Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1969

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Costa-Gavras (Z)
George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
Sydney Pollack (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?)
Arthur Penn (Alice’s Restaurant)
John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy)

Biggest Snub:

Sam Peckinpah – The Wild Bunch

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year with some great and diverse choices in this category along with two others that have other merits going for them but not necessarily for the way the film was directed.

My Rankings:


5. John Schlesinger
4. Arthur Penn
3. Sydney Pollack 
2. George Roy Hill
1. Costa-Gavras


5. Alice’s RestaurantStrange film about the hippie attitude during the Vietnam War era that feels too allegorical for its own good. The characters aren’t very interesting to watch and there are too many scenes that just drag along. I’m a bit shocked that this film was nominated for Best Director at the Oscars, especially since it’s the film’s sole nomination. The fact that the story of the film is based on a song and somewhat on real events is an interesting fact, but unfortunately not interesting enough to care what will happen.
4. Midnight Cowboy  – Storyline is a bit unbelievable and doesn’t age well, but the great acting here somewhat makes up for it. A pretty mediocre Best Picture Winner IMHO.
3. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?Very interesting film that allows us to see people are they are slowly worn down due to exhaustion and fatigue due to this non-stop marathon. The cast is superb and obviously Fonda and Young both stand out the most between everyone. Young deservingly won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this role. The film moves along quite slowly yet still lets us try and understand what every one of these characters is going through along the way and we slowly see how their personas begin to change as layer by layer things are peeled away.
2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidIconic film that helped spotlight the talents of star Paul Newman and rising star Robert Redford. The film works largely due to the great chemistry between the two of them no matter the situation. This film has so many famous quotes and scenes that have been copied and parodied so much over the decades. This film was nominated for 7 Oscars and won for Best Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Score and Song (Raindrops keep falling on my head) It lost Best Picture, Director and Sound.
1. ZReally loved the way this film was presented. It’s message resonates long after the credit have rolled and it will make you constantly think not only about what really happened but why and how. Like other amazing films, the main character here is the story and none of the characters stand out separately since they all contribute equally to the final outcome. Definitely deserving of winning Best Foreign language Film at the Oscars that year as well as Best Picture (which it might also have won had this film been in English). 

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not at all!  I don’t think that MC is such a remarkable film and there are 3 other nominees that would have been much more deserving of winning this category. Personally, I would have given it to Z, but would have been happy with BCTSK or TSHDT taking home this award

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1969

  1. First of all, you have to try to “see” Midnight Cowboy in the context of the year it was released. There was nothing like it. At the time, it was rated X – since re-rated to an R – so it will remain as the only X-rated film EVER to win Best Picture. It was a dystopian NYC featuring every low life imaginable – not an easy story to tell – but with some superb acting and writing – Schlesinger – an Englishman – took a very New York story and made it his own. Could others have won? Of course. This was a great year. Butch and Sundance featured a spectacular William Goldman script – and some wonderful actors – and George Roy Hill did a terrific job (he’d have to wait for the next pairing of his stars with another Oscar winning script – to win for The Sting). Z and Horses were both very powerful – and either could have won for their respective directors. Don’t know what the hell Alice was doing in this elite company – and agree with you on the snub for Peckinpah – but maybe the violence of Wild Bunch – in a year when they had Butch and Sundance – was too much for the Academy to handle.


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