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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Another choice would've been OK

From: Justin Chang, Assistant Editor, Variety/Daily Variety, Los Angeles, CA

As an admirer of every one of this year's best picture nominees except "Crash," I can honestly say that if "Brokeback Mountain" had lost the Oscar to "Capote," "Good Night, and Good Luck" or "Munich," my disappointment would not have spilled over into outrage. In fact, I probably would have admired the Academy's willingness to look past the two most hyped films in favor of one they genuinely felt was the year's best.

For the record, one need only read Kenny Turan's reviews to see that he admired both "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "Munich" immensely, and indeed put both films as well as "Capote" on his list of the best films of the year (with "Crash," pointedly, nowhere in sight). To suggest that his dislike of "Crash" was somehow retroactive or motivated by blind devotion to "Brokeback Mountain" -- that he might have admired "Crash" if there were no "Brokeback" to champion -- is an irresponsible insult to his integrity as a critic, to say nothing of his good taste.

Indeed, I'm puzzled by your targeting of Turan, as those of us who read him understand that he is one of our most judicious and least agenda-driven critics. Someone, I daresay, whom you could stand to learn something from.

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