Best Stuntwork – 1977

My Nominations: Star Wars. Stunts. Grand Theft Auto. Smokey And The Bandit. The Spy Who Loved Me. Viva Knievel!

Don’t worry, it’s not going to be a clean sweep for Star Wars. While that film does indeed include some great stunts, it’s more of a Special Effects vehicle and would feel false given the other films which use a great array of practical stunts this year. Like I alluded to in previous years, the stuntman was at his commercial peak here, with a number of movies released each year featuring the world or actors portraying stuntmen. Mark Lester’s Stunts (the clue’s in the title) is one such movie, a film starring Robert Forster as a Stuntman investigating the suspicious death of his brother – also a stuntman. It’s more of a mystery, but Lester cranks up the tension and allows for a number of cool stunts – it was one of those movies which always seemed to turn up when I was younger. In a similar vein, Viva Knievel takes an interesting look at the lives and gambles of the people who put their bodies on the line for our entertainment and stars probably the most famous stunt guy of them all (the clue’s in the title). The stunts here are still exhilarating as always but maybe less interesting due to a lack of variety.

Taking things on a more varied route is Grand Theft Auto (clue’s in – you get the idea). It’s a bit of a farce and a not-quite-satire on the media as a young couple steal a car and head for Vegas followed by a increasing number of chasers in different vehicles who want to win a reward for apprehending them. Lots of car action though. Keeping it on four wheels is of course Smokey And The Bandit – which features Burt Reynolds zipping about in a TransAm and jumping over rivers. It’s maybe the most authentic of the bunch given the second most famous stuntman ever Hal Needham was the director. It remains one of the most famous car chase movies, for good reason. Finally, we have 007 and The Spy Who Loved Me featuring more car antics – underwater, over bending roads, and one of the most ambitious one man stunts seen till that point, in the intro, as Bond skies away from a bunch of gun toting villains only to leap off a cliff edge and parachute to safety.

My Winner: The Spy Who Loved Me

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Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Visual Effects – 1977

Official Nominations: Star Wars. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

The Academy had persisted through the middle of the 70s with Special Achievement Awards, but by the time 1977 rolled around it became clear that more and more films were pushing the bar where Visual Effects were concerned and a dedicated category was needed like any other category. Having said that, it would still be a while before The Academy fully relented and gave a complete batch of nominees. Here, we have two of the seminal effects movies of the decade vying for the win. Both are great, but the win has to go to Star Wars. It just blew open the door for everything which came after and pioneered so much that it’s one of the most obvious wins of all time.

My Winner: Star Wars

My Nominations: Star Wars. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. A Bridge Too Far. Hausu. Pete’s Dragon. Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger. The Spy Who Loved Me.

I tryto spice things up by adding a few other notable entries – Pete’s Dragon is not a movie I enjoy but it did do some pioneering work in the merging of animation with live action. A Bridge Too Far is a war epic coming a few years too late, but still manages to bring plenty of effects to the table to extend the realism of the piece. The Spy Who Loved Me has all manner of amusing visual gags, while Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger continues Harryhausen’s amazing run with Cavemen, a Saber-Toothed Tiger, baboons, monsters, and plenty of nifty transformations.

My Winner: Star Wars

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Original Score – 1977

Official Nominations: Star Wars. The Spy Who Loved Me. Julia. Mohammed Messenger Of God. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. A Little Night Music. Pete’s Dragon. The Slipper And The Rose.

Well well well, John Welliams (Williams) was on a bit of a roll this year, with two nominations and one win – both scores of course being indisputable classics which are still listened to by thousands of people today. Lets not kid ourselves – Star Wars is winning this every day of the week. From the main theme, to Leia’s theme, to the Cantina theme, it’s littered with classics and is obviously one of the best and most famous movie scores ever. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is mostly known for the famous ‘do di do duh doo’ communication melody, but elsewhere the score has many other great pieces ranging from tense buildups and wailing melodies of foreboding.

The Spy Who Loved Me remains one of the most critically acclaimed Bond entries, netting three Oscar nominations. Marvin Hamlisch took over from John Barry and ironically got the first nomination of the series (Skyfall would pick up the second decades on) – his score patriotic, quintessentially Bond yet self mocking. Julia is one of George Delerue’s most suitably poignant efforts while Mohammed Messenger Of God (or The Message) isn’t a film you can see being made or becoming so successful today – Maurice Jarre’s blends East and West quietly. On to the other category and A Little Night Music picked up the official win – you already know how I feel about musicals. Pete’s Dragon is there too, never a favourite film of mine but the music is okay, and finally The Slipper And The Rose is a bizarre British live action musical of Cinderella with some decent songs and tunes.

My Winner: Star Wars

My Nominations: Star Wars. The Spy Who Loved Me. Julia. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Black Sunday. A Bridge Too Far. The Deep. Eraserhead. Hausu. Martin. Saturday Night Fever.

Does anything else stand a chance against Star Wars this year? Well, John Williams didn’t only make two scores this year – he ain’t no slacker – he also made Black Sunday – another string heavy piece which actually has a lot in common with his two official nominations though not as bombastic. A Bridge Too Far is yet another classic war epic with a massive cast  – you know I love those, and while John Addison’s score is not as memorable as others it does still have a great lead theme. The Deep isn’t a great film, but for some reason certain scenes have always stayed with me, usually those involving eels (Louis Gossett Jr never seems to have much luck with aquatic wildlife). The music is good though, reminiscent of Jaws of course, but going its own way too. I’d love it if Eraserhead had received a nomination here (or anywhere) so I’m adding it, for it’s washing, industrial, hissing noise.

The soundtrack to Hausu is great because it was completed before the film had actually been made, yet it manages to be as buck nuts as the film itself, sounding like a children’s TV show and a cheesy rock based musical. The soundtrack of Martin is one of the most beautiful, haunting, and underrated in horror, while we can’t have a discussion about soundtracks without mentioning one of the biggest selling albums ever – Saturday Night Fever – a soundtrack brimming with disco classics. If we’re going to include that, then we must also include Smokey And The Bandit – as much as I’m not a fan of disco, I hate country music more, yet both these soundtracks are great. Susperia remains Argento’s most famous film and probably Goblin’s most acclaimed score – reminding me of Rosemary’s Baby but with hissing and arcane whisperings and chants in place of the lullaby ‘la las’. It’s one of the few soundtracks I can put on and listen to the whole way through, a rip-roaring ride of devilish funk, rock, synth, screams, and more. It would be my winner if not for Star Wars. I think that’s quite enough soundtracks for one year.

My Winner: Star Wars

Let us know in the comments which Score of 1977 you would choose!

Best Original Song – 1977

Official Nominations: You Light Up My Life. Candle On The Water. The Slipper And The Rose Waltz. Nobody Does It Better.

You Light Up My Life won officially, but look, we all know who the real winner here is. Nobody Does It Better is one of the best Bond songs, bringing the franchise into a new era, and it works well as a standalone too. It wins, hands down. The winner has been hugely successful too, being covered by a bunch of people. I actually like it, then I’m a sucker for big ballads as you know, at least when they feel genuine and emotional, not showy and theatrical. Candle On The Water is another ballad, but it is too theatrical, too cleanly sung, and is yet another of those floating songs with no discernible melody. The Waltz song He Danced With Me is pure musical theatre wank – I’m surprised Liza Minnelli doesn’t gyrate out of the shadow and start twerking in the middle of it.

My Winner: Nobody Does It Better

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My Nominations: Nobody Does It Better. You Light Up My Life. Down Deep Inside. In Heaven. Hausa Love Theme. New York New York. Someone’s Waiting For You. Stayin Alive. Night Fever. How Deep Is Your Love. More Than A Woman. If I Can’t Have You. East Bound And Down.

There’s at least one major snub here, with New York New York arguably being one of the most famous songs ever recorded. I actually always assumed it was a much older song given that it’s from a period long gone by 1977, but nope, it was made for the Scorcese musical. I’m not a fan of musicals, of swing, of jazz, or of Minnelli, and yet you can’t discount the song. Someone’s Waiting For You from The Rescuers is a little known Disney ballad – it doesn’t hit the high notes of many of their best songs but it’s still sweet and honest.

I’ve added five Bee Gees songs from Saturday Night Fever – they’re all good but as I’m adding so many I’m not going to go through each. East Bound And Down is fast, feel-good country chase music and the love theme from Hausu is bizarrely cheery and sweet. Deep Down Inside is Donna Summer, so disco, but it has nothing to do with water or eels or Nick Noltes and it is a little monotone, but it does get going later with plenty of sex noises. Speaking of sex noises, In Heaven is not one to listen to when doing the dance of naked squelching. In fact it’s not one to listen to ever, unless you’re a weirdo like me. Actually, it’s nice, if a little offbeat – even if you know zero about Eraserhead you know there’s something not quite right about the song.

My Winner: Nobody Does It Better

Let us know in the comments which songs you would pick!

Best Make-up – 1977

My Nominations: Star Wars. Eraserhead. Hausu. The Island Of Dr. Moreau. Rabid. Suspiria.

There are a few here that I’d be happy picking as winner – for sheer disturbing power Eraserhead’s work is second to none and creates a nightmarish atmosphere and vision which is difficult to get through, while the invention in Hausu puts most other movies to shame. The Island Of Dr. Moreau continues what was started with Planet Of The Apes, while Rabid offers a more urban take on zombies, with all manner of bodily stuff going on. That leaves Star Wars and Suspiria, and out of those two Star Wars wins on scope alone.

My Winner: Star Wars.

Let us know in the comments which films you would nominate here!

Best Costume Design – 1977

Official Nominations: Star Wars. Airport 77. Julia. A Little Night Music. The Other Side Of Midnight.

This was a no brainer. Airport 77 is merely an excuse to give Edith Head her yearly nomination, while A Little Night Music is the Academy forcing another musical into the category, regardless of how bad it is. Julia and The Other Side Of Midnight are worthy nominees but being period pieces not so far removed from a recent period of history they don’t feel as startling as nominees from other years. Star Wars then creates a new Universe populated by planets and characters with their own individual fashions and styles. Even if the film only featured Vadar and everyone else wearing the same bland outfit, it would win. Of course we have iconic outfits on a conveyor belt, from the Stormtroopers to Leia’s various dresses, to Han’s space-age gunslinger garb… it’s one of the easiest Oscar wins in history.

My Winner: Star Wars

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My Nominations: Star Wars. A Bridge Too Far. The Duellists. New York New York. Jabberwocky.

It’s a little pointless again because we know what the winner is. A Bridge Too Far goes all in on the authentic costumes while The Duellists has more flair, New York New York hits the musical quotient if we must, and Jabberwocky recycles from Holy Grail with a few updates.

My Winner: Star Wars

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Art Direction – 1977

Official Nominations: Star Wars. Close Encounters. Airport 77. The Spy Who Loved Me. The Turning Point.

Similar to the Costume Category, this was always a one horse race. Not quite as one-sided as Costume as we have some notable nominees here, but we know Star Wars is the winner, what with its Death Stars and Millennium Falcons and Cantinas. Close Encounters is a close second, while Airport 77 and The Turning Point don’t offer anything out of the ordinary. The final option then is The Spy Who Loved Me. It’s always interesting to me when a Bond film is nominated for an Oscar, because it happens so infrequently. If there is one category it should have excelled in over the years, it’s this one with Ken Adam pulling magic from his hat on multiple occasions. Of course it took Adam to work on Barry Lyndon before The Academy paid attention to him (though he did get a nomination in 1956 too) but he finally got some respect for his epic Bond work this year thanks to his work on Stromberg’s base etc.

My Winner: Star Wars

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My Nominations: Star Wars. Close Encounters. The Spy Who Loved Me. A Bridge Too Far. The Duellists. Eraserhead. Hausu. Suspiria.

The Academy all out avoids some major picks this year. I bring over the three best nominees, but there’s no way you don’t nominate Suspiria here. It’s on, no questions. Similarly, Hausa just has to get on – if you’ve seen it, there’s no way you argue against it being here. A Bridge Too Far and The Duellists both deserve a nomination, though I’d be happy with either or, and that leaves Eraserhead as another film with such a unique look that it hasn’t really been replicated in the years since.

My Winner: Star Wars

Let us know in the comments which film gets your vote!

Best Adapted Screenplay – 1977

Official Nominations: Julia. Equus. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden. Oh, God!. That Obscure Object Of Desire.

Not many surprises here, with Julia picking up the win. It’s a standard enough story set in a torrid time, but I don’t think there’s enough here to warrant a win. Equus in its original form is a messed up story, seeing it adapted for screen ups the ante but doesn’t add much to the story which wasn’t already there. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden is a film which never really found its audience. A sister to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest it deals with schizophrenia and institutionalization while offering several scenes of fantasy as the lead character struggles with reality and her condition. The film takes a less brave approach than the book but on its own merits remains engaging and deserves reevaluation.

Oh God!… it may be better to just say that Carl Reiner directs, that John Denver works in a supermarket and becomes God’s latest spokesperson on Earth, and that God is played by George Burns. Still with me? Denver obviously thinks he’s going mad, his life begins to fall apart, then he accepts the role and becomes a celebrity only for religious nuts to try to discredit him and eventually go to court to prove God’s existence. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. It’s very funny and you won’t have seen anything like it. Finally, That Obscure Object Of Desire is based on a novel from almost a hundred years earlier which details the violent relationship between a French man and a Spanish Woman. The film had been adapted for screen before, but Bunuel makes the story his, keeping the violence and sexual frustration and peppering the film with flashbacks and uncertainty.

My Winner: That Obscure Object Of Desire

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My Nominations: Oh, God!. That Obscure Object Of Desire. The Duellists. The Jabberwocky. The Other Side Of Midnight.

I add The Duellists, which expands Joseph Conrad’s short into a mini epic and features a series of battles and duels against the backdrop of Napoleonic times. Terry Gilliam takes Lewis Carroll’s slice of nonsense as a starting point for his darkly comic fantasy – as a film it has its flaws which Gilliam would iron out in later films, but the script is peppered with invention and vibrancy. The Other Side Of Midnight is a frustrating film with many moments of brilliance, following two lead characters over a period of less than ten years – their initial romance, a breakup filled with careless promises, revenge, murder plots and more. The characters and the scenario is interesting, but ultimately it feels like a proto – crazy white woman movie in the vein of Fatal Attraction which suggests at a high level that women can’t cope without men.

My Winner: That Obscure Object Of Desire

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Original Screenplay -1977

Official Nominations: Annie Hall. The Goodbye Girl. The Late Show. Star Wars. The Turning Point.

As is usually the case with this category, it closely matches the Best Picture nominees. Annie Hall – not that different from the usual Woody Allen shtick although there are enough one-liners and rambling speeches to highlight. A modern viewer will find much of it hackneyed and cliched, but only because it has been copied so many times. The Goodbye Girl is standard Neil Simon fare – romantic comedies don’t do much for me, even when they are as well written as this, but it needs to be exceptional for me or speak on a personal level for me to rate it any higher than average. The Late Show is the anomaly of the bunch – the film no-one remembers. It’s another unfortunate case because it’s an interesting film merging noir with lighter moments and it’s certainly the type of film you don’t say anymore. The Turning Point doesn’t offer anything new and plays out like a standard soap drama. Star Wars created an enduring universe with a multitude of characters and places and dialogue which has become part of culture and daily dialogue, never mind the number of imitators which the story spawned.

My Winner: Star Wars

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My Nominations: Star Wars. Annie Hall. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Desperate Living. Eraserhead. High Anxiety. Martin.

Desperate Living…. I just like the idea of something like this getting nominated. Have you seen it? There’s more humour and weirdness in a couple of pages of this script than there are in many comedy writers’ careers. It’s… not for everyone. Close Encounters gets another nomination, Spielberg subtly working in Jewish and Christian allusions and more overarching themes of exploration, knowledge, and tolerance. Eraserhead also gets another nomination – a screenplay created almost entirely to allow for Lynch’s visuals and atmosphere. Mel Brooks knocks out another great script – it’s very difficult to get parody right but he does it once again with High Anxiety, while Martin was one of the first movies to bring vampires out of European castles and Victorian streets and into American suburbs, while at the same time subverting the vampire myth and offering insight into pained adolescence.

My Winner:  Star Wars

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Animated Feature – 1977

My Nominations: The Rescuers. Wizards. Race For Your Life Charlie Brown. The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh.

1977 was something of a turning point for animated features – it was one of the first years where multiple, genuinely worthwhile films were released and stood the test of time, and it’s really the start of that happening more or less consistently. The only issue is that a lot of the notable films were either TV specials or a mixture of animation and live action, so I can’t really include those. The only thing missing is a truly strong Japanese effort. Nevertheless, we have Bakshi still experimenting – leaving behind his controversial real world efforts and conjuring a total fantasy in Wizards – a post apocalyptic tale with some great visuals, even if the story is one we’ve seen before. Race For Your Life Charlie Brown is another memorable effort in the Peanuts canon and as endearing as ever. That leaves a surprising double effort from Disney – The Rescuers is the more action packed of the two and a film which was critically and commercially successful but which has fallen by the wayside over the years. The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh is a more gentle and relaxed affair. Normally I would pick this as winner, but as it’s really a compilation of old pieces, reassembled and merged with newer bits, it probably breaks a bunch of rules.

My Winner: The Rescuers

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Let us know in the comments which Animated Feature of 1977 gets your vote!