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'Brokeback' and 'Crash' win scribe awards; Are Oscars next?

February 5, 2006 | 10:55 am

WGA Awards

The Writers Guild Awards went according to script, with victories for "Crash" (best original screenplay) and "Brokeback Mountain" (best adapted) on Saturday night, thus firming up what we already knew: They're the front-runners in the Academy Award race for best picture and the likely winners of the two screenplay Oscars.

Last year the two sets of kudos lined up, but neither of the champs bagged best picture — "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (original) and "Sideways" (adapted) — but that's unusual. The best pic champ usually claims a screenplay Oscar about two-thirds of the time. Only in the past 21 years have the Oscars and WGA had similar, mirror categories. Since then, 25 guild champs snagged one of 42 screenplay Oscars. That's roughly 60%.

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Let's put it like this: Oh my God! When I saw “Crash!” I knew that it was a magnificent film and it both dispelled stereotypes and showed the beliefs in stereotypes as truths. Truly, the Academy Awards should have an award for Best Ensemble Cast. As a college professor, my post-graduate students saw “Crash”and then discussed it in my Multiculturalism class this past summer. I thought at that time that nothing could beat it as Best Picture....but like Emerel says, "BAM!"
Along came “Brokeback Mountain” and the subtle eloquence of the music, scenery, and empathy were interrupted by magnificently timed moments of Pathos! "Bam!” The heart-wrenching cruelty of society so played out by Randy Quaid, the murder and hatred of gays, and the repressed lies that society has caused gays (and their loved ones) to suffer---leading Heath to represent loss , repression, and fear, and Jake, representing both hope and helpless vulnerability beyond his control. These two heart wrenched lovers juxtaposed to the beauty of the cinematography is artistic nuance at its finest, making Ang Lee my choice for Best Director. And let’s not forget Jake as "Best Supporting Actor" at the Academy Awards. He epitomizes the tender side a gay man often must conceal and reveals the loneliness gays face in a crowd.
“Crash” is reality at its harshest----but “Brokeback Mountain” reveals to the American general public the repressed, secret suffering that so many gays have experienced in their real lives.
As I sat mesmerized in the theater, I noticed other men sharing the same silent suffering they and the characters had experienced in life--represented by Heath-- a repressed rage: loss and desperation that has to be endured. "If we can't fix it, we have to stand it." That stoicism stands like Brokeback Mountain itself and Ang Lee gracefully chisels away at America's prejudices, shaping our future culture. This by far, trumps the reality of prejudice that we all know exists in “Crash.”

I have watched both Crash and Brokeback Mountain. These are very significant films for our times. They are both very daring and very intelligently done. They both have remarkable energy in the stories that are told.

Having prefaced that. I have to say that Brokeback Mountain is one of those films that is still with me. It still haunts me. I can't explain it. This film has absolutely captured my heart. Never in my life have I been so impassioned by just one film.

I find this completely strange because being Asian and having lived in LA, you would probably think that Crash would have hit a stronger note in me. Yes, I have experienced many of the storylines that Crash explicitely tells however there's something about Crash that it fundamentally lacks that true emotional punch.

All the respected precursors leads Brokeback Mountain to win for Best Picture and deservingly so. I just hope that the Academy also rewards its actors as well.

Of many of the "on the night" predictors of the Best Picture Oscar, I believe the order is:
Best Director win
Best Screenplay win (either Origianl or Adapted)
The number of Acting nominations, more weight placed on leads
Total number of nominations for the movie

All bodes well for BBM, from (in order of importance) the PGA win, DGA win, to the WGA win. I don't think the lack of wins at SAG affects its chances for the Best Picture prize as it still has the highest number of acting nominations of any movie.

May be it's pure coincidence, 74th (2001) and 78th (2005) Oscar two front runners seem to have a lot in common:

74th Oscar (2002 Winter Olympics)

A Beautiful Mind:
Won GG/DG/WG. Small cast involving personal struggle and love.

Gosford Park:
Won WG original screenplay & SAG ensemble cast.
An ensemble film touches on class relationship, Large ensemble cast and intertwining of many different storylines. Both director and storyline over reached by trying to involve too much of everything.

78th Oscar (2006 Winter Olympics)

Brokeback Mountain:
Won GG/DG/WG/PG. Small cast involving personal struggle and love.

Won WG Original Screenplay & SAG ensemble cast.
An ensemble film touches on race relationship, Large ensemble cast and intertwining of many different storylines. Both director and storyline over reached by trying to involve too much of everything.
(Sounds familiar? This tells you how much Crash and Gosford Park have in common)

May history repeats itself.



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