Best Picture – 1973

Official Nominations: The Exorcist. American Graffiti. The Sting. Cries And Whispers. A Touch Of Class

This was another year where we have clear front-runners and a couple of films which stood no chance of winning. A Touch Of Class is a strange one – a British film which is part sex romp, part drama, part comedy. There’s another, superior British film this year which deserved a nomination over this – this is a well acted, if unsubstantial film which doesn’t come close to the overall quality of the big boys in this category. The other no hoper is Cries And Whispers – Bergman’s most successful film in the US since the early sixties. It’s great, disconcerting, and visually gripping, but like most Bergman films it is slow, subtle, and quite ‘talky’ and yet filled with deafening silence – things which tend to not sit well with most audiences.

Out of the big boys, The Exorcist is the least likely to be picked by The Academy – it’s a horror movie, but it was also incredibly controversial, arguably the most controversial movie ever made at the time, but massively successful too. Lets get this out of the way now – it’s the film I’ll be picking as winner. Not only because I am a massive horror fan and because it is one of the best, most famous horror movies ever, but because it has retained unique power over the decades, has many genuinely shocking scenes, and at least a trio of terrific performances, not to mention the writing and direction. The contest was always between the two remaining films – an up and coming American film maker who finely crafts a piece of nostalgia which reminded the world of a simpler time, with gentle rock and roll, big cars, milkshakes, guys and gals, and all the rest of it – the Academy loves that shit. Audiences loved it too, and I’m fairly fond of it if not as enamored as most – maybe it’s a generational thing but I still prefer Dazed And Confused and Everybody Wants Some!!! A cast of relatives newbs and kids maybe swung the choice towards the more established crew of The Sting. The Sting is of course a classic and we can hardly argue with it being the winner – Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Robert Shaw, under the guidance of George Roy Hill? Academy Gold. The music, the costumes, the story all come together perfectly to establish yet another must see 70s movie.

My Winner: The Exorcist

My Nominations: The Exorcist. American Graffiti. The Sting. Don’t Look Now. Enter The Dragon. Mean Streets. Serpico. The Wicker Man

Those three big shots of course make it to my list. It was a fantastic year for cinema with another batch of undisputed classics ready to pick up the win too. Enter The Dragon – no chance of being nominated, but arguably the most famous martial arts movie ever. The scope of the fight scenes was unprecedented, Lee is at his best, the supporting cast are memorable, and it’s badass all around. Mean Streets is Scorsese at his most loose and visceral, a movie with a documentary feel and with dialogue and action which feels unscripted, it has several great performances and moments but each of the main players involved were yet to fully hone their skills. Serpico on the other hand finds a team at the top of their craft – Pacino and Lumet in particular making a tough cop drama as influential today as it was then.

Over to Britain for my final two picks, and another two horror movies. Don’t Look Now is another Nicholas Roeg masterpiece of paranoia and grief – one which I think I appreciate more than I love. There is a coldness and a distance to it which holds me back from being overly enthusiastic, but it’s so well acted, gripping, chilling, and haunting to behold that there are few films like it. It’s another essential horror movie but one with meticulous art-house sensibilities which continue to frustrate new fans who believe it is some by the numbers slasher or psychological drama. Finally, The Wicker Man. Possibly Christopher Lee’s best performance, same for Edward Woodward, same for (naked) Britt Ekland.

My Winner: The Exorcist.

Let us know which film you choose as the Best Picture of 1973!

Advertisements

Nightman’s Top Ten Films of 1960

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Village Of The Damned (UK)

9: Eyes Without A Face (France)

8: The Apartment (USA)

7: Jigoku (Japan)

6: La Dolce Vita (Italy)

5: Breathless (France)

4: Spartacus (USA)

3: Peeping Tom (UK)

2: Psycho (USA)

1: The Magnificent Seven (USA)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Three (Including the top grossing)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One (The Winner)

Chart Music – 1966

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

1966 Glancers, 1966. The year which meany consider to be the pinnacle of music. A pivotal year by all accounts, for culture worldwide, for music, cinema, politics, civil rights and so on and so forth. Where were you? Where was I? Where am I? So many questions, and so few readers. As you may be aware, I was not yet part of this world, at least not as you understand it, but many people were and they bore witness to things such as England winning the World Cup, thousands more US troops landing in Vietnam, Time magazine asked if God Was Dead, The Church Of Satan was formed, Castro declared Martial Law, Star Trek debuted on TV, John met Yoko, and a maniac went on a shooting spree in Texas.

In the realm of music, David Bowie emerged, The Beatles became the first band to play the Nippon Budokan Hall, Van Morrison and The Doors appeared on stage together, and Bob Dylan turned Judas. A bunch of extraordinarily popular albums were released and many songs still played regularly today were recorded. Looking at the list of songs below, there are only three I know from the name but I’m sure once I listen I will know a few more. The list at a first glance doesn’t seem to be representative of the many great songs and albums which first appeared this year.

  1.  Jim Reeves. Distant Drums.

Smooth vocals. Slow. Far away. Basic beat, simple piano. Strings arrive. Shifts to a more Western style pace. All very pleasant but out of time. Nothing wrong with it, a little too nice for my liking.

2. Dave Dee: Bend It!

Descending riff. Slower pace. Quickening like a Greek tune. Faster. Collapse. Funny. Even Greek guitars so I assume a deliberate choice. I always liked this sort of music from my travels. What exactly is he bending? Pretty good, though probably a novelty song.

3. The Who: I’m A Boy.

Back when they sounded like a nice little garage band, though they still manage to make plenty of noise in the chorus and bridge with those chugging guitars and bin lid drums. Great lyrics, good music.

4. New Vaudeville Band: Winchester Cathedral.

Ha ha, South Park. There’s something in my pocket for you. Waterloo melody. More novelty stuff but still good. Not a bad song yet, yay.

5. The Rolling Stones: Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing In The Shadow.

Fuzz and throbbing and sudden trumpets. All a bit chaotic with the trumpets out of tune with the vocals and guitar. The little break in the middle is nice. I was never a huge fan of early Stones but this is pretty good. The bass is probably the best part. It all collapses into a surprise bonus riff at the end. You wouldn’t get that in the charts these days.

6. The Supremes: You Can’t Hurry Love.

You know it, of course you do. Or the Phil Collins version. Sweet, melodic, beautiful. Can’t say much more about it, just enjoy!

7. Sandpipers: Guatanamera.

A song forever adopted by football crowds with ‘Guatanamera’ changed to… something else. I have no idea what it’s about but all very nice – dreamy verses and of course an incredibly catchy chorus. Oh, a spoken explanation. I didn’t really need that, but thanks.

8. Sonny And Cher: Little Man.

Greek fingering (madam) and bangs (sir). Yes, I know this. Horn beeps. Lots of pauses. It is a very odd song, then again it was 1966. Good though.

9. The Troggs: I Can’t Control Myself.

To be fair, most morning I wake up and scream ‘OH NO!’ This is a song with a marching beat and a simple structure, catchy chorus, verses okay, probably shouldn’t be stretched to three minutes.

10. Dusty Springfield: All I See Is You

Your standard Springfield ballad – big vocals, a little mournful, you know the score.  The chorus/rest of song is much better – even bigger vocals and more emotion, and it keeps getting bigger in every sense as it goes along.

As mentioned earlier, 1966 had a wealth of quality releases – Sounds Of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, Boots by Nancy Sinatra, Blonde On Blonde, Pet Sounds, Revolver, Freak Out, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, A Quick One, and many others. Out of the top selling singles of the year in the US, three were by The Beatles, one by The Beach Boys, and one by Frank Sinatra – four out of five ain’t bad. For an alternative list of 10 great songs from 1966 (though most are incredibly famous) have a click on the links below:

  1. The Beatles: We Can Work It Out

2. James Brown: I Got You (I Feel Good)

3. The Mamas And The Papas: California Dreamin

4. The Rolling Stones: Paint It Black

5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hey Joe

6. The Velvet Underground & Nico: I’ll Be Your Mirror

7. Janis Ian: Society’s Child

8. Jefferson Airplane: Let Me In

9. The Kinks: Sunny Afternoon

10. The Who: Boris The Spider

What is your favourite song from 1966? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films of 1959

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

north_by_northwest_30

10: The Diary Of Anne Frank (USA)

9: The Hound Of The Baskervilles (UK)

8: Anatomy of A Murder (USA)

7: The House On Haunted Hill (USA)

6: On The Beach (USA)

5: The 400 Blows (France)

4: Rio Bravo (USA)

3: Ben Hur (USA)

2: Sleeping Beauty (USA)

1: North By Northwest (USA)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Five (Including the top grossing film)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Three (Including the winner)

Predator 2

*Originally written in 2004

predator-2-movie-poster-1990-1020272044.jpg

The race of Predators returns to earth in this sequel to the 1987 sci-fi hit, deciding to stalk its prey in a city rather than a jungle. The claustrophobia is gone, along with the politics and the Schwarzenegger, but the amount of victims is vastly increased in this inferior, but often overlooked sequel.

The film is set in LA. It is an increasingly hot summer and gang warfare, crime, and murder is on the up. The LAPD wages a constant battle against the scum, but it seems a vigilante is wiping out some of the biggest criminals. Danny Glover stars as Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, who with his small team- Danny, Leona, and Jerry – is trying to find out who is causing these deaths, as well as keeping an eye on the chaos around them. As his team closes in on the killer, the feds tell him to back off, so he knows there is something big going on. When his team members and others continue to be slaughtered, he catches a glimpse of the killer – The Predator – who can become invisible at the touch of a button, and wipe out anyone with ease. Gary Busey from the feds, and his team (including Robert Davi) attempt to catch The Predator but fail, and  the creature sets its sights on Glover as its next victim. A final encounter approaches, but it may not take place on Harrigan’s terms.

Predator 2 is a letdown after the first film was so good. The action, tension and excitement here is toned down and inferior, but luckily it is still above average. We lose Arnie, but Glover does well as the cop with a fighting spirit. The supporting cast is good, Alonso is feisty, Paxton is as good as always but not given as much to do as I would have liked, Busey is his usual offbeat self, as is Davi, and Blades is okay. However, the sense of teamwork that should have been present, that was a strong part of the original, is gone. There are many good visual effects here, improving in some ways on the original, and The Predator has a few new and interesting weapons at his disposal. It just lacks the spark of the original though, and does not create much excitement. The dialogue is not as good, average action stuff, and the direction is solid but does not have the style and grasp of technique that McTiernen has. A good action/sci-fi movie with plenty of violence and fun, but a let down sequel which deserved to be better.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Predator 2!