Hop on Pop
I make no apologies for the fact that I think awards shows are a waste of time.
They’re boring, self-congratulatory circuses, an excuse for the stars to drink, have a party and get dressed up.
They’re mostly worthless affairs because the honors aren’t based on what is good; they more closely resemble a popularity contest.
Sadly, that doesn’t stop me from paying attention and trying to guess the winners.
When it comes picking the Oscar for best picture, I’m as deadly as an assassin. OK, maybe that’s a stretch. But I’m definitely more accurate than Dick Cheney with a hunting rifle.
I haven’t been wrong since 1998, the year in which “Shakespeare in Love” somehow beat “Saving Private Ryan.” I chose the winning film for 2003 (“The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”) three years before it was in theaters.
With all that in mind, this year’s Oscar goes to “Brokeback Mountain.” This doesn’t seem like such a surprise since many others have made this prediction. I have seen all five – the others being “Crash,” “Capote,” “Munich” and “Good Night, and Good Luck” – and I found it the most deserving.
It starts with the acting. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal need to be multidimensional, tender, tough, macho and believable all at once, and the pair delivers.
Though the acting is strong and it’s well shot in beautiful places, the big reason I’m picking this film is that I like to be surprised. Sure, it’s easy to call this “that film about gay cowboys.” And many people will probably dismiss it as such.
But the film, on a script level, makes a number of strong choices. After Ennis (Hedger) and Jack (Gyllenhaal) came down off of the mountain fairly early into the film, I thought, “Whoa, we have a lot of time left. Where is this going?” I sat there wondering that for most of the film. The ending was not one I anticipated, either.
That’s not to say that “Brokeback” is trailblazing, a landmark or any other cliché. It examines the viewers’ boundaries and takes what many have seen before and goes that few extra steps. In fact, it’s fair to say that most of the best picture nominees for this year do this.
But all you need to do is hear Jack yell, “All we have is Brokeback Mountain!” to think, “Hmm. Sounds a lot like, ‘We’ll always have Paris,’ no?”
It’s not the first time we’ve seen two lovers wrenched apart by forces bigger than they are. But seeing it between two men, and two men who are cowboys, well, that’s something entirely different. Some Westerns have homosexual undertones to them, but they are easy to miss in a world that’s awash in masculine posturing and macho stereotypes.
“Brokeback” knows this all too well and goes for, well, broke. The duality of Ennis and Jack’s lives exposes the truth and sadness of the movie. It’s wrenching to watch two men so obviously in love be driven apart by these forces and the images they’re trying to cultivate. And whether you’re straight, bisexual, lesbian, gay or whatever label you want to wear, virtually anyone can relate to a story about secret love, passion and/or not getting what you really want romantically.
What’s a shame is that the hype around “Brokeback” will obscure the humanity of the picture. A lot of fuss has been made about it being “that gay cowboy movie.”
The truth is, “Brokeback” should win because it is the most deserving choice.
And whether it wins or loses, I win either way. If it’s chosen, I can go on touting my accuracy. And if one of the others wins – aren’t awards shows a waste of time anyway?
The name Hop on Pop is the title of a 1963 book by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. Nick DeCicco is a copy editor and pop culture columnist for The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 477-4270.
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