I think Ebert is wrong. [Ebert predicted that Crash will win Best Picture this year.] This is a year in which Hollywood will speak up defiantly. This year's Best Picture Oscar will be a message. Hollywood is going to preach to the Heartland and try to lead the mouth-breathing peasants in fly-over country back to enlightenment. The choice won't have anything to do with quality, or performance, or writing, or box office, or any of the factors Ebert cites.
This Oscar choice is going to be a political statement. That's why "Brokeback Mountain" is going to win.
I guess that may be true -- I don't have access to SDB's crystal ball, and I am thus lacking his ability to see into the hearts and minds of Academy Award voters -- but even so, if Brokeback Mountain and all its surrounding hoopla comprises a sermon to the lowly "Flyover Country", doesn't it mean something when it turns out that the "mouth-breathing peasants" there actually want to hear the sermon?
(And I can't help but wonder if SDB himself has bothered to see Brokeback Mountain. He's always talked big about not following crouds and being his own thinker, but as far as I can tell, he's doing nothing here but preaching the same right-wing orthodoxy as those with whom he has increasingly allied himself over the years I've been reading him.)