The Academy Awards loom. There’s an awful lot of self-congratulation and puffery on display at these affairs, and the red carpet ceremonies, with their fawning questions and inane banter, became unwatchable many years ago. I tune into the actual ceremony every year though, hoping that an upset, or an uproarious joke, or some genuine emotion, will make things memorable. That hasn’t happened very often.
So I thought I’d make a brief post about a truly lovely moment from the 1976 ceremony (only the third one I ever watched), when “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” won the five top prizes. Louise Fletcher earned the Best Actress trophy for her role as Mildred Ratched, the cold, tyrannical head nurse of a psychiatric hospital in Oregon. Fletcher’s own demeanor, on display in her acceptance speech, is the antithesis of Ratched’s. And I’ve never forgotten how she thanks her parents; it’s a moment of grace.
[The Oscars were a much lower key affair in 1976: fewer glitzy gowns and jewelry, less snazzy TV production values. And an apparent ban on smiling by nominees as their names were announced!]
Only three films have swept the awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. “It Happened One Night” was the first, followed by “Cuckoo”; “Silence of The Lambs” was the last to do so.