Bil Browning

Wha' Happened????

Filed By Bil Browning | March 05, 2006 11:51 PM | comments

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I don't know how you all feel, but I feel cheated. I just got through watching the Academy Awards. There has been so much talk of how well-received Brokeback Mountain and Transamerica were. There was so much build-up. Everyone said Felicity Huffman was a shoe-in for Best Actress. Ang Lee did win for Best Director, but there was not much else to make these two entries stand out tonight. I know I am speaking from an emotional point of view, but I am rather disappointed. I just have a gut feeling that the Academy didn't want to deal with the gay stuff. It's like they paid lip service to these two films but couldn't follow through. Maybe I'm just sour grapes, but that's how I feel. Of course, I am looking at things through my eyes and what I would like to see in a more perfect world. I know the films created dialogues that might otherwise not have existed and brought these issues to the attention of millions of people. Please add your points of view - perhaps it might make me feel better.


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Huh? Philip Seymour Hoffman won Best Actor for playing a gay character, and Brokeback won best adapted screenplay, so they're dealing with the "gay stuff." What did you want, a clean sweep? There were some non-gay themed movies this year (like Crash and The Constant Gardener) that were very good, and worthy.

Tony Kariotis | March 6, 2006 12:15 AM

Annette,
I totally understand how you feel. I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach after the award for best picture was called. Knowing that it lost to Crash, I'm still comforted that the Academy acknowledged a film with a powerful message about present-day racism, which is contrary to the still-present-day misconception that racism is an "issue of the past" that is perpetuated through Hollywood imagery. All the buzz leading up to the awards has turned both TransAmerica and Brokeback into mainstream releases rather than showings in indie-cinemas. It wasn't all for naught. :) I hope that helps!

Thank you both for clarity. As I said, this was a "gut reaction". There had been so much talk about Brokeback winning Best Picture and Felicity winning Best Actress, it was a let-down when that didn't happen. This is a wonderful forum for dialogue and I am happy I could receive the feed-back you gave me! Thank you!

Linda Perdue | March 6, 2006 5:47 AM

Annette, while startled that "Brokeback" didn't win, I'm delighted that "Crash" did. It tackles racism and hatred head-on, and is an incredible film. I think Hollywood dealt very well with LGBT movies this year. The nominations were everywhere!! Phillip Seymore Hoffman was quite credible as the very gay Capote. I was more disappointed that Felicity Huffman didn't win for "Transamerica". I thought she nailed that, but then so did Witherspoon for "Walk the Line". Laughed when Jon Stewart called that movie "Ray" with white people.

I would agree with Tony that gay films swept the nominations this year and brought the films to main stream audiences.

"Capote", "Brokeback Mountain" and "Transamerica" were great, with some good wins. Cheer up!!

With eight nominations - more than any other film this year - the overwhelming success of Brokeback Mountain proved once again that when Americans are exposed to the truth about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, almost all react with openness, inclusiveness, and acceptance. And it's not just the movies that are bringing these simple truths to people around the country - you do, too, every time you talk about GLBT equality with friends, family, and co-workers.

It was also a joy to see Felicity Huffman nominated for Best Actress for her exceptional portrayal of a transgender woman in TransAmerica. Her performance offers a window into a world that most Americans never see - or choose to ignore. And when they see that world, they know that it's not so scary, it's not so different, and that it deserves the respect that we fight for every day.

The most important part of your post-- besides sharing your sadness-- is that these films and their high-visibility started some dialogues. Not only between ourselves, but also with the wider community. They acted very much like the powerful performance of Sidney Portier in "In the Heat of the Night" to humanize and personalize our stories.

I also found it interesting-- that no one I have ever talked to who's seen BBM-- comes away NOT wanting to talk about it. Regardless of whether you loved it, as I did, or hated it-- there was a ready conversation to be had. I even detected a generational difference among the gay men I know--

The younger generational argument can be summed up in:
A) why didn't they just move away to SF or NYC? B) why do we get such negative stereotyped examples -- and not role models? C) why can't Hollywood make a movie where gay life doesn't end in tragedy? There are tons of ways to answer these-- "discuss amongst yourselves."

I don't think the Academy was in any way snubbing the movie because of its gay content. The fact that the movie got 8 nominations and collected 3 Oscars speaks volumes. It may have been cursed by having cleaned up at most of the other earlier award shows, and the academy likes to show its independence. The Screen Actors Guild, which is said to be the best predictor of Best Picture at the Oscars, also picked Crash so we shouldn't be too surprised. I don't think the acting community was snubbing the movie either by not selecting it at their award's show.

and another point of view.....

Reuters - Mar 06, 12:26
The Oscars opened the closet door to gay-themed films but shut it almost as quickly.

"Brokeback Mountain," the much-ballyhooed favorite about two gay cowboys, won best director for Ang Lee on Sunday but stunningly lost the best picture prize to race drama "Crash." Additionally Philip Seymour Hoffman won best actor for playing gay novelist Truman Capote in "Capote."

The victory for "Crash" suggested Oscar voters were more comfortable with a tale that exploited the seamy underbelly of racial conflict in contemporary Los Angeles than with a heartbreaking tale of love between two married men.

"Perhaps the truth really is, Americans don't want cowboys to be gay," said Larry McMurtry, 69, who shared an Oscar for best adapted screenplay with Diana Ossana for "Brokeback."

No overtly gay love story has ever won a best picture award and, as of Monday morning, none has. The big question going into the Oscars was whether Hollywood, often in the forefront of social issues, would break another taboo.

"Film buffs and the politically minded will be arguing this morning about whether the Best Picture Oscar to 'Crash' was really for the film's merit or just a cop-out by the Motion Picture Academy so it wouldn't have to give the prize to 'Brokeback Mountain,"' said Washington Post critic Tom Shales.

Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan saw "Brokeback's" failure as a sign that Hollywood was not yet ready to grant the topic of homosexual love mainstream respectability.

"Despite all the magazine covers it graced, despite all the red-state theaters it made good money in, despite (or maybe because of) all the jokes late-night talk show hosts made about it, you could not take the pulse of the industry without realizing that 'Brokeback Mountain' made a number of people distinctly uncomfortable," he said, adding:

"So for people who were discomfited by 'Brokeback Mountain' but wanted to be able to look themselves in the mirror and feel like they were good, productive liberals, 'Crash' provided the perfect safe harbor."


For me the message of BBM very creatively illustrated the tragic consequences of living your life without being true to yourself.

CRASH, on the other hand, challenged the audience to know who they—as one cannot possibly be true to their self until they know who they are.

I loved both films but do think the Academy got it right when it awarded the big picture Oscar to CRASH.