Monday, March 6, 2006
The 78th Academy Awards were hosted by Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
Crash won the Best Picture award, a surprise for many predictors. Co-producer Cathy Schulman commented “[thank you for] embracing our film, about love and about tolerance, about truth. Thank you to the people all around the world who have been touched by this message. And we are humbled by the other nominees in this category. You have made this year one of the most breathtaking, and stunning, maverick years in American cinema, thank you.”
Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco also won best original screenplay for Crash.
Directed and co-produced by Canadian Paul Haggis, film distribution rights were purchased for just USD$3 million by Lions Gate Films. Noted film critic Roger Ebert called it his favourite picture of 2005, and the picture made many North American “10 best” lists.
Backstage, Best Director winner Ang Lee commented to the press on how Brokeback Mountain refreshed his will to direct. “Before I get into making this movie, I was very tired from two very ambitious work, The Hulk and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I almost wanted to retire. I felt I had enough, I hit the bottom, sort of like my mid life crisis or something, and this movie teach me how to look at myself, how to manage myself in movie making again, enjoying making them, and the movie was shot very simple, nothing special, but most important, it taught me again, it’s about human emotions, drama and acting.”
Foreign Language Film winner Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) commented that he felt the Oscar win would “change the way South Africans view their moviemaking… hopefully it means that people will keep investing in our local stories, because this gives investors a little more confidence and what we want more than anything else is that people and human emotion is universal and we’re more alike than we think we are around the world… we’re actually so similar as human beings inside.”
Tsotsi was the People’s Choice Award winner at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, while Crash debuted at the fest in 2004. Capote and Brokeback Mountain both played at the festival days after debuting at the Telluride Film Festival. TIFF’s winners often go on to win Best Picture or Best Foreign Language Film; Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), American Beauty, and Whale Rider are such examples.
Stewart’s humor fell short of expectation for most North American film and television critics who commented on the broadcast.
At one point, Stewart jokingly chastised Hollywood for being “out of touch” with mainstream American values. Actor George Clooney later responded to this notion, saying, “We are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood. It’s probably a good thing. We’re the ones that talked about AIDS when it was just being whispered. And we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular. We bring up subjects. This group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I’m proud of this Academy, of this community. I’m proud to be out of touch.”