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The Smackdown Is Almost Here

THE SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN OF 1977 IS JUST ONE WEEK AWAY. Get your votes in by Friday early evening. This week will be a '77 blitz at the blog to get you in the mood. 

The Nominees were...

Leslie BrowneThe Turning Point
Quinn Cumming, The Goodbye Girl
Melinda Dillon, Close Encounters
Vanessa Redgrave, Julia
Tuesday Weld, Looking for Mr Goodbar 

Readers are our final panelist for the Smackdown so if you'd like to vote send Nathaniel an email with 1977 in the header line and your votes. Each performance you've seen should be rated on a scale of 1 to 5 hearts (1 being terrible 5 being stupendous) -- Remember to only vote for performances that you've seen! The votes are weighted to reflect numbers of voters per movies so no actress has an unfair advantage. 

Click to embiggen to see the 1977 goodies


We'll do this piecemeal so you don't feel overwhelmed. Here are two of our guests this time 'round...


Panelist: Nick Davis
Bio: Nick Davis writes the reviews and features at the website Nick's Flick Picks.  The site's unpredictable cycles of frenzied activity and long dormancy have to do with his also being an Associate Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern, where his research and teaching mostly concern narrative film in different eras, genres, and countries. 
[Follow Nick on Twitter]

Question: What does 1977 mean to you?

1977 is the year I personally debuted at the box office. My Star Wars-obsessed brother says it was the second-best thing that happened that year. Sadly, I drew only a modest "B-" on CinemaScore from males 18-29, but since I mostly appealed to middle-aged and older moviegoers, I turned out to have legs.  Shelley Duvall drove to the delivery ward, her skirt caught in the car door, and brought my parents pigs in a blanket and little pudding cups to celebrate my arrival.  When she left, she looked a lot more like Sissy Spacek, which confused all of us.  I was an odd-looking baby, but not as odd-looking as the one in Eraserhead, so that was some consolation.  My mom was just relieved she didn't have to be impregnated by a computer, like Julie Christie was in Demon Seed.  My parents were very careful about vaccines; Han Solo gave me my shots first.  When it was time to leave the hospital, Roy Scheider, Francisco Rabal, and two other guys drove us all home in trucks full of live nitroglycerine. It was a harrowing journey, especially the part on the rope bridge over a swollen river. Once at the house, we opened the door to a huge surprise party.  Liza Minnelli was in the living room belting "New York, New York," with backup from the aliens of the Creature Cantina. Gena Rowlands was sozzled behind her huge sunglasses in a corner, talking to someone the rest of us couldn't see. Charles Burnett, Laura Mulvey, and Derek Jarman were all screening brilliant new footage in the back of the house, wondering what it would take to get more attention from the mainstream partygoers in the front of the house.  Annie and Alvy arrived late, after a very long walk to the curb from where she'd parked.  Once they'd arrived, she sang "Seems Like Old Times" from a bar stool, which was weird, because I wasn't even a day old.  The party was fun until everyone got drunk and Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine started pulling each other's hair.  Everyone dispersed, at which point we all noticed Jane Fonda acting really agitated in her giant hat, and making strenuous excuses for why she didn't want a ride from anyone.  Once we were alone, my whole family expressed gratitude for what a fantastic universe of movies I'd been born into, and then we privately screened the only one from 1977 that really, really, really matters, which is The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Panelist: Guy Lodge
Bio: Guy Lodge is a film critic for Variety, a home entertainment columnist for The Observer, and plans to be Melissa Leo's official biographer whether she likes it or not. Born and mostly raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, he is currently based in what's left of London.
[Follow Guy on Twitter]

Question: What does 1977 mean to you?

My grizzled countenance and cranky Twitter rants may lead people to assume otherwise, but I wasn't close to being alive in 1977 — my parents wouldn't even meet for another two years — so my picture of the year is one informed entirely through history and pop totems. (Admittedly, not always the most popular pop totems: one of my most treasured thrift-store finds remains a double-disc vinyl soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's New York, New York, surely that year's most persistently undervalued triumph.) It's hard not to think of Star Wars when you think of 1977, since it so comprehensively altered the blockbuster template in ways we still feel today (and not just in the ongoing Star Wars films!), but it's a franchise to which I've never been sentimentally attached — perhaps because I never had the chance to discover it in theaters. I know I would have been Team Annie Hall in that year's Oscar race, one that continues to rankle with younger generations of acolytes: perhaps, in a sense, I think of 1977 as the starting point for today's polarized fan culture?

Continue on the Meet the Panelists Pt 2

How about you dear reader: What does 1977 mean to you?  

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Reader Comments (45)

Look, I really like the original Star Wars, but if you want to support a sci-fi film winning BP in '77? Close Encounters or shut up.

July 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

As someone mostly discovering 1977 through the Smackdown and hunting down big movies from this year, I had no idea that this such an important year for Diane Keaton, Herbert Ross, and Richard Dreyfuss, some more than others; Sadly, it was not the year of Richard Burton, if only for his sake. Not that there's any way 1977 isn't actually the year of Vanessa Redgrave, but there's still lots of digging to be done. 3 Women, Opening Night, and New York, New York eagerly await screenings to be picked up from the library as soon as they arrive, which is not soon enough.

July 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

I think this is the worst Supporting Actress lineup in the history of the Oscars (don't hit me!). I just can't believe that Redgrave won for Julia. It's not even close to her best performance. 3 Women, That Obscure Object of Desire and The Lacemaker probably would have been the highlights for me in 1977 (had I been old enough to even know about movies). And I don't think any of them were nominated for any Oscars.

July 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

I also wanna thank Suspiria and Pennies From Heaven for making me loyal to Jessica Harper. Not that I think she should've been nominated for Suspiria or anything (though Pennies is a totally different story, and I'll give her credit for doing some very good dubbing in Suspiria, she's actually pretty good in it overall), but everything about her filmography in the late 70's and early 80's is so eccentric I keep trying to find more of her movies. She's so fascinating and talented, and I wish she had a chance of getting some kind of career revival someday. Maybe she'd fit in that "Who could Ryan Murphy bring into prominence again?" question. Either way, we need more of her.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

Nick T -- omg. that's like the greatest triple feature ever. Enjoy

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

For me, there are some excellent films from 1977. Annie Hall (which I believe deserved its Best Picture win), Star Wars of course, Clise Encounters (although the original version is not my favourite version, as it has too much of the digging-up of the garden), The Spy Who Loved Me (one of the very best James Bond films), The Gauntlet (one of Clint Eastwood's best), A Special Day, and That Obscure Object of Desire.

CharlieG: Good to know you're a fan of Obscure Object too. You'll be pleased to hear it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Looking forward to the Smackdown!

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

A shout out to the should-have-been nominees of 1977
JOAN COPELAND "Roseland' (winner)
KAREN LYNN GORNEY "Saturday Night Fever"
MELINDA DILLON "Close Encounter of the Third Kind" (an actual nominee)
DONNA PESCOW "Saturday Night Fever"
JULIE BOVASSO "Saturday Night Fever"

And if Gorney is adjudged lead rather than supporting, then substitute Helen Gallagher from "Roseland".
Kudos also to Vanessa Redgrave "Julia", Beryl Reid "Joseph Andrews" Diana Rigg "A Little Night Music', Joan Bennett and Alida Valli (both for "Suspiria".

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKen

There is plenty left of London!

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChrisD

Nick *and* Guy? Already elevates this tepid lineup of nominees. I love how they both mention New York, New York, and I hope the cameos from Mary Kay Place and Diahnne Abbott get a few words in the podcast discussion.

1977: Baby It's Me (Diana Ross), Peter Gabriel (solo debut), I Remember Yesterday and Once Upon a Time (Donna Summer), My Aim Is True (Elvis Costello); Aja (Steely Dan), Foreign Affairs (Tom Waits); Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Roots, Short Eyes; Studio 54, the Ninth Circle, the Limelight, Keller's, the Cockring, Crisco Disco, the Loft, Paradise Garage. Buttermilk Bottom; Desperate Living, High Anxiety, Annie Hall; Elvis died; Soap; Bowie releases Low and "Heroes" and duets with Bing Crosby on TV ( "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy")...

...New York, New York...

...among other things...

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

If someone other than Redgrave wins this I'll be very surprised. Even if she wasn't absolutely amazing in the role, the line-up is horrendous.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

Paul: I had NO IDEA Mary Kay and Diahnne were in NY,NY. I've put off watching it my whole life, but that information helps move it up the priority list.

And just want to mention that Guy and Nick's answers to the 1977 question were a pleasure to read!

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

1973's Aguirre, the Wrath of God finally made it to America in 1977 and that's all I need, really. Maybe my favorite movie of all time! And I do love John Waters' Desperate Living to death "I'll teach you to arouse royalty!" - favorite line of the year. Also do I dare admit that I think Exorcist II and Sorcerer are a lot better than their automatic punch-line reputations would suggest? As for performances, Jane Fonda reached he career peak in Julia, but Glenda Jackson's turn as Richard Nixon-as-a-nun in Nasty Habits is absolutely brilliant and unjustly forgotten.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s

@ Mike in Canada

If you have the patience and can find it, watch the longest version (163 minutes). I forget now if that will provide more of those cameos, but worth it all the same.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

@Vovagia - good for you! Close Encounters is easily a better acted and better made film than Star Wars -( but I've made my peace with the popularity of Star Wars.)

I saw New York New York and then went back the very next night with more friends to see it again.
Still underappreciated - and Liza does a better version of the song.
Annie Hall was the film we all fell in love with, it was a big teddy bear of a movie, and Diane Keaton
is lovely.

Julia is an ok film with Vanessa Redgrave making certain moments quite glorious.
I'd be very surprised if she didn't take this, Melinda Dillon is really her only competition.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

@ken s. - Nasty Habits - a satire of Richard Nixon's White House during the Watergate scandal set in a nunnery. My favourite part was Sandy Dennis (playing the John Dean character) walking outside with Glenda Jackson,
"You bugged the poplars?!!!"

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Ken -- weird Jane Fonda really? I'm a huge fan and that's one of my least favorite performances of hers. She lets everyone take all her scenes from Vanessa to Meryl to whomever. Hmmm

July 25, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nick is such a cutie.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLizzy

Yes, I'm really impressed by Jane Fonda in Julia, a film I otherwise can't stand, even Vanessa Redgrave, an actress I worship and adore (cross my heart) I find relatively unimpressive here.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s

I may be on the fringe but I don't think JULIA is a great film. Having seen it again recently, it feels dated (even for a period piece), the performances are not the lead actors' best, the pacing is slugglish, and the story that's presented onscreen barely reveals what the plot is supposed to be about. MVP for me is Jason Robards, who, IMO, is the only one who deserved an Oscar nom.

Go ahead and laugh--1977 was all about Saturday Night Fever, Smokey and the Bandit, and Close Encounters.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Guy, as a kid I bought the double LP of the New York New York soundtrack when it came out, and I played the hell out of that record. This is Liza's greatest performance in a criminally underrated movie. She would have been my No. 6 that year, which was a terrific one for actresses. The fact that I had to leave out Liza, Julie Christie (Demon Seed) and Gena Rowlands (Opening Night) points to how great an Oscar year this was. I consider this Best Actress lineup and the one for 1939 to be the only times AMPAS got it exactly right. Keaton, Mason and Bancroft gave performances for the ages. Fonda and MacLaine were really wonderful, though I would place them lower.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

On a completely unrelated note: Marni Nixon RIP

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s

@ brookesboy


I'm totally with you about Liza's performance, but as I said in the comments to the above post:

Diane Keaton (Looking for Mr. Goodbar)
Marsha Mason (The Goodbye Girl)
Liza Minnelli (New York, New York)
Romy Schneider (That Most Important Thing: Love)
Lily Tomlin (The Late Show)

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Pam: I forgot Smokey and the Bandit. Great film!

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Does anyone know where I can see The Turning Point? Since it left Netflix Instant Watch I can't find it anywhere! I wanna see them all to participate!

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterabstew

Paul, wow, I have never heard of that Romy film. Now I got to track it down! She had such a sad life.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I think Jane Fonda's mystique is built on witness and testimony. She's a surviving connection to Old Hollywood, 60s counterculture, cultural legends—in addition to being a great actress in her own right. Lillian Hellman plays the same role in Julia. Jane Fonda understands when she's the story and when she's merely a vehicle to pass the story into the future—to bear witness and testify.

In that respect, I think Julia perfectly encapsulates one dimension of Fonda's legend. The ways in which a rather humble, ordinary person found herself in extraordinary circumstances among extraordinary people.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

Lying in bed Jet lagged reflections:

1977 - Year I was born so a special film year for me :-)

Julia is my favourite film from that year - I am always mesmerised by it, although knowing the Hellman made most of it up somehow diminishes it a bit for me.

Supporting Actress was rather weak that year, perhaps the only competition comes from Dillon.

Nick - definitely looks a hottie in that American Beauty with DVDs picture!

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Lewis

I don't know. Ever since Guy tweeted that gelato is always inferior to ice cream, I don't think I can take any of his opinions seriously.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Hayden -- that's a really interesting take on Fonda.

July 25, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Can Nick Davis make out with me already

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIbis

Am I the only one who prefers Teri Garr to Melinda Dillon in Close Encounters? It's a far more memorable performance.

I love Tomlin in The Late Show, what an interesting character.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

@Nathaniel—I mean, proof enough of Jane Fonda's legend is hearing her say "I was in an acting class with Marilyn Monroe. She was painfully shy but very talented." Or whatever. Her proximity to greatness is as important as her own greatness. What would On Golden Pond be today without Jane's Hepburn/Fonda anecdotes, or those deathbead stories she tells about her dad?

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

People are seriously underestimating and undervaluing Tuesday Weld up in here!

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Paul, ITA. If it's Tuesday, it must be breathtaking.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Can Nick Davis make out with me already

Wait your turn. I have my own demands. Although mine don't require physical contact. Please start your new version of the Best Actress section.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Spoiler alert: brookesboy, she is my pick of the five actual nominees that year.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Paul, I gave Tuesday and Vanessa 4 hearts. Everyone else ranked lower.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Suzanne, I totally agree. Garr did it way more for me than Dillon did. What smart casting.

Paul, Tuesday is so my runner-up right now, even if The Goodbye Girl is waiting for me right now. She's kind of marvelous, and is such a miracle worker in the part.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

So glad everybody is excited!

@Nick T: Enjoy the holy hell out of that triple feature.

@Paul Outlaw: Your 1977 sounds exhausting, yet electrifying!

@Ken S: Nasty Habits was one of many DVDs I couldn't quite squeeze into the frame while snapping that selfie, but I promise it was in the array.

@Ken: You know I always love your alternate ballots. Have to check out Roseland.

@Pam and Ken and others who mentioned Saturday Night Fever: I really didn't jive with that film the one time I saw it, but I suspect it had to do with expecting something very different. Will try to rewatch before the podcast.

July 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

@ Nick Davis:

I guess you could just sum that year up in a song: Odyssey's "Native New Yorker," which was recorded in 1977 and entered the Billboard Hot 100 in November of that year...

July 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a laughable film, but it deserves watching: it's as if Teresa (Diane Keaton)'s dad directed and wrote the film and tried to be hip. Any film that presents itself as a cautionary tale against the currents of the time is a cultural landmark.

I could barely watch Weld, to be honest. She's been more effective elsewhere.

July 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

@DJDeeJay: What is this slander? I tweeted no such thing, because gelato obviously isn't inferior to ice cream. I think you're confusing me with Joe Reid.

July 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGuy Lodge

@Guy - ah yes, sorry! The tweet was a while ago and even as I was typing my comment I was wondering "wait, WAS it Guy who said this?" But i didn't have time to go back through both of your tweets. So sorry!

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