After all the hoopla about how Hollywood is out of step with middle America, did the MPAA lose its nerve? It certainly looks that way. Munich, a film many viewed as covert criticism of the war on terror (co-written by recent VQR contributor Tony Kushner), received no awards; Good Night, and Good Luck, which was also seen as a critique of the Bush administration, received no awards; and Brokeback Mountain (based on the short story by Annie Proulx, another recent VQR contributor), which had dominated every other award ceremony, received wins only in best adapted screenplay and best director. None of its actors were honored, and best picture—incredibly—went to Crash. Why would the one picture that didn’t earn a spot in the category walk away with the win? Could it be because it was the one picture that did not feature a main character who was homosexual or a plot perceived by some as too political for average Americans? Even in the best documentary feature category, March of the Penguins won out over much more important films, such as Darwin’s Nightmare and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
In the evening’s first acceptance speech, George Clooney said, “We are a little bit out-of-touch in Hollywood. I think that’s probably a good thing. We are the ones who talked about AIDS when it was only being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular… This group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the back of theaters. I’m proud to be part of this Academy, proud to be part of this community, proud to be ‘out of touch.’” If only the Academy were as proud of that track record.