The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1977

Oh, 1977. Annie Hall beats Star Wars. Isn’t that cute?

I really have no opinion on this year. I hate Woody Allen films and I hate what Star Wars has become. I mean, it clearly should have won Best Picture over Annie Hall, because it’s just superior in every way (except neurotic Jewish people. But — C-3PO…almost). Woody Allen should not have won Best Director over George Lucas (talked about here), either. Diane Keaton should have won Best Actress, though (talked about here), only she should have won it for Looking for Mr. Goodbar instead.

Best Supporting Actor this year was Jason Robards for Julia, which I don’t really care about, as I said here. And Best Supporting Actress was Vanessa Redgrave, also for Julia, which, as I said here, I don’t really care about either.

Which brings us to this category. Well — at least Woody didn’t win. And good thing Richard Dreyfuss did.


And the nominees were…

Woody Allen, Annie Hall

Richard Burton, Equus

Richard Dreyfuss, The Goodbye Girl

Marcello Mastroianni, A Special Day

John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever

Allen — Annie Hall is Annie Hall, a film about a relationship. There’s really no way to describe it, and it’s kind of a classic, so you should probably have seen it by now.

Woody Allen essentially plays Woody Allen. He always does. I don’t consider this acting and I don’t think he should have won an acting Oscar. Writing? Yes. Directing? Probably not. Acting? Never.

That’s really all I have to say about that one.

Burton — Equus is a film about a boy who blinds six horses with a metal spike. And it’s about the treatment he has to undergo afterward. Burton plays the psychiatrist and Peter Firth plays the boy. And we see as Burton tries to figure out what led this boy to do this, and Burton delivers these monologues directly to the camera at various points throughout the film. The film itself is very, very strange. Most people probably wouldn’t like it. But Burton and Firth are strong here. Not, Oscar-winning strong, but film strong.

Burton really should have won this back in the 60s. This feels more like a veteran nomination than anything. Plus I don’t really like the film all that much, so I just can’t picture it as an Oscar-winning film. So I’m not voting for him.

Dreyfuss — The Goodbye Girl is a tremendous film. Most Neil Simon’s films are. The dude is a great American writer.

The film is about Marsha Mason and her daughter, living in an apartment with her boyfriend. She’s a former dancer who has stopped dancing in order to raiser her daughter. And at the beginning of the film, her boyfriend leaves suddenly and tells her he rented half the apartment to someone else. And Dreyfuss — the someone else — shows up one night to get into the apartment. And Mason, worried about how she’s gonna pay the rent, agrees to take Dreyfuss in. And Dreyfuss is this cocky actor who is full of himself and has all these weird habits, like meditating in the nude every night. Shit like that. And he and Mason don’t get along at first and are greatly annoyed with one another, but soon grow to like one another and eventually fall in love. And it’s this great love story. It’s a really great film, and the writing is just terrific.

Dreyfuss is really great here, and while I don’t see this as a performance that would win an Oscar most years, the category is weak enough to where he could definitely be considered a good choice. Plus, he was also in Close Encounters of the Third Kind this year, and he’s Richard Dreyfuss, and delivered so many great performances over the course of his career, so he definitely deserved this one, I feel. This was the perfect category for him to win.

Mastroianni — What the hell is this?

The film is about Mastroianni, a gay man in fascist Italy, about to kill himself. But he meets his neighbor, Sophia Loren, and the two of them become friends. And the film is basically about the two of them spending the day together.

I found this film plenty boring, and didn’t much care for it at all. And I never really understood most of Mastroianni’s nominations. This one and the 1987 one. I have to assume they were both veterean nominations. If that’s the case, then I can understand. Still not voting for him, but I can understand why he’s here, if that’s the case. Otherwise, I saw nothing here to warrant a vote over any of the other nominees, including Woody Allen.

Travolta — You probably should have seen Saturday Night Fever by now. There’s really no excuse not to have.

Travolta plays Tony Manero, the king of the dance floor in Brooklyn New York. It’s a real star-making role, and Travolta is terrific here. Thing is though — I thought Richard Dreyfuss was better. So I lean toward Dreyfuss. That’s just me, though.

My Thoughts: This has to be one of the weakest Best Actor categories of all time. Woody Allen played himself and there’s no way in hell he should have won. Marcello Mastroianni got a pseudo veteran nomination and also wasn’t really good enough to win. Richard Burton was kind of strong, and a veteran, but — not really a performance he should have won for. Just kind of — theatrical. (Should have won in 1965 or 1966. Academy’s fault.) And John Travolta — as much as I love Saturday Night Fever, he shouldn’t have won for it. It’s a star-making turn, not a Best Actor turn. And Dreyfuss, he was very good in the film, and he also was great in Close Encounters this year, so I can see how that makes him an easy vote here. He’s really the only person that could have (and should have) won.

My Vote: Dreyfuss

Should Have Won: Dreyfuss

Is the result acceptable?: Seriously was the only acceptable decision in the category. Good decision by default. Not that it’s bad, it’s just, automatically acceptable, and that’s all we’re looking for.

Performances I suggest you see: Saturday Night Fever is a film you need to see. But you knew that already, because you’re not a schmuck. Or are you?

The Goodbye Girl is a brilliant film, and is an essential film for me. If you want to be friends with me, you need to see this film. Do with that what you will.

Annie Hall is a good film and one of the few Woody Allen films I can stomach. I actually laughed at parts here, and it’s a nice realistic look at relationships. I think it’s a good film, just not a Best Picture winner. (You’re not gonna get a glowing review out of me.) Most people would consider this essential.


5) Mastroianni

4) Burton

3) Allen

2) Travolta

1) Dreyfuss


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