The Oscar Project
As announced earlier this week, my film for the first week of the 52 Week Movie Challenge is Midnight Cowboy. As with most of the films I’m picking this year, this was a first time watch for me and after watching it I have now seen 31 out of the 94 films to have won the Oscar for Best Picture since 1929.
Now, I’m not going to do full reviews for the movies in this forum, but will include a quick review. I may do full reviews over on my review page of some of the films I watch throughout the year.
I have to admit I jumped the gun just a bit by watching this on December 31st, but I wanted to get a little ahead of things for the challenge and had a little free time earlier in the day on New Year’s Eve. I also watched my film for week two early, but more on that next week.
I also ended up watching Midnight Cowboy in two separate sittings, which may have affected how I viewed the film as a whole. As I got about halfway through and had to take a break, I was actively wondering how this film could possibly have won Best Picture, and how bad the other options had to be for it to beat out four other films. However, when I got back into it and finished the film, I saw some things that blew me away and made me understand why it received the accolades it did.
The main thing that elevates it is the acting, mainly Hoffman’s portrayal of Rizzo. Voigt it serviceable as Buck and both were nominated for Best Actor, but Hoffman really gets to sink his teeth into the character of Rizzo as he gets progressively sicker throughout the film. Plenty of words have been spent commenting on his famous line “I’m walkin’ here!” as he almost gets hit by a cab on a city street, but it’s the quieter moments that he shares with Buck in their dilapidated tenement building that bring the character to life. Those quieter moments show just how much bravado Rizzo puts on when in public, but how vulnerable he truly is.
My favorite part about this film was seeing both Voight and Hoffman in very early roles Midnight Cowboy being Voight’s third and Hoffman’s fourth feature films. Hoffman was already a rising star, coming off his role in The Graduate in 1967, but had yet to break big with films like Kramer vs. Kramer and Tootsie. Voight was less prolific early in his career, but has continued to perform through today. Both men would go on to win Best Actor Oscars, one for Voight (Coming Home) and two for Hoffman (Kramer vs. Kramer and Rain Man).
Finally, I want to give some love to a great Letterboxd review for this film that sums up certain aspects of it better than I can at the moment. The author writes about the importance of including this in the history of queer cinema, and it truly is a love story. Perhaps if the film was made today, it would be much more overt about Buck and Rizzo being sexual lovers, which is why I think it’s important that it was made when it was, so we can see how the subject matter was approached when censors were a bit less forgiving than they are today.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?