Ang Lee Reflects On “Brokeback” Loss SuperNayr

Focus Features

Nearly twenty years after one of the biggest Best Picture upsets in Oscar history, “Crash” winning over “Brokeback Mountain,” the latter’s director Ang Lee says the decision came down to discrimination against a gay love story.

Speaking with IndieWire recently, Lee said of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences at the time: “Back then, [‘Brokeback Mountain’] had a ceiling. We got a lot of support – up to that much. It has that feeling. I wasn’t holding a grudge or anything. It’s just how they were.”

The film did won Best Director for Lee, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Score at the Oscars. It was the easy favorite to take the Best Picture honor ahead of the ceremony, but lost to arguably the weakest of the five nominees – “Crash” (the other three being “Munich,” “Capote” and “Good Night and Good Luck”).

Lee also says even those on the ground were expecting the film to win that the stage directors had him standing nearby after he collected his directing Oscar:

“I got my award, which was [second to] last to the big one, and I was walking off the stage, they called me down, and said, stay here. That’s your mark. Everybody assumes you will win, so stay at that mark.

Right next to the stage was the curtain. The next was Best Picture. Stay here, just stay here. I saw Jack Nicholson, his profile, he opened the envelope, and I go, ‘Oh my god, oh my god.’ It took like 10 seconds before he announced, and then he went, ‘Crash.’”

Nicholson himself was visibly taken aback reading out “Crash” and so began the biggest outrage over a Best Picture winner since “Shakespeare in Love” defeated “Saving Private Ryan” nearly a decade prior.

Asked about the appeal of the film now, he says it all comes down to repression and feeling like an outsider and the film beautifully conveys that feeling regardless of sexuality:

“I always feel like an outsider. Repressed characters, I suppose, those stories attract me. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is just so beautiful. You’ve read the short story. I have nothing in common with Wyoming gay cowboys. But why did I cry? It’s haunting. It’s just a beautiful story.”

Lee has won Best Director for a second time since with “Life of Pi,” whilst his 2000 film “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” won four Academy Awards including Best International Feature.

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