Best Actor – 1975

Official Nominations: Jack Nicholson. Al Pacino. Walter Matthau. Maximillian Schell. James Whitmore.

Holy Heavens, the 70s are all about Al and Jack. That’s three years in a row where this pair have been fighting it out, and this year I have no clue who you are supposed to choose. Both are awesome, both deserve to win, and it really doesn’t matter which you choose. For those not in the know, Nicholson picked up the official win as RP McMurphy, a man convicted of rape who sneaks into a mental institution to avoid a harsher time in prison. There he clashes with staff and acts as some sort of inspiring hero to the other inmates. It’s perfect. Pacino is Sonny, a nobody who decides to rob a bank, but things go terribly wrong from the start. Again – perfect.

After Jack Lemmon received a nomination a few years back, Matthau gets his turn in The Sunshine Boys, a fairly famous adaptation of a fairly famous play. Alongside George Burns, he is funny, snarky, stormy, and still enthusiastic and ambitious. Schell received a nomination for The Man In The Glass Booth – a nice mirroring of Judgement Of Nuremberg. Here he plays a rich survivor of a concentration camp who is kidnapped and taken to Israel to stand trial – saying anymore would spoil things, but again he is great. Finally, James Whitmore receives a nomination for Give Em Hell, Harry! You know The Academy loves biographies, and biographies of Presidents – star in one of those and you’re almost guaranteed a nomination. It’s fine, authentic, nothing more.

My Winner: Jack Nicholson

My Nominations: Jack Nicholson. Al Pacino. Ryan O’Neal. Roy Scheider.

Jack and Al make it to my list, and are greeted by a couple of snubs. Ryan O’Neal was already beloved and as Barry Lyndon he should have cemented this status, though the film was not overly well received by critics or audiences at the time. Kubrick generally got terrific performances from his male leads, and here it is no different, with O’Neal as the raconteur, drunk, abuser, duelist. Schneider is an altogether more lovable character, a family man, a cop, a person who cares deeply for his town and his willing to put his own career, sanity, and life on the line to protect it. Sheriff Brody is one of Cinema’s finest lawmen and Scheider plays him almost straight down the middle – we can feel and understand his panic stricken moods, his guilt, his need to act.

My Winner: Jack Nicholson

Who gets your vote in 1975? Let us know in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Best Actor – 1975

  1. John Charet March 6, 2019 / 8:05 pm

    Great post 🙂 I would choose either Al Pacino for Dog Day Afternoon or Jack Nicholson, not for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but for Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    • carlosnightman March 6, 2019 / 11:51 pm

      Yeah, it’s always interesting when performers do more than 1 big performance in a year

  2. Deadly March 12, 2019 / 11:16 am

    Great call with Schneider, he makes my final list as well. I give the win to Pacino with Nicholson snapping at his heels. Happy to have O’Neal in there as well. I haven’t seen the three other nominated performances, and my fifth spot would be a bit of a raffle right now.

    • carlosnightman March 12, 2019 / 11:39 am

      Of the other three, Give em Hell probably isn’t required viewing unless you’re into the people or story involved. Man In The Glass Booth is interesting and twisting, and The Sunshine Boys is a good comedy if you like Neil Simon’s style

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