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David Poland

By David Poland

Why I Never Went All-In For Crash

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49 Responses to “Why I Never Went All-In For Crash”

  1. Josh says:

    The Dave Cullen BBM love fest board must be going banana’s right now.

  2. Spacesheik says:

    Waterbucket at the moment is suffering from post-Oscar/BBM depression and is mixing hsi 14th of Red Bull with Vodka.
    I feel for ya mate.

  3. PetalumaFilms says:

    Here my thing with CRASH:
    It manipulates you in a really stupid way. It reminds me of one of those commercials that says something like “You’d never buy a crappy blender because you’re smarter than that…that’s why you choose, the Blendalot 5000…” There’s a name for that type of advertising, but I can’t remember it. It basically builds you up by telling you you’re smart.
    I guarantee that any racists out there that saw CRASH had their stereotypes reinforced and any non-racist patted themselves on the back for being so above it all. I respect Haggis’s ability to take cliched stereotypes and morph them into screenplays that play to our emotions, but I hated CRASH and didn’t care much for M$B.

  4. PetalumaFilms says:

    CRAP!! I just read that Turan piece and he said the same thing….dammitt!

  5. PandaBear says:

    I wasn’t that into the awards because I wasn’t a big fan of any of the movies this year (my fav was Munich and see how far that went this yr) but I must say my first thought when they announced Crash as the winner was:
    “Waterbucket is going to be PO’d”

  6. James Leer says:

    I think Manohla Dargis said that best, that Crash assured you that your put-upon Mexican maid is actually your friend and the black men you’re afraid of really are carjackers. I’m all for outsider takes on material (Ang Lee was an excellent fit for Brokeback), but a dissection of LA’s racial complexities from a rich, white Canadian Scientologist who lives on the Westside? Urgh.
    I’m just depressed because the Best Pic category was so strong this year and, of course, the one weak film in the category won.

  7. palmtree says:

    Yeah, and Asians all have heavy accents and can’t drive and are smuggled in illegally. When Ludacris called one a “chinaman,” I had to wonder what century this movie was taking place in. In case Paul Haggis didn’t know, the Asian community is huge in LA and features many who are fully assimilated as well as the “fresh of the boat” crowd.

  8. Mark Ziegler says:

    If you live in LA, and I would think that Haggis spends his time in LA, how can he not know that the asian community is huge there?
    The movie was broad strokes over broader strokes. With some good acting by great actors. They found their alternative to Brokeback. Why? I don’t know.

  9. palmtree says:

    No, Haggis definitely knows the Asian community is huge in LA as he lives there. It’s that they were the minority that was given the least amount of attention in his supposedly accurate look at LA today. Ludacris’ act of freeing the destitute-looking Asians into Chinatown was laughable…yeah, surely they won’t get exploited there.

  10. joefitz84 says:

    Every group was given the short end in “Crash”. Not just asians.
    The man who created Walker Texas Ranger directed an Oscar winning film. That’s incredible.

  11. Wrecktum says:

    After seeing Crash, my wife said “of all the characters in that film, the one most likely to write Crash is Sandra Bullock.” She got it right: seemingly written by a sheltered, lonely westsider with no real idea what’s going on out in the city beyond their gated community.
    It’s a shame that Haggis’ racial sensibilities are so surface-level and old-fashioned. He created a well crafted feature with a good cast (in some cases working far above their normal abilities) that, with a smarter writer, could have been truly enlightening.

  12. Fades To Black says:

    Ebert looks like a genuis today.
    I am going to have to watch CRASH again now. Plus, we got CAPOTE AND GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK on DVD coming in the next two weeks.

  13. James Leer says:

    Wrecktum, you’ve got an uncommonly perceptive wife.
    Haggis can certainly craft a scene, but to me, the second half of that film undoes anything that worked in the first half. The first “invisible cloak” works, but the second one, where the little girl stops behaving like a human being and runs TOWARD a man holding a gun to her father? And gets shot at, but doesn’t react except to calmly spout platitudes? Headache city.

  14. Aladdin Sane says:

    Well I’ll say this for Crash, I did like it more than I liked Dances With Wolves…so it’s not the worst film to ever win Best Picture!

  15. Bruce says:

    Going to have to wait a few years to make that call myself.

  16. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    As much as I liked the movie (and i’ve said it here many times) the very day I saw it way back in April (we got it before the US) that the screenplay was the worst element. That scene where Ludacris’ character is all “do you know why they make the windows on the bus so big.” is atrocious. Compare that to, say, the “Jack Twist? Jack Nasty!” scene from Brokeback and, well… they are two scenes about prejudice that couldn’t be any more opposite in terms of quality.
    The Asian subsections of Crash were indeed quite horrible. They all have heavy accents or don’t speak english at all, they are bad drivers, they illegally bring migrants into the country and to top it all off they profit from it all.
    Completely agree with wrecktum though. A better screenplay, but using the same talented cast and set pieces and such, it could have been one of the best. But for now I just like it as a film. Thing is… can I ever watch it again without feeling “YOU robbed Brokeback Mountain”
    Paul Haggis has 2 Oscars.
    Ang Lee has 1 Oscar.
    Martin Scorcese has 0 Oscars.
    What’s even stranger is TWO “Facts of Life” members won a total of three oscars last night.

  17. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:
    That article is actually a really good one on why so many people are pissed off.
    It does sort of feel like an insult to the LIFEBLOOD of the Academy. Without the gays their telecasts would rate much lower. Hell, Chris Rock even joked about it last year.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    Dave P., did you really feel victimized and put-upon on your own blog?
    If so, you might not agree, but I think it was at least partially of your own doing.

  19. peteinportland says:

    Well Josh, the folks at are doing very well. Thanks for asking. They are actually raising money for a full page ad in one of the trades or national papers in order to thank the people that made BBM and agree with the many organizations and critics who named it Best Picture of the Year. No mention will be made of AMPAS and no sour grapes. Just a heartfelt tribute to a film viewed by the 2200 members of that forum as great art.
    And David Poland, I wouldn’t castigate myself too much. Had any movie been in BBM’s position you would have called the BP for it. No movie in BBM’s position before had ever lost. Ever. Your readers would have done what they did this year: held your feet to the fires of reality.
    Likewise, had you predicted a movie in Crash’s position to take BP, there would have been the same reaction from your readers. Until this year, no movie in its position had ever won BP. EVER.
    I don’t remember the BBM crowd insisting you predict any acting award for the movie or a SAG Ensemble award. Nope, readers of all types knew there was nothing in history that predicted a Crash win. That is where people asked you (and others) to be honest. And you were. So, please don’t cry that it was the gays that made you do it, that they would not let you make a foolish prediction that history would not support. You are a reasonable man who came to that conclusion on your own. Who blames you?
    It was the oddest Oscar year ever, wasn’t it? Four films getting only 3 Oscars each to lead all films. The BP winner winning only screenplay and editing. The BP winner with the lowest box office in many, many years. All four acting awards being the only awards for their films. Yep, a year that will live on in Oscar history.
    But hey David, you and the gurus were 7 for 8 of the majors. Not bad. So, the usual indicators held up in all but one race. I don’t think anyone will kiss the precursors as indicators goodbye (unless a gay themed movie is involved, of course, and then all bets are off!).

  20. Tcolors says:

    Have you all heard that “The Awards Fennec” is closing down? Crash winning best pic was one of the reasons they decided to close down the site. Go here and you can read their statement:

  21. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Oh, I must say though. this:
    “And nest [sic] year, I will try to be more brave.”
    I wouldn’t say that. The Academy proved to be horribly predictable everywhere bar Best Picture, and I doubt they’re gonna go much further any time soon. I also doubt we’ll have a movie with the awards-circuit run that Brokeback had as well. Movies like that only seem to come around every 10 years or so (well, the last was Schindler’s List, so…).
    Peteinportland says what one of the big issues a lot of us have with the decision. I don’t personally think it’s that a film beat BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. It’s that’s a film beat the movie that had won an award from almost every single american film organisation – most of those being Best Picture. It also had various other internationation awards, it had the box-office, it had the changing history notion, it had the fact that it was THE film of the year in terms of public watercooler nature (yes, others made more money but how many were discussing War of the Worlds for longer than 2 weeks?).
    And then to annount it the best written and best directed film of the year, but NOT best picture?
    THAT is the thing that’s irritating. But yes, and then to actually lose to Crash was just bonkers.

  22. scottp says:

    i read the fennec comment and think and feel similarly.
    if munich, gn&gl, or capote had won, i would not had nearly been upset. they had what i think a pure fan base, were unique, and the critics endorsed them as much as bbm.
    crash was not embraced by critics, won the CFC only because of Ebert/Roeper, and feels (with some facts) very much the anti-choice — shame on the academy.

  23. bicycle bob says:

    paul haggis 2. marty scorcese 0.
    now thats a stat.

  24. jsnpritchett says:

    To add something to the discussion, consider that on IMDB, CRASH gets an average rating of 8.4 and is the 74th-highest rated movie ever. BROKEBACK gets a 7.9 and is ranked outside the top 250. On Rottentomatoes, BROKEBACK gets 86% positive, with CRASH at 77%. Yes, CRITICS liked BROKEBACK more than CRASH, but the “average” moviegoer liked CRASH more. The voting population of the Academy is more similar to the average movie-going public than it is to the critics’ block, so this is not an altogether shocking development, regardless of what some of the more ardent BBM supporters are saying.

  25. Yodas Right Nut Sac says:

    Here is my take on it.
    BROKEBACK fans were way more vocal with their support. So it got heard more.
    CRASH supporters were not as vocal and let the movie build.
    So as fans we heard the BROKEBACK talk more and louder than CRASH or any other film for that matter. So we assumed that BROKEBACK would be a clear favorite.
    I bought into the hype. I thought it was a lock because of all the nominations. All the pre show awards.
    You got me good, Hollywood!

  26. Me says:

    jsnpritchett – that’s a really good point about IMDB vs. Rottentomatoes. I looked up the other three nominees:
    Capote – 8.0
    GNGL – 7.9
    Munich – 7.7
    Crash really is the most popular of the choices.

  27. Josh says:

    You really have to hand it to the people who did the work behind the scenes for Crash.
    How many movies get released in May, don’t make 100 million, are on dvd before other contenders even open, and don’t have a big time director or A list stars, win Oscars let alone compete for them?
    I didn’t realize how many out there actually were fond of the film as the numbers and ratings show. Just quietly creeps up on you.

  28. jeffmcm says:

    Or (just for the sake or argument) does it mean that the Academy voters were looking for something, anything, to vote for instead of Brokeback?

  29. Me says:

    Or (to continue the argument) does it mean the Academy watched the movies and picked the one they liked the best.
    How dare they do their duty like that!?!
    Next time do what the guys in the white towers tell you to do!

  30. jeffmcm says:

    Possible, Me, but to accept your argument we have to conclude that the Academy is a bunch of idiots. Which is certainly possible.

  31. Me says:

    Why do they have to be a bunch of idiots? Because they don’t like the same movie you do. Sheesh.
    IMDB suggests Crash is the more popular film. It won an award based on a popular vote. If you can’t see the connection, the only idiot here is you.

  32. PandaBear says:

    I hate this template being put out there that says “Crash is a terrible film. Brokeback got shafted because the Academy hates homosexuals. Voters got scared to make a statement and chose the easy way out.”

  33. jeffmcm says:

    I can see the connection; idiots like Crash, and there are a lot of them. Pretty simple arithmetic.
    Panda: I believe that template is generally correct, except that voters are never scared to make a statement; they just had to pick and choose which one.

  34. PandaBear says:

    I’m positive there are more out there like you who believe that template. Even though it is false.
    Believing it assumes that voters are little sheep who will not vote for what they like but vote for the “common cause”. I just can’t buy into that.

  35. palmtree says:

    It’s not that the Academy hates homosexuals. How else could Philip Seymour Hoffman win for playing one? But Capote is a traditional homosexual role, effete New York intellectual as Stewart put it. The message is more along the lines of “you can play gay if it is within the boundaries of the accepted stereotype.”
    And Jeff, I’m not sure that people who like Crash were idiots…and I’m saying this as a guy who did not like Crash. It is intensely middlebrow, appearing to tackle an important issue while still having the virtues of vacuous popcorn, CSI-like entertainments. That is the one distinction that makes the editing nom so important in retrospect.

  36. Me says:

    I just wonder why people would prefer to believe that a set of people is bigotted rather than just has different tastes?
    Is their hatred of Crash so much that they’d preffer someone to be a bigot than like that movie?
    I really don’t get it.

  37. Mark Ziegler says:

    Calling everyone who liked a movie an idiot? Good way to get your point across there. Yeah, that always works.

  38. palmtree says:

    Crash points to the reality of media in this country: we are not really lovers of cinema but of TV. So few of us see movies, even fewer who see them when they open to avoid getting whiplashed by the hype. But if you can create a nice screener experience (preferably with your film coming in at under 2 hours like all good television), then you can make a run for it.

  39. joefitz84 says:

    Usually the big films that you see in and play better in a theatre (Gladiator, Rings, Titanic) are the Oscar winners and the small screener type films get some nominations but don’t win. Reversed that this year.

  40. palmtree says:

    I agree Joe, and that was BM’s problem. It was billed as an event movie, but it was shot like an art film. People got there expecting Titanic, but instead got a more meditative film (I feel that really helped to depict life there). Unlike Mr. Poland, I wouldn’t call restraint a “trick” but I believe it is much harder to sustain restraint than it is to have everyone say “I feel angry all the time!” Or are we really going to argue that a great Ozu film is just full of tricks?

  41. jsnpritchett says:

    The people who are still supporting BROKEBACK here are, quite frankly, getting a little scary. I’ve never seen a film’s fans be so insulting, condescending, and demeaning to another film or anyone who admits they liked it. Count me as one of the “idiots” who enjoyed CRASH and believe it’s a better film than BROKEBACK.
    Do I believe CRASH was the best movie of 2005? No. Personally, I’d say MUNICH, GRIZZLY MAN, and a few others were better. Does that mean that I’m homophobic–or does it simply mean I have different tastes than the BROKEBACK supporters? WHY is it so hard to accept that a large voting population like the Academy thinks the same way I do?

  42. Yodas Right Nut Sac says:

    There seems to be a ton of bad feelings on CRASH out there in the world today in the aftermash of the upset of ’06.
    But I think it would have been any film that won getting this treatement from the fans of the BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. We’d be hearing anti MUNCIH, GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK and CAPOTE stuff right now too.
    Don’t take it personal, will ya, CRASH?

  43. jeffmcm says:

    Personally, I would have been very pleased if Munich had won (I like it better than Crash) and perfectly okay with GNGL or Capote winning. I am much more anti-Crash than I am pro-Brokeback.

  44. Fades To Black says:

    Ang Lee is the first minority male to win Best Director. That is impressive. Good for him. Now if he lost I’d question this.

  45. RDP says:

    “And then to annount it the best written and best directed film of the year, but NOT best picture?”
    In fairness, “Crash” was also annointed the best written film of the year.

  46. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    It’s not like Brokeback fans haven’t copped it over the last few months! And now WE’RE the bad ones?
    The below linked article of Roger Ebert’s is particularly funny.
    “One of the mysteries of the 2006 Oscar season is the virulence with which lovers of “Brokeback Mountain” savaged “Crash.””
    Er, right. It’s only Brokeback Mountain fans that savaged Crash. Right, Mr Ebert – you think that. We’re also ungraceful? Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if Crash had won 70% of awards under the sun compared to Brokeback Mountain’s 10% and then lost people would be calling foul then too!

  47. Tcolors says:

    I also find it very confusing. Mr.Poland maybe you can help me with this. I’m trying desperately to understand how a movie (BBM) that has taken so many awards and noms all over the world would lose to one (Crash) that didn’t? Are the Oscars voters so different than the rest of the world? Does the Academy have more knowledge to what makes a great movie? If BBM had lost to say any of the other movies I would not be so confused. Just because I feel Munich and Good night and Good luck are also very well crafted films, but Crash? I didn’t know who Paul Haggis was until this Awards season. My first comment on Crash was that it seemed like a made for tv movie. Then to find out that’s what Haggis came from, tv. Not that it is a bad thing, but it helped my thought on the way the movie was filmed. I don’t think Crash was terrible, but, it doesn’t seem to be Oscar worthy. I really feel for the makers of Crash because it won’t go down in history as clean “Best Picture” win. They’ll always fight the fact that the WORLD of AWARDS felt Brokeback Mountain was a better picture, and that Crash’s win was a dirty win. I found it funny that Jack Nicholson said he voted for BBM as Haggis and that woman were talking to the press after the best picture win. That was just the beginning of their Best Picture win what-the-f**k interviews.

  48. Cadavra says:

    Whadda you guys all complaining about? TRANSPORTER 2 still got zilch!!!

  49. Charly Baltimore says:

    What movie has ever gone down as “clean” win?
    We don’t know the voting or the process or who exactly votes.
    So, how can it ever be “clean”?

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon