Best Picture Winners Part 48 (of 89): One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Title: One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
Year: 1975
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Redfield
Runtime: 2 hr 14 mins

What It Is: Based on the novel by Ken Kesey and adapted from the play written by Dale Wasserman this tells the story of a criminal who arrives at an asylum after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. When he arrives he’s immediately placed up against the rough around the edges head nurse Nurse Ratched. His best defense against her is a good offense and he game plans a coup of sorts by riling up the fellow inmates. From giving them hope to planning a day trip the troublemaking R.P. McMurphy may lead him down a path he isn’t expecting. Both Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher took home the statues for Best Actor and Actress. This was also the second film (preceded by a personal favorite It Happened One Night) to win the five major awards at the show including Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay. Only one other film in history would do this, but we’ll get to that!

Memorable Quote: McMurphy:Jesus, I mean, you guys do nothing but complain about how you can’t stand it in this place here and you don’t have the guts just to walk out? What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin’? Well you’re not! You’re not! You’re no crazier than the average asshole out walkin’ around on the streets and that’s it.

Competition: Jaws Dropping! When you look at the films in this year it really hammers home how good a year this was, and the caliber of its winner. Let us start with the first of four great films directed by great directors. Barry Lyndon is based on a Victorian novel Stanley Kubricks tale is often considered on of his weakest, however for me I find the beauty in it even if it struggles a bit in the pacing department. A touch too long it wears the concept of a man changing his destiny. Ryan O’Neal shows his chops but not even to earn a nomination. Al Pacino stars in Dog Day Afternoon a Sidney Lumet classic about a man at the end of his rope. Sonny tries to rob a bank. What a staggering film! Expertly framed and paced it is a personal favorite of this writer. What is there left to say about the absolutely iconic film Jaws? Spielberg had to work around mechanical issues with Bruce the Shark. What he turned that into is a film that had us all afraid to go back into the water. A cast of characters ebbing and flowing through a great script with an expert eye building a legacy behind the lens. Lastly we conclude this cavalcade, get it Cavalcade because it won best picture. Anyway, Robert Altman is, to me, an under-appreciated legend. Nashville is perhaps his way of saying “I am the 70’s” and he is surely right. Not only was he the Da Vinci, of sorts, for the American film Renaissance, but for sure he deserved a nomination for this piece which dealt with the government in the volatile political climate in which the film came out.

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