Best Cast – 1975

My Nominations: The Day Of The Locust. Dog Day Afternoon. Inserts. Jaws. The Man Who Would Be King. Nashville. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Shampoo. Tommy.

Not quite the usual mix of epic and smaller this year, in that the epics aren’t as epic and the smaller movies aren’t as small. Starting from the top, The Day Of The Locust is a pre-WWII movie set in Hollywood which follows a number of wannabees who haven’t and will never make it, starring the likes of Karen Black, Jacke Earle Hayley, Donald Sutherland, and Burgess Meredith. Inserts is set in a similar time with a similar group of people, but on a smaller scale and features Richard Dreyfuss, Veronica Cartwright, Bob Hoskins, Jessica Harper, and Stephen Davies. It’s the one film one the list you’re not likely to see, but it’s worth it for the performances. Dog Day Afternoon is all about Pacino, and a little bit about Sarandon and Cazale, while Jaws has masterclasses from Dreyfuss, Scheider, and Shaw. The Man Who Would Be King is an epic without a cast with only Connery, Caine, and Plummer though none of whom are at their best, while Nashville is a true ensemble featuring many established stars and up and comers – Karen Black, Ronee Blakely, Jeff Goldblum, Keith Carradine, Shelly Duvall, Lily Tomlin, Ned Beatty, Geraldine Chaplin, and more minor cameos from Julie Christie, Elliot Gould and others.

Shampoo is another smaller affair, pardon the pun, but features Christie again, Carrie Fisher, Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn, Jack Warden, Lee Grant while Tommy is a mess of musician and actors – Jack Nicholson, Tina Turner, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Oliver Reed, The Who themselves, Ann Margret, Robert Powell, Paul Nicholas. My win though goes to a film where the lead performances are all perfect, and the supporting ones are more or less iconic too – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. 

My Winner: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Stunt Work – 1975

My Nominations: Breakheart Pass. Death Race 2000. Graveyard Of Honor. The Hindenburg. The Man Who Would Be King. The Great Waldo Pepper. Rollerball. The Wind And The Lion.

Less car stunts this year, less disaster related too. This year sees Breakheart Pass – another fun Bronsan/Ireland vehicle with plenty of entertaining action culminating in some spectacular cliff scenes, train top fights, and canyon crashes. Death Race 2000 is a film I nominate purely because who else is ever going to nominate it for an Oscar? Cheap and cheerful as you would expect, it still has countless impressive stunts – natural for a film about a cross country car race where you get extra points for any pedestrians you knock over. Graveyard Of Honor by the great Kinji Fukasaku finishes with one of the most iconic stunts/shots in Japanese Cinema – one giant leap – but is rounded off with your usual Yakuza gunplay. The Hindeburg hits our disaster quotient, with fire, falling, and flailing, while The Man Who Would be King presents one of the great ropebridge stunts – it’s just a bit of a shame we don’t see it from another angle, though it’s still a terrifying fall.

As films with stunts and the notoriety of some stuntmen increased in the decade, we began to see certain films and shows based around the industry. The Great Waldo Pepper is one such entry, looking at aerial stunts or barnstorming with Robert Redford playing an ex military pilot who begins stunt performing to make ends meet. It has some of the best airplane scenes you’re likely to witness. Our final two films are packed with stunts – Sean Connery again getting in on the action with The Wind And The Lion featuring mostly horseback gags, while Rollerball creates a new physical, brutal sport and lets the performers crash into each other with as much force as they can stand.

My Winner: Graveyard Of Honor

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Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Visual Effects – 1975

No official award this year, but another tiny step towards making an official category as Albert Whitlock and Glen Robinson were given a Special Achievement award for The Hindenburg. 

My Nominations: The Hindenburg. Barry Lyndon. Jaws. The Land That Time Forgot.

The Hindenburg obviously makes the list, though it does look fairly dated now, as you would expect. The Land That Time Forgot contains a variety of honed Harryhausen delights – again dated but I love the stop motion appeal. Jaws would be the most obvious winner here, with practical shark work as well as blood fountains and boat destruction. The pioneer though would be Barry Lyndon – you won’t notice that there are visual effects at work here, but the amount of technical progress to behind the scenes to make the film possible trumps anything else this year.

My Winner: The Land That Time Forgot

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Lyndon is the real winner, but I love me some McClure and Harryhausen. Let us know in the comments which film you pick!

Best Animated Film – 1975

My Nominations: Coonskin. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid

Slim picking this year with Japan’s Toei animation crafting a tragic film quite unlike the more famous Disney version. The winner though is the rightly controversial Coonskin by Ralph Baski – a film which never had a shot at widespread critical analysis after it was pulled from release due to multiple protests. It’s a satire not only against White America, but the glorification of violence, criminal lifestyle, gang warfare, and masculinity in the 20th Century.

My Winner: Coonskin

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Original Song – 1975

Official Nominations: I’m Easy. How Lucky Can You Get. Do You Know Where You’re Going To. Richard’s Window. Now That We’re In Love.

This was always going to be a winner for Nashville, although when you throw in a more traditional musical there’s always a chance it could win. It’s generally rare that a song nominated or which wins in this category to have a life outside the movie, but I’m Easy was a fairly big hit this year in the US charts. It’s lovely, and thankfully doesn’t feel like a country song, outside of Carradine’s vocals. Good lyrics, nice melodies. In my younger days I was partial to Mariah Carey’s version of Do You Know Where You’re Going To and the movie version by Diana Ross was also a substantial hit. Should it be here though, given it was actually written and recorded a couple of years earlier? These rules are muddy. How Lucky Can You Get is almost everything I despise in music. Those opening seconds make me want to swallow my ears, then the male vocals start and it somehow it gets worse. Then Streisand starts, but by that point my ears are halfway down my throat – don’t put yourself yourself through it.

The Other Side Of The Mountain is one of those movies – true story, hallmark channel style, this time about a ski champion who is paralyzed. It’s a love story, but it was ludicrously successful. The song is weird – nicely sung, incredibly dated and with all these cheesy additions, and it’s very short – just when you think it’s going somewhere it ends. It’s okay, but given the music being released in 1975, it doesn’t need to be here. Whiffs…. ahh, Whiffs. Now That We’re In Love is sappy rubbish, only here because of the songwriting talent – it’s crap.

My Winner: I’m Easy

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My Nominations: I’m Easy. Love’s Dream. Camelot. O Brave Sir Robin. Time Warp. Mother And Son.

I’d love to pick something else from Nashville but almost every song has the cringworthy country guitar that I cannot abide. If I was to pick one, it would be Memphis, more for Karen Black’s performance. Love’s Dream (Lisztomania) is a showcase for how to do an interesting love song for a movie – it’s still sappy, but it has class and emotion thanks to Wakeman’s playing and Daltry’s vocals. For Holy Grail fans you can fight between my two picks here – I think the Camelot scene is funnier, but I prefer the O Brave Sir Robin song. Time Warp is Time Warp – I’m not a huge fan, but it’s everywhere and one of the most famous movie songs (even though the musical was earlier). Many of the new songs made for the Tommy soundtrack are expanded versions of the album tracks or feature twists on melodies and lyrics – Mother And Son starts out this way but ends up being its own entity. Again, not my favourite album but I had to pick something from it.

My Winner: O Brave Sir Robin

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Writing (Adapted) – 1975

Official Nominations: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Barry Lyndon. The Man Who Would Be King. Profumo di donna. The Sunshine Boys.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest continued its clean sweep of the big boys with an official win here. While Kesey was originally going to work on the screenplay, he later pulled out and refused to ever see the film. The film does contain some minor and significant changes to the story, having less of an emphasis on Chief’s role, but it retains the spirit of the novel and is peppered with great one-liners and speeches. Similarly, Kubrick’s screenplay for Barry Lyndon makes a major narrative change in having an omniscient narrator, as well has having little obvious comedy which made for an initially cold experience and reception.

The Man Who Would Be King is a film and story of adventure and glory, and one of the few non-horror films that ends with a severed head in a box. Spoiler alert, I guess? There isn’t much difference from the original story aside from the usual cinematic concessions, but there are plenty of speeches peppered throughout, with the odd bit of sarcastic patriotism. The Italian original of Scent Of A Woman is another weird one – it’s ostensibly a comedy, a film about two injured soldiers returning home to kill themselves, one of whom is blind and therefore accompanied by a younger army aide. While the days tick down he decides to meet as many hot women as he can, getting the boy to spot for him but eventually deciding to, literally, smell them out himself. I never got on well with the remake, and this gives me similar feelings, though plus marks for the unusual story. Finally, The Sunshine Boys, is Neil Simon adapting his own play so if you know his work you know what you’re going to get. It has some great comic talent so no matter what the material is you know they’re going to make it crackle – luckily they have a writer at the top of his game to play off – again plus points for showing something generally unorthodox on screen – old guys bickering rather than teens – but I guess they still did things differently in the 70s.

My Winner: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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My Nominations: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Barry Lyndon. Jaws. Picnic At Hanging Rock. Tommy.

The two big names make my list, joining two big name snubs. Jaws has many quotable one-liners and pieces of dialogue which have long since entered the public conscience – my personal favourite always being the Indianapolis speech penned by Robert Shaw, Howard Sackler, and the great John Milius. In fact, the film as a whole features a number of writers and contributions even though Benchley and Carl Gottlieb get the main credits. Picnic At Hanging Rock is an ambiguous novel and the film takes that ambiguity to the next level by instilling a dreamlike tone to the narrative. Finally, Tommy sees Ken Russell (no stranger to stories concerning music and musicians) somehow concoct a somewhat straight film from The Who’s scattered rock opera, expanding loose threads and minor lyrics into a fully formed screenplay.

My Winner: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1975

Official Nominations: Barry Lyndon. The Four Musketeers. Funny Lady. The Magic Flute. The Man Who Would Be King.

I have no real complaints with this one, though I’m not sure Funny Lady really does enough to warrant a nomination. The Magic Flute is dubious too, given that it’s basically a stage opera. The other three films fall into the epic or literary adaptation category and there isn’t much to choose between them.

My Winner: The Man Who Would Be King

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My Nominations: The Man Who Would Be King. Barry Lyndon. The Four Musketeers. The Wind And The Lion. Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Picnic At Hanging Rock. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Stepford Wives.

A few extra films added, but again none of them truly stand out from any of the others. In that case I go for the most iconic option.

My Winner: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Original Score – 1975

Official Nominations: Jaws. Birds Do It, Bees Do It. Bite The Bullet. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The Wind And The Lion. Barry Lyndon. Tommy. Funny Lady.

It’s another year where the category is needlessly divided into Best Original Score and Best Adaptation Score. Just have Best Score, okay? Jaws and Barry Lyndon won their respective categories and if you’re not already humming the Jaws theme as you read this then you probably need to contact your Doctor post haste. I’m surprised Lyndon won over Funny Lady – usually it’s the musicals which win here. Either way, I’d be picking Tommy in that category. It’s not my favourite Who album or film, but it’s the best out of those three.

Birds Do It, Bees Do It (what? Fuck? Ah right.) is actually a documentary about just that. Yep, if you have a thing for watching frogs, chimps, and everything in between humping, then draw the curtains and stick this on. Gerald Fried is one of the great unsung composers, having worked on a bunch of early Kubrick films and just about every TV show from the 1950s onwards. Surprisingly, this score is not entirely made up of grunting and moistness. Bite The Bullet is a forgotten but interesting film about a cross country horse race and stars Gene Hackman, Jan Michael Vincent, Ben Johnson, James Coburn, and the Alex North soundtrack it typically sentimental without becoming schmaltzy.

When talking about One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest the score is something which rarely comes up. It’s use of a saw to get those ghostly ‘woo’ noises makes the score seem like a Western, and while the music as a whole is poignant and fitting I do think it lacks that big movie score hook to draw people in. Finally, The Wind And The Lion is a wonderful, rousing John Milius film which again few people remember. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is big, bombastic, and has all the things I love in film music – huge string arrangements and memorable cues and melodies. Still though… Jaws. 

My Winner: Jaws

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My Nominations: Jaws. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The Wind And The Lion. Tommy. Deep Red. Hard Times. The Man Who Would Be King. Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Nashville. Picnic At Hanging Rock. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Yakuza.

Deep Red is one of Goblin’s best, and funkiest scores – just listen to that bass and those high pitched, torturous squeals. You can see where Carpenter and many others got their inspiration from with this one. Hard Times has some wistful and tender guitar and string pieces which both counteract and fit with the violence and plot, while The man Who Would Be King has a typically rousing and patriotic theme. The Holy Grail has an unexpectedly authentic and stirring central theme, while the rest of the score has militaristic moments, elevator ad music, and jovially epic pieces. Nashville is the obvious snub here, especially considering how well the film was received – maybe something to do with the score being mainly songs than instrumental pieces. As much as I can’t stand country music, the score and film are of course satirical which makes them a little more enjoyable.

Despite making me think about The Karate Kid, the score for Picnic At Hanging Rock feels more modern than maybe anything else on the list. The mournful organ, the disjointed notes which drop off almost by mistake, there’s something airy and not quite right about the pieces here – the original ones or those based off classic pieces. It’s a stunning piece and would be my winner if not for a certain shark. The other omission which most would call a serious snub is of course for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Now, I don’t love the film as much as many people do, but I recognize both the influence, lasting power, and quality of the score and its songs. Finally, The Yakuza is a film no-one remembers even though it’s Sydney Pollack and Robert Mitchum. I love Japanese traditional music and instruments, especially when merged with Western sensibility. The Yakuza soundtrack is one of the finest examples of this clash of styles – and it doesn’t make me think of The Karate Kid (which I love by the way).

My Winner: Jaws

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

Best Art Direction – 1975

Official Nominations: Barry Lyndon. The Hindenberg. The Man Who Would Be King. Shampoo. The Sunshine Boys.

I’ve said it before, but the best nominees and options for this award are always period pieces – whether that be in a dramatized fact or an imagined future, or something somewhere between. Most of the nominees this year tick that box, though there are as always a few snubs perhaps more deserving. Barry Lyndon is the runaway winner. The Hindenberg hasn’t aged as well as others thanks to its reliance on special effects, but the overall design is still strong, while The man Who Would Be King is an old style epic which John Huston wanted to make twenty years earlier – it’s most notable today for its cast and look. Shampoo is very much of its time, even though it was set a decade earlier than its release date, but it has always felt more 70s than 60s to me, while The Sunshine Boys I don’t recall looking particularly special.

My Winner: Barry Lyndon

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My Nominations: Barry Lyndon. The Hindenberg. The Man Who Would Be King. The Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. The Day Of The Locust. Tommy. Monty Python And The Holy Grail. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Rollerball.

Nothing this year is going to take the win away from Barry Lyndon, but we do have a nice range of extras, from the glossy yet violent future of Rollerball to the manic excess of The Rocky Horror Picture Show; from the trope choking Holy Grail and the madness of Tommy to the sharper detail of both Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother and The Day Of The Locust.

My Winner: Barry Lyndon

Let us know your winner in the comments!