Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis won Oscars. Richard Burton and George Segal were nominated. They all win Nighthawk Awards for the best film of 1966: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

My Top 20:

  1. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  2. A Man for All Seasons
  3. The Professionals
  4. Morgan
  5. Red Beard
  6. Hamlet
  7. The Fortune Cookie
  8. Alfie
  9. The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming
  10. Loves of a Blonde
  11. You’re a Big Boy Now
  12. The Shop on Main Street
  13. Cul-de-Sac
  14. Blow-Up
  15. Georgy Girl
  16. Le Bonheur
  17. A Man and a Woman
  18. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
  19. 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse
  20. The Sleeping Car Murders

Another weak year with only the first four films being **** and the bottom three being only ***.  AFI seemed to concur as only three films were even on their initial 400 list (my top two and Fantastic Voyage and Voyage was dropped for the 2007 list of 400).

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  A Man for All Seasons
  • Best Director:  Fred Zinnemann  (A Man for All Seasons)
  • Best Actor:  Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons)
  • Best Actress:  Elizabeth Taylor  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Walter Matthau  (The Fortune Cookie)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Sandy Dennis  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  A Man for All Seasons
  • Best Original Screenplay:  A Man and a Woman
  • Best Foreign Film:  A Man and a Woman

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  A Man for All Seasons
  • Best Director:  Fred Zinnemann  (A Man for All Seasons)
  • Best Actor:  Paul Scofield  (A Man for All Seasons)
  • Best Actress:  Elizabeth Taylor  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Robert Shaw  (A Man for All Seasons)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Vivien Merchant  (Alfie)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  A Man for All Seasons
  • Best Original Screenplay:  A Man and a Woman  /  The Fortune Cookie  /  Morgan
  • Best Foreign Film:  A Man and a Woman

Carl Theodor Dreyer's late great film: Gertrud (of course it was released on DVD by Criterion)

Top 5 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. Gertrud –  #108
  2. The Gospel According to St. Matthew –  #159
  3. Blow-Up –  #197
  4. Masculin Feminin –  #404
  5. Daisies –  #548

Top 5 Films  (Consensus 1966 Best Picture Awards):

  1. A Man for All Seasons
  2. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  3. The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming
  4. The Sand Pebbles
  5. Blow-Up

Top 10 Films  (1966 Awards Points):

  1. A Man for All Seasons –  1923
  2. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf –  1233
  3. Alfie –  676
  4. The Sand Pebbles –  593
  5. A Man and a Woman –  513
  6. Georgy Girl –  449
  7. The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming –  431
  8. Morgan –  394
  9. Blow-Up –  367
  10. Hawaii –  261

Top 5 Films  (Box Office Gross):

  1. The Bible –  $34.90 mil
  2. Hawaii –  $34.56 mil
  3. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf –  $33.73 mil
  4. The Sand Pebbles –  $30.01 mil
  5. A Man for All Seasons –  $28.35 mil

The Bible becomes the lowest grossing top film of the year since 1957.  1966 is the final year where no film grosses more than $50 million and remains the closest bunching of the top 5 in any year.

AFI Top 100:

  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf –  #67  (2007)

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Best Director:  Mike Nichols  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Actor:  Richard Burton  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Actress:  Elizabeth Taylor  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  George Segal  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Sandy Dennis  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Loves of a Blonde

Lynn Redgrave - so good in Georgy Girl (1966)

Comedy:

  • Best Picture:  The Professionals
  • Best Director:  Richard Brooks  (The Professionals)
  • Best Actor:  Alan Arkin  (The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming)
  • Best Actress:  Lynn Redgrave  (Georgy Girl)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Walter Matthau  (The Fortune Cookie)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Geraldine Page  (You’re a Big Boy Now)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Professionals
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Morgan

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Best Director:  Mike Nichols  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Actor:  Richard Burton  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Actress:  Elizabeth Taylor  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  George Segal  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Sandy Dennis  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Morgan
  • Best Editing:  Morgan
  • Best Cinematography:  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Best Original Score:  The Professionals
  • Best Sound:  Grand Prix
  • Best Art Direction:  A Man for All Seasons
  • Best Visual Effects:  Fantastic Voyage
  • Best Sound Editing:  Grand Prix
  • Best Costume Design:  A Man for All Seasons
  • Best Makeup:  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Best Song:  “Georgy Girl”  (Georgy Girl)
  • Best Foreign Film:  Persona

Vanessa Redgrave in her very memorable scene in Blow-Up (1966)

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film To Watch Over and Over:  What’s Up Tiger Lily
  • Best Scene:  everyone getting out of the way of the motorcycle in The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming
  • Best Ending:  The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “Oh, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world – but for Wales?”  Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “So, who did help me escape?”  “Don’t you have any idea?”  “I had an idea that it was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but there’s no motive.”  Akiki Wakabayshi and Tatsuya Mihashi in What’s Up Tiger Lily
  • Best Ensemble:  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Sexiest Performance:  Vanessa Redgrave in Blow-Up
  • Coolest Performance:  Burt Lancaster in The Professionals
  • Best Use of a Song:  “Stroll On” – The Yardbirds in Blow-Up
  • Worst Film:  Daisies
  • Read the Book, Skip the Film:  The Bible

Ebert Great Films:

  • Blow-Up
  • Juliet of the Spirits
  • The Gospel According to St. Matthew

Film History: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with its adult content and Alfie with its abortion both receive Production Code approval.  Jack Valentini becomes heads of the MPAA and pushes for a film rating system.  Gulf & Western buys Paramount and Robert Evans becomes head of production.  The first edition of Hitchcock/Truffaut is published.  Truffaut makes his first English language film (Fahrenheit 451).  Otto Preminger loses his lawsuit to prevent commercials in a television showing of Anatomy of a Murder.  Andy Warhol’s The Chelsea Girls becomes the first underground film to play in a mainstream theater.  Hedda Hopper and Buster Keaton die on 1 February, Montgomery Clift on 23 July and Walt Disney on 15 December.  The Czech New Wave hits new heights with Loves of a Blonde and Closely Watched Trains.

Academy Awards: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf becomes the first film since From Here to Eternity to get nominated in all four acting categories.  It also becomes the only film nominated in every category for which it is eligible, as well as the only film ever nominated for the big 5 tech awards (Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, Art Direction) as well as all four acting categories.  It also ties Mary Poppins with the most nominations without winning Best Picture (13) and sets a record for most points by a non-Best Picture winner (520) which still stands  For the second time in five years, three films are nominated for Director and Screenplay but not Picture (The Professionals, Blow-Up, A Man and a Woman).  For the only time in Oscar history, all five Best Picture nominees are nominated for Best Actor.   Hawaii ties the record for most nominations for a film not nominated for Best Picture (7).  For the first time since 1957 (and only second time ever), three of the Best Picture nominees don’t win any Oscars.  Billy Wilder receives his 12th and final Oscar writing nomination.  Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave compete against each other for Best Actress, both losing to Liz Taylor.

A Man for All Seasons, a great film, wins Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Actor.  Yet, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, one of the greatest films, loses to Man in all of those categories.  Richard Burton loses for the third year in a row and will never end up winning an Oscar.  On the other hand, Elizabeth Taylor wins her second Oscar and absolutely deserves it this time.  For the first of consecutive years the Academy nominates Richard Brooks for Director and Screenplay but not his film.  The Professionals, instead, will be passed over for The Sand Pebbles, a mediocre film.  The Academy does at least finally get better at noticing Foreign films, whether they be British films (Alfie, Morgan, Georgy Girl, Blow-Up) or the Best Actress nomination for Shop on Main Street, the Art Direction and Costume Design nominations for Juliet of the Spirits and the numerous nominations and Best Screenplay Oscar for A Man and a Woman.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Editing for Grand Prix
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Scoring of Music – Adaptation or Treatment for The Singing Nun
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Art Direction (Color) for A Man for All Seasons
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  The Oscar
  • Best Eligible Film With No Nominations:  Red Beard
  • Best Eligible English Language Film With No Nominations:  Cul-de-Sac
  • Best Foreign Film Submitted But Not Nominated:  Persona
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Costume Design  (Black-and-White)
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Screenplay – Based on Material From Another Medium
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), Best Sound, Best Art Direction (Black-and-White), Best Special Visual Effects, Best Sound Effects, Best Costume Design (Color)

Golden Globes: The Sand Pebbles, Alfie and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf all set a new Globe record with 7 nominations.  Yet, they only manage two overall wins (Best English Language Foreign Film for Alfie and Best Supporting Actor for Pebbles), or two fewer than A Man for All Seasons, which takes Picture, Director, Screenplay and Actor.  Woolf sets a record with 7 nominations and 0 wins that will eventually be tied by The Godfather Part III, but never beaten.  With The Russians are Coming winning Best Picture – Comedy and Best Actor – Comedy, the five top points finishers at the Globes are the eventual five Oscar nominees for Best Picture.  It is a congruity with the Oscars that has never been seen before and will not be seen again until 1977.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf gets nominated in all four acting categories at the Globes, the first of only two films to do so at both the Globes and the Oscars (Reds is the other).  The strange dichotomy is that of the 13 films to get nominated in all four categories at the Oscars, only two – My Man Godfrey and Sunset Boulevard failed to win an acting Oscar.  Of the others, 5 won one Oscar (For Whom the Bell Tolls, Johnny Belinda, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Bonnie and Clyde, Reds), four won two Oscars (Mrs. Miniver, From Here to Eternity, Woolf, Coming Home) and three won three Oscars (A Streetcar Named Desire, Network).  They are far more likely to win female awards (7 for lead, 8 for supporting) than male (2 in each).  On the other hand, of the 6 films to get nominated in all four categories at the Globes, 4 of them didn’t win anything – Baby Doll, Night of the Iguana, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and RedsSweet Bird of Youth won Actress – Drama and Chicago won Actor – Comedy or Musical and Actress – Comedy or Musical.  In fact, getting nominated for all four acting awards at the Globes seems to be instant death – those six films were nominated for a combined 37 Globes but only took home 6 – the three acting, Director for Baby Doll and Reds and Picture for Chicago.  The Oscar films nominated in all four also took home 12 Oscars in technical categories, 6 writing Oscars, 3 for directing and 2 for Best Picture.  A final interesting note – of the six Globe films, five of them were adapted from plays and the first three were all from Tennessee Williams plays.

Awards: A Man for All Seasons joins Tom Jones and The Bridge on the River Kwai by winning both the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review but can’t claim a sweep because of the introduction of the National Society of Film Critics.  It would also take Best Actor from both groups, Best Supporting Actor from NBR and Best Screenplay from New York.  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf would have to settle for winning Best Actress from both groups, and the New York win was a tie with Georgy Girl.  But the magazine critics in New York, pissed because the newspaper scribes in the NYFC wouldn’t let them join, formed the National Society of Film Critics.  They immediately set themselves up as the art-house critics awards, giving Best Picture and Director to Blow-Up, Best Actor to Alfie and Best Actress to Sylvie in the little seen foreign film The Shameless Old Lady.

The guilds were changing as well.  The Directors Guild nominated 10 directors (including all five eventual Best Picture nominees and two of the three directors nominated without their film, only leaving out Michelangelo Antonioni for Blow-Up).  Their top award would go to Fred Zinnemann for A Man for All Seasons.  Man wouldn’t even get nominated for the Writers Guild, but as they always had strict rules about eligibility, coupled with it being a British film and not having nominated Lawrence of Arabia, Tom Jones or Doctor Zhivago, it wasn’t much of a surprise.  The Writers Guild only put up 9 scripts, with Virginia Woolf winning Drama and Russians winning Comedy.  The Editors and Sound Editors would both give their awards to Fantastic VoyageThe Sand Pebbles would win the other Sound Editors award while becoming the first film ever nominated for four guild awards (DGA, WGA, ACE, SEG).

The BAFTA awards would split their laurels.  Their four Best Picture nominees would include two 1966 films (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which would win and Morgan, which would lose the regular and British Picture awards) and two 1965 films (Doctor Zhivago, which would lose in all three categories, Picture, Actor and Actress, to Virginia Woolf and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which would win British Picture, Actor, Cinematography and Art Direction).  The two British films that would get British Picture nominations were Alfie and Georgy Girl, which would fail to earn regular Best Picture nominations and then would combine to go 0 for 9 at the awards.  The awards would also look back to give the only award won by Rod Steiger for his performance in The Pawnbroker.

Innokenti Smoktunovsky as Hamlet in the 1964 (U.S. release 1966) Russian film.

Under-rated film of 1966:

Hamlet  (Гамлет) (dir. Grigori Kozintsev)

Shakespeare adaptations are really the province of the English speaking world.  Even with my love of Shakespeare films, nearly every single one I have seen has been in English.  There are the Kurosawa films, of course, but they don’t use the language, just the plots.  But Grigori Kozintsev, the great Soviet director, used Shakespeare for his two final films.  For the text he relied on the highly praised translations by Nobel Laureate Boris Pasternak.  Both of them are in black-and-white, wonderfully directed and beautifully photographed.  The first was Hamlet, released in the U.S.S.R. in 1964 but in the U.S. in 1966, followed later by the even great Korol Lir (King Lear), his final film, released in the U.S.S.R. in 1971, but not released in the U.S. until 1975, two years after Kozintsev had died.

Hamlet wasn’t completely ignored.  It was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Globes and for Best Picture and Best Foreign Actor at the BAFTAs (in 1965).  But this was a time when the Soviet Union was rarely submitting films to the Academy so it wasn’t even eligible for the Oscars (until 1968 the only film ever submitted was Ivan’s Childhood, which failed to get nominated).  It’s surprising that it wasn’t more noticed.  A full-length Hamlet film was needed.  It had been 16 years since the Olivier version had won the Oscar.  It’s true that there were other versions.  Richard Burton’s famous stage version, directed by John Geilgud, was filmed and released to theaters, though it is just a recording of a stage version, not a film.  There was also a German version with Maximilian Schell, but it is quite awful and would later be the victim of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

But this is a full-length film, a very good production.  The sets and costumes are very good (more of a medieval design than most Hamlets – prefiguring the Zeffirelli film).  The cinematography is first rate, moving around the castle, along the shore, tracking along with the characters.  The script is well-designed, keeping more of the text than most film versions (Kozintsev did the script, deciding what to keep from Pasternak’s translation).  There are wonderful moments – the melancholy moment of Hamlet in his “fall of a sparrow” speech, and especially, the way the soldiers make a stretcher to bear him away.  The ending goes on longer than most will expect because of the decision to keep Fortinbras as an essential character, but it allows Hamlet an exit that most Hamlets don’t get.

Then there is Innokenti Smoktunovsky as Hamlet.  He unfortunately invites comparison with Olivier with a similar look, but his performance is all his own, melancholy without striving for sentiment, detached, yet passionate.  And he gets to perform it in Russian, one of the most beautiful languages to hear roll off the tongue.

People don’t watch enough Foreign films and they are less likely to watch a Shakespeare film in a language other than English.  They find Shakespeare difficult enough.  But the two Kozintsev films deserve to be watched (check back again in 1975 to read my review of Korol Lir) and deserve to be kept alive.  They each have fewer than 1000 votes on the IMDb.  Get out there and watch them.  You’ll find them on Netflix.

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