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A few years ago, I began a project where I was going through all the 1967 Academy Award nominees, because I feel 1967 was a watershed year in film. I had stopped the project, and the reason is "Barefoot in the Park," an adaption of Neil Simon's 1963 Broadway Play. I've now seen thirteen films that were nominated for various Academy Awards in 1967, and the only one I've seen that's *worse* than this is Dr. Dolittle, which is probably the single worst film ever nominated for Best Picture. At least "Barefoot" only had Mildred Natwick as a nominee for Best Supporting Actress (she didn't win, and she didn't deserve to win - I like Mildred Natwick, but she had nothing to work with here). I suppose I should say that I have a strong dislike for Jane Fonda (as well as her despicably self-centered, immature character in this) and Neil Simon (who is the single most overrated playwright in history that I can think of). It isn't hard to guess how this movie might have been marketed: "A joyously flamboyant romp through a spirited, nascent marriage," but it was none of the above (except for nascent) - it just plain sucked. The movie is dated, trite, not funny, not charming, stupid, contrived, and only saved (actually, *not* saved) by some decent acting (which is its one, sole virtue) - namely Natwick, Redford, and Boyer. If for any reason you decide to do a 1967 retrospective, do yourself a favor, and save "Barefoot in the Park" and "Dr. Dolittle" for *last* in the off chance that you should get run over by a train before you finish. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is much better than this, and that's saying something because that film was pretty awful as well.
I had never before seen "Ordinary People," a quadruple Oscar winner for 1980 which included the award for Best Picture. This was Timothy Hutton's first major role, and because of that, he was nominated for (and won) the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor even though, in my mind, he clearly had the lead role in this film. I'm not sure how nominees are made, but perhaps it's the motion-picture companies that submit entrants to the Academy for consideration, and Paramount neither billed, nor perhaps nominated, Timothy Hutton as a lead actor due to his inexperience - while Donald Sutherland was extremely strong, it was Hutton who made this film what it was. Mary Tyler Moore, to me, will always be Laura Petrie, and to some, she will always be Mary Richards, both slightly neurotic, but lovable, characters in polar opposite roles (the former, a homemaker; the latter, a career-oriented woman) - but in both cases, slightly neurotic and intentionally a bit silly. I have since seen her in two major roles in motion pictures ("Thoroughly Modern Millie" and now "Ordinary People"), and in both roles, she seemed completely out of her element - yes, she's typecast to me, and there's nothing I can do about it, just as Leonard Nimoy will always be Spock, and therein lies the difference between "bias" and "prejudice" - prejudice is something that is much, much more difficult to overcome, and goes deeper than a simple "preconceived notion." The music in Ordinary People was "composed" (more appropriately, "arranged") by Marvin Hamlisch, and aside from an extremely astute and clever use of Pachelbel's Canon, which clearly represented Timothy Hutton and Friends reliving the same agonies over, and over again, without a logical endpoint, there wasn't much "there" there - in fact, there was a particularly cloying violin solo during a sad moment to which I said, aloud, "They can lose the violin anytime now." Ordinary People is a great movie - whether or not it merits being named "Best Picture" is up for debate, as two of its competitors were, in my mind, *clearly* superior films: "Elephant Man" and "Raging Bull," both of which were not just "great," but transcendent.
This is either the perfect time, or the perfectly wrong time, for you to watch this wonderfully innovative, groundbreaking, "death-by-a-thousand-cuts" movie, lambasting the media's involvement in our political elections - I'd seen it twice, most recently about a year ago, and decided I wanted to watch it again this evening. Robert Redford does a wonderful job in this film, and so does Don Porter, masterfully portraying the hilariously named Crocker Jarmon, the opposing candidate (who sounds just like Walter Cronkite - the kind of voice that can put the public at ease while he's spewing complete B.S. - I think the name "Crocker" is also a quibble on both "Cronkite" and "crock.") - both men make this seem like a hyper-realistic Senatorial race, and Peter Boyle with his media-strategy team don't lag far behind. This film is excellently written, and Jeremy Larner deservedly won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. If you're up for it, "The Candidate" is a good, lighthearted exploratory criticism of our media-driven election system - I didn't enjoy it this evening as much as I previously remembered, but it's a solid film, and worth watching. The film is now 44-years old, and is only slightly dated (dated mostly because it features two *men* running for the Senate in California); its themes carry forward very nicely to this day-and-age, and the scene with Redford unable to contain his laughter is a classic comedic moment. There's also a medium-small cameo (not subtle) by Natalie Wood.