best film category and most of the films actually nominated are mediocre then either the hollywood or the nomination body of the american acedemy has a problem.

who will win?
most people will know by the time they read this. at the time of writing brokeback is considered almost certain to win (with one dollar futures contracts in betting sites going at 80 cents to the dollar and increasing). frankly i cannot see why. i don't think ang lee did justice to himself in this film. it is moving alright but not as much as one can imagine it to be. it is as some people have said a tragic love story and heath ledger and others do a great job but i have seen enough love stories to know that this comes short. when jack twist says 'god, i wish i knew how to quit you!' i for one did not feel his feelings were that strong before that. in other words there was a feeling that i was told explicitly what to feel and think, instead of letting the cinematic language letting me feel it. for instance, does the fact ennis del mar hardly opens his mouth, need to be remarked by other characters repeatedly?

imo main reason this film was nominated was because of its gay theme. that is all very good if oscars are humanitarian awards. i thought they were for cinematic achievements, maybe i am wrong.

crash also have a humanitarian purpose but unlike brokeback it makes better use of cinema. tightly drawn in your face plots compressed in time and place (compression always works in dramatic plots from ancient greece down) with some help from sharp editing, make the characters and viewers confront their own racist prejudices normally covered up by political correctness. as we crash our way towards the unconventional resolution of rather sentimental (almost mawkish, made bearable by humor) non tragedies and one tragedy with liberal dose of improbable coincidences, we do learn something and derive no small amount of pleasure. at least i did. acting was impeccable from almost everyone in the large cast, with matt dillon standing out.

that is why i would have voted for crash if i was member of academy, but i wasn't. thank god. collective responsibility is a curse.

as for the others, munich is bearable and one with forgettable name is forgettable, capote i have not watched.


Keshi said...

I havent seen any of these yet but I want Heath Ledger to win the best actor cos he's Aussie :) and I so wanna see Brokeback Mountain cos it's so talked abt...


prose said...

Well Crash ended up winning, so I suppose you and the Academy Award panel think alike!

If you look carefully, all the movies nominated for Oscars this year were also nominated for Independant Spirit Awards... It's a very unsual year for the Academy to nominate primarily independant movies, which goes to show how good the indie's are becoming. Independants never do well at the boxoffice.

I loved Brokeback Mountain... the scenes, the cinematography, the music, the acting... I though everything was tied together so well. I know what you mean, it felt like there was always something missing from it, but I guess the screenplay lost a little something when it was taken from the book. But all in all, the story spans over years, it has all the makings of a classic and it's a movie I could over and over again and love it more everytime. Crash would just be a one time watch.

"Main reason this film was nominated was because of its gay theme"

I think the main reason it didn't win was because of it's gay theme. The Academy doesn't like controversy.

IMO, for a Spielberg movie, Munich didn't deserve to be nominated.

Ananthan said...

Of the five I saw all except Munich. I thought Brokeback deserved to win... the gay angle is obviously what draws the most attention but whatever your feelings on it, the movie stands on its own as a very good piece of work. Like prose said, the acting, cinematography and the score were all great, as was the story.

I liked Crash as well, but I thought it was a bit superficial.

I really don't understand the penguins craze. I saw it in a packed theater and i'm not sure how it's any different from any other nature documentary you can watch on TV... Morgan Freeman does the voiceover, but what makes it special? It was boring, penguins are boring, I actually fell asleep.

sittingnut said...

do see all of them. even bad films should be seen.

glad to see you here :-)

so I suppose you and the Academy Award panel think alike!
:-) i am really confused about that.

all the movies nominated for Oscars this year were also nominated for Independant Spirit Awards
'crash' was not in best feature category i think.
i personally believe that good films should have wide appeal.

I think the main reason it didn't win was because of it's gay theme. The Academy doesn't like controversy.
i don't think that's right. this is the same academy that gives micheal more awards after all.
anyway see my next post.

thanks for the comment .
yes we have our own subjective judgments.
in the final count awards don't matter what counts is whether you received pleasure(and perhaps learned something) from the film.

as for penguins it was not boring imo and the ppl who paid to see it but tastes differ.

Keshi said...

lol ok then :)