I can’t even remember the last time “Oscar” and I actually agreed on the winner for Best Picture. Last night, however, the Academy decided to listen to me, as well as many other critics, and they named “Crash” the best of 2005, an upset win that I predicted a few weeks ago. (But as my fellow blogger Paul also pointed out to me in an e-mail, I win the office betting pool again because even when I was wrong in my predictions, I was right!) So I hope you’ll indulge me in a brief moment of gloating.
But I have to say I disagree with Paul’s comments on another topic. Earlier today, he wrote that “Brokeback” didn’t win because of some kind of intolerant backlash toward the movie’s gay themes. “Brokeback” probably hurt itself with too much hype too early in the Oscar season–and the film never had the substance or style of a movie like “Crash” to back up the hype. The truth is, “Brokeback” didn’t make the top five (top 10, yes, but not top five) of many critics’ best-of lists, and “Crash” did. For both movies, word-of-mouth caught up just in time for the final vote.
Actress Michelle Williams, who first shot to fame as beleaguered ex-bad-girl Jen Lindley on “Dawson’s Creek” and has since been Oscar-nominated for her turn as the beleaguered, heartbroken wife of gay cowboy Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain,” won’t be getting her picture up in her High School’s hall of fame anytime soon
“We don’t want to have anything to do with her in relation to that movie,” Santa Fe Christian headmaster Jim Hopson told the San Diego Union Tribune. “Michelle doesn’t represent the values of this institution. We would not approve of her movies and TV shows (including the teen drama ‘Dawson’s Creek’). We’d not like to be tied to ‘Brokeback Mountain.’”
So Hobson wouldn’t even approve of “Dick,” in which Williams and Kirsten Dunst starred as teen advisors to Republican president Richard Nixon? Tough critic. At least he didn’t get personal, pointing out that Williams, who got her start in Christian Youth theater, and her fiance Heath Ledger recently had a baby.
“I hope we offered her something in life,” Hobson was quoted as saying. “But she made the kinds of choices of which we wouldn’t approve. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ basically promotes a lifestyle we don’t promote. It’s not the word of God.”
We can debate forever what exactly God says or doesn’t say about homosexuality (or any other issue), but what’s not debatable is that Hobson’s school holds a set of beliefs to be true, and his comments are consistent with their message. Gotta admire them for that–most private schools would be sucking up for the big donation.
Even Carla Williams, Michelle’s mother, admits that: “For some people, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is difficult. He has the right to his opinion.” But she also notes that others from the school have contacted her and asked her to pass on their congratulations to Michelle.
Carrie Underwood, country singer and “American Idol” winner, returned to her roots last night, performing her hit single, “Jesus Take the Wheel,” on the show that launched her career.
Although I’m not a big fan of “Idol,” Carrie Underwood, or country music, her song–which spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Country Singles chart, was better than I expected—although I must admit, I did cringe at one of the opening lines: “She was running low on faith and gasoline.” The verse reminded me of one of those stereotypical, cheesy country songs: “My wife left me, the dog’s dead, I’ve lost my job, and the mortgage is due…”
After I got over my initial dislike, I tried to focus on both the performance (which you can watch here) and the rest of the song’s lyrics. Overall, Underwood was very good. She has a beautiful voice and presence and easily outshined most of this season’s contestants. The lyrics, aren’t all that bad either. I particularly liked the verse:
She bowed her head to pray
She said I’m sorry for the way
I’ve been living my life
I know I’ve got to chance
So from now on tonight
Jesus take the wheel…
I anticipate this young star has a long career ahead of her. Which gives me the perfect excuse to dish on another Christian “American Idol” star, Clay Aiken. Aiken has long disputed rumors that he’s gay, and now, according to the New York Post, the National Enquirer has published webcam pictures of the singer exposing his bod to an “online boytoy” in a bid to solicit sex. This, of course, has gotten his fans–“Claymates,” as they’re called–in a tizzy. Some are even considering a class action-lawsuit against the singer and his record companies, RCA and Song BMG, claiming he was promoted as a “virgin” and “asexual.”
Now that the winners of the Beliefnet Film Awards have been announced (click here if you haven’t seen them yet), we can finally turn our attention wholeheartedly those other awards, which are being given out Sunday night. Since there’s not a lot of time between now and then, we thought it would be helpful to remind you of all that Idol Chatter–and Beliefnet generally–have had to say about the Academy Awards. (These links will all pop open a new window, so just close that page to return here.)
For starters, check out Kris’s predictions of who will–and who should–take home the top honors on Sunday night, by clicking here.
Best Picture Nominees
- Kris heaped praise on “Crash” here.
- Doug gave props to “Good Night, and Good Luck” here.
- Donna generated lots of discussion with her thoughts on “Brokeback Mountain,” which you can find here. (Paul and Kris also weighed in on “Brokeback)
- Saul Austerlitz and Shmuley Boteach debated “Munich” here. And Michael offered his proverbial two cents here.
- Nobody wrote about “Capote”: Does that make it the least spiritual of the nominees? (Our sister Beliefnet blog Chattering Mind did discuss Truman Capote here.)
Best Foreign Film
- Michael wrote about one of the Best Foreign Film nominees, “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” here.
- Hala Shah interviewed the director of “Paradise Now” here.
Finally, Paul asked here whether the success of “The Passion” has had any noticeable effect on Hollywood. (And Kris responded to him here.)
Happy watching! And please let us know what you think by using the comments link below.