1966, symbolically, feels like that moment when all the water pulls away from the shore just before the tidal wave comes crashing down. It’s a matter of time before the industry changes completely and the old way is totally gone. And you can see it in the films. Whenever there’s a movie shot on studio sound stages in one of the old-school genres, it just feels passé. That doesn’t mean they’re not good, it just means that they feel outdated.
There’s definitely a move to a less rigid style of filmmaking, and way more location filming. One of the top ten films mixes scenes set on sound stages with scenes in an actual football stadium, and it’s just jarring. You can see the two different eras side by side. But that’s really what the year is about for me. The calm before the storm. Other than that, it’s a decent year, but doesn’t feel overly special overall. There are a couple of all-time films, but as a whole it’s pretty mix and match.
Another thing worth mentioning is that this is the year where the MPAA ratings system was created. Rather than getting a seal of approval, films were rated like they are now so people had an idea of what age rage they were intended for. (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…)
Love me some 1966. While my personal choice didn’t win Best Picture, a film that was just as good did.
A Man for All Seasons wins Best Picture, Best Director for Fred Zinnemann (talked about here) and Best Actor for Paul Scofield (talked about here). And my personal favorite of the year, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, wins Best Actress for Elizabeth Taylor (talked about here) and this category. All of those decisions are great. Had they gone with either film (the ones where both films were nominated) in any category, it would have been a good decision.
The non-Man for All Seasons or Virginia Woolf win was Best Supporting Actor, which went to Walter Matthau for The Fortune Cookie (talked about here). His only Oscar. Which is awesome.
So that’s 1966. Perhaps the quickest synopsis I’ve ever had. And I don’t have all that much to say about this category either, except — great decision.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1966
And the nominees were…
Sandy Dennis, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Wendy Hiller, A Man for All Seasons
Jocelyne LaGarde, Hawaii
Vivien Merchant, Alfie
Geraldine Page, You’re a Big Boy Now (more…)
I like 1966 a lot. Best part about it? The recap takes about fifteen seconds.
A Man for all Seasons and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? win five of the six major awards. Both are amazing films, and really, either one winning all the awards would have been acceptable. A Man for All Seasons won Best Picture, Best Actor for Paul Scofield (talked about here), and, this category. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? won Best Actress for Elizabeth Taylor (talked about here) and Best Supporting Actress for Sandy Dennis. The only award those films didn’t win was Best Supporting Actor, which went to Walter Matthau for The Fortune Cookie (talked about here). See? Real quick. Love it.
And then, there’s this category, which is just all sorts of fucked up. I don’t quite know what to do here, because there are so many minefields to deal with. So I guess we’ll find out what I’m going to do together.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1966
And the nominees were…
Michelangelo Antonioni, Blowup
Richard Brooks, The Professionals
Claude Lelouch, A Man and a Woman
Mike Nichols, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Fred Zinnemann, A Man for All Seasons (more…)
I personally consider this one of the weakest Best Actress categories of all time. The fact that the winner was such a slam dunk hides that fact a bit (kind of like Best Actress 1949), but it’s still pretty weak. There’s only one choice here.
As for the rest of the year — it’s basically split up between two films. A Man for All Seasons wins Best Picture, Best Actor for Paul Scofield (which I talked about here) and Best Director for Fred Zinnemann. Then, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? wins this category and Best Supporting Actress for Sandy Dennis. And Best Supporting Actor is the only outlier, which was Walter Matthau for The Fortune Cookie (which I talked about here).
My thoughts on this year are — I think they got the acting awards 100% correct (Best Actor is a tough choice between Scofield and Burton, and either one was a great decision. That’s one of those where I’ll change my answer every time I’m asked about it), and Best Picture and Best Picture are a matter of opinion between two great films. I tend to go back and forth between which I’d vote for. Still, both are great, so, really this year is a win/win for everybody.
BEST ACTRESS – 1966
And the nominees were…
Anouk Aimée, A Man and a Woman
Ida Kaminska, The Shop on Main Street
Lynn Redgrave, Georgy Girl
Vanessa Redgrave, Morgan!
Elizabeth Taylor, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (more…)
The thing I remember best about 1966 is that it’s one of, if not the only — double checking on this right now. Yes it is — it’s the only year in the history of the Academy (with five Best Picture nominees) where the Best Actor category matched up exactly with the Best Picture category. That is — all the Best Actor nominees were all the male leads of the five Best Picture nominees. No other category can boast that. There are a couple of fours, and 1964 has four matches and one repeat, but, the other nominee didn’t really have a male lead, so, 1966 will always be the only year (unless they go back to five nominees) where Best Actor matched Best Picture.
It also was a pretty good year overall, with A Man For All Seasons winning Best Picture, Paul Scofield winning Best Actor for it and Fred Zinnemann winning Best Director for it, and then every other award going to the other film that was just as great that year, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, with Elizabeth Taylor winning Best Actress and Sandy Dennis winning Best Supporting Actress. The only other category that wasn’t won by either of those two films (but not for lack of trying), was this category, which is a pleasant little change up. Because who doesn’t love Walter Matthau?
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1966
And the nominees were…
Mako, The Sand Pebbles
James Mason, Georgy Girl
Walter Matthau, The Fortune Cookie
George Segal, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Robert Shaw, A Man for All Seasons (more…)
I liken 1966 to 1999. I think it’s because the film that won Best Picture that year is a very — stagy — film. Not that it’s a bad film, but — it goes back to that old cinematic vs. theatrical distinction. By and large, I usually prefer films to be cinematic, because, cinema is a different entity than plays. Which, also — here’s the difference, if you don’t get it — Martin Scorsese movie, like, The Departed — cinematic. There are irises, zoom ins, tracking shots, all of it. (Also, another great example people will recognize quickly — Fight Club — very cinematic.) Doubt — theatrical film. Revolutionary Road — theatrical film. Films that feel like plays. Because, very often, they were. They’re often directed by actors or actual playwrights. Ya follah?
And therein lies the rub. When your favorite film of the year (or at least, of the nominees. One you feel is deserving of winning Best Picture) is a very stagy film — more so than the usual standards — and a fellow nominee is a very cinematic film, but you just didn’t love it as much — what do you do? Bringing it back to a primordial level — say you always sided with good, but, in one instance, evil actually was right. (I’m not calling one thing out and out “evil” — though I will say, you don’t want a movie to be like a play, just like you don’t want a play to be like a movie. It’s like reading a novel that’s written like a movie. (Looking at you, Dan Brown.) It’s a fun read (for most), but you’re not giving it a book award. Shit. I could have saved all that space if I made that analogy first. But, I’ll get more into this issue when I deal with the year itself.
Now, this cinematic vs. theatrical problem does extend over to the acting categories as well. Which person would you rather see win an Academy Award — the dude who plays Hamlet in a film, and basically just takes the entire text of the play as he’s done it on stage and puts it on film, or the dude who plays a migrant worker who goes down to Mexico with his friend and an old prospector, finds lots of gold and slowly loses his mind because he starts to think the other two are going to kill him and steal his share of the gold? See what I mean? Who you gonna wanna vote for — Othello or Atticus Finch? It’s a tough choice to make, and is exponentially tougher when, you actually kinda want to vote for Othello.