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Wormwood

A fascinating piece of filmmaking that challenges the form in new ways as it recalls themes its director has been interested in his entire career.

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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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Blazing a trail

From: Steve Owens, Indianapolis, IN

I agree with your assessment about the Best Picture Academy Award winner and I am a gay man. Thank you for pointing out some obvious truths that might otherwise get buried by the vitriol. This is one year in which I wish the academy would release the tallies on at least those two films because my guess is it was pretty close.

Brokeback Mountain” was nominated because it was a beautiful film, but I wasn’t sold on it, emotionally, until the final scene with Heath Ledger and “the shirts.” There are not many long-term gay (or straight) relationships that begin with drunken rape. Much of its beauty, though, was due to its direction, script and score. These aspects of the film were recognized.

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Crash” possessed a stoic and mesmerizing beauty that is rare in America cinema. I’m speaking specifically of those scenes near the end where no dialogue is exchanged, just characters simply touching each other and holding on for dear life.

I worried that the noisy right wing elements in the media would use the award to launch into another “hypocritical-Hollywood” tirade. What they miss, and liberals should point out, is that “Crash” resonates so well because, despite what the Rush Limbaughs and George W. Bushes have to say, explicit racism still permeates our society.

A major gay film will be recognized someday as Best Picture. “Brokeback Mountain” has helped pave the way just as films like “Carmen Jones” and “Lillies of the Field” paved the way for “In the Heat of the Night.”

A final note, in past years I’ve noticed a film might win many awards and then fail to win best picture. I never could figure out how a movie could win best script, best director, best this and best that and then a totally different film wins the top prize.

In this sense, I still can’t figure out why “King Kong” wasn’t nominated for top prizes. It was a jaw-dropping Hollywood spectacle with a classic, tragic love story that left me emotionally (and physically) drained at the end. Both Naomi Watts and Andy Sorkis were totally ignored. I’m still scratching my head over that one.

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