Don't mean to dig at Erin or anything, but her comment on my last post touched off a nerve, since it's something a lot of people have been saying, it's becoming the generally accepted truth, and it's not true: that Babel is a less effective rip-off of Crash, a cheap imitation a year after Crash took the Best Picture Oscar. To watch both movies in the order they were released, it would seem that Babel would just be a Oscar-hungry version of its earlier predecessor, but the opposite is true.
Babel's director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, essentially invented this style of movie: several intertwining storylines end up coming together, showing an overall theme and the connection between disconnected people. He directed most of the defining films of this genre (Amores Perros, 21 Grams), and exec produced some of the others (Nine Lives). When Paul Haggis made Crash, it was Iñárritu that he stole from, taking that style and popularizing it into a more American sort of movie. And ultimately he was more successful with it, as Crash had far more of a broad-based appeal, and really succeeded in clarity of vision where Iñárritu sometimes failed (though you have to give him credit for actually naming his first big movie Amores Perros - literally, 'love's a bitch'). But it was never Haggis who developed this sort of filmmaking, that work was already done for him.