Who knew that the voters who choose the Academy Award winners are actually heffalumps, the pleasantly plump elephantine character from Winnie the Pooh? And conservative heffalumps at that.
At least that's what Brokeback Mountain author Annie Proulx compares them to in an op-ed for Britain's Guardian newspaper blasting Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members for denying the film adaptation of her story the Oscar for Best Picture at the 78th Academy Awards.
Proulx turned her Pulitzer Prize-winning prose against the Academy in Saturday's Guardian, stating that, despite Ang Lee's win for Best Director, old-school Hollywood is "out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good."
The 70-year-old Proulx called Best Picture winner Crash a "safe pick" for the heffalumps.
"If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit Awards," Proulx added. Brokeback Mountain lassoed the awards for Best Feature and Best Directing honors for Ang Lee at the indie affair.
Brokeback did ride off with three Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay award for Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (who turned Proulx's New Yorker short story into a two-hour-and-14-minute epic) and one for Gustavo Santaolalla's haunting score.
And if those folks at the Independent Spirit Awards know so much, then weren't they correct in awarding Crash two statuettes ( Best First Feature for director Paul Haggis and his feuding producers, and Best Supporting Male for Matt Dillon)?
Proulx also had constructive criticism for Lions Gate Entertainment, Crash's distributor. "Rumor has it that Lion's Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash--excuse me--Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline."
She left few stars unturned as she then turned her wrath to the Academy's "expected" choice of Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Actor.
"Hollywood loves mimicry, the conversion of a film actor into the spittin' image of a once-living celeb," Proulx wrote, presumably referring to Hoffman's spot-on portrayal of Truman Capote. "But which takes more skill, acting a person who strolled the boulevard a few decades ago?or the construction of characters from imagination and a few cold words on the page?"
Proulx seems to think the Academy should have instead gone with Brokeback star Heath Ledger. But if there's one thing we yeasty Americans know, it's that the Academy messes up from time to time.
The question of whether Crash is actually better than Brokeback Mountain can be added to the myriad debates that have pitted past Best Picture winners Dances with Wolves, Forrest Gump and Titanic against critics' picks for those years--GoodFellas, Pulp Fiction and L.A. Confidential. And that's just in the 90s. Then there's the Best Picture-less controversy over Citizen Kane, High Noon, Rebel Without a Cause?
See? Just chalk this supposed injustice up to what it really is.