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The Take Down
It's a fight for redemptionSep. 29, 2017UK92 Min.No Rated
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The Oscars best picture category has a long and ignoble history of favouring the inoffensive over the revolutionary – Citizen Kane lost out to How Green Was My Valley. Forrest Gump defeated Pulp Fiction. The Third Man, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Do The Right Thing failed to even be nominated for best picture. (It’s a cruel world when Crash can win the thing and that lot can’t even get a look in). As a rule, the Academy tends to be behind the times – #OscarsSoWhite is recent evidence of that.
All of which makes the decision to crown Midnight Cowboy best picture in 1970 seem, in retrospect, like such a welcome aberration. It was a rare moment when Hollywood saw the coming changes in cinema and, rather than ignore them and hope they went away, rolled out the red carpet.
To recap: Midnight Cowboy was the first and only X-rated film to be awarded best picture. The tale of a Texan dishwasher trying to find success as a gigolo in New York City, it featured themes – prostitution, homosexuality, drug abuse, et al – that were considered transgressive at the time and still feel distinctly adult today. Up until its victory, the best picture winners of the 1960s were, to paraphrase the Mighty Boosh, as edgy as a satsuma, broadly divided between glitzy musicals and hoary historical dramas, with the honorable exception of the Sidney Poitier-starring In The Heat Of The Night. The film that won the award the year before Midnight Cowboy? The film adaptation of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! (Their exclamation mark, not mine.)
Original title The Take Down
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