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2005: Brokeback Mountain Hits Theaters, Then Crashes at the Oscars

2005: Brokeback Mountain Hits Theaters, Then Crashes at the Oscars

Brokeback Mountain

The night’s top prize would go to the racially charged underdog Crash

For 25 years, OUT has celebrated queer culture. To mark our silver jubilee, we look back at some of the biggest, brightest moments of the past 9,131 days.

"It's the biggest shoo-in since Titanic," Michael Musto said of Brokeback Mountain just prior to the 78th Academy Awards, where Ang Lee's gay Western was the favorite to win Best Picture. Nominated for eight Oscars, more than any other film from 2005, Brokeback had also collected more Best Picture and Best Director precursor honors than Titanic and Schindler's List combined. And despite heavy backlash from conservative groups and right-wing media (Concerned Women for America was incensed; radio host Don Imus dubbed it "Fudgepack Mountain"), the movie didn't even seem to have a competitor as the Oscar ceremony began on March 5, 2006.

But hopes were dashed when presenter Jack Nicholson announced--with caution and visible shock--that the night's top prize would go to the racially charged underdog Crash. Outrage erupted. Annie Proulx, author of Brokeback's source material, wrote a scornful essay for The Guardian titled "Blood on the Red Carpet." Pundits vented, noting that no other film had ever scored wins from the Director's, Producer's, and Writer's Guilds and not earned Best Picture. The air was thick with accusations of homophobia within the Academy.

Ten years later, when The Hollywood Reporter polled Oscar voters on outcomes they'd like reversed, Brokeback's loss came in at number one (even Crash director Paul Haggis conceded that Brokeback deserved it). And Crash has since become the Voldemort of gay Oscar parties--that which must not be named.

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