I have mixed feelings about 1969. I love that the Academy finally went with a gritty film more reflective of the post-1967 cinematic landscape, and I like Midnight Cowboy a lot and think it’s a great film, but — I really, really love Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And that love makes it really hard to be objective. So, while I’m totally okay with Midnight Cowboy winning Best Picture and this category, I’m not gonna even begin to pretend like I’d vote for it.
As for the rest of this year, John Wayne wins what is essentially a career achievement Oscar for True Grit, which, I’m actually totally cool with. All the major nominees here either won Oscars (mostly, Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight), were never going to win for their performances (Richard Burton. Because, while he was great, if they didn’t give it to Peter O’Toole in 1968, he wasn’t getting it here. Speaking of which…), or they shouldn’t have won for what they were nominated for in the category (Peter O’Toole). So I’m okay with it. Plus, it’s John Wayne. Him, Henry Fonda or Paul Newman could have won an Oscar any year over any other performance and I’d have been okay with it.
Then, Best Actress was Maggie Smith for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (talked about here). This is a rough category for me. I talked about it in the article, but, my favorite performance was by the most marginal of the nominees (and the other deserving nominees won eventually), so I’m ultimately okay with it, even though I’d have voted differently. Best Supporting Actor was Gig Young for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They (talked about here), which I like, and Best Supporting Actress was Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower, which I also like (sort of. I’ll get to it eventually). So, that’s 1969. I’m pretty okay with it, even though it doesn’t feel ideal. It’s a big of a tough pill to swallow, which, coincidentally, is what a lot of the films of the 70s were about, so that’s perfect. And on top of that awesome connection, let’s get into this category…
BEST DIRECTOR – 1969
And the nominees were…
George Roy Hill, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Arthur Penn, Alice’s Restaurant
Sydney Pollack, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy (more…)