Crash is a 2004 American drama film produced, directed, and co-written by Paul Haggis. The film features racial and social tensions in Los Angeles. A self-described "passion piece" for Haggis, Crash was inspired by a real-life incident, in which his Porsche was carjacked in 1991 outside a video store on Wilshire Boulevard.[3]

Several characters' stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles: a black detective estranged from his mother; his criminal younger brother and gang associate; the white district attorney and his irritated, pampered wife; a racist white police officer who disgusts his more idealistic younger partner; an African-American Hollywood director whose wife must deal with the racist officer; a Persian-immigrant father who is wary of others; and a hard-working Hispanic locksmith family man.

The film deals with racism in a rather impartial approach; rather than separating the characters into victims and offenders, victims of racism are often shown to be prejudiced themselves in different contexts and situations; racist remarks and actions are often shown to stem from ignorance and misconception rather than malice.

The film features an ensemble cast, including Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Thandie Newton, Michael Peña, and Ryan Phillippe. Matt Dillon was particularly praised for his performance and received Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. Additionally, the cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The film received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Paul Haggis, and won three for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the 78th Academy Awards. It was also nominated for nine BAFTA awards, and won two, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Thandie Newton.


Detective Graham Waters has suffered a car accident with his partner Ria. He mentions that the citizens of Los Angeles have lost their "sense of touch." Ria and the driver of the other car, Kim Lee, exchange racially charged insults. When Waters exits the car, he arrives at a police investigation crime scene concerning the discovery of a "dead kid".

While purchasing a revolver at a gun store, Farhad, a Persian shop owner, and his daughter Dorri, argue over what box of bullets they should buy. The gun store owner grows impatient and degrades the two of them by referring to Farhad as "Osama". Farhad asserts that he is an American citizen, but the store owner continues insulting Farhad and has the security guard escort him out of the store. Dorri demands the store owner to give her the gun or give her back the money; the store owner gives the gun to Dorri. Two black men, Anthony and Peter, argue over racial stereotyping of African Americans after Jean Cabot, the wife of district attorney Rick Cabot, walks in another direction while fearfully staring at them. Anthony and Peter carjack the married couple as they are about to enter their SUV. Later, at the Cabot house, Hispanic locksmith Daniel Ruiz is changing their locks when Jean notices his tattoos. She loudly complains to Rick about having been carjacked and now having to endure such a man changing their locks, feeling he will give copies of the keys to "his gang banger friends". Having overheard this, Daniel leaves the keys on the kitchen counter.

Detectives Waters and Ria arrive at the scene of a shooting between two drivers. The survivor is a white male, identified as an undercover police officer. The dead man, a black male, is revealed also to be an undercover police officer. There is a large amount of cash found in the black officer's trunk. This is the third time the white officer has shot and killed a black man. LAPD officer John Ryan calls an HMO on behalf of his father and has a racially charged argument with a representative named Shaniqua Johnson. He then gets into the squad car with his partner Tom Hanson and sees a car passenger performing fellatio on the driver of a moving vehicle. They pull over the vehicle similar to the one carjacked earlier, despite discrepancies in the descriptions. They order the couple, director Cameron Thayer and his wife Christine, to exit. Cameron is cooperative, but Christine is argumentative. This annoys Ryan, who molests Christine under the pretense of administering a pat-down. Intimidated, Cameron says nothing. The couple is released. Once home, Christine becomes enraged that Cameron did nothing while she was being violated. Cameron insists that what he did was correct and storms out.

Arriving home from work, Daniel finds his young daughter, Lara, hiding under her bed after hearing a gunshot outside. To comfort her, Daniel gives her an "invisible impenetrable cloak", which makes her feel safe enough to fall asleep in her bed. In the carjacked SUV, Anthony and Peter, arguing and distracted, hit a Korean man while passing a parked van. They argue about what to do with him, finally dumping him in front of a hospital and driving away. Due to the blood in the vehicle, they are unable to receive payment for the SUV. The next day, at the LAPD station, Hansen talks to his superior, Lt. Dixon, about switching partners. Dixon, a black man, claims that Hansen's charge of Ryan as a racist could cost both Hansen and Dixon their jobs. Dixon suggests a transfer to a one-man car.

Ryan visits Shaniqua and apologizes for the argument. He explains that his father was previously diagnosed with a bladder infection, but he fears it may be prostate cancer. Shaniqua nearly calls security to escort Ryan out of her office when he proceeds to insult her by calling her an affirmative action hire. When Ryan asks for his father to see a different doctor, Shaniqua denies the request and he storms out of her office. Meanwhile, Daniel is seen replacing a lock at Farhad's shop and tries to explain to him that the door frame needs to be replaced. Farhad, whose English is limited, misunderstands and accuses Daniel of cheating him, which causes Daniel to leave.

The next morning, Farhad discovers the store has been wrecked and defaced with graffiti. His insurance company does not cover the damage, calling it a case of negligence due to the defective door. When Farhad is told that his shop will be closing down, he vows revenge on Daniel. Detective Waters visits his mother, a hard drug abuser. She asks him to find his missing younger brother. He promises and takes notice that there is almost no food in the apartment as he is leaving. When he tries to present evidence in the shooting between undercover police officers, his superiors tell him not to reveal the cash in the black officer's trunk, saying that their work in crafting a non-racist image for the department will be undone.

Jean comes home and sees dishes in the dishwasher. She accosts her Hispanic maid Maria for not putting them in the cupboards. Ryan comes across a car accident and as he crawls into the overturned vehicle, he finds Christine trapped. Upon recognizing Ryan, Christine becomes hysterical, but gasoline is leaking from the tank and running downhill towards another wreck, which has already caught fire. With the help of his partner and spectators, Ryan pulls Christine out just as her car bursts into flames. Anthony and Peter approach another Navigator which happens to be Cameron's. They only see Cameron driving after they open the door and are shocked to see that the driver is black (after Anthony previously bragged about not carjacking black people). Cameron is tired of being pushed around and resists. Anthony tells Peter to shoot Cameron, but Peter does not.

As police officers arrive, Cameron and Anthony both race for the car and jump in. Cameron drives away, with Anthony continuing to point a gun at him. A car chase ensues. Hansen is one of the police officers who has responded and recognizes Cameron's vehicle. Cameron drives into a dead end, puts Anthony's gun into his pocket, and gets out of the car, all the while yelling insults at the officers. Just before he pulls out the gun, Hansen convinces him to stop aggravating the situation and to go home. Hansen vouches for Cameron, fending off the other officers, and promising to give him a "harsh" warning. Later, Cameron tells Anthony that as a black man he is embarrassed for him and drops Anthony off at a bus stop.

Farhad locates Daniel's house and waits in ambush. Just as Daniel's daughter Lara jumps into his arms, attempting to protect him with the "invisible cloak", Daniel's wife Elizabeth runs out the front door and watches in horror as Farhad shoots Lara. It takes the grief-stricken parents and Farhad a moment to realize that Lara is unharmed. The box of ammunition that Dorri had selected contained blanks. Farhad later tells his daughter that he believes the little girl was his guardian angel, preventing him from committing a terrible crime. Jean is complaining to someone she knows over the phone that she wakes up angry every day and does not know why. Immediately afterwards, she slips and falls down a flight of stairs, spraining her ankle. Jean phones Rick, telling him of her accident.

Peter, who is hitchhiking, is picked up by Hansen. Peter sees that Hansen has a small statuette of Saint Christopher like his own. He begins to laugh as he realizes that they have so much in common, but Hansen thinks that he is being laughed at. Hansen pulls over and tells Peter to get out if he wants to be "funny". Peter moves to pull the statuette out of his pocket in explanation, but Hansen believes he is pulling out a gun and mistakenly shoots and kills Peter. Hansen dumps the body in the bush beside a road and then torches his own car. Peter is revealed to be Waters' missing brother. Waters and his mother meet at the morgue, where Dorri is revealed to be a coroner and Waters promises to find who is responsible. Mrs. Waters blames her surviving son for his brother's death, claiming he was always too busy to look for Peter.

Anthony returns to the white van owned by the Korean man whom they had run over the night before. Finding the keys still hanging from the door lock, he drives the van away. The Korean man's wife Kim Lee arrives at the previously mentioned hospital looking for her husband, the man who was run over, named Choi Jin Gui. Conscious and coherent, he tells her to go and immediately cash a check that he has in his wallet. The check is most likely payment for the contents of the van. Anthony has driven the white van to a chop shop he frequents, and as they inspect the van, a number of Cambodian immigrants are discovered locked in the back of the van, revealing that Choi was involved in human trafficking. Anthony is offered $500 for each person in the van but refuses out of disgust. Whilst resting in her bed, Jean hugs Maria, saying she is the only true friend she has ever had and apologizes. Anthony drives to Chinatown and sets the Cambodian people free. As Anthony drives away, he passes a car crash, which turns out to involve Shaniqua. Shaniqua and the other driver get out and begin to exchange racial slurs.

  • Sandra Bullock as Jean Cabot
  • Don Cheadle as Det. Graham Waters
  • Matt Dillon as Sgt. John Ryan
  • Jennifer Esposito as Ria
  • Brendan Fraser as D.A. Rick Cabot
  • Terrence Howard as Cameron Thayer
  • Ludacris as Anthony
  • Thandie Newton as Christine Thayer
  • Michael Peña as Daniel Ruiz
  • Ryan Phillippe as Officer Tom Hansen
  • Larenz Tate as Peter Waters
  • Shaun Toub as Farhad
  • Bahar Soomekh as Dorri
  • Ashlyn Sanchez as Lara Ruiz
  • Karina Arroyave as Elizabeth Ruiz
  • Loretta Devine as Shaniqua Johnson
  • Beverly Todd as Mrs. Waters
  • William Fichtner as Flanagan
  • Keith David as Lt. Dixon
  • Daniel Dae Kim as Park
  • Nona Gaye as Karen
  • Bruce Kirby as 'Pop' Ryan
  • Tony Danza as Fred
  • Kathleen York as Officer Johnson
  • Sylva Kelegian as Nurse Hodges
  • Marina Sirtis as Shereen

Box office

Crash opened in wide release on May 6, 2005, and was a box office success in the late spring of 2005. The film had a budget of $6.5 million (plus $1 million in financing).[2] Because of the financial constraints, director Haggis filmed in his own house, borrowed a set from the TV show Monk, used his car in parts of the film, and even used cars from other staff members. The film grossed $53.4 million domestically, making back more than seven times its budget.[2] Despite its success in relation to its cost, Crash was the lowest-grossing film at the domestic box office to win Best Picture since The Last Emperor in 1987.

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 74% based on 234 reviews, with an average score of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A raw and unsettling morality piece on modern angst and urban disconnect, Crash examines the dangers of bigotry and xenophobia in the lives of interconnected Angelenos."[4] On Metacritic the film has a score of 69 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[5] According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[6]

Roger Ebert gave the film 4/4 stars and described it as "a movie of intense fascination",[7] listing it as the best film of 2005. The film also ranks at #460 in Empire's 2008 poll of the "500 Greatest Films of All Time".[8]

Some later reviews of Crash have been less favorable. Cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates criticized the film as shallow and "unthinking," naming Crash "the worst film of the decade."[9] The film has been critiqued for depicting the Persian shopkeeper as a "deranged, paranoid individual who is only redeemed by what he believes is a mystical act of God."[10] The film has also been criticized for using multicultural and sentimentalist imagery to cover over material and "historically sedimented inequalities" that continue to affect different racial groups in Los Angeles.[11]

In 2010, the Independent Film & Television Alliance selected Crash as one of the 30 Most Significant Independent Films of the last 30 years.[12]

Oscar controversy

Crash won the Best Picture Oscar at the 78th Academy Awards, controversially beating the critically favored Brokeback Mountain and making it only the second film ever (the other being The Sting) to win the Academy Award for Best Picture without having been nominated for any of the three Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture (Best Drama, Best Comedy/Musical and Best Foreign Film).

The film's use of moral quandary as a storytelling medium was widely reported as ironic, since many saw it as the "safe" alternative to Brokeback Mountain. Critic Kenneth Turan suggested that Crash benefited from anti-gay discomfort among Academy members,[13][14] while critic Roger Ebert was of a different opinion, arguing that the better film won that year. Ebert also questioned why many critics were not acknowledging the other nominees, claiming that they were criticizing Crash's win solely because it won over their preferred film.[15]

Film Comment magazine placed Crash first on their list of "Worst Winners of Best Picture Oscars", followed by Slumdog Millionaire at #2, and Chicago at #3.[16] Similarly, a 2014 survey of film critics by The Atlantic identified the film's victory as among the most glaring mistakes made by the Academy Awards.[17]

In 2015, The Hollywood Reporter polled hundreds of Academy members, asking them to re-vote on past controversial decisions. For the 2006 Best Picture winner, Brokeback Mountain beat Crash and the other nominees.[18]

Paul Haggis said in a 2015 interview that he did not believe that the film deserved to win Best Picture.[19]


Crash was nominated for six awards at the 78th Academy Awards and won three, including the win for Best Picture. It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, one for Best Supporting Actor (Matt Dillon) and the other for Best Screenplay (Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco).

Other awards include Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards; Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards 2005; Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Newton) at the 59th British Academy Film Awards; Best Writer at the Critics' Choice Awards; Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role (Howard) at the Black Movie Awards; Best First Feature and Best Supporting Male (Dillon) at the Independent Spirit Awards; Best Cast and Best Writer at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards; and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Howard) and Outstanding Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards.

List of awards and nominations
Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result
78th Academy Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Director Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Film Editing Hughes Winborne Won
Best Picture Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman Won
Best Original Song "In the Deep" Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
2006 ALMA Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Michael Peña Won
1st Austin Film Critics Association Awards Best Director Paul Haggis Won
Best Film Won
59th BAFTA Film Awards Best Cinematography J. Michael Muro Nominated
Best Director Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Editing Hughes Winborne Nominated
Best Film Nominated
Best Sound Nominated
Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Supporting Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Thandie Newton Won
Black Reel Awards 2005 Best Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Ensemble Won
Best Film Won
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Won
Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Thandie Newton Nominated
11th BFCA Critics' Choice Awards Best Cast Won
Best Director Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Film Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Nominated
Best Writer Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
18th Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Won
Best Screenplay Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Nominated
12th Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Won
58th Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement Paul Haggis Nominated
Empire Awards Best Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Actress Thandie Newton Won
Best Film Nominated
Scene of the Year Nominated
63rd Golden Globe Awards Best Screenplay Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Matt Dillon Nominated
37th NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Terrence Howard Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Chris "Ludacris" Bridges Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Don Cheadle Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Larenz Tate Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Thandie Newton Nominated
17th Producers Guild of America Awards Motion Picture Producer of the Year Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman Nominated
12th Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Cast Won
Best Supporting Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
6th Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Won
4th Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Cast Won
Best Film Nominated
Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Nominated
58th Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won


All songs were written and composed by Mark Isham, except where noted. The original score was released through labels Gut and Colosseum in 2005. The iTunes release is the complete score released through Yari Music Group, and has the cues isolated and in film order (unlike the commercial score CD which is edited, incomplete, in a different order, and in suite form).[20]

No. Title Note Length
1. "Crash"   3:21
2. "Go Forth My Son"   0:57
3. "Hands in Plain Sight"   3:48
4. "...Safe Now"   1:03
5. "No Such Things as Monsters"   3:59
6. "Find My Baby"   4:23
7. "Negligence"   2:56
8. "Flames"   7:59
9. "Siren"   4:41
10. "A Really Good Cloak"   3:28
11. "A Harsh Warning"   2:51
12. "Saint Christopher"   1:55
13. "Sense of Touch"   6:44
14. "In the Deep" Co-written by Bird York and Michael Becker; performed by Bird York 5:55
15. "Maybe Tomorrow" Performed by Stereophonics 4:34

iTunes version (complete score)

No. Title Length
1. "Main Title" 5:14
2. ""We've Got Guns"" 1:00
3. "Black Navigator / The Grope" 5:05
4. "A Warning" 1:18
5. "Magic Cloak" 4:00
6. "Back to the Toilet" 1:34
7. ""Your Father Sounds Like a Good Man"" 4:22
8. "Negligencia" 1:39
9. "Cameron – Receipt" 2:23
10. "The Rescue" 5:57
11. "News Conference" 2:35
12. "Car Jack II" 1:46
13. ""I Didn't Ask for Your Help"" 2:51
14. ""You Embarrass Me"" 1:24
15. "The Shooting" 3:29
16. "Jean's Fall" 1:55
17. "Illegals / Morgue" 6:43


The soundtrack's title is Crash: Music from and Inspired by the Film.

No. Title Artist Length
1. "If I..." KansasCali 4:18
2. "Plastic Jesus" Billy Idol 4:49
3. "Are You Beautiful" Chris Pierce 2:52
4. "Free" Civilization 3:43
5. "Hey God" Randy Coleman 4:04
6. "Take the Pain Away" Al Berry 4:19
7. "Problems" Move.meant 3:49
8. "Arrival" Pale 3/Beth Hirsch 5:08
9. "Acedia (The Noonday Demon)" Quinn 3:00
10. "In the Deep" Bird York 3:48
11. "Afraid" Quincy 5:08
12. "Maybe Tomorrow" Stereophonics 4:37

Note: The country song playing during the carjacking scene is "Whiskey Town" by Moot Davis.

Home media

Crash was released on DVD on September 6, 2005, in widescreen and fullscreen one-disc versions, with a number of bonus features, including a music video by KansasCali (now known as The Rocturnals) for the song "If I..." from the soundtrack. The director's cut of the film was released in a two-disc special edition DVD on April 4, 2006, with more bonus content than the one-disc set. The director's cut is three minutes longer than the theatrical cut. The scene where Daniel is talking with his daughter under her bed is extended and a new scene is added with officer Hansen in the police station locker room.

The film also was released in a limited edition VHS version. It was the last film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture to be released in VHS format. It was also the first Best Picture winner to be released on Blu-ray Disc in the US, on June 27, 2006.[21]

Television series

A 13-episode series premiered on the Starz network on October 17, 2008. The series features Dennis Hopper as a record producer in Los Angeles, California, and how his life is connected to other characters in the city, including a police officer (Ross McCall) and his partner, actress-turned-police officer, Arlene Tur. The cast consists of a Brentwood mother (Clare Carey), her real-estate developer husband (D. B. Sweeney), a former gang member-turned-EMT (Brian Tee), a street-smart driver (Jocko Sims), an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant (Luis Chavez), and a detective (Nick Tarabay).[22]

See also
  • Grand Canyon (1991 film)
  • Magnolia (1999 film)
  1. ^ "CRASH (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2005-03-04. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Crash (2005)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ Crash DVD Commentary Track. 2005.
  4. ^ "Crash (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 1, 2018. 
  5. ^ "Crash Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Crash". CinemaScore. Retrieved February 27, 2018. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 5, 2005). "Crash". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Empire Features". Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Worst Movie of the Decade".
  10. ^ "Crash and the City". May 7, 2007. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Film Criticism Current Issue". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  12. ^ "IFTA Picks 30 Most Significant Indie Films". The Wrap. Retrieved January 23, 2017. 
  13. ^ Turan, Kenneth (March 5, 2006). "Breaking no ground: Why 'Crash' won, why 'Brokeback' lost and how the Academy chose to play it safe". The Los Angeles Times
  14. ^ "Maybe Crash's upset at the Oscars shouldn't have been such a surprise?". The Los Angeles Times. April 16, 2009. 
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 6, 2006). "The fury of the 'Crash'-lash". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Extended Trivial Top 20®". March–April 2012. Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  17. ^ Roumell, Graham, "What was the biggest Oscar mistake ever made?" March 2014
  18. ^ "Crash Burned: Academy Members Reassess Past Oscar Decisions". The Guardian. February 19, 2015. 
  19. ^ Child, Ben (12 August 2015). "Paul Haggis: Crash didn't deserve best picture Oscar". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 
  20. ^ "iTunes - Crash by Mark Isham". 
  21. ^ "Historical Blu-ray Release Dates". Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Crash: A Starz Original Series". Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
External links
  • Crash on IMDb
  • Crash at Box Office Mojo
  • Crash at Rotten Tomatoes

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