If you even give a shit about this year’s Academy Awards then the following should be worthwhile. Last Sunday night, I sat hooked to the TV like the other millions of people that watch the awards every year. Being the Hollywood royalty that he is, Jack Nicholson strolled out to the microphone with that classic grin stretched across his face. Jack got straight down to business. He read the nominees and then it was time for judgment. He pulled the card and, almost guilty with excitement, said … “Crash.”
The initial reaction hit me in the face like a bucket of cold water. My inner voice screamed outrage. My eyes opened wide and I lurched forward and boomed, “This is bullshit!” My housemates rolled their eyes in unison, as another one of my “conspiracy theories” was obviously forthcoming. Eventually someone said, “OK. … What is it?” from a bleak corner of the house.
The Academy Awards Handbook says that the longest nominated film wins best picture 44 percent of the time. In retrospect, I should have seen this coming when “Munich” was longer than both “Crash” and “Brokeback Mountain.” The Handbook continues by stating that the secret to picking the best picture is in the directing Oscar. Shortly before the Academy Awards, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) announces its winner for direction of a feature film, and that award predicts the Best Director Oscar 90 percent of the time. The two associations have only disagreed 4 times, with the last being in 1995 for “Apollo 13.” The DGA’s best director will be the same as the Academy’s.
This was the biggest upset in 11 years. That got the “mice” running through my head immediately. Why disagree on Best Picture? This might be a long shot, but consider this: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – the people who actually vote on the Academy Awards – must be made up by a bunch of homophobes. The subject of homosexuality in “Brokeback Mountain” was unfortunately too abrasive and controversial for it to garner the Best Picture Oscar. After selling myself on that fact, I concluded that this was the only way this could happen.
Now, there are a number of holes in my small theory of Oscar corruption. Let’s start at the largest fact: When I read the Academy Award Handbook it acknowledged that Best Director and Picture don’t have to agree and it is not magically set in stone somewhere. Second, is the fact that the Awards are voted on by a small group of people who obviously shared the opinion that “Crash” was a better film.
Most important, however, was the fact that I was watching all this go down and at once I was reminded of the rather large sum of money I was going to owe people who bet me “Crash” would win over “Brokeback Mountain.”
So, I was left on my own. Who was to blame for my loss of faith in the Oscars? Was it the homophobe Academy members? No, I don’t know if they are homophobes. Or was it that “Crash” was better? Yeah, but it wasn’t my favorite. Maybe it was that son of a bitch Jack Nicholson – no, the blame was my own. I was wrong. “Crash” was so good it upset all the others. My ego is bruised.
Every event is not without its lesson. Being so sure of something and building it up so much that I could never see it changed in any way was blinding me from the fact that I, and indeed all of us, truly don’t know all of the answers to every question. To those not buying it, I’ll have your money to you by Friday. Thank God Three 6 Mafia won an Oscar.
Daily Nexus Assistant Artsweek Editor Harrison Coltun was too busy recording Dolly Parton’s dazzling performance to watch the rest of the Academy Awards live.