Ang Lee Talks Homophobia Might Cost the Oscar for ‘Brokeback Mountain’

Ang Lee Talks Homophobia Might Cost the Oscar for ‘Brokeback Mountain’

©Brokeback Mountain/Focus Features

Director Ang Lee suggests that homophobia was a prime reason why his 2006 film Brokeback Mountain did not win a Best Picture Oscar. It lost out to the crime drama Crash, which has been called one of the worst films to win the award.

Lee’s groundbreaking film about a love relationship between two cowboys in Wyoming did win him an Academy Award for best director, however. It also won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Larry McMurry and Diana Ossana, and a Best Original Score statuette for Gustavo Santaolalla.

In a recent interview with IndieWire, Lee hinted that Hollywood’s lavender ceiling may have been a factor in the decision. He also recalled the nerve-wracking anticipation he felt during the awards ceremony. “I got my award, which was [second to] last to the big one, and I was walking off the stage, they called me down, and said, stay here. That’s your mark. Everybody assumes you will win, so stay at that mark. Right next to the stage was the curtain. The next was Best Picture. Stay here, just stay here. I saw Jack Nicholson, his profile, he opened the envelope, and I go, ‘Oh my god, oh my god.’ It took like 10 seconds before he announced, and then he went, ‘Crash.’”

Lee said that he empathized with the characters in Annie Proulx story that he adapted for  the screen: “We were outsiders in Taiwan, then outsiders in America, then go back to China, we’re outsiders. I always feel like an outsider. Repressed characters, I suppose—those stories attract me. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is just so beautiful. You’ve read the short story. I have nothing in common with Wyoming gay cowboys. But why did I cry? It’s haunting. It’s just a beautiful story.”

In addition to his Brokeback Mountain win, Lee also captured a Best Director Oscar for Life of Pi. His 2000 film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon won four Academy Awards, including one for Best International Feature. On April 8 of this year, Lee received an honorary award from his alma mater, the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

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