Many film fans consider Paul Haggis’ Crash to be one of the worst Best Picture winners of all time, and it turns out that not even the writer-director himself would have voted for it at the 2006 Academy Awards. In an interview with HitFix discussing HBO’s Show Me A Hero (a miniseries directed by Haggis and written by The Wire’s David Simon), Haggis spoke at length about his embattled Oscar winner:
Was it the best film of the year? I don’t think so. 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.
So the guy who made Crash realizes that Good Night And Good Luck is a much better movie. There. That’s settled. However, a brief look at Haggis’ other comments suggests that he still considers Crash to be a successful film:
On Crash, what I decided to do early on was present stereotypes for the first 30 minutes. 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”… 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…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.
Of course, these comments don’t get to the heart of criticisms levied against the film, namely that it was always clear to some viewers exactly how Haggis was pulling the strings, leading to a feeling of cheap manipulation. They also don’t suggest any awareness on Haggis’ part that he could have told this story without being so heavy-handed.
Regardless of the decades-old Crashlash, Show Me A Hero premieres this Sunday on HBO. If it helps, just think of it as a David Simon project.