1965 is a playing card year. I mean that in the sense of — there’s a scene in My Cousin Vinny where Pesci explains that the prosecution’s case looks like a brick, and will be presented as such, but in reality, is as thin as a playing card, because the fact remains that the boys are innocent. And that’s what I feel about this year. On the surface, a good year and a good choice. But, when you look at it more closely — it might not be what it appears.
The Sound of Music, outside of Best Picture, wins Best Director for Robert Wise (talked about here). That’s standard operating procedure. Best Actor was Lee Marvin for Cat Ballou (talked about here), which I think is a terrible decision, yet I can’t be too angry with it because I love Lee Marvin. Still, bad decision. Best Actress was Julie Christie for Darling (talked about here), which was such a great decision. Between that and Doctor Zhivago — man did she deserve that. Best Supporting Actor was Martin Balsam for A Thousand Clowns (talked about here), which — one of the worst Best Supporting Actor categories of all time, so — sure. And Best Supporting Actress was Shelley Winters for A Patch of Blue (talked about here), which she totally deserved. And the film is amazing too. Great decision.
So, fine year, fine decisions, for the most part. This is a year I don’t think is quite that good a decision. And on the other side of the coin, I’m not quite sure what beats it. This is a really interesting year to talk about, and one that I don’t think is as simple as you’d think it is.
And the nominees were…
Doctor Zhivago (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Ship of Fools (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
The Sound of Music (20th Century Fox)
A Thousand Clowns (United Artists) (more…)
I like me some 1966. I don’t love it. But I like it. It’s a good year. Not terribly memorable, but a year begins with its Best Picture nominees/winner. And this year’s winner (along with the only other potential winner) is a very stagy film. Amazing, but stagy. Which isn’t as sexy as some of the other winners. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a good film.
A Man for All Seasons, outside of Best Picture, wins Fred Zinnemann his second Best Director Oscar (talked about here), which, with this, High Noon and From Here to Eternity (not to mention all the other great films he directed), he’s earned two, and Best Actor for Paul Scofield (talked about here). He did do a great job, and it was really close between him and Richard Burton. Both were very deserving. He was incredible. Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress were Elizabeth Taylor (talked about here) and Sandy Dennis (talked about here) for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, both of whom I felt were deserving in their respective categories (Taylor much more so. She just destroyed the rest of that category). And Best Supporting Actor was Walter Matthau for The Fortune Cookie (talked about here), which — oh man, watch this movie and that performance. It’s genius. It’s a comic role that he plays like a noir. It’s glorious.
So that’s 1966. A very strong year. Every category went with either the best decision or one of the top two. But it’s not very sexy. Some sexiness, but more-so very solid. Maybe we’ll call this the “good husband” year.
BEST PICTURE – 1966
And the nominees were…
A Man for All Seasons (Columbia)
The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming (United Artists)
The Sand Pebbles (20th Century Fox)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Warner Bros.) (more…)
This is the year everything changed. After a decade of the crumbling of the studio system, studios not knowing how to handle the changing times, the failures of this big-budget roadshow musicals, the rampant runaway production going on — something snapped. For a few years, these smaller, grittier, counter-culture films were starting to pop up. But this year is where one of them finally broke through into the mainstream: Bonnie and Clyde. Not to mention, you see a huge influx of socially conscious films among the nominees this year. Dealing with race and violence and sex — topics that were completely taboo less than a decade earlier. 1967 is the most socially important year in the history of cinema. No other year holds a candle to it in terms of social importance.
The year is also wonderfully spread out. They managed to get every major film an award. In the Heat of the Night wins Best Picture and Best Actor for Rod Steiger (talked about here). Steiger was pretty due by this point, so that was nice (even though I’d say Spencer Tracy and Paul Newman gave better performances. Not to mention an un-nominated and horribly snubbed Sidney Poitier). Best Actress was Katharine Hepburn for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (talked about here), a solid choice. Best Supporting Actor was George Kennedy for Cool Hand Luke (talked about here), which is so awesome I don’t even want to talk about it lest I somehow jinx it 45 years after the fact. Best Supporting Actress was Estelle Parsons for Bonnie and Clyde (talked about here), which — wow. If you’ve seen the performance, you know. And Best Director was Mike Nichols for The Graduate (talked about here), which he deserved, between this and not winning for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? the year before this. So, overall, they did a great job of awarding all the great films from the year.
However — and I’ve said this a lot — I can’t help but feel this Best Picture decision is a cop out decision.
BEST PICTURE – 1967
And the nominees were…
Bonnie and Clyde (Warner Bros., Seven Arts)
Doctor Dolittle (20th Century Fox)
The Graduate (Embassy)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Columbia)
In the Heat of the Night (United Artists) (more…)