1976 Best Picture Oscar winner

1976 Academy Awards® Winners and History

The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.

PETER FINCH in "Network", Robert De Niro in "Taxi Driver", Giancarlo Giannini in "Seven Beauties", William Holden in "Network", Sylvester Stallone in "Rocky"
FAYE DUNAWAY in "Network", Marie-Christine Barrault in "Cousin Cousine", Talia Shire in "Rocky", Sissy Spacek in "Carrie", Liv Ullmann in "Face to Face"
Supporting Actor:
JASON ROBARDS in "All the President's Men", Ned Beatty in "Network", Burgess Meredith in "Rocky", Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man", Burt Young in "Rocky"
Supporting Actress:
BEATRICE STRAIGHT in "Network", Jane Alexander in "All the President's Men", Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver", Lee Grant in "Voyage of the Damned", Piper Laurie in "Carrie"
JOHN G. AVILDSEN for "Rocky", Ingmar Bergman for "Face to Face", Sidney Lumet for "Network", Alan J. Pakula for "All the President's Men", Lina Wertmuller for "Seven Beauties"

The Bi-Centennial year brought five solid and original films into competition with each other for Best Picture.

The ultimate winner was the underdog, low-budget, simplistic, feel-good boxing film, John Avildsen's and UA's Rocky (with ten nominations and three wins - including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing). It was the first in the endless series of sequels about a down-and-out young club fighter - 'the Italian Stallion' from South Philadelphia slums, who seeks self-respect, fame, and the American dream. With its Cinderella story, it was the first sports film to win the Best Picture award. [This upbeat boxing/prize-fighting genre film followed the conventions of previous films including The Champ (1931/32), Golden Boy (1939), Champion (1949), and Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956).]

It was shot from an original script by its unknown, unemployed, struggling break-out star Sylvester Stallone. [With Stallone's nominations for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay, he joined only two others in Academy history with the same pair of honors in the same year: Charlie Chaplin (for The Great Dictator (1940)), and Orson Welles (for ).]

Other Best Picture nominees included:

  • Sidney Lumet's black comedy and biting, prophetic satire about mass media in America, Network (with ten nominations and four wins - Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Paddy Chayefsky's Best Screenplay) - a satirical indictment of the world of commercial television. This film dominated the acting nominations. [This was director Sidney Lumet's third nomination without a win, and Chayefsky's third Oscar - Chayefsky's other two Oscars were Screenplay awards for Marty (1955) and The Hospital (1971).]
  • Alan J. Pakula's and producer Robert Redford's All the President's Men (with eight nominations and four wins - Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Sound), that told about the Watergate scandal as a gripping, conspiracy docu-drama and political thriller, while following Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) as the investigators of the scandal
  • Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, (with four nominations and no wins!, and no recognition for its director) about an alienated, cab driver (and war veteran) named Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) who unleashed his own internal violence upon the city; the film was noted for the lead actor's monologue before a mirror while rehearsing a planned assassination: "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking...you talkin' to me?"
  • Hal Ashby's Bound for Glory (with six nominations and two wins - Best Cinematography for Haskell Wexler and Best Original Score Adaptation), a biopic film about the life of folk singer-composer and labor organizer Woodie Guthrie as he rode the rails during the Depression years

Two directors of Best Picture nominees, Martin Scorsese and Hal Ashby, were not nominated for Best Director. They were replaced with two foreign-language film directors:

  • Ingmar Bergman for Face to Face (with two nominations and no wins) - originally a film made for a four-part Swedish television series
  • female Italian director/writer Lina Wertmuller for the excellent dark comedy, the film classic Seven Beauties (with four nominations - one was Best Foreign Language Film) about a small-time Italian (Naples) crook who has seven unattractive sisters to support. [Wertmuller was the first woman ever nominated for a Best Director Oscar. No woman has ever won the Best Director Oscar. Wertmuller's film was also defeated in the foreign-language category by Black and White in Color.]

Performers with nominations for their roles in Network won three of the year's acting Oscars - Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, and Beatrice Straight. [It became only the second time in Academy history that a film had won three acting trophies. This same accomplishment hadn't occurred since three performers won three acting awards in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - Vivien Leigh with a Best Actress award, and Karl Malden and Kim Hunter with the two Best Supporting awards.]

British actor Peter Finch (with his second nomination and sole win) was awarded the Best Actor Oscar for his role as crazed, suicidal, UBS network anchor-man and fired 'mad prophet of the airwaves' Howard Beale in Network - memorable for his immortal line: "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore." Finch's award was presented post-humously (he died on January 14, 1977, shortly before the awards ceremony). He was the fourth actor to be honored with a posthumous nomination (to date) and the first and only posthumous winner for Best Actor (at that time) - later supplemented with Heath Ledger's posthumous nominaton and win for Best Supporting Actor for .

[Others with posthumous nominations - but without awards - were Jeanne Eagels for The Letter (1928-29), James Dean for East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956), Spencer Tracy for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Ralph Richardson for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (1984), Massimo Troisi for Il Postino (1995).]

The other four nominees in the Best Actor category included:

  • William Holden (with his third and final career nomination), Finch's co-star in the role of sardonic network news chief Max Schumacher in Network. [He had won only once, for Stalag 17 (1953)...
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