Producer On Why “Brokeback” Lost Best Picture

When people are asked what Best Picture Oscar races resulted in the wrong film winning over another, two in the past twenty years immediately come to mind. The first was in 1999 when “Shakespeare in Love” beat “Saving Private Ryan” for the gong.

The second and arguably more incredulous though was 2006 when Paul Haggis’ racial drama “Crash” beat out Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” for the honor. On the tenth anniversary of the film’s release, Lee and producer James Schamus talked to Variety about the making of the film and Schamus explained how he thinks the loss simply came down to the Academy playing it safe:

“You could sense the lack of excitement in Hollywood after the 847th trophy was picked up, and I could tell that a lot of folks felt there was a safe political narrative (with ‘Crash’). The day the Oscar ballots closed, I gathered everyone at the company in the Focus conference room, and gave a speech. I said, ‘Look we lost.’ I wanted everybody to be happy for the other guys. I was very proud of the Focus team and Ang that night. There was so much emotion and symbolism involved in that campaign.”

In reflection, ‘Brokeback’ has certainly stood the test of time better than “Crash”. Earlier this year THR polled hundreds of Oscar voters asking them to recast their ballots in historic Best Picture races and ‘Brokeback’ easily took the honor. It wasn’t the only one though as “All the President’s Men” beat out “Rocky,” “My Left Foot” took out “Driving Miss Daisy,” “The Shawshank Redemption” topped “Forrest Gump” and “Saving Private Ryan” beat “Shakespeare in Love”.