Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1967

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Richard Brooks (In Cold Blood)
Norman Jewison (In the Heat of the Night)
Stanley Kramer (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner)
Mike Nichols (The Graduate)
Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde)

Biggest Snub:

Stuart Rosenberg – Cool Hand Luke

My Overall Thoughts:

This was a superb year for nominees and any of the 5 could have conceivably won.  Two of them give very chilling crime films so much life though and they are a slight cut above the rest.

My Rankings:


5. Norman Jewison
4. Mike Nichols
3. Stanley Kramer
2. Richard Brooks
1. Arthur Penn


5. The GraduateThis film is more iconic for a few of its scenes and its music but still isn’t as amazing as some claim. Cast is great with Hoffman, Bancroft and Ross all giving career defining performances. The music is amazing and the Simon & Garfunkel songs have always been associated with this film (and vice versa). There are some really great scenes in this film, but something just seems off in the way that the story is told. Nichols won Best Director for this film, but the film failed to win any of the other 6 nominations.
4. In the Heat of the NightMediocre best picture, mediocre murder mystery but the themes make it worth watching.
3. In Cold BloodExcellent true crime story put to screen. Brooks expertly gives us a chilling story in a matter-of-fact way by showing the events leading up to a senseless murder ad how the two killers spend the next few days afterwards. Liked the non-linear way this story is told because it gives us so much insight into the true character of these men. The added choice to wait to show us what actually happened at the farmhouse until nearly the end makes this even more chilling because we know they are guilty from the start, but we are never quite sure what they did until nearly the end. Excellent script keeps things thrilling and slightly ambiguous the entire time as to what is going through the minds of these men.
2. Guess Who’s Coming to DinnerExcellent movie, great acting, great dialogue and story with a very true message that even stands the test of time up through modern times.
1. Bonnie and ClydeThe thing that makes this film so great is the chemistry between the two leads played by Beatty and Dunaway. The way that the plot is presented works really well because we see how things can slowly escalate in situations like this until they get completely out of hand. The supporting cast is just as good as the leads and its great seeing how Hackman, Parsons and Pollard each hold their own against the two powerhouse actors they are paired with. All 5 of them got Oscar nominations for their roles, but only Parsons walked away with gold that year.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not really!  There are 5 very strong contenders here and any could have won, but I think that Bonnie and Clyde was the best both from a directing and film perspective.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1967

  1. Might agree with you on Penn and Bonnie & Clyde – in what was a VERY impressive year with some excellent nominees – any one of which – in another year- may have triumphed. B&C was a game changer – a movie that garnered initial bad reviews by the critics (the NY Times basically fired their long time critic Bosley Crowther after his scathing review of the film) – who then flipped and gave it raves after reassessing. Again,The Graduate was in a similar class (although it rated raves from the get go) and a fascinating look at ennui amongst the college classes of the time – and without being able to SEE it through the eyes of the year it came out – you miss the point. It is most definitely NOT just about the Simon & Garfunkel tunes. Mike Nichols was exactly the right innovative director to bring it to the screen (deep focus lenses etc.) – and the man who said NO to Robert Redford to play “Benjamin” and cast Dustin Hoffman instead. That alone might have won him Best Director. IN COLD BLOOD was a stunning achievement – bringing an almost documentary feel to a horrendous crime – and casting the film top to bottom with wholly believable actors in every part. It was chilling to watch and Brooks was a master at work. In The Heat of the Night probably doesn’t have the impact now – 50+ years later – that it did at the time. But it’s central mystery (based on a book) and silhouetted against the spotlight of race in the South in ’67 – the year before the Detroit riots etc – having a Black actor slap a white actor on screen – was revolutionary.You don’t give it enough credit. And you give way too much credit to Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (also starring Poitier – who also made To Sir With Love that year – and was nominated for none of them). It was a thin story – topical as told by Stanley Kramer – who had done far better work (“The Defiant Ones”). Memorable mostly as the final pairing of Tracy and Hepburn and Spencer’s impassioned love letter speech to Katharine on screen. But it would run a distant 5th in this group. I might’ve nominated Stuart Rosenberg for his direction of Cool Hand Luke over Kramer.

    Liked by 1 person

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