The first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture and one of the most influential films of all time (horror or otherwise), “The Exorcist” made true believers out of audiences as professional actress and single mother Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) starts to become concerned about sudden changes in the behavior of her 12-year-old daughter, Regan (Linda Blair); soon, the poor girl is tied to her (often levitating) bed, spewing unspeakable profanities (and sometimes pea soup) as Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) and, later, Father Lankaster Merrin (Max von Sydow) struggle to free her from the demon that lurks (or, rather, thrashes) inside her. Director William Friedkin‘s film is as much an intricate mystery and psychological thriller as it is a full-on grand guignol freak show, and one that many would say has lost only a little of its punch over the years. Besides Best Picture, “The Exorcist” was nominated for nine other Academy Awards and won two: Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay (by William Peter Blatty, adapting his own 1971 novel). – IFC Staff