This film might have had a sign around its neck that flashed “IMPORTANT SUBJECT MATTER.” Unfortunately, the writing and the performances didn’t serve the subject matter as well as they should have, so what we were left with was a rambling after-school special made for adults. Matt Dillon sexually assaults a black woman, then saves her from a burning car. DUALITY OF MAN AND WHATNOT!
Crash wasn’t running against a particularly strong field that year (Munich, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, and Good Night, and Good Luck) but that’s no excuse. It’s still among the most laughable films to get Best Picture, and thus, one of the least deserving films of an Oscar.
I’ve always been of the mind that this award was more of a legacy selection than it was based on the merits of the particular role. In much the same way I view Jack Nicholson, I feel that Denzel Washington’s ability as an actor has been tremendously overrated. He seems to play the same character over and over, only with the volume turned up or down to varying degrees.
For Training Day, the volume was way up, and this was not the film to bestow a Best Actor award upon Washington. The film seemed destined for Cinemax from the first five minutes, and though it was compelling, it wasn’t any more so than a film like New Jack City or Cop Land, two films that didn’t get nominated for anything.
It seems as though these feel-good films are perfect fodder for the acting Oscars, which is odd, because they’re generally so hammy and void of nuance that it’s tough to see what the Academy is looking for. On the other hand, films like these and Erin Brockovich serve as great opportunities to give very big stars awards, which the Academy always like to do.
So this Hallmark film gets haphazardly tossed in the annals of Hollywood history, probably because people felt horrible about that whole Jesse James thing.