The 2006 Oscar nominee you remember most fondly has a lot to do with the kind of person you are. If you’re, oh, someone who worked on the film Crash, that honor probably goes to Crash. If you’re, hmm, anyone else, you probably preferred Brokeback Mountain.
Though you may have forgotten Crash even existed, let alone that it won the Oscar for Best Picture, the folks at Vulture celebrated the film’s 10th anniversary by publishing an oral history of its infamous awards campaign. Participants include writer-director Paul Haggis, co-writer Bobby Moresco, producer Cathy Schulman, actors Michael Peña and Brendan Fraser, and a couple “awards consultants” whom you can blame for the film beating Brokeback Mountain.
After an introduction from each of the participants in which they discuss 1) how hard the film was to get made, and 2) how little faith any of them had it in being an Oscar contender, we learn about the brilliant strategies of the film’s promotors, and read some stories about the big night that are as hilarious as they are heartbreaking.
Peña, who essentially said the role was responsible for jumpstarting his career, said he had trouble getting into the Oscars, despite his agent making arrangements for him to attend. More depressingly, he also had trouble getting into a mere viewing party for the ceremony. Once finally inside some party, his experience was a mixed bag of emotions:
I got a drink and sat by myself. When we won, I screamed like when the Bears won the Super Bowl in ’86. I was the only one cheering, and people were staring at me. They just went back drinking their drinks.
Fraser was in Mexico “working on a movie with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Andy Garcia” when Jack Nicholson made the announcement.
Sarah had her Blackberry and tells me, “Fraser, Crash just won Best Picture.” Suddenly she called over these mariachi players; people were honking horns and shouting, “That’s Brendan, he’s in that movie Crash, it just won Best Picture!” It was like a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. [Laughs.]
I don’t remember a scene in It’s a Wonderful Life when George Bailey is celebrated by the people of Bedford Falls for starring in a movie as a racist DA, but who am I to decide whether or not something is Capraesque!
But the best part of Vulture’s piece wasn’t a memory shared by someone who worked on the 10-year-old film—it was from someone who refused to participate. After reaching out to Annie Proulx, the writer of the novella on which Brokeback Mountain was based, her rep sent Vulture a statement that is the PR equivalent of that scene in the “Sorry” video where Serena Williams casually twerks beside Beyoncé.
“Annie won’t be able to talk to you, but all I can say is that Crash might have won the Academy Award but Brokeback Mountain is the film that has endured.”
You can read the entire thing over at Vulture.