Why We Can't Quit the Academy Quitting on 'Brokeback'
In a post on “Beckett,” which he calls “the most covert 'gay' movie ever released to mainstream America in the 20th Century,” Jeffrey Wells takes the Academy to task over ignoring the most overt gay love story Hollywood has produced:
At this exact time nine years ago “Brokeback Mountain” was building a head of Oscar steam like no other Best Picture contender. Or so it seemed to me and mine. It had premiered in Telluride, Venice and Toronto in September 2005 but wouldn’t open commercially until early December, but everyone knew. It was one of the saddest love stories ever made, one that might have been even more moving for being about closeted gay guys. Everybody knew the truth of what it was saying, which was more or less “If you’ve got something really good going with someone, don’t blow it…don’t hide your feelings, don’t be afraid. Man up.”
It was a love fest, a blossoming. Critical praise, critics awards, big box-office, etc. Around which the whole country, in a sense, seemed to be holding hands and coming together.
And then it all started to go wrong. Discussions I had during that period (late ’05 and early ’06) suggested that older Academy geezers were not emotionally comfortable with gay sheepherders, and that they had written it off early on. The late Tony Curtis became the poster boy for this sentiment, famously declaring that “Howard Hughes and John Wayne” wouldn’t like it.” And then Jack Nicholson opened the envelope … thud. I’ll never get over that. Never.
The unforgivable moment. Not the love between Jack and Ennis but the lack of love from the Academy.