Best Writing (Adapted) – 1970

Official Nominations: MASH. Airport. Lovers And Other Strangers. I Never Sang For My Father. Women In Love.

There are a few films I’m surprised to see missing out this year, especially when they are exactly what typically get nominated. Larry Kramer and Ken Russell crafted the script for Women In Love, a largely faithful adaptation which balances theme presented via dialogue with performance and visuals. I Never Sang For My Father is a little film which says a lot, again the screenplay allows room for performance rather than relying entirely on obtuse or emotive outbursts while Lovers And Other Strangers is just the sort of light distraction some people desired in 1970. Airport and MASH were always going to be the forerunners, and MASH is the more deserving winner.

My Winner: MASH

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My Nominations: MASH. Airport. Women In Love. Little Big Man. Patton. The Boys In The Band. Cromwell. The Magic Christian. Dodesukaden. The Conformist.

Yeah, I’m putting Patton here – it’s where it should be. I add two offbeat choices in Kurosawa’s Dodesukaden, perhaps the strangest film he ever directed (about people who live in a dump/junk yard) and The Magic Christian which brings together one of the oddest casts ever seen on film to make an episodic skit-show adaptation. Cromwell probably deserved a nomination but by this point audiences were not so interested in historical epics, The Boys In The Band would have been a bold nomination, and Little Big Man was a bit of a snub. Finally – The Conformist – a film as dense in theme as it is beautiful.

My Winner: MASH

Let us know in the comments which film you would award the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for 1970!

Best Writing (Original) – 1970

Official Nominations: Patton. Five Easy Pieces. Joe. Love Story. My Night At Maud’s.

Patton was a deserving winner this year thought it doesn’t sit so nicely with me given that it’s a biopic – biopics to me, especially those which strive to be as close to reality as possible, never feel original. You have Patton’s entire life to pull from – his own speeches, witness testaments etc etc, so this isn’t something which was simply pulled from nowhere. Hell, it was even based on a couple of biographies. Obviously it was well written, but I don’t know if it belongs here. Carole Eastman on the other hand crafted her original Screenplay for Five Easy Pieces the more traditional way. It’s not one which is famously quotable, but I put that down to fewer people having seen it over the years. Everyone knows Love Story, but it’s really only here for a couple of soppy one-liners that don’t really make sense. My Night At Maud’s is a film all about the script and dialogue given that the action is largely replaced with text. As a foreign film it’s a strange nomination as it never stood a chance at winning and was probably seen by a small circle outside of the critics. It’s a good screenplay though but not one I would choose over some of the other films. Joe is the final nomination and it gets my win. It’s interesting because it is both dated and yet mirrors much of what is happening in North America and across the world today. Norman Wexler’s scripts were always of their time and never shied away from delving into the grittier points of subculture – the Academy would never pick it, I’m still surprised it was even nominated, but it gets my vote.

My Winner: Joe

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My Nominations: Five Easy Pieces. Joe. The Aristocats. Brewster McCloud.

I add three to my list – The Aristocats probably shouldn’t be here as it’s not even that interesting a movie but it’s fairly unique for Disney. Brewster McCloud is just funny, will make you laugh guaranteed, and is a precursor to a lot of movies which would come in a few years time. Any pick is fine, but when humour works, go with humour.

My Winner: Brewster McCloud

Let us know in the comments which film gets your vote for Best Original Screenplay of 1970!

Best Animated Feature – 1970

My Nominations: The Aristocats. 30,000 Miles Under the Sea. The Phantom Toll Booth

In the seventies we were still so ‘early’ in the lifecycle of animated movies that Disney essential owned the market. As the decade progressed, Japan would see increased output of increasing quality and a few more companies would begin to emerge. MGM’s The Phantom Tollbooth has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but was not a success and MGM’s animation studio closed soon after. I prefer this to the similar (in style) Bedknobs and Broomsticks. 30,000 Miles Under The Sea is another early Toei Animation fantasy with plenty of action, but I think we all know what the winner here will be. The Aristocats is a minor Disney movie though fairly unique with its animal characters and musical approach.

My Winner: The Aristocats.

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Let us know in the comments which animated feature of 1970 you would pick as winner!

Best Score – 1970

Official Nominations: Love Story. Airport. Cromwell. Patton. I Girasoli. Let It Be. The Baby Maker. A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Darling Lili. Scrooge.

This year the category was again split in two – with Love Story winning in the ‘Not A Musical’ category, and Let It Be winning the Best Score or Adaptation category. It’s not surprising that Love Story won here – the main piano theme by is synonymous with tragedy and has been used in other media, usually for comedy purposes. It’s a great piece, it feels a little Western, tragic in nature, haunting, sweet, but also quite weird or alien. While none of the other pieces reach these heights of being recognizable many of them are nice and simple and memorable for anyone who has seen the film, running the gamut from pastoral love themes to barren sadness. Alfred Newman’s soundtrack is tense and pulsating – a lot of bass and a high tempo, interrupted by stabbing high strings, while also giving a sense of the rushing, bustle, and escapism suggested by airports. The soundtrack does have other notable moments – a lazy love theme staving off the tension of the flight and landing. Frank Cordell’s theme for Cromwell is surprisingly operatic and reminds me of the later The Omen and even the even later Conan The Barbarian while Jerry Goldmsith works his magic once again on Patton. His knack for brief cues and refrains is superb, and everyone will recognise those fading, recurring triple notes which open the movie while the stirring strings and flutes lurk in. The whole soundtrack is rousing, passionate, patriotic, but doesn’t celebrate in war – remembering the tragedy and sacrifice. Our last nomination in this side of the category comes from Italy – I Girasoli or The Sunflower sees Henry Mancini lending some heartfelt sadness to the tragic drama – the main theme shares a lot with that of Love Story. 

Let It Be speaks for itself, a collection of songs which appear on the album of the same name, albeit in different forms, along with covers and songs from other albums. A Boy Named Charlie Brown shouldn’t really be here given that it came out in 1969 while The Baby Maker is a bizarre choice on the surface – Fred Karlin’s soundtrack peppered with hippy folk sensibility, rock freakouts, and light flute notes. The final nominations are less surprising – with both Darling Lili and Scrooge being musicals. Musicals being what they are, I tend to think of the actual songs before the soundtrack so neither stand out for me from an incidental point of view. Let It Be easily wins in the second category for me, but the first is much more difficult as each is a worthy choice.

My Winner(s): Patton and Let It Be

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My Nominations: Patton. Let It Be. Love Story. Cromwell. The Aristocats. The Bird With The Crystal Plummage. Gimme Shelter. Woodstock. Kelly’s Heroes. MASH. Zabriskie Point.

I bring only three over to the dark side – if Let It Be gets nominated, then so surely must Gimme Shelter and Woodstock – both featuring great music and performances from some of the most important bands of all time. I have to throw The Aristocats in there because, even though I’m not a huge fan of the film or of Jazz, it is a film about music and has a certain vibe and energy to it. A much easier nomination would be MASH – aside from the obvious Suicide Is Painless theme, there are other mini compositions which bring humour to the military standards. Another obvious one for me is Zabriskie Point – another soundtrack featuring popular artists of the time, but one which blends songs with instrumental pieces. Lalo Schifrin brings the funk to Kelly’s Heros – a carefree swagger characterized by Eastwood and Co in the movie while Ennio Morricone got it together with Dario Argento long before Goblin did, and in doing so created something creepy and beautiful (if a little similar to Rosemary’s Baby in places).

My Winner: Patton.

Let us know in the comments which Score of 1970 you would pick as winner!

Best Costume Design – 1970

Official Nominations : Cromwell. Airport. Darling Lili. The Hawaiians. Scrooge.

Cromwell is a worthy winner, though on a personal note this era and style does little for me from any sort of aesthetic viewpoint. Airport gets a nod for the sheer scope and diversity on offer, Scrooge is much the same as Cromwell though a couple of centuries later. The Hawaiians and Darling Lili don’t really need to be here – both are fine but nothing out of the ordinary.

My Winner: Cromwell

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My Nominations: Cromwell. Tora Tora Tora. MASH. Brewster McCloud. Catch-22. The Conformist.

If I add one war movie, then I have to add them all – my three picks here all being of a similar quality. The Conformist gets another nomination, because of course it does, while Brewster McCloud is hilarious. It deserves a nomination for those wings alone. Well, that’s about the only ‘costume’ costume in the whole things, but anyway….

My Winner: Cromwell

Which film of 1970 do you pick as the winner for Best Costume Design – let us know in the comments!

Best Make-Up – 1970

My Nominations: Beneath The Planet Of The Apes. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. The Dunwich Horror.

No official category this year, as you well know, so you’ll have to put up with my picks scant as they are. There’s a wealth of crappy to average horror movies this year, The Dunwhich Horror just about scrapes by due to interesting ideas though it’s hackneyed and terribly dated now – decent make-up in places. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage is much better and not as gory and stylized as Argento’s later efforts. While Beneath The Planet Of The Apes doesn’t really advance the work achieved in the early entry in the series, it does offer some mutants as well as the apes, and is still my choice as winner.

My Winner: Beneath The Planet Of The Apes.

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What film of 1970 would you give the Best Make-Up award to? Let Us know in the comments!

Best Cinematography – 1970

Official Nominations: Ryan’s Daughter. Patton. Airport. Tora! Tora! Tora! Women In Love

Some good picks this year, but Lean’s film is really the only choice with Freddie Young picking up the official win for giving Americans false ideals of what Ireland looks like on an average day. The other movies are each fine efforts and each look great, but they don’t stand a chance here.

My Winner: Ryan’s Daughter

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My Nominations: Ryan’s Daughter. Patton. Tora! Tora! Tora! The Conformist. Little Big Man. MASH. Zabriskie Point.

It’s a close one between Freddie Young and Vittorio Storaro. In the end, Ryan’s Daughter simply isn’t unique enough – while it looks great, it doesn’t do anything new – The Conformist takes its visuals to the next level making them an indelible part of the story and is unique. Storaro also did The Spider Stratagem and The Bird With The Crystal Plumage this year – the man is a beast. I add MASH and Little Big Man, but they have no hope of winning – the only other possibility being Zabriskie Point with Alfio Contini’s stunning work deserving of praise.

My Winner: The Conformist

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Let us know in the comments which film of 1970 you think has the Best Cinematography!