The Beginning of a New Entertainment Industry Coastal War?

by tully
March 6, 2006 4:56 AM
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Well, I got suckered into watching a good bit of the telecast. Beginning with the tribute to Robert Altman (of course I wish the montage had been longer and better, but they did the best they could, I suppose, and Bob was a true gentleman). After that, I stuck it out until the very end. When CRASH won for editing, I had a really strong hunch that it was going to win Best Picture. Then it done did. Welcome to my world, BROKEBACK supporters.

I have to be honest here, however. If I really thought BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN was a truly great film I might be upset right now. But if I take myself back to when I saw it, I can't shake my lingering sense of mild disappointment. Granted, my bar was set impossibly high, but the fact remains that I firmly believe the filmmakers were too wedded to the script and dropped the ball by giving Jack so much screen time. I'm sure I'll never get around to doing this--I hope not, at least--but I would like to recut my own version of the film when it comes out on DVD, trimming at least twenty minutes and placing the focus solely on Ennis. I think there's a great film in there somewhere, this just felt too bloated. Like, I actually *felt* the script on the page, if that makes any sense (which happens to me in a lot of John Sayles films and keeps me from being genuinely affected). This, to me, is an instance where I could feel the filmmakers sticking to the script too fanatically. Once you get into the editing room, it becomes a whole different ballgame. Unfortunately, the editing of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, while technically proficient, merely reflected the script that was written. I would be willing to be that there wasn't one cut in there that was discovered in the editing room. Hence, no nomination in that category.

That said, CRASH has to be the most preposterously hilarious Best Picture winner in history. I have to confess, I had a blast while watching it, but not in the way that I *should have*. I was laughing out loud, by myself. I never do that.

In my humble opinion, only two of the Best Picture nominees were Flawlessly Executed: CAPOTE and GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. Still, CAPOTE left me unaffected, which is a mystery to me, as everything about it felt so masterfully executed and RIGHT ON. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK was deceptively slight, but that's what made me admire it even more. Not "big enough" to win Best Picture, but I stand behind it as being the only film that didn't have one fraction of a misstep. I might say the same thing for MUNICH, but my jaw is still dangling from that TWENTYNINE PALMS-like Eric Bana climax. Please, can someone explain that to me?

Thankfully, I had nothing invested in this night. I made my break with the Oscars years ago, and I didn't even join a no-fee Oscar pool this year. But what I do hope will happen is that this will spark some East Coast/West Coast turf war, like the Biggie/Tupac feud. I might be wrong here, but to me this whole CRASH/BROKEBACK battle became a representation of the aesthetic divide between New York and LA, cinematically speaking. (Granted, this is not addressing the outright homophobia that clearly played a role in the final vote--though there were gay presenters like John Travolta, but that was just a bone toss.) In a more general sense, this year's Oscar competition was a contest between "challenging cinema" done tenderly and artistically (New York) versus "challenging cinema" done blatantly and cartoonishly (Los Angeles). It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Los Angeles won. Disappointing, perhaps, but not surprising.

In the awards ceremony that I wish I'd watched tonight, here are the winners:

Best Picture: THE NEW WORLD
Best Director: Terrence Malick
Best Actor: Damian Lewis (KEANE)
Best Actress: Vera Farmiga (DOWN TO THE BONE)
Best Supporting Actor: Ray Wise (GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK)
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
Best Cinematography: Harris Savides (LAST DAYS)
Best Editing: Juliette Welfling (THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED)
Best Foreign Film: THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU
Best Documentary: OCCUPATION: DREAMLAND

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