LOS ANGELES—The ensemble drama Crash pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Academy Awards history, winning best picture over the cowboy romance Brokeback Mountain, which had been the front-runner.
Crash, featuring a huge cast in crisscrossing story lines over a chaotic 36-hour period in Los Angeles, rode a late surge of praise that lifted it Sunday night past Brokeback Mountain, a film that had won most other key Hollywood honors.
In a year of provocative films at the Oscars, Crash was one of the fiercest, a portrait of simmering racial and cultural tension among Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians and Arabs.
The other best-picture nominees emerged either out of Hollywood studios or their art-house affiliates. But Crash was a true Oscar rarity, shot outside the system on a tiny $6.5 million budget, then acquired by independent distributor Lionsgate at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, where the film premiered.
Crash became a solid box-office hit, grossing $55 million domestically.
"For so tiny a picture, go figure," Crash director and co-writer Paul Haggis had said earlier in awards season.
"It really is nice to see that once again, there are no rules in Hollywood," Haggis added. "Every time someone tries to say this is the only way to make a film, to release a film, something comes along and surprises you. We were just as surprised as everyone else."
The large cast of Crash includes supporting-actor nominee-winner Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Thandie Newton, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Jennifer Esposito and Ryan Phillippe.
— The Associated Press