1976 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®
"ROCKY", "All the President's Men", "Bound for Glory", "Network", "Taxi Driver"
PETER FINCH in "Network", Robert De Niro in "Taxi Driver", Giancarlo Giannini in "Seven Beauties", William Holden in "Network", Sylvester Stallone in "Rocky"
FAYE DUNAWAY in "Network", Marie-Christine Barrault in "Cousin, Cousine", Talia Shire in "Rocky", Sissy Spacek in "Carrie", Liv Ullmann in "Face to Face"
JASON ROBARDS in "All the President's Men", Ned Beatty in "Network", Burgess Meredith in "Rocky", Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man", Burt Young in "Rocky"
BEATRICE STRAIGHT in "Network", Jane Alexander in "All the President's Men", Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver", Lee Grant in "Voyage of the Damned", Piper Laurie in "Carrie"
JOHN G. AVILDSEN for "Rocky", Ingmar Bergman for "Face to Face", Sidney Lumet for "Network", Alan J. Pakula for "All the President's Men", Lina Wertmuller for "Seven Beauties"
The Bi-Centennial year brought five solid and original films into competition with each other for Best Picture.
The ultimate winner was the underdog, low-budget, simplistic, feel-good boxing film, John Avildsen's Rocky (with ten nominations and three wins - including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing). It was the first in the endless series of sequels about a down-and-out young club fighter - 'the Italian Stallion' from South Philadelphia slums, who seeks self-respect, fame, and the American dream. With its Cinderella story, it was the first sports film to win the Best Picture award. This was the first film by Columbia Pictures to win the Academy Award for Best Picture since It Happened One Night (1934). [This upbeat boxing/prize-fighting genre film followed the conventions of previous films including The Champ (1931/32), Golden Boy (1939), Champion (1949), and Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956).]
It was shot from an original script by its unknown, unemployed, struggling break-out star Sylvester Stallone. [With Stallone's nominations for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay, he joined only two others in Academy history with the same pair of honors in the same year: Charlie Chaplin (for The Great Dictator (1940)), and Orson Welles (for Citizen Kane (1941)).]
Other Best Picture nominees included:
- Sidney Lumet's black comedy and biting, prophetic satire about mass media in America, Network (with ten nominations and four wins - Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Paddy Chayefsky's Best Screenplay) - a satirical indictment of the world of commercial television. This film dominated the acting nominations. [This was director Sidney Lumet's third nomination without a win, and Chayefsky's third Oscar - Chayefsky's other two Oscars were Screenplay awards for Marty (1955) and The Hospital (1971).]
- Alan J. Pakula's and producer Robert Redford's All the President's Men (with eight nominations and four wins - Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Sound), that told about the Watergate scandal as a gripping, conspiracy docu-drama and political thriller, while following Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) as the investigators of the scandal
- Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, (with four nominations and no wins!, and no recognition for its director) about an alienated, cab driver (and war veteran) named Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) who unleashed his own internal violence upon the city; the film was noted for the lead actor's monologue before a mirror while rehearsing a planned assassination: "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking...you talkin' to me?"
- Hal Ashby's Bound for Glory (with six nominations and two wins - Best Cinematography for Haskell Wexler and Best Original Score Adaptation), a biopic film about the life of folk singer-composer and labor organizer Woodie Guthrie as he rode the rails during the Depression years
Two directors of Best Picture nominees, Martin Scorsese and Hal Ashby, were not nominated for Best Director. They were replaced with two foreign-language film directors:
- Ingmar Bergman for Face to Face (with two nominations and no wins) - originally a film made for a four-part Swedish television series
- female Italian director/writer Lina Wertmuller for the excellent dark comedy, the film classic Seven Beauties (with four nominations - one was Best Foreign Language Film) about a small-time Italian (Naples) crook who has seven unattractive sisters to support. [Wertmuller was the first woman ever nominated for a Best Director Oscar. No woman has ever won the Best Director Oscar. Wertmuller's film was also defeated in the foreign-language category by Black and White in Color.]
Performers with nominations for their roles in Network won three of the year's acting Oscars - Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, and Beatrice Straight. [It became only the second time in Academy history that a film had won three acting trophies. This same accomplishment hadn't occurred since three performers won three acting awards in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - Vivien Leigh with a Best Actress award, and Karl Malden and Kim Hunter with the two Best Supporting awards.]
British actor Peter Finch (with his second nomination and sole win) was awarded the Best Actor Oscar for his role as crazed, suicidal, UBS network anchor-man and fired 'mad prophet of the airwaves' Howard Beale in Network - memorable for his immortal line: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore." Finch's award was presented post-humously (he died on January 14, 1977, shortly before the awards ceremony). He was the fourth actor to be honored with a posthumous nomination (to date) and the first and only posthumous winner for Best Actor (at that time) - later supplemented with Heath Ledger's posthumous nominaton and win for Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight (2008).
[Others with posthumous nominations - but without awards - were Jeanne Eagels for The Letter (1928-29), James Dean for East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956), Spencer Tracy for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Ralph Richardson for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (1984), Massimo Troisi for Il Postino (1995).]
The other four nominees in the Best Actor category included:
- William Holden (with his third and final career nomination), Finch's co-star in the role of sardonic network news chief Max Schumacher in Network. [He had won only once, for Stalag 17 (1953) and was also nominated for his role in Sunset Boulevard (1950).] It is possible that Finch's heart attack and death prompted a sympathy vote - otherwise, Holden might have won another Best Actor Oscar
- Robert De Niro (with his second nomination) in a mesmerizing and forceful performance as Travis Bickle, a disturbed Vietnam-era vet whose cab driving in New York City and a romantic rejection by a blonde political campaign worker (Cybill Shepherd) help unleash his violence in a bloody crusade in Taxi Driver
- Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in Rocky - a 30-year old club fighter who went the distance with world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed in Philadelphia
- Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini (with his sole nomination) as Pasqualino Settebellezze - a small-time fascist Italy gangster and his struggle for survival in a WW II Nazi POW camp in the Best Director-nominated war/comedy film Seven Beauties. [Only a very few Italian actors have been nominated - but have not won - for roles in Italian films - Giannini, Marcello Mastroianni (nominated in 1962, 1977, and 1987), and Massimo Troisi (in 1995).]
Faye Dunaway (with her third nomination and first win) won the Best Actress award for her role as Diane Christensen - the icy, power-hungry, ratings-obsessed, ruthless and heartless USB programming executive and career-woman (who falls for boss William Holden) in Network. [Dunaway had twice been nominated as Best Actress for Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Chinatown (1974).]
Competitors in the Best Actress category included two foreign-language performances (a first!):
- Liv Ullmann (with her second nomination) as Dr. Jenny Isaksson - a psychiatrist who slowly experiences a nervous breakdown in Bergman's Face to Face
- Marie-Christine Barrault (with her sole nomination) as Marthe (one of a pair of cousins who fall in love) in the French comedy Cousin, Cousine (remade as Cousins (1989))
- Talia Shire (with her second nomination) as plain-Jane salesclerk Adrian - Rocky's shy, repressed girlfriend in Rocky
- Sissy Spacek (with her first nomination) as Carrie White - a repressed, telekinetic high school student who wreaks vengeance on her schoolmates in Brian De Palma's first major hit based on Stephen King's novel titled Carrie (with two nominations and no wins)
The award in the Best Supporting Actor category was presented to Jason Robards Jr. (with his first of two consecutive Oscar wins) for his performance as encouraging Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee who supports the pursuit of the Watergate story in All the President's Men.
Two Rocky co-stars were Best Supporting Actor nominees:
- Burt Young (with his sole nomination) as Paulie - Rocky's friend and the brother of Rocky's girlfriend Adrian
- Burgess Meredith (with his second and final unsuccessful nomination, a consecutive one) as Mickey, the boxer's crotchety manager
The other two Best Supporting Actor nominees were:
- Ned Beatty (with his sole nomination) as Arthur Jensen - the angry chairman of the board of the United Broadcasting System (UBS) in Network
- Laurence Olivier (with his ninth of ten career nominations) as the crazed, sadistic Nazi dentist Szell in Marathon Man (the film's sole nomination).
[Note: Olivier's nomination tied him with Spencer Tracy for the most acting nominations in Oscar history up to that time.]
Many of the same films previously described also produced Best Supporting Actress nominees - most of whom were nominated for minor cameo roles.
The Best Supporting Actress winner was dark-horse stage and TV star Beatrice Straight (with her sole career nomination) in the short role as Louise Schumacher - William Holden's deserted, neglected and spurned wife struggling to maintain her dignity in Network.
[Straight's screen role, which was composed of two scenes and lasted six minutes (and eight seconds) of screen time, contained fewer on-screen script lines - 18 - than any other acting nominee in awards history.]
The Best Supporting Actress nominees included four other competing actresses:
- Piper Laurie (with her second of three unsuccessful nominations) as the title character's religiously-fanatical mother Margaret White in Carrie. [Laurie's last previous acting nomination, that she also lost, was for a film role 15 years earlier - a record - as Paul Newman's crippled girlfriend Sarah in The Hustler (1961).]
- Lee Grant (with her fourth and last nomination) as German-Jewish refugee Lili Rosen seeking refuge in Cuba in director Stuart Rosenberg's Voyage of the Damned (with three nominations and no wins)
- Jane Alexander (with her second nomination) as the informant Book-keeper in All the President's Men
- Jodie Foster (with her first nomination) as 12 year-old runaway and prostitute Iris Steensman in Taxi Driver
The Omen (with only two nominations - both for Jerry Goldsmith for Best Song and Best Score) became the first horror film to receive a Best Score Oscar. In this same year, Goldsmith was competing against Bernard Herrmann, who had two post-humous Best Score nominations for Obsession and Taxi Driver. [Herrmann had five Best Score career nominations, and only won once, for The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), in the same year that he was nominated for Citizen Kane (1941).] Barbra Streisand's Oscar win for Best Song ("Evergreen") for A Star is Born made her the first Oscar-winning actress to receive an award for music. She had won her sole Oscar for Best Actress for Funny Girl (1968).
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
Director Martin Ritt's The Front (with a single unsuccessful nomination for Walter Bernstein's Best Screenplay) starred Woody Allen as 'front' Howard Price for his blacklisted TV writer and friend, and Zero Mostel as TV star Hecky Brown. Martin Scorsese, the director of the ultimately Oscar-less Taxi Driver was un-nominated as Best Director, a major snub. And Harvey Keitel was overlooked for his role as the long-haired, detestable pimp of 12-year old hooker Iris (Jodie Foster).
Both Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman were not nominated in the acting category for their believable work in All the President's Men. John Wayne was neglected in the Oscar nominations for his role as aging, cancer-stricken legendary gunfighter John Bernard Brooks, as was Lauren Bacall as stern and compassionate widow and boardinghouse owner Bond Rogers in Don Siegel's The Shootist. Audrey Hepburn was bypassed in the nominations for her performance as Maid Marian in Richard Lester's Robin and Marian, opposite Sean Connery as a mature Robin Hood. And Shelley Winters was passed over for a nomination in her role as the quintessential Jewish mother Mrs. Lapinsky in Paul Mazursky's un-nominated comedy Next Stop, Greenwich Village.
Although The Outlaw Josey Wales had one nomination (for Jerry Fielding's score), it lacked nominations for Clint Eastwood's screenplay, direction, and starring role as the title character, for Best Picture, and for Chief Dan George's role as displaced, old Native American Lone Waite.