1977 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®
"ANNIE HALL", "The Goodbye Girl", "Julia", "Star Wars", "The Turning Point"
RICHARD DREYFUSS in "The Goodbye Girl", Woody Allen in "Annie Hall", Richard Burton in "Equus", Marcello Mastroianni in "A Special Day", John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever"
DIANE KEATON in "Annie Hall", Anne Bancroft in "The Turning Point", Jane Fonda in "Julia", Shirley MacLaine in "The Turning Point", Marsha Mason in "The Goodbye Girl"
JASON ROBARDS in "Julia", Mikhail Baryshnikov in "The Turning Point", Peter Firth in "Equus", Alec Guinness in "Star Wars", Maximilian Schell in "Julia"
VANESSA REDGRAVE in "Julia", Leslie Browne in "The Turning Point", Quinn Cummings in "The Goodbye Girl", Melinda Dillon in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", Tuesday Weld in "Looking for Mr. Goodbar"
WOODY ALLEN for "Annie Hall", George Lucas for "Star Wars", Herbert Ross for "The Turning Point", Steven Spielberg for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", Fred Zinnemann for "Julia"
This was the Golden Anniversary (50th year) of the Academy Awards.
Four of the five Best Picture nominees were about strong, forceful females.
The ultimate winner was director/writer/actor Woody Allen's semi-autobiographical, romantic comedy - the acclaimed Annie Hall - with innovative narrative techniques, slapstick, and clever one-liners, about a brief, unstable love affair between a neurotic, Jewish comedian (Woody Allen) and an insecure, Waspish singer named Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). It was the first Best Picture comedy since Tom Jones (1963), and it would be another 21 years for the next romantic comedy to win Best Picture -- Shakespeare in Love (1998).
Allen's poignant film dominated the Oscars ceremony this year, with five nominations and four wins. Only Allen's own Best Actor nomination failed to win. Therefore, Allen won his first Oscar as a director rather than as a actor-performer. The bittersweet, introspective film was voted Best Picture (for producer Charles Joffe), Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay (co-written by Woody Allen and partner Marshall Brickman).
[Allen's achievement was that he won two of the three awards, for writing and directing, for which he was nominated. He was the second (or third) in Academy history to win both Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, following Joseph L. Mankiewicz' double wins in consecutive years for A Letter to Three Wives (1949) AND All About Eve (1950). Allen became the first director to win an Academy Award for a film he starred in.
Allen also became the fourth person in Oscar history to be nominated in a single year as both an actor and screenwriter. Others were Charlie Chaplin -1940, Orson Welles -1941, and Sylvester Stallone -1976. And Allen was the first person since Welles in 1941 to be nominated for these three honors: Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. ]
At only 93 minutes, it was one of the shortest Best Picture Oscar winners. It was also the first comedy to win the Best Picture Oscar since The Sting (1973), and before that, Tom Jones (1963). This win, for United Artists, made it the first studio to win three Best Pictures in a row (the second studio to duplicate this feat was DreamWorks (from 1999-2001)):
The other nominees for Best Picture included:
- Neil Simon's witty romantic comedy The Goodbye Girl (with five nominations and only one win - Best Actor) about a mismatched (odd-couple) pair of New York roommates - an aspiring actor and a former actress - and her precocious 9 year-old daughter. [Simon's wife at the time was star Marsha Mason.]
- director Fred Zinnemann's Julia (with eleven nominations and three wins - Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Screenplay), based upon Alvin Sargent's Oscar-winning screen adaptation of Lillian Hellman's best-selling memoir Pentimento, told the tale of Hellman's pact with childhood friend Julia (who was working in the Resistance) to smuggle money into Germany during WW II as part of the Nazi resistance movement's rescue of persecuted Jews
- writer-director George Lucas' box-office blockbuster (one of the biggest grossers to date, surpassing the success of Jaws (1975)) - the first of the trilogy of fantasy tales, Star Wars (with ten nominations and six wins, mostly in technological or special effects/visual areas with none in the top categories) was the ultimate science fiction fantasy/adventure film of a life and death struggle - with a young hero, a princess who needs to be rescued, talking robots, a black-garbed villain, and a Jedi knight. [Its six awards were for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Music Score (a third Oscar for John Williams), and Best Visual Effects. It also received a Best Sound Effects Creations - a Special Achievement Award for the "creation of the alien, creature, and robot voices." Its sole acting nomination for Alec Guinness was lost.]
- director Herbert Ross' The Turning Point (with eleven nominations and no wins) was the dramatic story of two dancers, both blessed and cursed by their own 'turning point' choices in life between career or marriage/motherhood. [The Turning Point has the dubious distinction of having a record number of nominations - eleven - without winning a single Oscar. Its record was later tied by Spielberg's The Color Purple (1985).]
Woody Allen won the award for Best Director for arguably his best film, Annie Hall. Herbert Ross, the director of Best Picture-nominated The Goodbye Girl, was not nominated in the Best Director category for that film but for his second Best Picture-nominated film, The Turning Point. Neil Simon was not nominated for his Best Picture-nominated The Goodbye Girl. Simon's Best Director-nominee slot was taken by director Steven Spielberg for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (with nine nominations and two wins, for Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Cinematography) about extra-terrestrial contacts with earthlings - his first film after the enormously popular Jaws (1975).
[Only one director won the Oscar award for a film not nominated for Best Picture - director Frank Lloyd for the un-nominated film The Divine Lady (1928-9). Therefore, it would be unlikely that Spielberg would win the Best Director award. Close Encounters of the Third Kind probably didn't show up on the list of Best Picture nominees because its genre type - blockbuster science fiction film - was already taken by Star Wars.]
The Best Actor award was an upset: 30 year-old Richard Dreyfuss (with his first nomination - and sole Oscar win) won the award for his role as adversarial, temperamental, yet aspiring actor Elliott Garfield, a Richard III thespian who shares a cramped tenement apartment with a single mother and her daughter in the comedy The Goodbye Girl (the film's sole Oscar win). [Curiously, Dreyfuss was not nominated for his leading role as electrical lineman Roy Neary whose life-transforming experiences caused obsessional behavior and eventual enlightenment in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. At thirty, he became the youngest man to ever win the Best Actor Award, but lost that honor twenty-five years later when 29 year-old Adrien Brody won for The Pianist (2002).]
The leading contender in the Best Actor category was sentimental favorite Richard Burton (with his seventh and last unsuccessful career nomination) as intense psychiatrist Dr. Martin Dysart who counsels a stable-boy who blinded horses in Sidney Lumet's adaptation of Peter Shaffer's play titled Equus (with three nominations and no wins). [With his seventh loss, Burton set a record for the most nominations without a win. Peter O'Toole duplicated his 'accomplishment' in 1982, and surpassed it in 2006.]
The other three Best Actor nominees were:
- Woody Allen (with his first nomination) as Alvy Singer - a successful Jewish, New York comedian who has a 'nervous romance' with WASP-ish songstress Annie Hall in Annie Hall
- TV sitcom actor John Travolta (with his first nomination) as disco-crazed, Brooklyn paint store clerk Tony Manero in director John Badham's Bee Gee's-saturated Saturday Night Fever (the film's sole nomination)
- Italian star Marcello Mastroianni (with his second of three unsuccessful career nominations) for his performance as Gabriele - a suicidal gay man who is attracted to a housewife (Sophia Loren) in the nominated Foreign Language Film by director Ettore Scola, A Special Day (with two nominations and no wins)
The Best Actress winner was Diane Keaton (with her first nomination - and sole Oscar win) for her title role (in her fourth film with Allen) in Annie Hall as Annie Hall - a kooky, aspiring singer and Alvy Singer's (Woody Allen) love interest. The neurotic title character was noted as repeatedly saying the trademark phrase in a non-chalant manner: "La-de-dah!"
Other Best Actress co-nominees included the two main actresses in The Turning Point, the story of two dancers who have chosen separate paths:
- Anne Bancroft (with her fourth of five career nominations as Best Actress, with only one win for her first nomination for The Miracle Worker (1962)) as American Ballet Theatre star Emma Jacklin who has pursued a dance career as a ballerina
- Shirley MacLaine (with her fourth of five career nominations as Best Actress - she won for Terms of Endearment (1983)) as Deedee Rodgers - a former dancer who has chosen a life of home and family
The other two Best Actress nominees included:
- Jane Fonda (with her third of seven nominations - she won Best Actress for Klute (1971) and would win Best Actress again for Coming Home (1978)) as cloistered young playwright Lillian Hellman in Julia
- Marsha Mason (with her second of four unsuccessful career nominations) as ex-dancer Paula McFadden - Dreyfuss' apartment co-habitant in The Goodbye Girl
Jason Robards Jr. (with his second nomination), the only American-born performer among the other four foreign-born Best Supporting Actor nominees, won his second consecutive Best Supporting Actor award for his role as thriller-writer Dashiell Hammett (Lillian Hellman's lover) in Julia. [Other actors who have accomplished the same two-in-a-row win were: Luise Rainer (1936 and 1937), Spencer Tracy (1937 and 1938), Katharine Hepburn (1967 and 1968), and Tom Hanks (1993 and 1994).]
The other Best Supporting Actor nominees were:
- dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov (with his sole nomination and in his film debut) as the Russian ballet company's star Yuri Kopeikine in The Turning Point
- English actor Peter Firth (with his sole nomination) as Alan Strang - the psychologically-disturbed stable boy who blinds horses in Equus
- Alec Guinness (with his third of four career acting nominations) as the sage, heroic and mysterious old Jedi knight - Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi in Star Wars
- Maximilian Schell (with his third nomination) as Johann, the emissary/go-between in Julia
Jason Robards' co-star, Vanessa Redgrave (with her sole Oscar win in a career total of six nominations) won the Best Supporting Actress award in the title role as an anti-Nazi activist in Julia. During her acceptance speech, she angered some viewers with a reference to a few militant "Zionist hoodlums whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world".
Other Best Supporting Actress nominees included:
- Leslie Browne (with her sole nomination) (director Herbert Ross' real-life god-daughter) as ambitious ballerina Emilia Rodgers - Shirley MacLaine's 19 year-old daughter who joins Anne Bancroft's ballet company after an audition in The Turning Point
- Quinn Cummings (with her sole nomination) as Lucy McFadden - Marsha Mason's sophisticated, pre-pubescent, match-making daughter in The Goodbye Girl
- Melinda Dillon (with her first nomination) as Jillian Guiler - the mother of spirited-away child Barry who joins co-star Richard Dreyfuss on the pilgrimage to Devil's Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind
- Tuesday Weld (with her sole career nomination) as impulsive Katherine Dunn (Diane Keaton's older sister) in writer/director Richard Brooks' Looking for Mr. Goodbar (with two nominations and no wins)
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
Steven Spielberg's film Close Encounters of the Third Kind was bypassed in nominations for Best Picture.
Paul Newman was neglected in the nominations for his role as minor league hockey player/coach Reggie Dunlop in director George Roy Hill's ultra-realistic Slap Shot. Both Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek were un-nominated in their first-rate performances as roommates Millie Lammoreaux and identity-stealing Pinky Rose in Robert Altman's Three Women. Best Actress winner Diane Keaton's performance as sexually-repressed teacher/single's bar swinger Theresa Dunn in Richard Brooks' Looking for Mr. Goodbar was overshadowed - and un-nominated. And Robert De Niro was neglected for his work as an overworked, Irving Thalberg-like 1930s producer in The Last Tycoon.
Although Annie Hall won four of its five nominations, Tony Roberts was neglected for his supporting role as Rob, and Gordon Willis' cinematography was also overlooked. Despite the film's influence on fashion in New York and elsewhere (Ruth Morley worked with Ralph Lauren, who designed Annie's wide tie, 30's style wide-legged pants, man's shirt and waistcoat), there was also no Best Costume Design nomination.
None of the Bee Gee's fantastic, chart-topping hit songs from Saturday Night Fever received an Oscar nomination. To add insult to injury, the year's nominees for Best Original Song Score/ Adaptation Score were, respectively:
- "Candle on the Water" from Pete's Dragon
- "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me
- "Slipper and the Rose Waltz (He Danced with Me / She Danced with Me)" from The Slipper and the Rose - The Story of Cinderella
- "Someone's Waiting for You" from The Rescuers
- "You Light Up My Life" from You Light Up My Life - THE WINNER
- Pete's Dragon
- The Slipper and the Rose - The Story of Cinderella
- A Little Night Music - THE WINNER
To make up for the glaring omission, the Academy awarded a Best Song Oscar ("Last Dance") to an inferior disco film the following year, Thank God It's Friday (1978), featuring Donna Summer's film debut.
One of the best-known songs of all time, the theme song "New York, New York" from Martin Scorsese's musical flop New York, New York (1977), went un-nominated for Best Original Song.