The 1969 Academy Awards handed out in April, 1970 reflected great change in American films. There was so much social conflict going on as the War in Vietnam was polarizing the country. It was the era of protest—youth vs. establishment—and the films nominated that year showed that old style musicals and feel good comedies were on their way out. Midnight Cowboy won Best Picture, becoming the first X-rated film to win the award. (After seeing The Wolf of Wall Street, what passed for X in 1969 seems pretty tame today.)
But the old guard still held their ground. John Wayne won his only Academy Award for True Grit. Nobody really thought he gave the year's best performance. It was more of a career award.
John Wayne had been nominated once before in 1949 for Sands of Iwo Jima, but his greatest performances in the John Ford classics: Fort Apache, The Quiet Man and especially The Searchers had gone unrewarded. Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight had given spectacular performances in Midnight Cowboy, but voters obviously thought John Wayne was way overdue.