Midnight Cowboy holds the distinction of being the only X-rated movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture – even if that rating has been changed since then. Midnight Cowboy is probably also among the most unusual movies that ever won in this category and it can easily be described as a movie where nothing should work – but miraculously, somehow it does.
It tells the story of Joe Buck, a naïve man from Texas who wants to go to New York to become a hustler for rich society ladies. However, things don’t work out as planned and he soon finds himself living at the end of society together with the crippled ‘Ratso’, a con man whom he has met soon after his arrival in New York.
And all these outstanding technical values surround what is easily one of the best male duos in cinema history. Jon Voight is absolutely first-class as the naïve wanna-be hustler who is tormented by his memories of the past and unable to lead the life he dreamed for himself. Dustin Hoffman matches him at every step and his portrayal of ‘Ratso’ may be the highpoint of his career. Brenda Vaccaro plays her small role as one of Joe’s clients with a welcome quietness while Sylvia Miles scored an Oscar-nomination for her extremely brief part as Joe’s first sexual encounter in New York – a role she plays with an unforgettable mix of comedy, satire and over-the-top hysterics.
From the first opening moments to the absolutely heartbreaking finale, Midnight Cowboy is an absolutely original and absorbing tale.