Oscar History

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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD

"Great post and comments. Yes, Streep had to navigate the rough waters of being in her 40's! I do think she smashed through the glass ceiling for women since she persevered and then became an even bigger star in her 50's." - Sister Rona

"One of my favourite movies from my teen years - I'm shocked at how long ago this was released. It was Meryl that sold this movie for me and is the reason I saw it. At the time, and I still feel this way, she is the reason to watch and believe this film." -Filmboymichael

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Vintage 1968: Ten Most Awesome People (And Other Lists)

Each month's Supporting Actress Smackdown inspires us to go back to the year in question for a little context. This month we're looking at 1968. When the movies of '68 were playing in theaters, making their case for Oscar glory the following spring, the world was experiencing a time of great unrest. The Vietnam War was raging; The Prague Spring was happening; Martin Luther King Jr was killed; Racial tensions ran high in the Civil Rights fight; student protests in France raged (derailing the usual Cannes process - no Palme D'Or that year); the Zodiac killer began his murder spree; Andy Warhol was almost killed. (All of these events have received cinematic treatments over the years in films like The Dreamers, Zodiac, I Shot Andy Warhol and countless historical epics and war films.)

1968 introduced Goldie Hawn, The Big Mac, "Hey Jude" and TV's first interracial kiss 

But our focus is on the movies, so let's investigate the cinematic crop.

Best Movies According to...
Oscar: Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Oliver!, Rachel Rachel, and Romeo & Juliet were the Best Picture nominees but Oscar obviously also really enjoyed Star! (a flop that still managed an incredible 7 nominations), 2001: A Space Odyssey (4 nominations) and the foreign film classic The Battle of Algiers (3 nominations) which finally opened in America.
Golden Globes: Hollywood's Foreign Press Association liked Charly, The Fixer, Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Lion in Winter and a movie I've never heard of called Shoes of the Fisherman (Drama) and they also sang and laughed with Finian's Rainbow, Funny Girl, The Odd Couple, Oliver!, and Yours Mine and Ours (Comedy/Musical)

Awesome people, dance parties, and more '68 trivia after the jump

Box Office: General audiences were wildest about the comedy The Odd Couple (#1 of the year), major star turns from Babs in Funny Girl and Steve McQueen in Bullit, the classic and then surprisingly youthful take on Romeo & Juliet and two real conversation starters Planet of the Apes and Rosemary's Baby. They were the six biggest hits of the year but audiences also turned out for 2001: A Space Odyssey, the orphaned children musicals Oliver! and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Lucille Ball comedy Yours Mine and Ours. (And though this is completely impossible to imagine through our modern movie culture lens -- adult drama just isn't valued outside of TV -- the sexually repressed schoolteacher drama Rachel Rachel even topped the box office charts for three weeks straight!) 

Born in '68 Mix Tape
Kylie Minogue, LL Cool J,  Celine Dion, Lisa Loeb, Chynna Phillips, Peaches, Sarah Maclachlan, Big Daddy Kane, Charlie Sexton, and Thom Yorke

With Dancing By...
Sam Rockwell

Introducing (not born in 1968 but their film careers began then!) 
Goldie Hawn, George Romero and the zombie genre with Night of the Living Dead, future Bond Timothy Dalton and future Hannibal Lecter Sir Anthony Hopkins both debuted in Oscar hit The Lion in Winter, Malcolm McDowell in If..., Sir Ian Holm in Midsummer Night's Dream (as "Puck" to Judi Dench's Titania!) and of course Babs conquered the world with Funny Girl 

Their Appeal is (Usually) Lost On Me
Will Smith (but he'll always have Ali), Naomi Watts (but she'll always have Mulholland Drive), Patricia Arquette (but she'll always have True Romance and she'll always be able to say that Josh Brolin licked her armpit)

The Only Oscar Winner
Does it say everything one needs to say about the Academy that Cuba Gooding Jr is the only major Oscar winner that I could think of that was born this year?

Whatever Happened To?
Molly Ringwald (SIGH), Jaye Davison (who knew all there was to know about The Crying Game), Patsy Kensit (from the 80s), Randall Batinkoff, Casper Van Diem (a 90s himbo), Sean Gulette (the star of Pi... he's not even in David Fincher movies anymore), Carré Otis (of Wild Orchid and Mickey Rourke's messy life fame), Seung-yeon Lee (from 3-Iron), Kim Walker (Regina George's prototype in Heathers), Thom Fitzgerald (of The Hanging Garden fame)? 

Perfect Physical Specimens Created in a Lab to Make the Rest Of Us Feel Ugly
Lucy Liu, Billy Crudup,  Jim Caviezel, Kelly Hu, Aaron Eckhart, Eric Bana, Michael Vartan, Helena Christensen, David Chokachi, Stephanie Seymour, Marcus Schenkenberg and Timothy Olyphant

1968: The Movie
Directed by: Joshua Marston, Guy Ritchie, Robert Rodriguez,  Edward Burns, Justin Chadwick, John Singleton, Pete Docter, Tod Williams, Matteo Garrone, Karyn Kusama, Cate Shortland, Tommy O'Haver, Joseph Cedar, Julie Bertuccelli, and Julia Solomonoff; Written by Guinevere Turner; Cinematography by: Matthew Libatique and Yorick Le Saux (seriously those two); Production Design: Guy Dyas: Makeup: Nicki Ledermann; Original Music By: Atticus Ross.

...And the best review of "1968: The Movie" movie will clearly be written by Matt Zoller Seitz!

Recently Caught Scene Stealing
Helen McCrory is best known for playing Mama Malfoy but she looks great on her husband's arm onscreen (Hugo!) and off (Damian Lewis!); Olivia Williams doesn't just steal scenes... she makes off with whole movies and television shows (see Ghost Writer and Dollhouse). It's inaccurate to say you stole a scene if you're the main character but can we get another round of applause for Catalina Saveedra for her superbly ornery work in The Maid? And it's a stretch to say "recently" when it comes to Tim Burton's former flame Lisa Marie but his oeuvre is a LOT lesser if you remove her memorable face and bod, my favorite being her gum chomping finger eating alien in disguise in Mars Attacks! 

TV Divas
What a fine vintage for the small screen. Consider: Gillian Anderson, Debra Messing, Lucy Lawless, Margaret Cho, Ru's bestie Michelle Visage and two of the ladies in our top ten. They were all born that year!

Top Ten Most Awesome People Born in 1968


10 Owen Wilson
I'll admit that my love is almost entirely based on Eli Cash (The Royal Tenenbams) & Hansel (Zoolander) and that was 12 whole years ago but those two adorable performances are worth treasuring for a dozen years. More Midnight in Parises and less phoning it in in lame comedies please!

09 Rachel Griffiths
The movies let her down after her breakthroughs with Muriel's Wedding and Hilary & Jackie but television was smart enough to snatch her up. I'm not sure she'll ever top her brilliance in Six Feet Under but MANY actors couldn't. 

08 Josh Brolin
What a long way he's come as an actor over the years. This man is aging well. 

07 Jane Krakowski
I'd place her much higher if this weren't the "Film" Experience -- the silver screen only tried with her briefly -- but my love is large. She's so damn talented and super funny. What's next after 30 Rock for which the Emmy's notoriously never awarded her despite her ability to wring genuine guffaws from virtually every episode and multiple times per 1/2 hour, too I'm hoping another Broadway musical/comedy hit and another Tony. I'll never forget "A Call From the Vatican" from Nine on stage. 

06 Yorick LeSaux
A least filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch and François Ozon understand how gifted he is. I can't deal that he wasn't Oscar nominated for lensing I Am Love.  

05 Daniel Craig
FIRST! I loved him before the world called him Bond, James Bond. Who can forget (if they saw it) his rough trade bathing boyfriend in Love is the Devil or the petulant chaing-smoking only biological son in Road to Perdition

04 Matthew Libatique
As recently discussed in our article on Gravity and the Cinematography Oscar, Libatique may finally have a shot at gold next year with Noah since the category only equates visual effects with great photography now. Libatique, Darren Aronofsky's cinematography of choice, has been doing stunning work for a good decade and only recently won his first Oscar nomination for Black Swan.

03 Kristin Chenoweth

02 Parker Posey
The reigning Indie Queen of the 90s is still a national treasure. Even if the movie nation sometimes forgets where they've hidden her. (I once danced with her at Sundance and I felt as giddy as Sam Rockwell looks when he's dancing.)

01 Hugh Jackman
For being Wolverine, Jean Valjean,  Peter Allen, and Keller Dover. But mostly for being Hugh Jackman.

WHEW... I don't know why I do these vintage posts. So time consuming. But there's so much love to spread around. What are you most grateful for that 1968 brought us? THE SMACKDOWN ARRIVES TOMORROW. BE HERE.

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Reader Comments (18)

You are lovely and amazing.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

I love these lists. I can't imagine how long it must take to research, compile, write and format these posts, but they are an awesome part of The Film Experience!

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFlickah


October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Kim Walker from Heathers died. It was from a brain tumor, I believe. No joke. This is not a play on her "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?" line.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric C.

Thanks for this post. So much fun to read.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

How about the top pop hits of 68

Some of my favorites on my iphone:

Hey Jude

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Stoned Soul Picnic

Love Child

Jumpin Jack Flash

What a year!

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

I was 7 days old when 1968 started, so I can't tell you much about experiencing. A lot of sleeping and burping, IIRC.

Another fun list. Love it!!!

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I love love love these posts. But it must be said: Parker Posey is #1. Always.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

What a trip down Memory Lane... Thanks, Nat!

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Nathan, your lists are so groovy and psychedelic!

My favorite thing (shameless SOM reference) from 68 is Star!, where Julie sang, dance, acted, got drunk, bounced full body off the thighs of male dancers, flew through a ring of fire, said BASTARD a lot, and generally just wowed us, and deserved an Oscar nom for her miracle working.

This was also the year of the sublime Petula Clark's first American TV special, presented on the NBC network in living color, where she plugged her first film Finian's Rainbow by singing How Are Things in Glocca Mora? Sniffle.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I have actually seen The Shoes of the Fisherman. It is about the election of an Ukranian Pope. I live in Puerto Rico and it is one of those movies that they showed for Easter. It stars Anthony Quinn. Sadly I do not remember much more.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

I am my favorite thing from 1968, but Kristin Chenoweth is a close second.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentervladdy

vladdy -- wise choices!

pedro --thanks for filling us in

brookesboy -- i meant to watch star! for these festivities. i really did. DAMN NEED FOR MONEY TAKING UP MY MOVIE WATCHING TIME

Patryk -- i thought about listing songs too but eventually i have to stop!!!

October 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Character actor Leo McKern, of Rumpole fame, was amazing in "The Shoes of the Fisherman".

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHannibal Lester

Not long ago I saw an interview with Patsy Kensit and Roberto Benigni. She was promoting a TV show she was in, and according to IMDB she's still doing TV. Trying to remember this fundamental piece of info, I found the most recent episode of that chat show she was in, with a full 80s line up: De Niro, Pfeiffer and Cher in the same sofa.


October 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Love this. I had no idea I shared a birth year with all these people, though being a Griffith myself, I do have to correct you on Rachel's last name, which is Griffiths. The whole Griffiths, Griffin, Griffith thing can drive some of us with that name to distraction ;)

And can't wait to read the smackdown!

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Like Pedro, I also saw "The Shoes of the Fisherman", though I did not remember Anthony Quinn's pope being Ukranian until I read it here. It also had the original Dr. Richard Kimble, David Janssen, as a TV reporter providing the required exposition on the papal electoral process. There was also a great scene where the pope just has to get away from the Vatican for a bit and walks the streets of Rome (less-than-well-to-do division) and sees how the other half really lives, recalling his time in the Gulag. Kind of what you might expect the latest pope to do on the spur-of-the-moment. It informs a decision made near the end of the film that is quite a surprise.

October 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

I cannot believe all of these people are 45.

October 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkin

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