You might have noticed that Cinematical is digging into Oscar winners this week, but I've got to break the rules a little bit and go for a film that won no Oscars, even though it was nominated for six: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. I think a nod in every major category, in a year that also gave us The Godfather: Part II, Chinatown, The Conversation, Murder on the Orient Express, and Blazing Saddles, makes the film more than worthy. That film would be Lenny.
As someone who loves wordplay, and can sit for hours listening to interesting conversations, Lenny is a word fiesta wrapped in a black and white bow. The 1974 film stars Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce, and it outlines his career as a comic -- how it evolved from gigs in the Catskills to endless arrests on obscenity charges, before ending with an accidental overdose in 1966.
Pretty much any scene where Hoffman is onstage and channeling Bruce is worthy of attention, but this clip is one of the best. After getting arrested for using the word "c---------g," he gets back on stage and strives to perform a really obscene show, without using any obscene words. This is, of course, the perfect example of what he strived to teach audiences in the '60s -- the word is not the power, not the obscenity.
Trivia from IMDb: Neil Diamond was originally selected to play Bruce. Neil Frakking Diamond!