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.)
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...
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!
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.
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.