Oscar’s 90th birthday is just around the corner and to celebrate, every other day from now through March 4th, I will be taking a look at each and every film selected for his top award – the good, the bad and the sometimes not-so deserving.
For the rest of recorded cinematic history, it may be debated and questioned as to why Paul Haggis’ cartoonish and overblown diatribe on the current state racial hated in America might have been bestowed the Oscar for Best Picture. There are a thousand theories, but many have pointed to a measure of discomfort among the Academy voters with the favored frontrunner, Brokeback Mountain. Were voters much more comfortable with an overcooked melodrama about racism than with a love affair between two men? That’s a question for history.
I’ve seen Crash twice in my life and I can say that I admire what it is trying to do. It is trying to focus on the multi-faceted portrait of racial paranoia that is still persistent in our culture – much of which is certainly very valid. But geez! This movie mangles and mishandles the layers in a way that ends up being retroactive to its purpose. It’s handling of the white characters is overblown; it’s handle of minorities is degrading (particularly African-Americans) and by the end you don’t feel enlightened, you feel unclean. Again, while I greatly admire that film’s purpose, I question its execution. There are better ways to handle this material, and ultimately, this just isn’t it.