Friday, October 26, 2012

The Katie-Bar-The-Door Awards (1976)

I think the consensus pick for best drama of 1976 is Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese's classic tale of a violent, paranoid loner who's spent far too long with the himself as the hero of the movie playing in his head. I recognize its importance in film history, and I have chosen its stars, Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster, for a pair of awards, but just between you and me, I've always had a bit of trouble connecting with it. Maybe I'm not supposed to.

Another good pick would be All The President's Men, a really nifty mystery about Nixon, Watergate, and the two intrepid reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, who blew the lid off the biggest political scandal of my lifetime. And given that I met Katie-Bar-The-Door while working for the college newspaper, not to mention that I worked for years in downtown Washington, D.C., All The President's Men really resonates for me on a personal level.

And then there's Rocky, which won the Oscar and sold a lot of tickets and which might have a better reputation today if Sylvester Stallone had taken an early retirement.

But I'm going with The Outlaw Josey Wales, Clint Eastwood's post-Civil War tale of a Southern guerilla fighter who refuses to be re-assimilated into society only to find himself playing caretaker to a motley assortment of losers and underdogs, and rediscovering his humanity in the process.

Orson Welles had this to say about it: "When I saw that picture for the fourth time, I realized that it belongs with the great Westerns. You know, the great Westerns of Ford and Hawks and people like that." It's full of action, yes, and at first seems like it's going to be a re-run of the Man With No Name spaghetti westerns, but it unexpectedly turns warm and funny and finally quite touching. Personally, I like it better than Unforgiven which won the Oscar and tons of praise as a revisionist Western. This one, which I came to late during my taping frenzy of the mid-90s, is plenty revisionist for me.

I know, I know, Josey Wales is not a consensus pick at all—what pollsters these days would call an "outlier"—and normally, I value consensus above nearly everything (else the Marx Brothers and Alfred Hitchcock would win fourteen of these things and you'd roll your eyes and stop reading) (that is, if you haven't already). But I'm sticking with it.

winner: The Outlaw Josey Wales (prod. Robert Daley)

PICTURE (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Network (prod. Howard Gottfried)

PICTURE (Foreign Language)
winner: Im Lauf der Zeit (Kings of the Road) (prod. Win Wenders)

ACTOR (Drama)
winner: Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver)

ACTOR (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Peter Finch (Network)

winner: Sissy Spacek (Carrie)

ACTRESS (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Faye Dunaway (Network)

winner: Clint Eastwood (The Outlaw Josey Wales)

DIRECTOR (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Sidney Lumet (Network)

winner: Jason Robards (All The President's Men)

winner: Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver)

winner: Paddy Chayefsky (Network)

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