Lucky for me, this is National Procrastinations Week, because I haven't had the energy to tackle synthesizing the Sunday night Oscar® broadcast before today. The major critics have. The interesting thing is that they were mostly miffed that the front runner BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN didn't win. Many were shocked that CRASH did. Too bad. They are professional writers, seeing all the films, so they should have seen the possibility at least. Only a couple of the ones I have read did.
When it came time for Best Director category, the last award before Best Picture, BROKEBACK had been awarded statuettes for Adapted Screenplay and Original Score, and CRASH for Original Screenplay and Film Editing. They were basically even in the race. Each had made a slim showing compared to previous best picture wins. So, at that point, it was impossible to call the best picture winner.
Both Paul Haggis (Crash) and Ang Lee (Brokeback) were nominated in the directing category. Although it doesn't always happen, the norm is for the winner of this category will signal that the film they directed will win Best Picture. The opposite happened in 2005 (77th) when Martin Scorsese was nominated for directing THE AVIATOR. Almost everyone reasoned that since Scorsese had never won an Oscar for directing, this would be his year as THE AVIATOR was favored to win Best Picture. However, the award went to Clint Eastwood for directing MILLION DOLLAR BABY, while THE AVIATOR won Best Picture oF 2004. I never expected it to happen two years in a row. When Ang Lee's name was announced as Best Director of 2005, I thought, "BROKEBACK is going to take the top honor, and I'll have egg on my face for predicting a win for CRASH."
Jack Nicholson handled the top award announcement perfectly. His expression was priceless as he announced, "And the Oscar goes to . . . CRASH." This in a year when the box office continued to sink, Oscar's projected TV ratings were considered precarious, provocative independent films dominated over big studio movies for Oscar recognition and, now, a small-budgeted ensemble drama from outside Hollywood had the audacity to take first prize. I was thrilled, and there is no egg on my face for going out on a limb while many others followed the pack!