This was probably my fourth or fifth time with this movie. I don't know why I chose this one, I just felt like watching it. And boy I liked it more than ever before.
The usually heard things about rewatching a movie is that you discover new little aspects of it you haven't noticed before. Now I really admire those who did not notice everything when they saw this movie for the first time. :-)
Chris McNeill (Ellen Burstyn) is famous movie star shooting in Georgetown. She has a charming and nice little daughter (Linda Blair), who's becoming something different. She can't hold her urine, she does not like psychiatrists and so on... In her desperation she asks a priest, Damien Karras (Jason Miller) to help her daughter. With another priest, Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) they try to save the child's life.
The beginning of the movie is very mysterious and confusing (and I still really don't get it), but it really has a a strange atmosphere and you can really feel that something awful is gonna happen.
William Friedkin's direction is simply brilliant and probably the best thing about th movie: it's deadly accurate and flawless, and when you would not concentrate a 100%, than something really creepy is gonna happen. You can only relax when you see the end credits.
However, to get an amazing horror, you need great actors. First of all Ellen Burstyn, who probably gives the best performance of the bunch as Chris. She brilliantly shows the desperation and anger of this woman fighting for her daughter. She certainly deserved that nom and I would even give her the win if Glenda Jackson hadn't been nominated for her underrated, but BRILLIANT work in A Touch of Class.
However, Jason Miller could have won that supporting Oscar for playing Father Karras. Jason Miller has a really strong presence in this movie and gives real depth to this weird and devastated character.
Max Von Sydow gives his usual mysterious self and he's brilliant and was probably deserving of a nomination.
However I can't say the same about Linda Blair, who's nomination was quite pointless. Many people say that she gives the best child performance ever, but she does not really give a performance apart from her "charming" scenes, where she's decent but it's really not nomination-worthy. Poor girl, she was very disappointed when she lost and this controversy with Mercedes McCambridge probably even damaged her career.
And last but not least there's the always reliable Lee J. Cobb, who's rarely mentioned when people talk about this movie unfortunately, even though he adds a lot to The Exorcist.
William Peter Blatty's Oscar-winning screenplay is also an excellent one and I think it was definitely worthy of that Oscar as it brilliantly mixed the religious terms with the disgusting things the devil/Regan says.
Although I can't give this movie Best Picture unfortunately as it was nominated with Cries and Whispers, I can honestly say it's much better than The Sting and probably the best horror movie ever (along with Psycho).
Grade: 10/10 One of my favorite ones ever.
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Friedkin); Best Actress (Burstyn); Best Supporting Actor (Miller); Best Supporting Actress (Blair); Best Adapted Screenplay (WON); Best Cinematography; Best Editing; Best Art Direction; Best Sound (WON)
My wins: Best Supporting Actor for Miller.