Tom O'Neil of the LA Times penned this column which I just read. It's not designed to be directly linked to, so here it is:
"I don't think he's right, but there's some of it. I think Brokeback will win because it's got too many mainstream A-List Hollywood people behind it. But we'll see.
Is secret homophobia fueling a possible 'Crash' upset?
Something weird is going on among Oscar voters — and it's also going unspoken. "Crash" and "Good Night, and Good Luck" have their passionate supporters who gush with their honest love of those best picture nominees, but most non-"Brokeback" votes I hear from Oscar voters are really anti-"Brokeback."
Scads of academy members fume to me when they tattle on how they're inking their ballots, "I'm not voting for 'Brokeback'!" Then they calm down a bit and add, "I'm voting for (fill in the blank)" and give a positive reason to justify their decision for picking an alternative. In most cases I hear contrary votes for "Crash," but there's also surprising strength for "Good Night, and Good Luck." So far I've heard equal numbers of votes for "Brokeback" as "Crash," with "Good Night" not far behind. The best picture race is really thisclose.
It's the fury that voters express when mentioning "Brokeback" that's so odd and suspicious. In some cases I believe they're people who think the film is overrated. Or they're just weary of gay cowboy jokes. But in the majority of cases I suspect it's something else and something bad that they feel they can't utter out loud, so they're holding it in. You can see it on their faces.
Could it be secret homophobia? Perhaps. The academy is comprised mostly of straight white guys with white hair who know it's intolerable to bash gays in lavender-friendly, liberal Hollywood. But I really don't think it's that in any large way. Instead, I think it's the same frustration non-Jews feel when there's a glut of Holocaust films leading the Oscar pack in Jewish-friendly Hollywood. They want to exclaim, "Enough already with the Holocaust films!" This time I suspect many straight Hollywooders — who are totally cool with gay people in general — are fighting the urge to shriek, "Enough already with the gay persecution films!"
This Oscar year there really is a glut of them and, if I'm right in my predictions, we'll see the all-gay Oscars on March 5 with victories in the top categories by "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote" and "Transamerica."
How widespread is this anti-"Brokeback" tide? It's hard to say because it's mostly unspoken, but it's very real and it makes predicting the best picture race a crapshoot. It's quite possible that we could see another one of those best picture/director splits that used to be so rare, but are now commonplace with "Chicago," "Shakespeare in Love" and "Gladiator" winning best picture while the director laurels went to, respectively, Roman Polanski ("The Pianist"), Steven Spielberg ("Saving Private Ryan") and Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic"). Whatever happens this year, it's clear that Ang Lee has the best director trophy in the bag.
In the end, I believe "Brokeback" will win because there's a clear voting pattern in the top category recently: academy members want to be on the winning team. Front-runners tend to win even when there's a growing surge against them. Backlash against "The English Patient" was so widespread that "Seinfeld" did a whole episode about it, but it still won. Even though "A Beautiful Mind" was under attack on all fronts a few years ago, it nonetheless prevailed. "Chicago" pulled off its best picture victory even though late-breaking momentum for "The Pianist" was so strong that it won the top prizes for director, actor and screenplay. That bodes well for the gay cowboys remaining tall in the saddle on Oscar night.
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