Spielberg Reacts to the 1975 Oscar Nominations: ‘Commercial Backlash!’

Here’s an intriguing clip from early 1976: A camera rolls as a 29-year-old Steven Spielberg sits down with friends to watch the televised announcement of the Academy Award nominations for 1975. Spielberg’s film from that year, Jaws, was a monster hit–the highest-grossing movie in history up until then–so he was feeling pretty cocky. “You’re about to see a sweep of the nominations,” he says as the broadcast begins. But when the nominees for Best Director are named, his jaw drops:

  • Federico Fellini for Amacord
  • Stanley Kubrick for Barry Lyndon
  • Sidney Lumet for Dog Day Afternoon
  • Robert Altman for Nashville
  • Milos Forman for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

“I got beaten out by Fellini!” Spielberg says to his friends, the character actors Joe Spinell and Frank Pesce. And he’s right. When the list for Best Picture is announced, the very same movies make it–all except for Fellini’s Amacord, which is replaced by Jaws.

Milos Forman and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest went on to win the Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture that year. Despite directing a string of beautifully crafted blockbusters–Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial–Spielberg would not win an Academy Award for Best Director for another 18 years, with Schindler’s List.

The video of Spielberg’s defeat 36 years ago is fascinating to watch. “What makes it so great,” writes Erik Davis at Movies.com, “is being able to watch a rare slice of history in which a master of his craft actually fails at something. He fails at getting that directing nod, and you can tell in his face that he wanted it. He wanted it bad.” H/T Metafilter

Related content:

Steven Spielberg Admits Swallowing a Transistor to Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger

Terry Gilliam: The Difference Between Kubrick (Great Filmmaker) and Spielberg (Less So)

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  • terry lyons says:

    Spielberg is still the most imaginative director that I, personally, have ever experienced!

  • movie fan says:

    I want to post a warning about crime and hospitals in Hong Kong. I have been to Hong Kong many times with no problems, but on a recent visit I was hit hard on my head, robbed, and I stayed in a hospital in Hong Kong for one month in August. My bag, money belt, ID, passport, shorts, phone cards, clothes, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, socks, shampoo, shirt, photos, coins, deodorant, bank book, US $400, ATM card, brush, three notebooks, and wallet were all stolen. I was hit so hard that the right side of my head was broken in six places and the doctors removed part of my right side of my skull and a blood clot. They said my brain was bruised, but not damaged. In about six months I need to have a plate put in my head to protect my brain. I am lucky that I wasn’t killed, paralyzed, or put in coma. I don’t remember what happened, but only remember waking up in the hospital. I couldn’t speak after the injury or remember words but now I am much better. I still drool a little and am dizzy if I get I up too fast. I should get better, though.

    Staying in the Hong Kong hospitals was terrible because I am healthy and I haven’t spent a lot of time in hospitals. I also don’t understand the Hong Kong system, either. They tied my arms and legs to the bed for some reason, injected me with liquid for weeks, didn’t give food or water for six days, didn’t allow me to shower, wash my face, brush my teeth, exercise, told me go to the bathroom in my bed for three weeks, and didn’t allow me to make phone calls or use the Internet. I had communication problems with some workers because I don’t speak Cantonese. The nurses and doctors told me I could leave in a few days or in a week, but they were usually wrong. Almost everyday for three weeks I was given oatmeal to eat three times a day although I hate it. I finally refused to eat it and they gave me better food like rice and chicken. The hospital also didn’t seem very well supplied due a seeming shortage of sleeping pills and painkillers. The hospital was public, very crowded, and had many very old sick men who snored loudly and seemed near death. I saw things I never saw before and didn’t sleep well because of the noise and was often interrupted for blood pressure checks and exams. The doctors and nurses said I caught pneumonia and slept a lot the first week, but I don’t remember that. Buildings in Hong Kong use too much air conditioning, too. I was quite bored because they were only TV shows in Cantonese to watch that I couldn’t understand. After three weeks, I transferred to a rehabilitation hospital. I had no clothes, money, identification, soap, passport, friends, or family in Hong Kong. Some nice people from church groups visited me later and brought things I needed like fruit and toothpaste and my consulate brought me English
    books, helped me find my passport, contacted my family in America, and told them how to send money to me.

    I admit some of my big problems were my fault because I went to Hong Kong to get a new Chinese visa at a visa agency and didn’t pay first because I didn’t think I would lose my money, I also took my bank book to Hong Kong although it doesn’t work there, and I don’t remember being attacked since I may have fallen asleep outside on a bench at night
    because I didn’t want to pay for hotel. I also didn’t have a Hong Kong ID card since I am not a resident and didn’t have medical insurance because I am healthy and never thought something like this would happen to me. I thought Hong Kong was safe.

    The doctors wanted me to stay longer in the hospital, but I felt better, wanted to return home, and couldn’t afford the hospital stay. The hospital said it cost HKD 3000 per day to stay and I was there for a month. If I was a Hong Kong resident, the fee is only HKD 100 per day. The hospital wanted their money, but since I don’t have it, they can’t get it. I don’t know how I can repay them. I also may need to pay for replacement plate surgery in six months.

    I hope my misfortune will convince people to be aware about crime and bad hospitals in Hong Kong, be careful with their valuables and passports while traveling, and be sure to have medical travel insurance. I personally wouldn’t recommend anyone visit Hong Kong. It was truly a nightmare.

  • Sonia Laborde says:

    Gracias por ser tan consciente y avisar este tipo de cosas. Es muy importante.
    hay que vivir en una burbuja cuidándose y no aventurarse y creerse que andar por el mundo -es pan comido-.Sonia

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