50th Annual Academy Awards Results and Commentary (1978)

  • Date of Ceremony: Monday, April 3, 1978
  • For films released in: 1977
  • Host(s): Bob Hope (video)
Other years:

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The 50th Annual Academy Awards were presented on Monday, April 3th, 1978. Bob Hope hosted the ceremony for his eighteenth and final time.

Woody Allen’s masterpiece, Annie Hall, won Best Picture, Best Actress for Diane Keaton, Best Director for Allen and Original Screenplay for Allen and Marshall Brickman.

The Turning Point had been nominated for 11 Oscars and went home with none, while the most golden statuettes went home with the technical whizzes behind Star Wars. The sci-fi/fantasy classic went home with six Academy Awards.

Richard Dreyfuss won Best Actor for The Goodbye Girl, while Jason Robards’ Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Julia made him only the fourth performer — along with Louise Rainer, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn — to win back-to-back Oscars.

Robard’s Julia co-star, Vanessa Redgrave, stirred up the most controversy for her Best Supporting Actress nomination and win. Redgrave had funded a documentary that supported the establishment of Palestinian homeland and in one scene showed her dancing with a Kalashnikov rifle at a PLO camp. Protestors from the Jewish Defense League burned effigies of the actress outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

When Redgrave won, for playing a character that fought Nazi oppression, she said, in part, “And I salute you and I pay tribute to you and I think you should be very proud that in the last few weeks you’ve stood firm and you have refused to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression.”

Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, presenting a writing award later in the telecast, chastised Redgrave before forgetting to read the nominees, saying, “Before I get on to the writing awards, there’s a little matter I’d like to tidy up at least if I expect to live with myself tomorrow morning. I would like to say, personal opinion, of course, that I’m sick and tired of people exploiting the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own personal propaganda. I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation and a simple ‘Thank you’ would have sufficed.”

Of course, some would argue that by bringing up his opinion on the matter, Paddy was taking a political stance himself. The winner of the category he was presenting happened to be the writer of the film Redgrave won for, Alvin Sargent. Sargent said he hoped that the Oscar represented, among other things, “…the free expression of all our good thoughts and feelings and loves no matter who we are or what we have to say.”

All the political comments flying back and forth probably overshadowed one of the intended highlights of the night, a half-century gathering of past winners onstage including Bette Davis, Janet Gaynor, and Olivia de Havilland.


Best Picture

  • Annie Hall
    Charles H. Joffe [Producer]

Best Directing

  • Annie Hall
    Woody Allen

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • The Goodbye Girl
    Richard Dreyfuss

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Annie Hall
    Diane Keaton

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Julia
    Jason Robards

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Julia
    Vanessa Redgrave

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Madame Rosa

Best Art Direction

  • Star Wars
    John Barry [Art Direction], Norman Reynolds [Art Direction], Leslie Dilley [Art Direction] and Roger Christian [Set Decoration]

Best Cinematography

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Vilmos Zsigmond

Best Costume Design

  • Star Wars
    John Mollo

Best Documentary (Feature)

  • Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?
    John Korty, Dan McCann and Warren L. Lockhart

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

  • Gravity Is My Enemy
    John Joseph and Jan Stussy

Best Film Editing

  • Star Wars
    Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew

Best Music (Original Score)

  • Star Wars
    John Williams

Best Music (Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score)

  • A Little Night Music
    Jonathan Tunick [Adaptation Score by]

Best Music (Original Song)

  • You Light Up My Life "You Light Up My Life"
    Joseph Brooks [Music and Lyrics by]

Best Short Film (Animated)

  • The Sand Castle
    Co Hoedeman

Best Short Film (Live Action)

  • I'll Find a Way
    Beverly Shaffer and Yuki Yoshida

Best Sound

  • Star Wars
    Don MacDougall, Ray West, Bob Minkler and Derek Ball

Best Visual Effects

  • Star Wars
    John Stears, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Grant McCune and Robert Blalack

Best Writing (Screenplay - based on material from another medium)

  • Julia
    Alvin Sargent

Best Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen - based on factual material or on story material not previously published or produced)

  • Annie Hall
    Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

Special Achievement Award

  • Benjamin Burtt Jr.
    Note: …for the creation of the alien, creature and robot voices featured in Star Wars.

Special Achievement Award (Sound Effects Editing)

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Frank E. Warner

Honorary Award

  • Margaret Booth
    Note: …for her exceptional contribution to the art of film editing in the motion picture industry.

Medal of Commendation

  • Gordon E. Sawyer
    Note: …in appreciation for outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  • Sidney P. Solow
    Note: …in appreciation for outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award

  • Walter Mirisch

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

  • Charlton Heston

Scientific or Technical Award (Class I)

  • Garrett Brown and Cinema Products Corporation Engineering Staff [under the supervision of John Jurgens]
    Note: …for the invention and development of Steadicam.

Scientific or Technical Award (Class II)

  • Joseph Kelly [of Glen Glenn Sound], Emory M. Cohen [of Glen Glenn Sound], Barry K. Henley [of Glen Glenn Sound], Hammond H. Holt [of Glen Glenn Sound] and John Agalsoff [of Glen Glenn Sound]
    Note: …for the concept and development of a Post-production Audio Processing System for Motion Picture Films.
  • Panavision Inc.
    Note: …for the concept and engineering of the improvements incorporated in the Panaflex Motion Picture Camera.
  • N. Paul Kenworthy Jr. and William R. Latady
    Note: …for the invention and development of the Kenworthy Snorkel Camera System for motion picture photography.
  • John Dykstra, Alvah J. Miller and Jerry Jeffress
    Note: To John Dykstra for the development of a facility uniquely oriented toward visual effects photography, and to Alvah J. Miller and Jerry Jeffress for the engineering of the Electronic Motion Control System used in concert for multiple exposure visual effects motion picture photography.
  • Eastman Kodak Company
    Note: …for the development and introduction of a new duplicating film for motion pictures.
  • Stefan Kudelski [of Nagra Magnetic Recorders Incorporated]
    Note: …for the engineering of the improvements incorporated in the Nagra 4.2L sound recorder for motion picture production.

Scientific or Technical Award (Class III)

  • Ernst Nettmann [of the Astrovision Division of Continental Camera Systems Incorporated]
    Note: …for the engineering of its Periscope Aerial Camera System.
  • EECO (Electronic Engineering Company of California)
    Note: …for developing a method for interlocking non-sprocketed film and tape media used in motion picture production.
  • Dr. Bernard Kühl [of Osram GmbH] and Werner Block [of Osram GmbH]
    Note: …for the development of the HMI high-efficiency discharge lamp for motion picture lighting.
  • Panavision Inc.
    Note: …for the design of Panalite, a camera-mounted controllable light for motion picture photography.
  • Panavision Inc.
    Note: …for the engineering of the Panahead gearhead for motion picture cameras.
  • Piclear Incorporated
    Note: …for originating and developing an attachment to motion picture projectors to improve screen image quality.
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