This was the year in which the Academy Awards and Vanessa Redgrave collided over her political activism. Over the previous year, Redgrave had been an outspoken supporter of the Palestinians and their struggle to end their conflict with Israel. This made her a target of several Israeli militants and, on the evening of the Academy Awards protests gathered outside the and burned the actress in effigy. Redgrave had to be snuck in the back of an ambulance through a secret entrance to get her safely into the theater. The fury didn't just happen outside; when Redgrave won Best Supporting Actress for Julia (1977), she used her acceptance speech as a promotion for her political beliefs, calling attention to "a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums". Most people in the industry derided her for her comments and historians have cited it as one of the lowest moments in the history of the Academy Awards. After the ceremony, Redgrave went to dinner accompanied by her bodyguards and no one would speak to her.
When Debby Boone performed Best Original Song nominee "You Light Up My Life", she was accompanied by a chorus of little girls who were announced to have come from The John Tracy Clinic for the Deaf who interpreted the lyrics in sign language. It was later reported that the girls were really students rounded up at Torrence Elementary School in Torrence, California, and that they were actually signing gibberish. The girls who had been asked to perform from the clinic were unavailable due to some legal wrangles.
Each of the five Best Picture nominees feature plots primarily driven by the actions or focus a principal female character: Annie Hall (1977) (Annie is the object of Alvy's affection), The Goodbye Girl (1977) (Paula's resolution of her domestic issues and romance with Elliot), Julia (1977) (Lilian's relationship with her closest friend, Julia) Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) (Princess Leia sending the droids to alert Obi-Wan Kenobi and her subsequent rescue), The Turning Point (1977) (Deedee and Emma are reconnected through Emilia; the catalyst for the two women's eventual conflict).
A rare trend took place in this event. None of the five nominees in the Best Art Direction-Set Decoration category were period movies. Four of them were stories set in the present time (1977) and one in the future - which was the winner, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Some of the individuals who appeared onstage where given standing ovations. Fred Astaire was greeted that way, so was Janet Gaynor. Honorary Award recipient Margaret Booth was also given a standing ovation, but not from the entire audience, some persons even did not applaud for her (most notably actors Robert Blake and Diane Keaton). Some of those who stood and applauded avidly where Shilrey MacLaine, Greer Garson and her husband, Mickey Rooney, Richard Burton, Marsha Mason, Neil Simon, and Richard Dreyfuss. The fact that some in the audience not even applauded makes one of the most insulting moments in the Academy Award history.