| Brokeback star Heath Ledger
Los Angeles, March 3 (Reuters): Will Oscar go gay or crash' What seemed like a runaway gallop for a pair of gay cowboys may be a closer-than-expected Oscar horse race.
Odds-on favourite Brokeback Mountain apparently received a strong last-minute challenge from racially charged drama Crash in the battle for best picture at the Academy Awards, interviews with Academy members and Oscar pundits suggest.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences keeps the results of its members’ voting totally secret until the moment of truth.
This Sunday’s awards (early Monday in India) show that will be seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world will be hosted for the first time by sharp-tongued comedian Jon Stewart.
But the secrecy hasn’t stopped the talk of an upset after months of flat-out Hollywood predictions that its top film prize will for the first time go to a gay love story, Brokeback Mountain.
The film picked up eight nominations, the most by any movie this year, and became a social phenomenon as the subject of discussions, jokes and parodies.
People magazine published a special Oscar daily this week in which the first headline was in hot pink and declared: “Oscar: Yep I’m Gay.” This was superimposed over a photograph of the gold statuette and a poster for Brokeback Mountain and posters for two other films ' Capote and Transamerica.
“Eight nominations for the gay cowboy movie, two for the tranny (transsexual) road flick, five for the Truman Capote story ' at first glance the lesson of this year’s Academy award is simple.
“The shortcut to Oscar glory is a three-letter word: g-a-y,” People explained.
Said Oscar pundit Tom ’Neil: “I’ve heard more people talk of voting for Crash than for Brokeback, but I remember when every Academy voter I spoke to (in 2002) said they were voting for Moulin Rouge and the favourite for that year, A Beautiful Mind, won. It is very hard to dislodge a front-runner.”