And the rewritten Oscar goes to….The Lion in Winter
The 1969 Oscars (tributing the best work from 1968), certainly gave us a range of films as our candidates. Two musicals, two period dramas and a morbid character portrait taking place in contemporary country-side America.
The Lion in Winter would be my choice for the Oscar, but the Academy went with the more accessible film in Oliver! This is another case where I can’t definitively say the voters got it wrong. Oliver! is a brilliant film, teeming with personality, vibrant performances, unique musical numbers, and choreography which it would be useless to try and describe, it is something you really ought to see if you haven’t. But for arresting drama, unforgettable acting and sharp writing (some of the sharpest ever), The Lion in Winter is unmatched and just scrapes past Oliver! Both films achieve with ease what they set out to, but the latter strikes me as the tauter and more original picture, and for that I give it the edge.
Romeo and Juliet, Funny Girl and Rachel, Rachel are the other films the Academy nominated and whilst Romeo and Juliet manages to withstand its own soap-opera tendencies on its way to becoming a very solid film, Funny Girl is too baggy and Rachel, Rachel fails to deliver a protagonist the audience can sympathise with.
Oliver! in the end would stand atop of the heap, and although there was a better option for Best Picture at the Academy’s disposal, I cannot scold them for siding with the musical. They came so close to picking the right film and their eventual winner is no slouch of a movie, but still, I feel obliged to rewrite the record books of 1969.
So Academy, I make you 1/4 as we round out the 60’s, and present you with your 3rd rewrite, (however credit where it’s due, your choice was not a bad one).
Rachel, Rachel- **1/2
Romeo and Juliet-***
The Lion in Winter- ****
(ratings are out of 4)