In a 2.16 Atlantic piece called “The Most Insane, Illogical Award Choices in Oscar History,” Jason Bailey does a good job of explaining the Oscar break-up syndrome. It’s in a portion of the article that laments the Best Picture crowning of Crash in early 2006. The riff follows, but what Oscar moments persuaded HE readers to emotionally disengage or walk away?
I’ve gone through countless breakup moments over the last three or four decades. Except I’ve never signed the divorce papers. Instead I hang around like a pathetic henpecked husband, taking the abuse. Well, not really as I’m doing pretty well with HE but you know what I mean. I’ve been burned and disappointed so many times that I’m numb.
I think my first “what the fuck?” moment goes all the way back to early ’69, when the Best Picture nominees for 1968 were announced and I realized they’d left out 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bullitt and Rosemary’s Baby. The Best Picture nominees were Oliver!, Funny Girl, The Lion In Winter, Rachel, Rachel and Romeo and Juliet. The Lion in Winter is a sturdy film, but who watches the other four these days? No one. All but forgotten.
“Every true film lover can pinpoint the moment when they broke up with the Oscars,” Bailey writes, “when the Academy made a choice so illogical, so upsetting, and so numb-skulled as to blow their credibility forevermore. When you’re young, the Oscars are a big deal, the movie geek equivalent of the Super Bowl; then they blow it, and while you may watch in the years that follow, it’s never with the same enthusiasm or gusto.
“For some, that moment came in 1971, when The French Connection beat out A Clockwork Orange and The Last Picture Show; for some, it was Gandhi‘s 1982 win over E.T., Tootsie and The Verdict; for others, it was Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line in 1998.
“But this writer made it all the way to age 30 before giving up on Oscar, when the biggest award of the night went to Paul Haggis‘ pedantic, contrived, and utterly artless Crash. In going with this simple-minded ‘racism is bad’ tale, Oscar voters passed over Ang Lee‘s revisionist cowboy love story Brokeback Mountain, Bennett Miller‘s masterful biopic Capote, George Clooney‘s enthralling Murrow vs. McCarthy tale Good Night and Good Luck, and Steven Spielberg‘s difficult but rewarding Munich.
“It’s not just that the less-deserving nominee won; at the 78th Academy Awards, the worst nominee (by leaps and bounds) won. Me and Oscar still hang out every once and while, but we haven’t been the same since.”