Mike’s Top Ten of 1969
Every time I get to 1969, I feel myself getting more pessimistic. If 1967 is when New Hollywood broke through, and 1968 is Hollywood dumping all the old shit to make room for the new shit, then I feel like 1969 is New Hollywood getting its footing and being like 80/20 in favor of the new shit, with all the old shit really sticking out.
Take a look at the Best Picture crop for this year: Midnight Cowboy, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Z… and Anne of the Thousand Days and Hello, Dolly! ‘Anne’ at least is part of that historical drama trend and kind of makes sense, but Hello, Dolly! sticks out like a sore thumb.
There’s such revolutionary stuff that came out this year. There are great, experimental films by radical new filmmakers, most of whom would become established names over the next decade. Most of it is the stuff you know. The ones I really want to talk about are the ones you don’t know. That’s my favorite part of this year. (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1969
Ah, 1969. The year, as I like to call it, 1967 took effect. Sure, the film landscape changed in 1967 with Bonnie and Clyde and all that, but the Academy was pretty much business as usual until now. This was their first real embrace of the new type of filmmaking that was taking over the industry. I’m still amazed it happened.
Midnight Cowboy, outside of Best Picture, won Best Director for John Schlesinger (talked about here). He’d had one of those coming for a few years, so it’s nice to see a perfect scenario for him to win one. Best Actor was John Wayne for True Grit (talked about here), which — John Wayne was one of four actors who could have won an Oscar at any point and it would have been okay, no matter who he beat. The other three were Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda, and after a certain period, Paul Newman. They transcend the awards. So him winning was automatically a good decision (even though it’s a shame about Richard Burton). Best Actress was Maggie Smith for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (talked about here), which is nice. Maggie is awesome. I’d have gone another way, but the decision was fine. Best Supporting Actor was Gig Young for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (talked about here), which, in a weak category, it was the best decision. And Best Supporting Actress was Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower (talked about here). I like the decision, but man, was Catherine Burns amazing in Last Summer.
1969 is a hugely successful year. All the decisions are terrific. And a great year, of course, starts with a great Best Picture winner.
BEST PICTURE – 1969
And the nominees were…
Anne of the Thousand Days (Universal)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (20th Century Fox)
Hello, Dolly! (20th Century Fox)
Midnight Cowboy (United Artists)
Z (Cinema V) (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1969
Love 1969. Because, as I always say, it’s the year 1967 took effect. Finally, we get a down and dirty film winning Best Picture. Midnight Cowboy is that film. And although I’d have gone with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for Best Picture (it’s a favorite), Midnight Cowboy was a great choice. John Schlesinger also won a well-deserved Best Director statue for the film (talked about here).
Best Actor this year was John Wayne for True Grit (talked about here). I can sum this up by saying: It’s John Wayne. Best Actress was Maggie Smith for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. This is complicated for me, so you can just read my thoughts on it here. And Best Supporting Actor was Gig Young for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (talked about here), which was a good decision.
So, strong year, and we get this category, which — have I got a performance here I can’t wait for you to see.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1969
And the nominees were…
Catherine Burns, Last Summer
Dyan Cannon, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Goldie Hawn, Cactus Flower
Sylvia Miles, Midnight Cowboy
Susannah York, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1969
I call 1969 the year that 1967 took effect. This was the kind of film that Hollywood transitioned to after they broke away from tradition. This is what the 70s were all about, films like Midnight Cowboy, which won Best Picture and Best Director for John Schlesinger (talked about here). Personally, I’d have went with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but I understand the choice of Midnight Cowboy, which is why I don’t have a problem with it.
Best Actress this year was Maggie Smith for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. This was a sticky category for me, so rather than try to explain it, I’ll just say you can read about it here. Best Supporting Actor was Gig Young for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? which, as I said here, was a good decision in a weak category. And Best Supporting Actress was Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower, which I’ve yet to make up my mind on. I’ll probably be okay with it, though. It’s really just a matter of me voting for her or another nominee.
And then there’s this category. I have to tell you — thank god there’s an easy winner here, because otherwise this could have been tough. I say easy because — there are only a handful of actors in the course of Hollywood who have developed circumstances where, if they were nominated for an Oscar, any time after they’ve reached this status — they’re an automatic win every time. And those people were Humphrey Bogart, post-1950 (won 1951), Henry Fonda post-1960 (won 1981), and John Wayne. I’m sure there are more, but, these people — no matter what they win for, their stature is so strong that they, themselves transcend their performances. That’s why this was a great decision.
BEST ACTOR – 1969
And the nominees were…
Richard Burton, Anne of the Thousand Days
Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy
Peter O’Toole, Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Jon Voight, Midnight Cowboy
John Wayne, True Grit (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1969
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…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1969
1969 is the year 1967 really took effect. You see, 1967 is generally marked as the year where the Academy — and Hollywood in general — finally turned that corner and embraced more modern films. Bonnie and Clyde is the landmark film here. The depiction of violence was unheard of and was the start of those wonderful 70s films I (and a lot of people, I’d imagine) fetishize so much. But really, when you look at the Oscars — nothing really changed for two years. In the Heat of the Night wins in 1967, which, sure, it’s a look at racism, but, looking at the other four nominees that year, it was the second weakest choice in the bunch. Then 1968 was just a weak year in general (it was kind of like Hollywood releasing the excess water in the pipes while getting the good stuff ready for 1969), and then 1969, they finally went modern.
Midnight Cowboy wins Best Picture, Which was really the turning point for the next decade. Personally, I’d have picked Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but I can see why they went the way they did. Midnight Cowboy was written by a formerly blacklisted writer, and it was a kind of rejection of the old ways. I understand. John Schlesinger wins Best Director for the film, which makes sense. Best Actor was John Wayne for True Grit, perhaps the most acceptable career achievement Oscar ever. Best Actress was Maggie Smith for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which I talked about here. And Best Supporting Actress was Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower.
In all, I’d consider 1969 a very good year. My preferences lean the other way for the major two awards, but, hey, it’s not like they made a bad decision. So, in all — a good year. A forbearer of (mostly) great things to come.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1969
And the nominees were…
Rupert Crosse, The Reivers
Elliott Gould, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Jack Nicholson, Easy Rider
Anthony Quayle, Anne of the Thousand Days
Gig Young, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1969
1969 is a year I’m undecided on as a whole. Parts of it I’m very okay with, but parts of it I’m just not sure. For example — Best Picture this year went to Midnight Cowboy, as did Best Director. Now, personally, I’d have voted for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid here. And my big question is how acceptable Midnight Cowboy is, having won. I’ve yet to fully make up my mind. I mean, it’s kind of okay, but is it really? That’s my question. Fortunately I don’t have to decide this just yet, so I can go on living on the fence.
Best Actor this year was John Wayne for True Grit, the career Oscar to end all career Oscars. I’m cool with it, since he deserved one, and Hoffman and Voight eventually got Oscars. Peter O’Toole was also nominated here, and he never got one, but, you know, he was never winning for for being in a remake of the same film that won another dude an Oscar 30 years earlier (Goodbye, Mr. Chips). And Richard Burton? Yeah he deserved an Oscar, and he was brilliant in Anne of the Thousand Days, but you know, there were two years earlier in the 60s where he could have gotten an Oscar and they didn’t give it to him. So I blame that on the Academy. So that’s cool, I feel.
Then Best Supporting Actor was Gig Young for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? That was cool, considering the category wasn’t terribly interesting. And Best Supporting Actress went to Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower, which is cool, since she was hysterical in the film.
This category though, was fucking stacked. Great actresses and great parts. All great parts. Everyone in this category was really good in their role, and fittingly enough, 3 of the 5 went on to win Oscars (that’s even if we exclude the winner here). But really, any of these actresses could have won and it would have been okay. That’s how great this category was. Definitely one of the better Best Actress races I’ve seen. (more…)