Let’s be clear: “Crash” is not a good film. It is one of the worst films ever to win an Academy Award for best picture, and is a further example that the Oscars have absolutely nothing to do with what the audience is actually watching. “Crash” is a manipulative melodrama that struggles to tackle serious issues of racism, police brutality, and elitism. Of all the film’s issues, chief among them are clichéd characters. Director Paul Haggis is not the right filmmaker to tell a story about black trauma.
So, why is “Crash” on the list? Well, Cheadle is pretty awesome in it. It’s one thing for an actor to step up material, but Cheadle basically gives “Crash” more legitimacy than it deserves. While other actors, including Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Michael Pena, and Terrence Howard, were weighed down by a weak screenplay, Cheadle provided the true rage the film needed. He appears as Detective Graham Waters, a police investigator searching for missing children in Los Angeles.
The waters are in a difficult situation. He really wanted to serve as a loyal civil servant in the police force, and he struggled to admit the failure of the police. Furthermore, he is in legitimate danger when elements of his past reappear. Cheadle’s calm temper exemplifies Waters’ unspoken defiance. He knew that, even if he risked his life, he would never be considered an “equal.”