Best Actress – 1977

Official Nominations: Diane Keaton. Anne Bancroft. Jane Fonda. Shirley Maclaine. Marsha Mason.

This is a strange one for me – obviously the Academy was going to pick Diane Keaton but for me the performance is kind of… meh? She smiles an awful lot, she sings well, but there’s too much whining to shroud the fact that there is little emotional depth. It’s a weird performance which ranges from perfectly natural in places to incredibly forced in others. It’s a pity there isn’t another truly great choice. Anne Bancroft and Shirley Maclaine are both good in The Turning Point while Jane Fonda is great in Julia as a woman trying to track down her titular childhood friend. Finally, Mason is largely overshadowed by Richard Dreyfuss in an okay performance – the general consensus is that we have 5 good actresses delivering five performances that I wouldn’t ordinarily pick.

My Winner: Jane Fonda

fon.jpg

My Nominations: Diane Keaton. Carrie Fisher. Shelly Duvall. Jane Fonda. Isabelle Hupert.

A ha! I pick Diane Keaton anyway, but not for Annie Hall – for Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Shelly Duvall is not far behind with her manic portrayal of a woman on the verge in 3 Women, while Isabelle Hupert shines again in The Lacemaker – one of her more successful earlier roles. Finally, Carrie Fisher entered the hearts and minds of millions as the feisty Princess Leia, a woman who defined a decade and a genre. Any of the performances here are worthy of the win, but as I’m a selfish so and so and this is my little slice of the internet, it’s going to be Fisher FTW.

My Winner: Carrie Fisher.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Actor – 1977

Official Nominations: Richard Dreyfuss. Woody Allen. Richard Burton. Marcello Mastroianni. John Travlota.

Richard Dreyfuss became the youngest Best Actor winner this year for The Goodbye Girl. In all honesty, it isn’t the greatest selection of performances. Obviously Woody Allen gets a nomination for Annie Hall but he’s essentially playing the same character he always does. If you’re going to nominate his acting for any film, I suppose it’s going to be this one. We follow this with two veteran nominations – Richard Burton in Equus – fine, but hardly his best performance, and Marcello Mastroianni – again it was bound to happen sooner or later, but again not his best performance. That means it’s between Travolta and Dreyfuss. I’m not a big fan of either movie – romantic comedies and musicals are basically my two least favourite genres so there’s a certain amount of bias I would need to overcome to pick one of those two. There’s no doubting the pedigree of these movies and performances, but they’re not something I’d go out of my way to watch again. Saturday Night Fever is certainly the more iconic of the two films and Travolta’s full-blooded performance made him a star, while Dreyfuss shows keen comic ability and makes a fairly generic comedy more entertaining.

My Winner: John Travolta

Tony-Manero-saturday-night-fever-37235506-853-480.jpg

My Nominations: John Travolta. Richard Dreyfuss. Keith Carradine. Harvey Keitel. Rutger Hauer. Roy Scheider. Mark Hamill.

Only Travolta makes it over to my list. But what’s this, you say? Richard Dreyfuss is there too? Yes, that’s because of a little film called Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Carradine and Keitel get nods for their work on The Duelists while Rutger Hauer continues his sterling European work in the superb Soldier Of Orange. Roy Scheider keeps his 70s streak running with the tense and exciting remake Sorceror, while a young Mark Hamill introduces the world to Luke Skywalker, capturing perfectly the wide-eyed innocence and wonder of every kid who wants to be a hero. My bias is showing again.

My Winner: Mark Hamill

Who do you pick as the Best Actor of 1977? Let us know in the comments!

1977 Academy Awards – An Introduction

3p

The 50th Academy awards show was again marred by controversy with Vanessa Redgrave using her victory speech to thank those who ‘stood firm’ against fascism in all its forms, while Paddy Chayefsky later retorted that the ceremony was not a platform for political propaganda. Just so all you millennials are aware that political/celebrity standoffs aren’t a new thing and were going on while you were still swimming in your daddy’s nutsack. Elsewhere, a little movie called Star Wars won a few awards alongside Annie Hall, while Julia, Turning Point, and Close Encounters of The Third Kind earned a bunch of nominations. I think you can guess where my votes will be going.

Honorary Awards went to Margaret Booth, Charlton Heston, and Walter Mirisch while Sammy Davis Jr and Marvin Hamlisch performed a tribute for the many performers who died in 1977. Presenters included C3PO and R2D2, Olivia Newton-John, and Jon Voight.

Join me in the next few weeks to see which awards went to which movies, and feel free to leave your comments and picks too!

Best Cast – 1976

My Nominations: Voyage Of The Damned. Taxi Driver. Rocky. The Omen. Network. Murder By Death. Marathon Man. The Last Tycoon. The Cassandra Crossing. All The President’s Men.

We close off the 1976 Academy Awards with the category I have most fun with. What’s interesting this year is that we don’t have a single War Ensemble (hello Slayer fans) movie nominated. There were some films of that ilk this year, but I don’t think they merit the nomination. That leaves us with the tail end of the Disaster movie boom, the big Oscar winners, and honestly not too many surprises.

All The President’s Men and Network are the heavy hitters – earning seven performance based Oscar nominations between them and four wins. If either of those is your choice, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone to argue against you. Taxi Driver and Rocky aren’t too far behind in terms of Awards, with De Niro cementing his name as one of the greats, and both Jodie Foster and Sylvester Stallone emerging as stars alongside such stalwarts as Burgess Meredith and Peter Boyle. The Omen continues the 70s trend of putting legitimate stars into horror movies, with Gregory Peck and Lee Remick appearing alongside the devilish Billie Whitelaw and Harvey Spencer Stephens.

Marathon Man is as horrific as anything you’ll see this year, that horror heightened by a great cast including Dustin Hoffman, Lawrence Olivier, and Roy Scheider while The Last Tycoon is another De Niro vehicle pitting him alongside no less than Tony Curtis, Jack Nicholson, Robert Mitchum, Donald Pleasance, Ray Milland, Theresa Russell, Angelica Huston, and Jeanne Moreau. Murder By Death also features an ensemble of respected thespian – Alec Guiness, Peter Falk, Maggie Smith, David Niven, and Peter Sellers all contribute. The Cassandra Crossing is one of several forgotten disaster movies of the era, worth a watch if you enjoy Alida Valli, Ava Gardner, Lee Strasberg, OJ Simpson, Martin Sheen, Sophia Loren, Burt Lancaster, and Richard Harris, while Voyage Of The Damned goes even more European merging Max Von Sydow, Oskar Werner, Jose Ferrer, Fernando Rey, and Maria Schell with James Mason, Fay Dunaway, Malcolm McDowell, Orson Welles, Katharine Ross, Jonathan Pryce and, ahem, Leonerd Rossiter. While the ensemble pieces are impressive purely looking at the names, they’re not as successful as the big hitters this year. I’m going with my gut again.

My Winner: Rocky

b6df12ea1b04bc5bdd7bb5cd60de1ef0.jpg

Controversial? Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Stunt Work – 1976

My Nominations: Rocky. The Eagle Has Landed. The Gumball Rally. King Kong. Death Cheaters.

Although there were plenty of war and disaster movies this year, most don’t meet the grade in terms of overall quality or depth of action and stunt work. The Eagle Has Landed has a greater pedigree than most, given that John Sturges (his final film) directs. It follows the format of so many of the British war movies of the era – a big name cast in a loose retelling of an actual event, with the heroism and action pumped to the max. It’s another one of those movies we’re fed over here and it has plenty of running and gunning to satisfy a certain breed of moviegoer (me). Rocky… it’s a toss-up on whether or  not you class the fight scenes as stunts – I tend towards yes, given that they were choreographed and edited to look as gripping and spectacular as possible. King Kong is as large a spectacle as the original and veers between disaster movie and romance smoothly, with plenty of big budget stunts to remember. My final two picks are more straightforward stunt based movies – and two which tend to be forgotten alongside the bigger names of the era. The Gumball Rally has the cars and the stars, and given that its based on the cross country race you can expect fast, dangerous driving between cars and motorcycles with plenty of crashes, screeching tires, jumps, flips, explosions, and general mayhem. If you prefer the lesser Cannonball from the same year, by all means go for it. Finally, the largely unknown Deathcheaters is an excuse to show off by a bunch of experienced industry stuntmen – it’s a little more… dangerous… than most Hollywood efforts, but don’t expect the most realistic story or convincing performances. Expect fights, explosions, dune-buggy chases, guns, and a ridiculously fun opening 10-15 minutes.

My Winner: Deathcheaters

Deathcheaters-Jeep-Airborne

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1976

Official Nominations: Fellini’s Casanova. Bound For Glory. The Incredible Sarah. The Passover Plot. The Seven Percent Solution.

On the surface this sure seems like a stinker – if the average movie fan has seen any of these it’ll be Bound For Glory which, set in the 1930s only forty years earlier doesn’t exactly strike the period itch adequately. Fellini’s Casanova got the win this year, scratching that itch in a more satisfying manner being set in the 1700s. It feels like an underrated Fellini entry but it’s probably the best adaptation of the life of Casanova, portraying the character in a less than favourable light. The other three films… they range from passable to interesting but none have a hope of winning here.

My Winner: Fellini’s Casanova

casanova.jpg

My Nominations: Fellini’s Casanova. Bugsy Malone. Buffalo Bill And The Indians. Logan’s Run.

Although I thoroughly loath the film, Bugsy Malone deserves a nod here – not only getting the period marks but also for fitting all those suits and dresses on the kids. Buffalo Bill And The Indians has some snazzy designs while Logan’s Run may be dated now but still retains a unique enough set of designs for its dystopian paradise/nightmare.

My Winner: Fellini’s Casanova

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Writing (Adapted) – 1976

Official Nominations: All The President’s Men. Bound For Glory. Fellini’s Cassanova. The Seven Percent Solution. Voyage Of The Damned.

An obvious front-runner and inevitable winner this year. All The President’s Men – even without a huge number of iconic one-liners or memorable dialogue it’s one of the most famous screenplays of its era – William Goldman adapting Bernstein and Woodward’s game changer. Goldman’s own game-changer in defining how cinematic the film should be, was removing most of the second half of the source material, focusing on the the initial investigation rather than the downfall. Bound For Glory is an engaging enough adaptation of Woody Guthrie’s pseudo-biography while The Seven Percent Solution is a star-studded Sherlock Holmes story based on a book not written by Doyle.

Voyage Of The Damned feels like a ‘we have to nominate this because the book was important’ nomination while Cassanova is Fellini’s adaptation of Cassanova’s autobiography, twisting the character into a more self-obsessed character with tragic traits.

My Winner: All The President’s Men

C8-d1qbVYAAKg3V

My Nominations: All The President’s Men. Family Plot. The Last Tycoon. Marathon Man.

Only the official winner follows the money over to my list. Family Plot – it’s not the best Hitchcock movie but it’s still a worthy, and funny, thriller – it wasn’t the best year for adaptations so when I couple that with the fact that this was Hitchock’s final movie, it seems fitting to see one last nomination. The Last Tycoon takes the brave approach of adapting an unfinished F Scott Fitzgerald novel, using the non-ending as an opportunity to convey a disjointed plot. Goldman gets a second nomination, this time adapting his own novel Marathon Man with terrifying results.

My Winner:All The President’s Men

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Writing (Original) – 1976

Official Nominations: Network. Cousin Cousine. The Front. Rocky. Seven Beauties.

Two big hitters, two foreign oddities, and a Woody Allen movie that he didn’t write or direct make up the list this year. Paddy Chayefsky won his third Writing Oscar this year (an unbeaten record) for Network, a film known for its impassioned speeches and angry one-liners. More than that, the script is replete with social satire which has only become more prescient over time. Rocky is famously the script that everyone wanted to buy, but Stallone wasn’t selling unless he could star. The gamble paid off and Stallone created one of the most famous, enduring heroes of Hollywood. The story borrows heavily from notions of The American Dream and from early rags to riches stories, but updates it to modern day and does so with such charm that it’s impossible to not love.

It’s not often that foreign movies get nominated in this category, but we got two this year – a sign that the daring indie movement of Hollywood was being mirrored elsewhere. Cousin Cousine has a knack for understanding and representing forbidden and budding romance while Seven Beauties is a dark, long spanned tale of one despicable character living through an even more despicable landscape which both shapes and nurtures him. Finally, The Front is a movie about the Hollywood Blacklist of the 1950s made by people who were blacklisted – while good, while funny, and while an interesting subject, it feels like an apologetic nomination.

My Winner: Network

network

My Nominations: Network. Rocky. Seven Beauties. Murder By Death. The Omen. Silent Movie. Taxi Driver.

Three Official choices make my list, joining a couple of spoofs, a horror classic, and a hefty snub. If we start with the snub, it seems unusual in retrospect that Taxi Driver was not nominated, given the reverence it has received over the years. I think that it deserves a nod over one of the foreign movies, definitely over The Front. It’s an incisive look into a character’s moral viewpoint of a dirty world and quotable dialogue is scattered from page to screen. Murder By Death is that rare Neil Simon comedy that I fully enjoy, riffing on those mansion mysteries of old while I find that Silent Movie is one of the more clever comedy screenplays of the era despite the fact that only a single word is spoken. Finally, The Omen’s impact on film and on popular culture should not be underestimated, providing successive generations who vaguely preach ignorance from behind the pulpit with misinformation they purport as truth, and fans with a succession of lines to quote at each other.

My Winner: The Omen

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Art Direction – 1976

Official Nominations: All The President’s Men. The Incredible Sarah. The Last Tycoon. Logan’s Run. The Shootist.

A clear front-runner and winner this year with All The President’s Men being set in the familiar locations of a bustling workplace and real life DC hotspots. The newsroom was entirely recreated for the film, but you wouldn’t know it given how realistic it all feels, while everything from the lighting to the costumes feel sweaty and tangible and at once closing in and expanding with possibility. Logan’s Run gets the Sci-Fi nod and is one of the more unique (for the time) visions of a possible future. Cheesy now, I’ve always had a fondness for the sets and the overall look. The Last Tycoon is probably famed now more for its authentic setting than the plot or performances while I’m not sure anyone remembers (or needs to remember) The Incredible Sarah. Finally, The Shootist is a now underrated Don Siegel Western featuring John Wayne – his last role – his character bemoaning the end of ‘The Old West’ and the film representing loss in both its look and plot.

My Winner: All The President’s Men

C8-d1qbVYAAKg3V

My Nominations: All The President’s Men. The Last Tycoon. Logan’s Run. 1900. Bugsy Malone. Carrie. Marathon Man.

I add everything from musicals to horror movies to the three copied from the Official Nominations. 1900 is an epic in every sense, and if there is one thing most epics have in common it is a painstaking attention to detail, with Bertolucci and co showcasing the skills learned in previous stylized films such as The Conformist. Bugsy Malone, as much as I hate it, has a very specific look and feel which suits the malarkey of the story and its gimmick perfectly. Carrie is an exercise in stylized editing and post-menstrual pressure with both home and school rarely shown to be anything more than different levels of hell, while Marathon Man uses shadow and light to torment the viewer like few other films.

My Winner: All The President’s Men

Let us know your winner in the comments!