Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is Crash (2005).
Crash has inhabited the bottom position on so many rankings of Oscar winners that honestly the most disappointing thing about it was how average it was. Not some train wreck of a film that can turn a brain to mush or incite acts of violence but one of many well-intentioned, poorly executed films with a bit more artistry behind it than the standard. It has a non-linear storyline with the ensemble cast as was so popular at the time but done better than many of the contemporary Pulp Fiction knockoffs to the point that it almost seems absurd that this was seen as the safe choice for the winner. Where it fails though, is in its standard Hollywood trivialization of racial issues. Certainly it’s impossible to capture anything close to the reality in any film, but the simplification often goes too far into wanting to believe racism is always an individual choice with no want to view the structures society is built on as complicit.