Saturday, January 26, 2008

50th Academy Awards

The 50th Academy Awards were held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California on April 3, 1978. The ceremonies were presided over by Bob Hope, who hosted the awards for the eighteenth and last time. Two of the year's biggest winners were Star Wars, which swept the Oscars by winning 6 out of 10 nominations, and Annie Hall, winning 4 out of 5 nominations, narrowly beating out Star Wars for best picture. This incarnation of the awards show was also notable for a very politically-charged acceptance speech by Vanessa Redgrave.

Released in May 1977, Star Wars was the year's highest-grossing motion picture. At the time, no other science-fiction film had been a contender for the Oscars, save Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey which was nominated for its direction. But it was Anni Hall that won the award for Best Picture. Annie Hall is an Academy Award-winning, 1977 romantic comedy film directed by Woody Allen from a script he co-wrote with Marshall Brickman. It is one of Allen's most popular films: it won numerous awards at the time of its release. The film was originally intended to be a drama centered on a murder mystery with a comic and romantic subplot, and was filmed that way. According to Allen, the murder occurred after a scene that remains in the film, the sequence in which Annie and Alvy miss the Ingmar Bergman film Face to Face. After shooting had completed, the film's editor persuaded Woody Allen to cut the mystery plot and make the film a romantic comedy.The film also breaks with conventional realism: characters frequently break the "fourth wall" by addressing the camera directly, and Allen makes use of split-screen imagery, double exposure, and subtitles expounding the characters' real thoughts (in contrast to the dialogue).

Woody Allen won the Best Director award for the film. Allen is a three-time Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, actor, jazz musician, comedian and playwright. His large body of work and cerebral film style, mixing satire, wit and humor, have made him one of the most respected and prolific filmmakers in the modern era. Allen writes and directs his movies and has also acted in the majority of them. For inspiration, Allen draws heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, European cinema, and New York City, where he was born and has lived his entire life. Allen's first directorial effort was What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966 co-written with Mickey Rose), in which an existing Japanese spy movie was redubbed in English by Allen and his friends with completely new, comic dialogue.His first conventional effort was Take the Money and Run (1969), which was followed by Bananas, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), Sleeper, and Love and Death. "Take the Money and Run" and "Bananas" were both co-written by his childhood friend, Mickey Rose. Annie Hall marked a major turn to more sophisticated humor and thoughtful drama. Allen's 1977 film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture – an unusual feat for a comedy. Annie Hall set the standard for modern romantic comedy, and also started a minor fashion trend with the unique clothes worn by Diane Keaton in the film (the offbeat, masculine clothing, such as ties with cardigans, was actually Keaton's own). Manhattan, released in 1979, is a black-and-white film that can be viewed as an homage to New York City, which has been described as the true "main character" of the movie. Allen's 1980s films, even the comedies, have somber and philosophical undertones. Some, like September and Stardust Memories, are often said to be heavily influenced by the works of European directors, most notably Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. However, by the mid-1980s, Allen had begun to combine tragic and comic elements with the release of such films as Hannah and Her Sisters (winner of three Academy Awards) starring British actor Michael Caine, and Crimes and Misdemeanors, in which he tells two different stories that connect at the end. He also produced a vividly idiosyncratic tragi-comical parody of documentary, titled Zelig. He also made three films about show business. The first movie is Broadway Danny Rose, in which he plays a New York manager; then, The Purple Rose of Cairo, a movie that shows the importance of the cinema during the Depression through the character of the naive Cecilia. Lastly, Allen made Radio Days, which is a film about his childhood in Brooklyn, and the importance of the radio.Allen then made his critically acclaimed drama Husbands and Wives (1992) which received two Oscar nominations; Best Supporting Actress for Judy Davis and Best Original Screenplay for Allen. His film Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) combined suspense with dark comedy, and starred Diane Keaton, Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston. In the late 1990s he returned to lighter movies, such as Bullets Over Broadway (1994), which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director followed by a musical Everyone Says I Love You (1996): Allen's first and only to date. The singing and dancing scenes in Everyone Says I Love You are similar to the musical starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but the plot is comical. The comedy Mighty Aphrodite (1995), in which the Greek and Roman tragedies play a large role, won an Academy Award for Mira Sorvino. Allen's 1999 jazz mockumentary Sweet and Lowdown was also nominated for two Academy Awards for Sean Penn (Best Actor) and Samantha Morton (Best Supporting Actress). In contrast to these lighter movies, Allen veered scathingly dark and satirical towards the end of the 1990s with Deconstructing Harry (1997) and Celebrity (1998). Match Point (2005) was one of Allen's most successful films in the past ten years and generally received very positive reviews. Set in London, it starred Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. It is also markedly darker than Allen's first four films under the DreamWorks SKG banner. Match Point earned more than $23 million domestically (more than any of his films in nearly 20 years) and earned over $62 million in international box office sales.Match Point earned Allen his first Academy Award nomination since 1998 for Best Writing, Original Screenplay and also earned directing and writing nominations at the Golden Globes, his first Globe nominations since 1987. Woody Allen has won three Academy Awards and been nominated a total of 21 times: fourteen as a screenwriter, six as a director, and one as an actor. He has more screenwriting Academy Award nominations than any other writer. All are in the "Best Original Screenplay" category. At age 19, Allen married 16-year-old Harlene Rosen. The marriage lasted five "nettling, unsettling years. Allen married Louise Lasser in 1966. Lasser would go on to co-star with Allen in Take the Money and Run, in what began a pattern of romantic involvement with his leading ladies. Allen and Lasser divorced in 1969 and Allen did not marry again until 1997. In 1970, Allen cast Diane Keaton in his Broadway play Play It Again, Sam, which had a successful run. During this time she became romantically involved with Allen and appeared in a number of his films, including Annie Hall. Although Allen and Keaton broke up after a year, she starred in a number of his films after their relationship had ended. Starting around 1980, Allen began a 12-year relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who had leading roles in several of his movies from 1982 to 1992. Farrow and Allen never married, but they adopted two children together: Dylan Farrow (who changed her name to Eliza and is now known as Malone) and Moses Farrow (now known as Misha); and had one biological child, Satchel Farrow (now known as Ronan Seamus Farrow). Allen did not adopt any of Farrow's other biological and adopted children, including Soon-Yi Farrow Previn (the adopted daughter of Farrow and Andre Previn, now known as Soon-Yi Previn). Allen and Farrow separated in 1992 after Farrow discovered nude photographs Allen had taken of Previn. Shortly after separating from Farrow in 1992, Allen openly continued his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, Farrow's adopted daughter. Even though Allen and Previn denied he was ever her stepfather, the relationship drew much public and media scrutiny. At the time, Allen was 56 and Previn was 22. Allen and Previn married in 1997. The couple later adopted two daughters, naming them Bechet and Manzie after jazz musicians Sidney Bechet and Manzie Johnson.

The Best Actor award went to Richard Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss's first film part was a small, uncredited role in The Graduate and had one line, "Shall I call the cops? I'll call the cops." He was also briefly seen as a stage hand in Valley of the Dolls (he had a few lines). He made a strong impression in the subsequent Dillinger and landed a role in the 1973 hit American Graffiti, acting with other future stars such as Harrison Ford. Dreyfuss played his first lead role in the Canadian film The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. He went on to star in box office hits Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, both directed by Steven Spielberg. Dreyfuss was originally supposed to reprise his role as Hooper in Jaws 2 as the character who found Orca. The proposal was denied when Peter Benchley was asked to include this in the screenplay. At age 30, he became the youngest actor to win an Best Actor Award, for his portrayal of a struggling actor in The Goodbye Girl. This record has since been surpassed by Adrien Brody. In 1995, Dreyfuss was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his performance as Glenn Holland in Mr. Holland's Opus. Since then he has continued his career in the movies, television and on stage.From 1983 until 1995, Dreyfuss was married to Jeramie Rain, with whom he had three children. In 1999, he married Janelle Lacey. After divorcing Lacey, he married Russian-born Svetlana Erokhin on March 16, 2006, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, while there to speak at James Madison University. Dreyfuss and Erokhin now live in San Diego.

Diane Keaton is an Academy Award-winning American film actress, director and producer. Keaton began her career on stage, and made her screen debut in 1970. Her first major film role was as Kay Adams in The Godfather (1972), but the films that shaped her early career were those with director and co-star Woody Allen, beginning with Play It Again, Sam (1972). Her next two films for Allen were Sleeper (1973) and Love and Death (1975) and they established her as a comic actress. Her fourth film for Allen, the semi-autobiographical Annie Hall (1977) won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Keaton subsequently expanded her range, as can be seen Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and her Academy Award nominations for Reds (1981) and Marvin's Room (1996). Some of her popular later films include Father of the Bride (1991), The First Wives Club (1996), and Something's Gotta Give (2003). Films Keaton has been in have earned a cumulative gross of over USD$1.1 billion in North America. In addition to acting, she is also a photographer, real estate developer, and occasional singer. Keaton's breakthrough role came when she was cast as Kay Adams, the girlfriend of Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) in Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 blockbuster The Godfather. Keaton's other notable films of the 1970s included many collaborations with Woody Allen. Although by the time they made films together their romantic involvement had ended, she played many eccentric characters in several of his comic and dramatic films including Sleeper, Love and Death, Interiors, Manhattan, and the film version of Play It Again, Sam, directed by Herbert Ross. In 1977, Keaton starred with Allen in the romantic comedy Annie Hall, in which she played one of her most famous roles. The film was both a major financial and critical success, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Keaton's performance also won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1978 Keaton became romantically involved with Warren Beatty, and two years later he cast her to play opposite of him in Reds. In the film she played Louise Bryant, a journalist and repressed housewife in 1917, who flees from her husband to work with radical journalist John Reed (Beatty), and later enters Russia to locate him as he chronicles the Russian Civil War. She starred in her first commercial vehicle with 1987's Baby Boom, her first of four collaborations with writer-producer Nancy Meyers. In Baby Boom Keaton starred as a Manhattan career woman who is suddenly forced to care for a toddler. That same year she made a cameo in Allen's film Radio Days as a nightclub singer.In 1991, Keaton starred with Steve Martin in the 1991 family comedy Father of the Bride. She was almost not cast in the film, as the commercial failure of The Good Mother had strained her relationship with Walt Disney Pictures, the studio of both films. Father of the Bride was Keaton's first major hit after four years of commercial disappointments. Keaton reprised her role of Kay Adams in 1990s The Godfather, Part III. Set 21 years after the events of The Godfather, Part II, Keaton's part had evolved into the estranged ex-wife of Michael Corleone. Criticism of the film and Keaton again centered on her character's unimportance in the film. Keaton's most successful film of the decade was the 1996 comedy The First Wives Club. She starred with Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler as a trio of "first wives": middle-aged women who had been divorced by their husbands in favor of younger women. Keaton's first film of 2000 was Hanging Up with Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow. Keaton also directed the film, despite claiming in a 1996 interview that she would never direct herself in a filmKeaton's first major hit since 1996 came in 2003's Something's Gotta Give, directed by Nancy Meyers and co-starring Jack Nicholson. Nicholson and Keaton, aged 66 and 57 respectively, were seen as bold casting choices for leads in a romantic comedy. The following year, Keaton received her fourth Academy Award nomination for her role in the film. Keaton is mother of two children: a girl named Dexter (adopted 1996) and a boy named Duke (adopted 2001).

Jason Robards won for a second time as Best Supporting Actor and the Best Supporting Actress award went to Vanessa Redgrave, both for the movie Julia. In 1977, Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary film "The Palestinian", which focused on the plight of the Palestinian people. That same year she starred in the film Julia, about a woman murdered by the Nazi regime in the years prior to World War II for her anti-Fascist activism. Her co-star in the film was Jane Fonda. Redgrave's performance in Julia garnered an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. However, members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), led by Rabbi Meir Kahane, picketed the awards ceremony in the spring of 1978 to protest against both Redgrave and her support of the Palestinian cause. Aware of the JDL's presence outside, Redgrave, in her acceptance speech, denounced all forms of totalitarianism, noting neither she nor the Academy (who had received death threats if she won) would be intimidated by "a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums - whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world, and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression." Her statement was greeted by both applause and boos from the audience. Later film roles of note include those of suffragette Olive Chancellor in The Bostonians (1984, a fourth Best Actress Academy Award nomination), transsexual Renee Richards in Second Serve (1986); Mrs. Wilcox in Howards End (1992, her sixth Academy Award nomination, this time in a supporting role); crime boss Max in Mission: Impossible; Oscar Wilde’s mother in Wilde (1997); Clarissa Dalloway in Mrs. Dalloway (1997); and Dr. Wick in Girl, Interrupted (1999). Many of these roles and others, garnered various accolades for Redgrave. In 2005, Redgrave joined the cast of the hit series Nip/Tuck, which was in its second season. Redgrave played Dr. Erica Noughton, the mother of Julia McNamara, who's played by her real life daughter Joely Richardson. She also made appearances in the third season. In 2006, Redgrave starred opposite Peter O'Toole in the acclaimed film Venus. Redgrave's most recent work include 2007's Evening and Atonement. Her siblings, Lynn Redgrave and the equally outspoken Corin Redgrave, are also acclaimed actors. Redgrave's daughters, Natasha Richardson and Joely Richardson (by her 1962-1967 marriage to film director Tony Richardson) have also built respected acting careers. Redgrave's son Carlo Nero (né Carlo Sparanero), by her relationship with Italian actor Franco Nero (né Francesco Sparanero), is a writer and film director. She met Nero while filming Camelot in 1967, the year in which she divorced her husband Tony Richardson. In 2007, Redgrave married Franco Nero.

You Light Up My Life is a ballad written by Joe Brooks and originally recorded by Kasey Cisyk for the soundtrack to the film of the same name. The song was performed in the film by its lead, Didi Conn, who lip-synched Cisyk's version. Pat Boone's daughter, Debby Boone, was recruited to record the single which became a massive success topping the Billboard Hot 100 for ten weeks and easily became the most successful single of the 1970's. The Song won an Academy Award as Best Original Song.

Madame Rosa is a 1977 French film adaption of the novel La Vie devant soi, written by Romain Gary under the pseudonym of Émile Ajar. Through his double identity, Gary, who had already received the Prix Goncourt in 1956 for Les Racines du ciel, received it again, in 1975 for La Vie devant soi, becoming the first writer to be twice attributed the highly coveted award. The film adaptation was directed by Moshé Mizrahi and produced by Daniel Pomerantz. It stars Simone Signoret as Madame Rosa, a frail, aging, retired Jewish prostitute and Auschwitz survivor who earns a meager living by caring for the children of younger female sex workers, as well as Sami Ben Youb as Momo (short for Mohammed), a young Arab boy on the verge of adolescence. Momo hasn't seen his parents in years. Him and Madame Rosa struggle to make ends meet, and as her body and mind start to fail, it becomes clear that Momo is the only person she has left in the world. Despite his young age, he has to help Madame Rosa who refuses to be hospitalized. He will stay with her as she faces her ultimate fears, prepares for her last and most difficult voyage. The film was the winner of the year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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