It was the worst decision the Academy has ever made in its seventy-eight year history. The American movie-going public has a right to be outraged. They will be talking about this night for years and decades to come.

Brokeback Mountain won every single major award leading up to the Oscars. Over 70 critics’ associations. The Golden Globe. The Bafta. But not the Academy Award. Some may think this is actually somehow cool, that the Academy chose to go in its own direction. But really, it’s not. The Oscars are an AWARDS show, and their purpose is to reward the Best Motion Picture of the Year, not the one they personally liked best, or more importantly, the one they felt most comfortable with. When voters can no longer make this distinction, it virtually renders the awards process moot.

Sure, Crash was a good film, maybe even a very good film. But how many people can honestly say in their hearts that it was a more deserving or Oscar-worthy film than Brokeback Mountain? The appeal of Crash was that it was a cleverly put together story that made the audience think. It definitely had its moments. But Brokeback was more than about “moments.” it was a complete, emotional story from beginning to end that engaged the audience and transported them into another world. It was movie driven by its sublime directing and unforgettable powerhouse performances. No offense to Crash, but that was a movie arguably fueled by brilliant editing more than anything else.

If you look at previous Oscars, Brokeback, a touching and tragic love story, is exactly the kind of film that goes on to win Best Picture. Remember, the Academy usually goes with movies of the heart rather than movies of the mind. That’s why A Beautiful Mind beat out Lord of the Rings and Million Dollar Baby edged out The Aviator last year. That’s also why Shakespeare in Love shocked Saving Private Ryan many, many years ago. Speaking of which, those who compare the Crash upset to Shakespeare in Love are misguided. Shakespeare actually won the Golden Globe for Best comedy/musical and came in with the most nominations. It may not have possessed the seriousness of Saving Private Ryan, but it was a movie that connected with people and their emotions, much like Brokeback should have (and probably did) with this year’s voting Academy.

So why did Brokeback get left hung out to dry? Pure and simple. People did not feel comfortable giving it Best Picture because of its subject matter. I’m not saying necessarily that Hollywood is homophobic, because we all know how many gays there are in Hollywood, but look at who constitutes a large proportion of your voting members. Older, fairly conservative men and women, likely in their 60s and 70s. Brokeback Mountain is not their type of movie. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them didn’t even completely finish watching the screener tapes.

No, they didn’t want to see Brokeback Mountain win Best Picture, because as you know, that would annoit it with an aura of movie immortality and drive Box office totals past the $100 million mark easily. So they needed a second option. Crash was just about the most perfect choice there could be. It was a small, independent film that also dealt with a controversial subject: racism. But wait a minute. Wait a minute here. What’s REALLY so controversial about Crash? The message of the movie is pretty much that racism and racial stereotypes are bad. Is that a message that is really controversial? No. Brokeback Mountain, on the other hand, embodied the message that homosexuals should be regarded the same as everyone else, and should not have to live in a world marred by intolerance, sometimes brutal intolerance. I should think that the latter would be a riskier proposition to put onto film.

The bottom line is that the Academy should be ashamed of itself. They didn’t select the Best Picture of the Year and they know it. My biggest hope is that people all over the world will recognize the Academy’s decision for what it really is. We, the moviegoers of America, know in our hearts and minds what is the best movie of the year. The only thing that really should matter with the Academy’s decision is whether or not you win your office pool. Until next year…