Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Directed by John Schlesinger
Written by Waldo Salt, based upon the novel by James Leo Herlihy
Starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman
Midnight Cowboy seems an unusual choice to win the Oscar – after all, until it’s win in 1969, no movie with any real, honest-to-goodness grit to it, save for maybe Marty, managed to snag the top prize. And those that did have a tinge of grit to it – or darkness, if you prefer another word – were about big, important things, e.g. The Best Years of Our Lives. In other words, if a dark movie, rooted in real life, wanted to win Best Picture, it had to go big and make epic statements about important topics (anti-Semitism, WWII), because, aside from that sweet little film about the lonely butcher – Marty – you couldn’t win.
Directed by James L. Brooks
Screenplay by James L. Brooks from the book by Larry McMurtry
Starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels and Jack Nicholson
In a way, James L Brooks is the most unappreciated man in movies, which is a funny thing to say about a guy that has three Oscars. But when you think about it, every movie he’s made of consequence since his first — and for films of consequence since his first, there’s only two — has been singled out for attention by the Academy for everybody else associated with it, particularly those who are in it. But Jim Brooks? Not so much.
Broadcast News? Three acting nominations, a Picture and Screenplay nom for Brooks, but zero wins all around. And when you think of the movie, you don’t think of it as a Brooks film — you think of it as a Holly Hunter vehicle. Or the last of the truly great William Hurt performances. Continue reading
Dir. Tony Richardson
Starring Albert Finney, Hugh Griffith, Susannah York, Edith Evans and David Warner
Screenplay by John Osborne, based on Henry Fielding’s novel of the same name
In the history of the academy awards, Tom Jones as Best Picture winner seems a major anomaly because it might be the most subversive of Best Pictures ever – bearing in mind that subversion and the Academy Awards are relative things. Nevertheless, given some of its darker and lustier themes, and their presentation in a jaunty, shiny package, it’s still a subversive film, if not as much as it otherwise could have been. Continue reading