Network and Taxi Driver vs. Rocky (1976)
This year's Oscar battle had two edgy pics trying to pierce the side of a big slab of beef. Sidney Lumet's "Network" tells the story of a news anchor whose on-air meltdown gets spun into ratings gold thanks to the craven efforts of corrupt network executives. Martin Scorcese's "Taxi Driver" is even more perverse, following a psychopath on his dual quest to assassinate someone and to save a child prostitute. And then we have "Rocky," which follows a nice lunkhead all the way to the heavyweight boxing championship. He loses only by a split decision, but he's already won because he gets the girl he loves and he's withstood more punches than anyone thought possible. It's the ultimate underdog story, and it made the Academy feel much safer about the world than "Network" or "Taxi Driver." That's why they awarded it Best Picture and Director. "Network" came in second with Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay. "Taxi Driver" got diddly squat.