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1968 Best Picture:




Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Rachel, Rachel, Romeo & Juliet

Other Winners:
Best Actor: Cliff Robertson, Charly
Best Actress: Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl & Katherine Hepburn, The Lion in Winter

Best Supporting Actor: Jack Albertson, The Subject Was Roses
Best Supporting Actress: Ruth
Gordon, Rosemary's Baby
Best Director: Sir Carol Reed, Oliver!


Cast: Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Oliver Reed, Harry Secombe, Mark Lester, Jack Wild, Hugh Griffith

Storyline: Based on the classic novel by Charles Dickens, this musical follows the adventures of  young Oliver Twist as he escapes the hardships of a workhouse, and heads for London to find his fortune.  

Did it deserve to win: Absolutely, positively NOT!  I don't even understand why this film was nominated.  Oliver! is a cute film, with a few memorable numbers, and some delightful performances, but there were so many good films in 1968, many of them superior to this.  

If they had to choose a musical, what about Funny Girl, the Barbra Streisand debut?  The Lion in Winter was an remarkable period piece with some incredible acting from Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. 

The best film of that year wasn't even nominated!  2001, A Space Odyssey is still regarded as a special effects tour de force.  It should have won the Best Director Oscar for Kubrick, who was nominated, and it should have been among the Best Picture contenders.

Critique: Everything is relative, and if Oliver! had not have taken the Best Picture award, it might not suffer the harsh criticism that time has brought upon it. 

In fairness, Oliver! stands up as a pretty darn good musical.  The performances, particularly by Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger, are above average.  The real criticism should go to the Academy, who voted on this picture.  

1968 was a turbulent year in American history.  Vietnam was a daily reality and rock music was reflecting the emerging drug culture.  It was a turning point for blacks, gays and women, in their fight for civil rights.  America was one year away from putting a man on the moon!

It seems like a smack in the face to the times to select a film about child labor, that has been sanitized to Disney-like proportions.  In the previous year it seemed like the Academy was catching up by nominating a film about civil rights in the south.  Oliver! seemed like a giant step backward.


Best Scene:  Consider yourself, at 'ome!  Despite it all, Jack Wild's musical romp through the streets of London is a bright spot that I dare you not to tap your toes to.

Behind the Scenes: Jack Wild became a celebrity kid after this film.  His other notable performance was as Jimmy in the classic kids show, H.R. Pufnstuf. 

To date, Oliver! is the last musical to win Best picture, and the only British musical to ever be nominated. 

Director Carol Reed cast his nephew, Oliver Reed in the role of Bill Sikes.  Carol Reed is also known for his work on the British stage.  He was knighted in 1952.  He was married in the 1940's to British stage star, Diana Wynyard, Oscar nominee for the 1934 Best Picture, Cavalcade.

An unusual event occurred in the Best Actress category - a tie!  Barbra Streisand won her first Oscar for her role in Funny Girl, and Katherine Hepburn won her third for her role in The Lion in Winter.  Hepburn joined Spencer Tracy and Louise Rainer, as the only actors to win two awards back to back.  

As per usual, Hepburn didn't attend the ceremony, and its too bad, as it would have been interesting to see her reaction to Barbra Streisand outrages pant suit.  The frock appeared to be see through, and the front page of many leading papers ran a shot of her butt as she made her way to the podium.  Streisand was scoffed at by the older Hollywood folks, among them costume designer Edith Head, who called her outfit - 'shocking!'



The last musical (thank God) to win Best Picture. 
Oliver Twist, as played by Mark Lester, is an orphan, who dares to ask for 'more'!
Oliver! is sold into a life of hard labor to a shop keeper/funeral director.
Oliver! meets the Artful Dodger when he escapes to London.
Best Actor Nominee, Ron Moody, is Fagan.
Bill Sikes, as played by Oliver Reed, is the master pickpocket.  
"It's a fine life!" for Nancy, as played by Shani Wallis.
Oliver! becomes quite smitten with Nancy! 
Fagan sees his boys off for a day of pickpocketing!

The Artful Dodger at work. 

Hugh Grifith as the Magistrate.
Oliver! finds comfort in the home of a rich benefactor.

Barbra Streisand models her Oscar - and her outfit - which Edith Head called 'shocking'.