Thursday, January 19, 2006


Is Munich the Straw that Broke Spielberg's Back?

Drudge reports that Universal appears to be pushing Brokeback Mountain over Munich as its preferred Oscar-worthy pic. That would mean that, in the context of Hollywood politics, the "gay cowboy" is winning out over the "Jewish avenger."

If true, that's something of a change from years past when the criticism was mounting that Hollywood was too quick to honor
Holocaust-related documentaries and feature films:

After Spike Lee's documentary Four Little Girls lost to The Long Way Home in 1997, Lee said, "When the film is about the Holocaust and one of the producers is a rabbi and it comes from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, there are not many sure things in life, but that was a sure thing when you consider the makeup of the voting body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I'd have rather been the New York Knicks in the fourth quarter, down ten points, a minute left in the United Center, than have the odds we faced of winning the Oscar against the Holocaust film."
Of course, there will be much debate over whether Spielberg's controversial, morally ambiguous take on the actions of the Israeli agents tracking down the Munich terrorists may have turned off the Academy as opposed to the straightforward documentary take of One Day in September.

However, there could be another, not quite so obvious explanation -- but of which Spielberg is already painfully familiar: Sometimes "love" wins over "war." In 1999, Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan -- the odds-on favorite from Day One -- was upset in the Best Picture category by Shakespeare In Love. Spielberg still won for Best Director, but the shock still reverberated.

History could repeat itself.

On the other hand, don't be surprised if, come Oscar night, the real contest comes down to which "cowboy love story" Hollywood wants to endorse: Is it
Ennis & Jake -- or Johnny & June?

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