Best Actress – 1975

Official Nominations: Louise Fletcher. Isabelle Adjani. Ann-Margret. Glenda Jackson. Carol Kane.

Louise Fletcher won this year, and there isn’t really any other choice. Her Nurse Ratched is one of Cinema’s most notorious villains, all the more startling because of the fact that she is human – not murderous or outlandishly evil, just evil in the plainest sense – someone with power but a complete lack of compassion in a position which requires the highest levels of human understanding. She’s exquisite and holds her own against Nicholson like few others have.

In another year, Isabelle Adjani could have been winner, but here she had to be content with being the youngest nominee in this category. The Story Of Adele H is a Truffaut movies for people who don’t like Truffaut movies, and Adjani is great in her breakout role as Victor Hugo’s daughter. It’s always interesting when a foreigner in a foreign film gets nominated for an Acting Oscar, this one is all the more so given it was basically her breakout, big screen lead debut. Ann-Margret is another weird choice for this year, in what comes close to being a bewildering British romp that you imagine would alienate most US viewers. Again, it’s a great performance but it’s amusing that it saw a nomination. Glenda Jackson is a much more traditional vote and The Academy loved Jackson in the 70s, but it’s not something you’d pick for the win and the film is largely forgettable. Finally, Carol Kane stars as Gitl, a Jewish woman who moves to America, specifically New York and struggles to fit in while also trying to hold her family together. Another good performance, but not a hope against Fletcher.

My Winner: Louise Fletcher

My Nominations: Louise Fletcher. Isabelle Adjani. Karen Black. Veronica Cartwright. Susan Sarandon. Katharine Ross.

Only Fletcher and Adjani make it over to my list. Karen Black joins her for another standout performance in the maligned Day Of The Locust and Veronica Cartwright as the heroin addicted ex star deciding to resort to porn in the under-appreciated Inserts. Susan Sarandon gets her first major hit and major cult success as Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, holding her own in a memorable cast, while Katharine Ross both charms and chills as the original Stepford Wife(ves).

My Winner: Louise Fletcher

Let us know your winner in the comments!

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!

1975 Academy Awards – An Introduction

The 48th Academy Awards ushered in the era of the blockbuster, with Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws earning all of the money but a host of nominations and wins too. There were several films which had high numbers of nominations – One Flew over The Cuckoo’s Nest leading the way with nine, closely followed by Barry Lyndon with seven and Dog Day Afternoon with six. Rest assured that each of these will feature heavily in my personal picks, along with some other interesting selections.

We had five hosts this year – George Segal, Goldie Hawn, Gene Kelly, Robert Shaw, and Walter Matthau while presenters included Roy Scheider, Ben Johnson, Isabelle Adjani, and Gore Vidal. Performing for the crowd this year were John Williams, Diana Ross, and Keith Carradine amongst others, while Mary Pickford, Mervyn LeRoy, and Jules C Stein picked up Honorary Awards.

Join us over the next few weeks to see what I picked in each category, and be sure to leave you own – the world is (n’t) watching (!).

Best Cast – 1974

My Nominations: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. And Then There Were None. Blazing Saddles. Chinatown. The Conversation. Earthquake. The Godfather Part II. The Great Gatsby. Murder On The Orient Express. The Towering Inferno. Young Frankenstein.

As usual we have a mixture of smaller character pieces and larger scale epics, and this year the disaster epic saw studios throwing as many star names as possible into casts to make as eye-catching a spectacle as possible. Martin Scorsese doesn’t get credit for helping to craft memorable characters as he should, and he doesn’t get enough credit for his non-mafia pieces. With Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore he shows why he should get more credit in both respects, the film being both moving and funny and striking a chord for me which Romantic Comedies almost never do – Ellen Burstyn doing some of her finest work as a widow travelling across the US with her son and meeting interesting characters played by Kris Kristofferson, Diane Ladd, Valerie Curtin, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and many others.

We got two Agatha Christie adaptations this year of a similar quality and international cast – And Then There Were None with Oliver Reed, Richard Attenborough, Charles Aznavour, Stephane Audran, Elke Sommer, Gert Frobe, and Orson Welles in a cameo, while Murder On The Orient Express features Albert Finney, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, and many more. Moving over to comedy, and another double – this time by Mel Brooks – Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein both featuring Madeline Kahn and Gene Wilder doing some of their most iconic work, and the former giving Cleavon Little a chance to shine with the latter allowing Peter Boyle and Marty Feldman to tear it up. Chinatown is one of the best examples of acting masterclasses in the 70s, with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway leading the way.

On to the disaster epics, there isn’t a lot to choose between them and will depend on your personal preference. Earthquake gives you Charlton Heston, George Kennedy, Ava Gardner, Richard Roundtree, Walter Matthau, Lorne Greene, Genevieve Bujold while The Towering Inferno has Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, OJ Simpson, Robert Wagner, Robert Vaughn, William Holden. Flicking back to literary sources, and The Great Gatsby brings us a Coppola penned version starring Robert Redford in the title role, backed up by Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, Sam Waterson and others, but it is Coppola’s other two little known films of the year which I’ll choose my winner from. The Conversation is almost a Gene Hackman one-man show but smaller side performances from John Cazale, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, and Robert Duvall raise the bar for these types of supporting roles. My winner, even though I’d be happy with a number of the other choices, has to be The Godfather Part II. Cementing and further morphing performances from Part I while bringing in a host of new cast members each providing defining work, it’s what the word masterpiece was created for – Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Gastone Moschin, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Talia Shire, John Megna, Lee Strasberg, Bruno Kirby, Joe Spinell, Danny Aiello, Robert Duvall, Harry Dean Stanton, and why the hell not – Richard Matheson, Roger Corman, James Caan, Sofia Coppola, Gary Kurtz – you get the idea.

My Winner: The Godfather Part II

Let us know your winner in the comments – next time we dive into the deepest depths of 1975…

Best Stunt Work – 1974

My Nominations:Earthquake. The Towering Inferno. Gone In 60 Seconds. The Man With The Golden Gun. McQ.

We’re well and truly into the golden age of car stunts now, and in many ways this is the second age of movie stunts – the first being all those westerns of previous decades. The Eighties would bring in a new age of more spectacular work, but this is truly when the stunt profession hit its stride and maybe its peak of fame. Earthquake as the name would suggest contains a variety of stunts thanks to the massive quake which rocks LA and due to its epic scale set a new precedent for the number of stunt performers involved. Any time there’s a scene of carnage, the stunt guys are there making everything as thrilling as possible – the film has everything from falling and dodging gags to the higher drops and elevator crash. Similarly, The Towering Inferno has disaster oriented stunts – the elevator makes an appearance again, this time on the outside of the building – as well as lots of fire and height related fare, from crane work, dodging flames, and more water.

Gone In 60 Seconds is our first car-related stunt extravaganza, a film with a monumental chase sequence and famous for wrecking over a hundred vehicles. The film has many incredibly dangerous stunts and scenes, with several real accidents being incorporated – the carnage includes cars, trucks, flipping, cars jumping, skidding, crashing, and a final lengthy jump which remains incredibly impressive. The Man With The Golden Gun has a number of car gags too, its most memorable being that amazing corkscrew flip across a river – a stunt you never really see replicated anywhere. On top of this the film adopts martial arts thanks to the popularity of Bruce Lee with a number of basic fight scenes. McQ continues the theme of flipping cars and chases, while Stone does the same but with motorcycles replacing cars.

My Winner: Gone In Sixty Seconds

Let us know in the comments what your winner is!

Best Visual Effects – 1974

My Nominations: Earthquake. The Towering Inferno. The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad. The Man With The Golden Gun.

Although the team of Glen Robinson, Albert Whitlock, and Fred Brendel won a special achievement award for Earthquake, we still had no official category this year. That’s a shame, as we have some interesting films which deserved a nomination. Earthquake obviously gets a vote along with The Towering Inferno – two of the major disaster movies of the era. The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad is another Harryhausen treasure-trove, featuring a griffin, a dwarf, a wooden siren coming to life, a wizard who gains invisibility, a centaur, and a six armed, sword wielding Kali. The Man With The Golden Gun is the requisite Bond nomination, but it’s not overly effects heavy. If you wanted, you could add Zardoz here too….

My Winner: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1974

Official Nominations: The Great Gatsby. Chinatown. Daisy Miller. The Godfather Part II. Murder On The Orient Express.

It wasn’t my intention to have The Godfather Part II win everything, but when you compare it to everything else here, remembering it features styles from at least two entirely different eras spread between US and Sicily, it’s the clear winner. The Great Gatsby got the official win, as period pieces generally do, and while it is authentic it’s at least an equal to Daisy Miller. Chinatown and Murder On The Orient Express are on fairly level footing too.

My Winner: The Godfather Part II

My Nominations: The Great Gatsby. Chinatown. Daisy Miller. The Godfather Part II. Murder On The Orient Express. Blazing Saddles. The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad. Zardoz.

All the regulars make it over, and I add a few more period pieces. Zardoz…. has to be seen to be believed, and if you see Sean Connery’s costume you know all you need to know. About anything. Blazing Saddles speaks for itself, while The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad earns my alternative pick thanks to plenty of fine detail fleshing out many of its exuberant characters.

My Winner: The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad

Let us know in the comments which film you pick as winner!

Best Art Direction – 1974

Official Nominations: The Godfather Part 2. Chinatown. Earthquake. The Island At The Top of The World. The Towering Inferno.

No reason to disagree with any of these, or with The Godfather Part 2 picking up the win – again in another year it would have been Chinatown.

My Winner: The Godfather Part 2

My Nominations: The Godfather Part 2. Chinatown. Earthquake. The Island At The Top of The World. The Towering Inferno. Murder On The Orient Express. And Then There Were None. The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad. Young Frankenstein.

I take all the nominees and add a couple of Agatha Christie adaptations, both notable, and of course I also take The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad. Young Frankenstein gets on too – a film which you forget looks so great, and The Man With The Golden Gun closes the list with numerous interesting sets which highlight the crazed aura of the title character.

My Winner: The Godfather Part 2

Which film of 1974 do you pick as winner?

Best Make-up – 1974

My Nominations: Young Frankenstein. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Flesh For Frankenstein. The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad.

Once again there was no official award this year, so you’ll have to take my word on what was good. As would continue to be the case, the nominees mainly fall into the horror and fantasy genres – not genres which The Academy pays much heed to – but which nevertheless have created some of the finest examples of the craft. Young Frankenstein does subtle work to Peter Boyle to turn him into The Monster, but not so much that Boyle’s features and abilities are blocked. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre screams blood and guts, but there are only a few very minor scenes of such in the movie – it’s the make-up on Grampa and lighter touches on the rest of the family which transform them into something gruesomely human. Flesh For Frankenstein on the other hand goes all in on the gore effects, with viscera spilling all over the place. Finally, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad is mainly notable for its stop motion and assorted effects, but the Make-up also gives a convincing sense of time and place.

My Winner: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Writing (Adapted) – 1974

Official Nominations: The Godfather Part II. The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravtiz. Lenny. Murder On The Orient Express. Young Frankenstein.

The Godfather Part II wins this one easily enough, though I would love to have seen Young Frankenstein getting it too. Lenny is an interesting one – the need to balance the on stage material with the off stage reality is handled well, while Murder On The Orient Express is always told well in any adaptation. The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravtiz is the offbeat choice this year, a film with an unfortunate name which I imagine would turn away most potential viewers nowadays. It’s a fun coming of age story though, with a great lead from Richard Dreyfuss, and it has its share of funny moments.

My Winner: The Godfather Part II

My Nominations: The Godfather Part II. Young Frankenstein.

There’s absolutely nothing I want to add this year – there are a number of possibilities but nothing as strong as my two picks above, so what’s the point?

My Winner: The Godfather Part II

Which film gets your vote – let us know in the comments!