THE YEAR: 2005
THE OTHER NOMINEES:
- Good Night and Good Luck
THE WINNER: The star-stuffed, racially charged Paul Haggis-directed wreck (sorry, I hated it) that was Crash.
WHY IT (PROBABLY) DIDN’T WIN: There may or may not be some homophobes left in the Academy. To them, voting for this film, an Ang Lee adaptation of the Annie Proulx short story about two cowboys (Jack and Ennis) who have to hide their love, would have been like waving a giant rainbow flag in the face of the nation. They did award Lee the trophy for Best Director though, demonstrating that, despite their prejudices, they appreciated it on some basic, artistic level.
WHY IT SHOULD HAVE: Unlike Crash, which just came off as a mediocre, melodramatic rip-off of every overlapping story-centric film ever made, Brokeback Mountain trotted rarely charted territory, bringing a non-stereotypical same-sex relationship to mainstream audiences and turning the western genre on its all-too-unsurprising head. And it did it with immense style–gorgeous, sprawling cinematography, subtle yet stirring performances (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal could have tied for Best Actor), and truly haunting score (which was later remixed to serve as a gay dance anthem).
Because they were both deathly afraid of what their loved ones and peers might think, there was so much left unsaid between Jack and Ennis, literally and figuratively. (There were a lot of awkward pauses as they sat by that pre-coitus campfire.) While many people found these extended, unscripted moments boring, considering the message of the film, they were truly inspired. In this pointed silence, Lee, Ledger and Gyllenhaal brought to life a harsh reality that, despite changes in legislature and mindsets, sadly still lives on in modern society.