It takes years to really understand which movies of any particular year are truly great and significant in the history of cinema. The Oscars, the most important platform to tell the public which movies are their (the industry in Hollywood) choices for that greatness after just months from being made, is a bad way to honor the best films as movies need to pass the test of time. We all know that people change their mind often and that goes with movies, I will take a look at the years of Oscar and who won, who should have won, and where Oscar was totally off base. I begin with the films of 1967, fifty years in the past of last night Oscar presentation.
My five best pictures of the year: In the Heat of the Night; Bonnie and Clyde; Cool Hand Luke: The Graduate; Belle de Jour. (close but no cigar: In Cold Blood; Wait Until Dark; Two for the Road
My Pick: Bonnie and Clyde
Of these five films, Bonnie and Clyde is the best film, a game changer in movie history, the most significant movie of the year. No one had seen what Arthur Penn put up on the screen in Bonnie And Clyde in a major motion picture by a major studio. All the other films listed might be, in fact better made films, dealing with subject matter that was timely and important for 1967. Bunuel’s Bell de Jour is as good a movie as any for any year by a master movie maker. The Graduate was anything but ordinary. And the fact that Stewart Rosenburg’s Cool Hand Luke was as good a film as the winner, In the Heat of the Night.
MIKE NICHOLS for “The Graduate”, Richard Brooks for “In Cold Blood”, Norman Jewison for “In the Heat of the Night”, Stanley Kramer for “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, Arthur Penn for “Bonnie And Clyde“
My five best directors of the year: Mike Nichols, The Graduate; Richard Brooks, “In Cold Blood”; Arthur Penn, Bonnie and Clyde; Luis Bunuel, Belle de Jour; Jean-Luc Godard, Weekend
My Pick: Arthur Penn, Bonnie and Clyde
There were three directors that deserved the Oscar for best director. The winner in 1968, Mike Nichols, was one of them. Luis Bunuel was one of them. And Arthur Penn was one of them too. In my opinion, Penn should have won but any of the three just as deserving.
ROD STEIGER in “In the Heat of the Night”, Warren Beatty in “Bonnie And Clyde”, Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate”, Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke”, Spencer Tracy in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
My five best actors of the year were Rod Steiger and Sidney Pointer, both for “In the Heat of the Night, Warren Beatty in “Bonnie and Clyde”, Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke”, and Spencer Tracy in “Guess Who’s Comong to Dinner.”
My Pick: Spencer Tracy, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
It was a top heavy year, the top choices for best actor all gave great performances. Newman and Pointer both had two films that were noteworthy. Not overlooking Hoffman in “The Graduate” but Pointer’s “Mr. Tibbs” was every bit as memorable as Stiger’s Police Chief Bill Gillespie. Someone had to be eliminated. I have viewed these performances many times and Tracy’s role as the father of a white woman engaged to the black educated Sidney Pointer was as good a performance he would to give in his career. It is hard to pick against Newman’s Luke but Tracy is considered as good an actor as any with respect to Brando and Olivier. Tracy was magnificant, not only in how he delivered his lines but how he delivered those lines….his gentle inflections and eye movement was as good as it can get. Tracy owned that movie in movie with greatness (Pointer K.Hepburn).
KATHARINE HEPBURN in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, Anne Bancroft in “The Graduate”, Faye Dunaway in“Bonnie And Clyde”, Edith Evans in “The Whisperers”, Audrey Hepburn in “Wait Until Dark”
My five best actress nods go to: Katherine Hepburn in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, Audrey Hepburn in “Wait Until Dark”, Faye Dunaway in “Bonnie and Clyde”, Anne Bancroft in “The Graduate”, and Catherine Deneuve, in Belle de Jour.
My PIck: Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde
Dunaway was the real deal in this violent movie. Sex, charm, danger, evil, lovely, and most importantly, true to her man Clyde. Dunaway was to win in Network but she was better here. Magnification on the big screen in those 1930’s clothing. She showed so much that actually caught the movie world by surprise. Both Hepburn’s were outstanding in their roles. Bancroft was the ultimate “cougar” in “The Graduate”.
GEORGE KENNEDY in “Cool Hand Luke”, John Cassavetes in “The Dirty Dozen”, Gene Hackman in “Bonnie And Clyde”, Cecil Kellaway in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, Michael J. Pollard in “Bonnie And Clyde”
My five were George Kennedy in “Cool Hand Luke”, Gene Hackman in “Bonnie and Clyde”, Cicil Kellaway in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, Alan Arkin in “Wait Until Dark”, and William Daniels in “Two For the Road”.
My Pick: Gene Hackman, Bonnie and Clyde
A close shave for my choice here but Hackman was to Parson’s as Beatty was to Dunaway. Another great performance by Hackman. Daniels and Arkin were overlooked and Kellaway held his own in great company.
ESTELLE PARSONS in “Bonnie And Clyde”, Carol Channing in “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, Mildred Natwick in “Barefoot in the Park”, Beah Richards in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, Katharine Ross in “The Graduate”
My five could have started with Estelle Parsons in “Bonnie and Clyde” and ended there. My other four are here just to fill in. Beah Richards was the weakest of the major actors in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” which still is a very good performance. Jo Van Fleet in “Cool Hand Luke” was a good but rather short performance, Angie Dickinson was nice in “Point Blank”, and Judy Geeson in “To Sir With Love” was deserving.
My Pick: Estelle Parsons in Bonnie and Clyde
An easy winner the Academy got it right here. Parsons in the role of her lifetime.