Best Director – 1971

Official Nominations: William Freidkin. Peter Bogdanovich. Norman Jewison. Stanley Kubrick. John Schlesinger.

One of the finest and most difficult list of nominees to choose from this year. We have four classics and one good film which is not remembered like the others – five great directors. Freidkin got the official win and it’s difficult to argue against that – his decision to shoot in a gritty, realistic style would influence countless films and in many ways symbolizes the decade. Peter Bogdanovich shoots his coming of age drama in black and white somehow accentuating nostalgia, fearlessness of youth, and desolation. Jewison had already won Best Picture and been nominated for Best Director but Fiddler In The Roof is a standard stage to screen adaptation. Kubrick shows how to adapt a story for the big screen with character – making the end product unquestionably his own while retaining the plot and themes. Finally, Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday isn’t as bleak as some of his previous and later work, a progressive film which never fails to remind the viewer that most of us are broken. For me there are three directors on near enough even footing here, but Kubrick’s goes that bit further in crafting something which remains unique.

My Winner: Stanley Kubrick.

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My Nominations: William Freidkin. Peter Bogdanovich. Stanley Kubrick. Ken Russell. Don Siegel. Mike Hodges. Dalton Trumbo. Alan J Pakula. Robert Altman. Sam Peckinpah. George Lucas. Nicholas Roeg. Mel Stuart.

Ahem. Yes, I did go a little overboard with my choices, but it’s my blog so take your tears elsewhere. There are plenty of other directors deserving of a nomination this year who didn’t get an official one or from me. Ken Russell’s work on The Devils speaks for itself while Don Siegel’s pulling together of script, music, performance, and politics ensured Dirty Harry became one of the most famous films of the decade. Mike Hodges crafts a similar film with Get Carter, but one with a British grit and stark feeling throughout which Hollywood could not emulate in crime fiction – Bleak war movies were more in vogue in the US and Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun is as bleak as they come, with Trumbo adapting his own novel over thirty years after its release as the US found itself fighting another war.

Alan J Pakula gets a deserved nomination for the swerving Klute, Robert Altman racks up another nomination for his inside-out Western McCabe And Mrs Miller, and Sam Peckinpah is a must-nominate for the ever-violent, ever-popular Straw Dogs. George Lucas gives one of the most unique visions of the year with his rarely seen debut THX 1138, Nicholas Roeg makes his first mesmeric and unsettling film with Walkabout, while Mel Stuart creates a bright, youthful, and eternally charming entertainer with Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. 

My Winner: Stanley Kubrick.

Let us know in the comments who you would pick as the Best Director of 1971!

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2 thoughts on “Best Director – 1971

  1. John Charet September 6, 2017 / 11:05 pm

    Great post 🙂 I would choose Robert Altman for Best Director on McCabe & Mrs. Miller 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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