Kubrick again makes the best film of the year - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

My Top 20:

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  3. The Producers
  4. The Lion in Winter
  5. Rosemary’s Baby
  6. Belle de Jour
  7. The Battle of Algiers
  8. Closely Watched Trains
  9. Shame
  10. The Two of Us
  11. War and Peace
  12. Charge of the Light Brigade
  13. Hour of the Wolf
  14. Night of the Living Dead
  15. Hunger
  16. The Fireman’s Ball
  17. Hell in the Pacific
  18. The Odd Couple
  19. Bullitt
  20. Faces

It was the year that America lived through more history than it could digest.  It showed in the film industry, where only one traditional Academy type film manages to make my top 20.  The rest are made up of Foreign films (9 of them), genre films and two of the more iconic low budget films: Night of the Living Dead and Faces.

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Oliver
  • Best Director:  Carol Reed  (Oliver)
  • Best Actor:  Cliff Robertson  (Charly)
  • Best Actress:  (tie)  Katharine Hepburn  (The Lion in Winter)  /  Barbra Streisand  (Funny Girl)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Jack Albertson  (The Subject was Roses)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Ruth Gordon  (Rosemary’s Baby)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Lion in Winter
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Producers
  • Best Foreign Film:  War and Peace

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Lion in Winter
  • Best Director:  Carol Reed  (Oliver)
  • Best Actor:  Cliff Robertson  (Charly)
  • Best Actress:  Joanne Woodward  (Rachel Rachel)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Seymour Cassel  (Faces)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Billie Whitelaw  (Charlie Bubbles)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Lion in Winter
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Producers
  • Best Foreign Film:  War and Peace

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey –  #4
  2. The Battle of Algiers –  #95
  3. Belle de Jour –  #140
  4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly –  #187
  5. Rosemary’s Baby –  #232
  6. Night of the Living Dead –  #260
  7. Accattone –  #348
  8. Closely Watched Trains –  #351
  9. The Young Girls of Rochefort –  #417
  10. Faces –  #447

Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole in The Lion in Winter - she would win the Oscar - he would not, though he deserved it

Top 5 Films  (Consensus 1968 Best Picture awards):

  1. The Lion in Winter
  2. Oliver
  3. Shoes of the Fisherman
  4. Funny Girl
  5. Shame

Top 10 Films  (1968 Awards Points):

  1. The Lion in Winter –  1124
  2. Oliver –  959
  3. Funny Girl –  590
  4. Rachel Rachel –  555
  5. Romeo and Juliet –  540
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey –  366
  7. Bullitt –  341
  8. Shame –  338
  9. Rosemary’s Baby –  299
  10. The Producers –  278

Top 5 Films  (Box Office Gross):

  1. Funny Girl –  $58.50 mil
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey –  $56.70 mil
  3. The Odd Couple –  $44.52 mil
  4. Bullitt –  $42.30 mil
  5. Romeo and Juliet –  $38.90 mil

AFI Top 100:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey –  #22  (1998)  /  #15  (2007)

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Director:  Stanley Kubrick  (2001: A Space Odyssey)
  • Best Actor:  Peter O’Toole  (The Lion in Winter)
  • Best Actress:  Katharine Hepburn  (The Lion in Winter)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Anthony Hopkins  (The Lion in Winter)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Ruth Gordon  (Rosemary’s Baby)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Lion in Winter
  • Best Original Screenplay:  2001: A Space Odyssey

He's wet and he's still hysterical.

Comedy:

  • Best Picture:  The Producers
  • Best Director:  Mel Brooks  (The Producers)
  • Best Actor:  Zero Mostel  (The Producers)
  • Best Actress:  Barbra Streisand  (Funny Girl)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Gene Wilder  (The Producers)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Billie Whitelaw  (Charlie Bubbles)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Closely Watched Trains
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Producers

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Director:  Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey)
  • Best Actor:  Peter O’Toole  (The Lion in Winter)
  • Best Actress:  Katharine Hepburn  (The Lion in Winter)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Anthony Hopkins  (The Lion in Winter)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Ruth Gordon  (Rosemary’s Baby)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Lion in Winter
  • Best Original Screenplay:  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Editing:  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Cinematography  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Original Score:  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Best Sound:  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Art Direction:  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Visual Effects:  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Sound Editing:  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Costume Design:  The Lion in Winter
  • Best Makeup:  2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Original Song:  “Springtime for Hitler”  (The Producers)
  • Best Foreign Film:  Stolen Kisses

Jane Fonda as the ultimate sex kitten in Barbarella

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  The Producers
  • Best Line:  “Don’t be stupid  /  Be a smarty  /  Come and join the Nazi party”  Mel Brooks in The Producers
  • Best Ending:  The Producers
  • Best Scene:  the change from bone to spaceship in 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Best Ensemble:  The Lion in Winter
  • Sexiest Performance:  Jane Fonda in Barbarella
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Jitka Bendova in Closely Watched Trains
  • Coolest Performance:  Steve McQueen in Bullitt
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  The Magus, Charly (Flowers for Algernon)
  • Worst Film:  Voyage to the Planet of the Prehistoric Women

Ebert Great Films:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Belle de Jour
  • The Producers
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Fireman’s Ball
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • The Battle of Algiers

Film History: The Motion Picture Association of America institutes a rating system: G, M, R and X.  The Academy Awards ceremony is delayed two days due to the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Boris Karloff stars in his last film – Peter Bogdanovich’s directorial debut, Targets.  The Cannes Film Festival ends early when directors withdraw their films and jury members resign in response to Jean-Luc Godard’s demand that the festival supports strikes in France.  Resistance from the film community, the French government allow Andre Langlois to run the Cinematheque Francaise.  In response to neither Don Siegel nor Robert Totten wishing to take credit for Death of a Gunfighter and recognizing that actor Richard Widmark was the primary creative force behind the film, the use of the pseudonym Alan Smithee is created.  I am Curious – Yellow is seized by U.S. customs when it arrives in the States.  The American Film Institute embarks on a project to compile a complete catalog of all films produced in the U.S. since the beginning of cinema.  Robert Redford opens his ski resort and names it Sundance.  Roman Polanski marries Sharon Tate on 20 January.  Carl Theodore Dreyer dies on 20 March.

Academy Awards: For the only time in history, a flat tie occurs in a category, with both Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn winning Best Actress.  Stanley Kubrick is nominated for three Oscars and wins his only Oscar for Best Special Visual Effects.  Alan and Marilyn Bergman earn the first of what will be six consecutive years of Oscar nominations.  Star! becomes the third straight film and sixth in nine years to tie the record for most nominations without a Best Picture nomination with 7.  The U.S.S.R. earns its first Oscar nomination (and win) for War and Peace.  Czechoslovakia earns its fourth consecutive Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.  It will not earn another nomination until 1986.  For the first time the winner of the DGA (Anthony Harvey) does not win the Oscar.  Carol Reed, instead, becomes the first director since 1943 to win the Oscar without winning any other award.  For the second time, Best Makeup is given as a Special Award, this time to Planet of the Apes.

The Oscars seem to steer their way between the various levels.  On the one hand, while heaping 7 Oscar nominations upon the relentlessly mediocre Star!, Best Picture is not among them.  On the other hand, while Stanley Kubrick manages to get mentioned in 3 of 2001‘s 4 nominations, it also fails to get nominated for Best Picture.  The writers seem to have the best ideas.  They give their two awards to The Lion in Winter and The Producers while also giving nominations to 2001, Rosemary’s Baby and The Battle of Algiers.  For the second straight year, Katharine Hepburn wins the Oscar without having won anything beforehand (afterwords, she would go on to win the BAFTA), but this time she deserved her Oscar.  But they countered that by giving Cliff Robertson the Oscar over Peter O’Toole in one of the worst choices in Oscar history.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Actor for Cliff Robertson  (Charly)
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Editing for Funny Girl
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Picture for 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Charly
  • Best Film with No Oscar Nominations:  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Best Foreign Language Film Submitted But Not Nominated:  Shame
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Cinematography
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Actress (Hepburn), Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen, Best Special Visual Effects

Golden Globes: The Golden Globes spread themselves out.  For the first time since 1963, the winner of Best Director (Rachel, Rachel) didn’t win Best Picture.  Not only that, but it was the first winner of Best Director to fail to even get nominated for Best Picture since 1956.  That wasn’t all.  Only The Lion in Winter managed to get nominations for Picture, Director and Screenplay and was on top with 7 total nominations.  The big winners were The Lion in Winter and Oliver, which both took home Picture and Actor, but no film won more than two awards and Charly took home Best Screenplay.  The five Best Director nominees would correspond to the Academy’s five Best Picture nominees, but Rachel and Romeo and Juliet would fail to get Best Picture nominations (Romeo would win Best English Language Foreign Film) and at the Oscars, Funny Girl and Rachel would fail to earn Best Director nominations.

Awards: No one could agree.  The critics gave Best Picture to The Lion in Winter (New York Film Critics), Shame (National Society of Film Critics) and Shoes of the Fisherman (National Board of Review).  Only the National Society of Film Critics gave their Best Director award to the same film and they split it with Ingmar Bergman’s other 1968 film, Hour of the Wolf.  The only thing any of the critics could agree on was Liv Ullmann for Best Actress and even there, there were disagreements as the NSFC cited her for Shame alone, while the NBR cited her for both Bergman films.

The Directors Guild were the only ones prior to the Oscars to recognize the achievement of 2001 with a nomination.  It would get nothing from the critics and no Globe noms.  The other nominees would be future Best Picture nominees The Lion in Winter (which would win – making Anthony Harvey, until 1985, the only director to ever win the DGA and no other award), Oliver, Funny Girl and Rachel RachelOliver would lose at the DGA, lose at the Editors Guild (to Bullitt) and fail to even earn a Writers Guild nomination, thus becoming the second straight Oscar winner to fail to win any guild award, something that would not happen again until 1981.  Both Lion and Funny Girl would win at the WGA (for Drama and Musical), with the other two awards going to The Odd Couple (Comedy) and The Producers (Original Screenplay).  The two awards from the Sound Editors Guild would go to Bullitt and Finian’s Rainbow.

The BAFTA Awards would become much more like the Oscars.  They would drop the distinctions for British films.  They would finally add Best Director, awards for the supporting acting categories and several technical categories.  As a result, several films would tie the BAFTA record of 7 nominations, although only one of them, Oliver, would earn a Best Picture nomination.  The four films (The Lion in Winter, Romeo and Juliet and Charge of the Light Brigade were the other three) would combine for 28 nominations but only win three awards: Best Actress and Best Score for Lion and Best Costume Design for Romeo.  While 2001 would win three of its four nominations (Cinematography, Sound, Art Direction), it would lose Best Picture to the big winner of the year – holdover The Graduate finally making it to Britain, taking home Picture, Director, Screenplay and Editing.

The magnificent Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann in Ingmar Bergman's Shame (1968)

Under-appreciated Film of 1968

Shame  (Skammen) (dir. Ingmar Bergman)

In 1967, Point Blank got some good reviews, but was completely ignored at awards time by every single group.  Years later, it would be acknowledged as a classic.  On the other hand, Shame was championed by critics, named Best Picture by the National Society of Film Critics, also winning Best Director and Best Actress as well as Best Actress from the National Board of Review.  But today, it is hard to find.  It is not among the 13 Bergman films to be found in the Top 1000, nor among the 11 that have been released by Criterion.  Bergman himself even said that he was not happy with the end results of the film.

But Shame is a great film, certainly one of the best of the year.  It is more accessible than either Persona or Hour of the Wolf, contains great performances from Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann and doesn’t really deserve the neglected status it has ended up with.

Ullmann and Von Sydow play a married couple, living, mostly in isolation, on an island.  Their country ends up caught up in a war, but it is not a war that they have any interest in or take any particular side in.  But, eventually, their isolation fails them.  The war comes to them.  They find themselves brutalized by both sides – they are interviewed on television about attacks and their interviews are heavily edited and taken out of context.  A man they believed was their friend shows up and forces brutal stark realities upon them.  They eventually escape the island, but their relationship has been shattered, they are barely surviving and this is anything but a happy ending.

The film says much about people who get caught up in war.  Made at the height of the Vietnam War, it has great compassion and understanding for those civilians who have war come into their lives, a war they know nothing about and have no particular stake in.  It is one of those somber, stark, brutal dramas that Bergman mastered so many times.

The Academy passed this one over in 1968 (it was submitted but failed to be nominated).  They had a curious relationship with Ingmar Bergman’s films.  Sweden submitted a Bergman film for Best Foreign Film eight times.  Only three of those times did the Academy actually nominate the film (they passed over The Seventh Seal, The Magician, The Silence, Persona and Shame), but all three of those nominated films (The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, Fanny and Alexander) won the Oscar – the only times Sweden has ever won.  Bergman himself was nominated for Best Director three times (including for Cries and Whispers, which was nominated for Best Picture) and for Best Screenplay five times, but never actually won.  Max Von Sydow’s only Oscar nomination was for a Danish film (Pelle the Conqueror).  And Liv Ullmann, in spite of an amazing partnership with Bergman that included Persona, Shame, Hour of the Wolf, Cries and Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage and Autumn Sonata, a partnership that included an LA Film Critics Award and three awards each from the National Board of Review, National Society of Film Critics and New York Film Critics received her first Oscar nomination for a film also not directed by Bergman – The Emigrants (she would eventually receive an Oscar nomination for Bergman’s Face to Face).

Von Sydow had been a star in Bergman’s troupe for a decade before Ullmann came along and she would continue for years after he went to America, but here they play a married couple as naturally as if they were married.  Perhaps that is part of the power of being in Bergman’s regular troupe of actors – he writes roles so perfect and the actors know each other so well that it is easy for them to slip into the roles.  That is the mark of a master and this is a classic from that master that really doesn’t deserved to be missed.

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