Crash: Best Picture Oscar–Director Haggis Has Reservations about his Own Movie

We have been saying it for a decade: Crash is one of the weakest Oscar winners in film history.

Crash explores racial tensions in Los Angeles through interwoven stories. It was inspired by a real-life incident in which Haggis’ Porsche was stolen outside a video store in 1991.

When Crash won the 2005 Oscar for best picture, it faced steep competition: “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote,” “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “Munich” all received nominations that year.

The winner should have been Brokeback Mountain.

After the results were read, many were shocked or upset or angry, criticizing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

And now Crash’s director, Paul Haggis seems to agree with the opinion that it wasn’t the best film.

In an interview with HitFix, Haggis lauded the other nominated films and expressed doubt about the outcome.

“Was it the best film of the year? I don’t think so,” Haggis admitted. “There were great films that year. ‘Good Night, and Good Luck,’ amazing film. ‘Capote,’ terrific film. Ang Lee’s ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ great film. And Spielberg’s ‘Munich.’ I mean please, what a year. ‘Crash’ for some reason affected people, it touched people.  And you can’t judge these films like that.

I’m very glad to have those Oscars. They’re lovely things. But you shouldn’t ask me what the best film of the year was because I wouldn’t be voting for ‘Crash,’ only because I saw the artistry that was in the other films. Now however, for some reason that’s the film that touched people the most that year. So I guess that’s what they voted for, something that really touched them. And I’m very proud of the fact that ‘Crash’ does touch you. People still come up to me more than any of my films and say, ‘That film just changed my life.’ I’ve heard that dozens and dozens and dozens of times. So it did its job there. I mean I knew it was the social experiment that I wanted, so I think it’s a really good social experiment. Is it a great film? I don’t know.”

Reinforcing Stereotypes

Haggis also addressed criticism about the racial components of the film: “What I decided to do early on was present stereotypes for the first 30 minutes,” he said. “And then reinforce those stereotypes.  And make you feel uncomfortable, then representing it to make you feel very comfortable because I say, ‘Shh, we’re in the dark. It’s fine, you can think these things. You can laugh at these people. We all know Hispanics park their cars on a lawn, and we all know that Asians can’t drive in the dark.  I know you’re a big liberal, but it’s OK, nobody’s going to see you laugh.’ As soon as I made you feel comfortable, I could very slowly start turning you around in the seat so I left you spinning as you walked out of the movie theater. That was the intent.”