Sidney LumetUSA121 minutes1976ColourEnglish
While Lumet lost out on the Best Director statue, Network made Oscar history when it won in three of the four acting categories (for Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, and Beatrice Straight), as well as taking the prize for Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay. A stinging satire of modern media run amok, Network focuses on the fallout that occurs when longtime anchor Howard Beale (Finch), after being informed that he will soon be fired, announces his plans to kill himself on the air. When ratings spike after Beale's rant, the network's ruthless head programmer (Dunaway) remakes the unhinged newsman as a populist prophet, much to the head-shaking consternation of William Holden's old-school news producer, who serves as the film's moralizing Chayefsky surrogate. "[While Network] is rarely thought of as a 'director's picture,' it is [Lumet's] unobtrusive skill that allows all [the] different notes and energy levels to exist within the same film. In other hands, the film might have whirled to pieces. In his, it became a touchstone" (Roger Ebert).