From 'Titanic' to 'La La Land': A Closer Look at the Oscar Backlash Phenomenon

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Crash (2005)
Everett Collection 4/10

Crash (2005)

At First: A movie unafraid to confront how racist-yet-not-racist everyone is! The best American movie since Mystic River! (This was an actual thing that critic David Denby said.)

But Then: Ugh, a movie that thinks it’s fixing racism. And don’t get us started on Mystic River.

Notable Competition: Crash upset presumed favorite Brokeback Mountain (which won a Best Director Oscar for Ang Lee), which made it extra-easy to read the Academy’s love of one and arm’s-length affection for the other as a kind of middle ground of tolerance: Yes, we think racism is bad, but, eh, homophobia might be OK.

Strength of Backlash (1-10): 10. Instant derision over its win made a smooth transition into Crash becoming a punchline unto itself.

Strength of Deserving (1-10): 10. Look, I liked Crash well enough when I first saw it, back when it was just a harmless melodrama with some good actors. But sometimes awards attention does actually make a movie worse by confirming the worst things about it — the pretensions of relevance, the self-congratulatory seriousness, the insufferable Los Angeles–centric musings. Crash is that rare bird. 

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