My current Top 5

My current Top 5

6/15/2011

Number 14: Midnight Cowboy (Best Picture Ranking)

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.

Midnight Cowboy is a movie that can easily annoy a lot of viewers with its style and story – this would probably qualify it as love/hate-movie but, as you can see from the position in my ranking, I am on the love-side as the whole presentation of the story constantly amazes me. From the editing which non-stop goes back and forth between reality and dream and past and present to the very often over-the-top direction which works so fantastically well in the context of the film to the beautiful use the song ‘Everybody’s Talkin’, Midnight Cowboy is a true masterpiece from start to finish. It’s a story of poverty and hopelessness, of friendship, maybe even love, and of hope for a better life. As a movie, Midnight Cowboy puts the viewer in a constant state of changing emotions – it can be funny, it can be incredibly sad, it can be shocking (some aspects may seem dated today but for me, Midnight Cowboy is still extremely powerful in so many moments), it can be entertaining.

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.

4 comments:

Louis Morgan said...

A very powerful and effective film. Much better than another certain film about a particular form of American life.

hey deanie said...

I really wanted to like this more than I did...it's just so over-directed. I need to revisit it. I loved some elements.

dinasztie said...

Brilliant movie, Hoffman was robbed of the Oscar.

I'm quite disappointed that The English Patient will be so high. :(

Fritz said...

Well, I knew right from the start that The English Patient would be the most controversial movie in this ranking...