When “The Exorcist” entered the Oscar derby, it looked like a real winner. It was more than just the top-earning film of 1973 – it reigned as the biggest grossing pix in box office history – and it was certainly the most-yapped-about flick of the year thanks to its violent scenes of satanic possession, sprays of green vomit and memorable dialog (“Your mother sucks c**ks in Hell!”)
It led with the most nominations (10) in a tie with “The Sting,” but it seemed to have the most awards momentum. It had swept the Golden Globes (where “The Sting” wasn’t nominated in the top races), winning Best Drama Picture, Director (William Friedkin), Supporting Actress (Linda Blair) and Screenplay (William Peter Blatty). Accepting his Globe, Blatty said, “I suppose that the selection of ‘The Exorcist’ will inspire a new devil theory to account for it.”
But the dark forces offered little help at the Oscars where “The Exorcist” seemed to be cursed. “The Sting” pulled off an upset for Best Picture, also beating “American Graffiti,” “Cries and Whispers” and “A Touch of Class.” It lost eight other categories, too.
One of the few consolation prizes “The Exorcist” earned was the Adapted Screenplay prize for Blatty, who was also a producer of the film. Blatty wasn’t consoled. Backstage, when addressing reporters, he was so pop-eyed angry that more than one witness said he looked like he was possessed by Mephistopheles.
“Everything was ‘Down with “The Exorcist!”” he fumed.”‘The Exorcist’ is head and shoulders the finest film made this year or in several years!”