87°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Best Picture Debate

The Academy Awards have a way of playing out like a horse race. The field is announced. There are favorites: favorite horses (the actors), favorite trainers (the filmmakers), favorite owners (the producers). An individual horse may be the initial favorite but nothing is decided until the home stretch. Win, place, or show, is the name of the game here. This year’s come from behind victor was David Cronenberg for his movie Crash.

The field was teeming with films of a political nature this year, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Munich, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck. Dealing with issues ranging from race, religion, sexuality, government censorship, and the death penalty, (not to mention the fact the show was hosted by Jon Stewart) it seems politics was the name of the game this year on the red carpet. My educated guess going into that Sunday night was, Good Night, and Good Luck. I based my assumption on the relative age of the Academy members. I figured most of them would appreciate an exploration of Edward R. Murrow. Then, there was the buzz surrounding the hugely successful film Brokeback Mountain, winner for Best Director (Ang Lee). Capote, despite being an exquisite film, never enjoyed the clear favor its lead actor Philip Seymour Hoffman did. Munich, although it is directed by the maestro (Steven Spielberg) and boasts Tony Kushner as a contributing writer, was the most debatable entry of the 78th Academy Award show.

One of the biggest reasons for Crash’s dark horse status was the fact it was released well before the other films. Perhaps Crash benefited from this maturation process, setting the benchmark for the other films while quietly waiting backstage. Although I was surprised by the outcome of the category I was not completely taken aback. There was last minute speculation that Crash was leading the pack. Now the question becomes, why?

Crash is a very innovative film from a ‘classic Hollywood’ perspective. It is a slice-of-life story with no clear protagonist. And, it deals with the largely taboo theme of race relations in America. These are the things that work against the film in the ‘classic Hollywood’ sense. Paradoxically, these are the things that make the film so memorable. Its enormous ensemble cast is impeccable. It coaxes fresh performances out of actors such as Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Tony Danza, and Brendan Fraser. It also showcases some of the best talent from a crop of new Hollywood actors. Don Cheadle proves his mettle yet again and Terrence Howard gives one of the most impassioned performances I’ve ever seen on film (interestingly it was his performance in Hustle & Flow that got him the nod for Best Actor). All these factors, combined with an innovative filmmaker not scared to cut against the grain to make Crash the Best Picture of 2005.