To run down the intro quickly — this is a series of articles about what I would nominate in every single Oscar Quest category if I had a ballot. I always felt I should do them, but didn’t want to pull that shit everyone pulls of, “Here’s what I’d nominate,” even though it’s all the same five films they add on and they haven’t even seen half the stuff that was nominated. I know my stuff’s legit, because I’ve seen all the films, but I refused to start this discussion unless I was going to do it with the ability to tell people how to do it the right way, since unless you keep them honest, it’s fucking chaos.
So I decided to, along with picking what I’d vote for, create what I’m calling a Compromise List. The Compromise List is — aside from my personal nominations (which on the whole are pretty close to what would fit the typical notion of “Oscar,” since I’ve seen everything and know what is and what isn’t an “Oscar” movie and actually respect the precedents in place even though I don’t always agree with them enough to not be like, “I vote for Star Trek!”), a list of films that are basically a mix of my nominees and their nominees that I think everyone could live with. The idea is to make a list that works for everyone that’s great, and to cut out all the shit that so clearly shouldn’t be there.
The things to keep in mind: 1) if a category has five nominees, I’m only nominating five films. 2) The lists are only based on what I’ve seen. 3) Don’t bother me with your opinion unless you’re gonna go the full nine and do every single year. 4) If you’re going to attempt something like this — be honest. Don’t get too subjective, and DO NOT take off a film you haven’t seen just to put on a film you have seen. And most importantly, 5) YOU CANNOT take off a Best Picture winner. You can not vote for it on your list, but on your compromise list, the Best Picture winner MUST BE THERE. If it won, you have to include it. No exceptions.
Okay, let’s get to the next set of Best Picture years: (more…)
Oh man, there’s some great stuff 1966-1970.
1966: “BORN FREE,” FROM BORN FREE
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…)
We’ve reached the 1960s. We had the 2000s and its Terrible Tens, the 1990s and the Films of My Childhood, the 1980s and the Awesomely 80s Movies, and the 1970s and my 70s Recommendations. Now come my favorite films of the 1960s.
Just like the other decades, along with the Top Ten, I’ll also list an 11-15 (or 20, depending on how strong the year is) list at the bottom to make it easier for me in the future. The idea is that when I do revisit these lists and see how my tastes have changed, I’ll have more than just ten films immediately on hand to get a sense of which films made it on or fell off the Top Ten list. (Let me remind you: the lists only include (or exclude) the films from these years that I’ve seen. As I see and like more films from the decade, the lists will be updated accordingly.)
Now there’s the issue of the extra category. As I always do, I like to include an extra category besides the 11-15; the Terrible Ten, the Films of My Childhood, the Awesomely 80s Movies, etc. This time, for the 60s — it’s not a particularly consistent decade. That is, with the 80s, they had 80s movies. The 60s don’t really have that. They were more of a combination of the end of the studio system and the changing film landscape and the end of the production code (epitomized by Bonnie and Clyde). So my 60s list will be what I’m calling “Out with the old, In with the new.” That is, films (good films, mind you. Not just any films. I had to have least liked them enough to put them on) that either typify the fading studio system (“out with the old”) or the emergence of New Hollywood (“in with the new”), as well as “other good films too,” which are ones that don’t necessarily fit in either category, but are also pretty great. “Out with the old, in with the new, and other good films too.”
So here are my Top Tens of the 1960s: (more…)
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…)
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…)
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…)