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!

Best Writing (Original) – 1975

Official Nominations: Dog Day Afternoon. Amarcord. And Now My Love. Lies My Father Told Me. Shampoo

I’m surprised they didn’t pick Shampoo as the winner here, but Dog Day Afternoon is the correct choice. Making criminals look like what they actually are… humans. Flawed humans. That was revolutionary in the 70s and in today’s ludicrous black and white culture it would be ludicrous now. Dog Day Afternoon depicts the chaotic botched robbery of a bank and spends most of its time showing the crooks in a sympathetic light. Maybe sympathetic is not the right term, but we spend so much time with them and thanks to a tight script and great performances you can’t help but either take or understand their side. Even though it was an Original script, it was based off real life events and the guys it was inspired by were given some of the royalties of the film. The banter between the bad guys and their hostages was apparently true to life, and many of the film’s best quotes were improvised – that shouldn’t stop the screenplay from winning the award – it’s certainly more memorable than anything else nominated.

Amarcord is funny, weird and funny, and while it’s autobiographical, Italian, and farcical, there’s enough wisdom in the screenplay to make any audience understand what it’s all about. If Amarcord was an odd choice for The Academy, then And Now My Love goes even further, seeming almost like The Academy was overcompensating for years of ignoring foreign films. The film as a whole is good, an epic of sorts, but its the editing which makes the screenplay standout. I’m not convinced Lies My Father Told Me should really be here, given that it was designed decades earlier in a different form, eventually becoming a film – either way it’s a fine story of childhood but one with an inherent distance from me as it features the growing pains of a Canadian Jewish Boy. Shampoo is the runner up here, smart, funny, and preoccupied with the freewheeling sexual politics of the time.

My Winner: Dog Day Afternoon

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My Nominations: Dog Day Afternoon. Shampoo. The Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. Nashville. Night Moves.

In hindsight it’s not surprising The Academy officially nominated so many foreign films this year – there’s little else to choose from. Most of the notable entries were adapted from another source. The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother is touch and go given that it’s based off an existing literary character, sort of. It’s a long forgotten Gene Wilder film, very much in the vein of the stuff he was doing with Mel Brooks at the time – if you like those, you’ll like this. Nashville missed out on getting a nomination here which always seemed odd, while Night Moves is a cool neo-noir with a good lead performance from Gene Hackman. The film eschews much of the power and characteristics of the old school detectives – they’re still macho, but rendered powerless, impotent, and with an even more skewed moral compass.

My Winner: Dog Day Afternoon

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Music (Scoring) – 1975

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

There are a very small handful of movie scores, or musical cues that everyone knows; Most of them were written by John Williams. Jaws may be the most recognizable of them all. Doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the movie or not, you just know it. While the two note melody to symbolize the shark’s arrival was basically nicked from Bambi, it works brilliantly here, and Williams cranks up the tension by having it build and become more frenzied as it progresses. It isn’t all scares though, it also features plenty of more subdued moments which Williams would recycle and hone in later Spielberg and Lucas productions.

The Wind And The Lion is in with a shot of winning in any other year, a boisterous, heroic sounding theme with enough Eastern mystery to enchant Western audiences. Birds Do It, Bees Do It, remarkably isn’t a camp 1940s musical. No, it’s a documentary about animals fucking, featuring scenes of animals fucking. Yep. The score is bizarre – on one hand, it’s way too huge to be associated with animals frolicking about and feels completely out of place, on the other hand there are many twee moments which feel like something from a Tom And Jerry cartoon – if an animal falls over, you’ll get a flute going ‘weeeeeooo’ downwards for example. It’s a musical laugh track. Also, it’s a 1974 documentary, so it should’t be here.

Bite The Bullet feels outdated, a score two decades late for a film set seven decades earlier – some good moments, but doesn’t feel right for the Seventies. Nitzche’s score for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest shouldn’t work, but it somehow does – the weird saw playing and glass circling with spiked percussion sounding like a mind in free fall, childlike, almost anti-music – yet it fits the film wonderfully. Barry Lyndon picked up the win for best Adapted Score – it’s great, merging classical pieces you already know from various eras, while Tommy is as good as you would expect from The Who. It’s not my favourite album from the band, but it has its moments. Funny Lady is wank.

My Winner: Jaws

My Nominations: Jaws. One Flew Over The Cucko’s Nest. Barry Lyndon. Tommy. Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Deep Red. Katie Tippel. Lisztomania. The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I add a few obvious picks on my list – if you have Tommy and Barry Lyndon, then you have to have Lisztomania, with Yes providing the virtuoso licks. You can’t mention music in 1975 movies without mentioning Goblin – their soundtrack for Deep Red is one of their best, and head and shoulders above most scores which usually get nominated in this category. Similarly, there’s no getting away from the strength and influence of The Rocky Horror Picture ShowKatie Tippel has many good moments, mystery and romance in equal measure, while Monty Python And The Holy Grail probably shouldn’t be nominated given that it was mainly pulled together from existing sources, but there are enough original pieces and it’s edited to the film so skillfully that you wouldn’t know otherwise.

My Winner: Jaws

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Foreign Film – 1975

Official Nominations: Dersu Uzala.  Letters From Marusia. The Promised Land. Sandakan No.8. Profuma di Donna.

Of all the Kurosawa films, you’d think Dersu Uzala would be pretty far down the list. It’s not an immediate masterpiece like Seven Samurai, but it’s still great. It’s based on the life of an educated Russian explorer and the nomadic hunter of the title – how these two men work and learn and get older together and come to a mutual respect in a harsh but beautiful wilderness. It you know anything about how Kurosawa directs and frames, then you think of a Russian wilderness you can imagine what how Kurosawa would film it. It’s a lovely, poignant, tragic story too which will remind viewers of something like Ikiru.  Letters From Marusia is pretty tragic too, a film based on a real life event when a town of miners decided to strike for better working conditions. Knowing that this could lead to military intervention from their government, they try to defend themselves. The Promised Land isn’t the most exciting film Wajda ever made, but it is stark and uncompromising, following the lives of three friends trying to set up a business and make loadsa money. Interestingly it has a similar ending to the previous film nominated. Sandakan No. 8 is another stark one, taking a damning look at the way women, or at least prostitutes can be treated in the country. It’s about a young girl sold into prostitution, and how she grows up in the business becoming disillusioned with life and people and how she can’t reintegrate into society once she comes home.  Finally, Profuma di donna is the original version of Scent Of A Woman. It’s actually pretty similar, except it’s in the 70s and in Italy. I’m not a huge fan of either film though.

My Winner: Dersu Uzala

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My Nominations: Dersu Uzala. Deep Red. Furtivos. Graveyard Of Honour. Inserts. Katie Tippel. The Land That Time Forgot. The Man Who Would Be King. Monty Python And The Holy Grail. The Passenger. Picnic At Hanging Rock. Seven Beauties. The Story Of Adele H. Tommy.

Yikes, what a year. There’s a whole host of great films here, a few I didn’t include and a few I haven’t seen which would likely warrant inclusion. My list does of course include guilty pleasures, but if you enjoy them more than those genuinely nominated that’s good enough for me. Only Kurosawa’s film makes it to my list, but there’s no shortage of classics to accompany it. Staying in Japan we have Kinji Fukasaku’s seminal Yakuza thriller Graveyard Of Honour about the torrid life of one gangster, featuring a number of stunning stunts. Staying in the East we have Picnic At Hanging Rock, one of Australia’s finest films of the decade, haunting, ambiguous, beautiful.

The Land That Time Forgot is a bit of cheat given it’s a joint US/UK production, but I include it here anyway as it is one of the most entertaining films of the era and maybe the best example of the Lost World genre ever committed to screen. Dated now, and not exactly filled with acting greats, it’s nevertheless a personal favourite. Another exciting US/UK venture is The Man Who Would Be King in which John Huston makes a rollicking, if overlong epic while Monty Python And The Holy Grail sees the Python group unleashes their unique brand of insanity upon the world. Tommy is maybe the best, certainly the most regarded, movie based on an album.

Elsewhere in Europe, Antonioni shows off in his films about abandonment and escape – The Passenger features shots and camerawork which still power to wow in today’s world of digital trickery. Paul Verhoeven gives us the life of Katie Tippel in typically sexualized style while Inserts examines in humourous style the options available (porn) for silent actors when talkies became popular – two films which were fairly shocking for the time but never found a worldwide audience. Furtivos is one of Spain’s best films and is crying out to find a new audience – an uncomfortable, uncompromising drama about a deceptive hunter and his monstrous mother, while Seven Beauties is similarly controversial as we follow the life of an Italian scumbag who will do anything to survive – another film which deserves a look by modern viewers. Finally, The Story Of Adele H is Truffaut’s biography of one of Victor Hugo’s daughters as she becomes obsessed with a man, following him around the world in an entirely unrequited path of destruction.

My Winner: Monty Python And The Holy Grail

Let us know your winning pick in the comments!

Best Cinematography – 1975

Official Nominations: Barry Lyndon. The Day Of The Locust. Funny Lady. The Hindenburg. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

One of these is not like the others. The Academy just had to nominate a Streisand movie for something so Funny Lady gets five nominations, this the least deserved. I don’t know if One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest really needs to be here either, but The Hindenburg is worthy even if it isn’t all that great a film. The Day Of The Locust is the only real competition here – while the set design is the highlight, the overall look of the film is strong enough to stand out. Barry Lyndon is the only choice here, with John Alcott and Kubrick working in tandem to create one of the most beautiful looking films of all time – from gorgeous interior lighting to the wide exteriors of various locations it’s of the easiest wins in this category.

My Winner: Barry Lyndon

My Nominations: Bite The Bullet. The Passenger. Barry Lyndon. Jaws. Picnic At Hanging Rock. Deep Red.

There are a number of notable snubs this year – Jaws being the most obvious  omission. When I was young, the visions of Amity, the visions of the beach and the ocean were my first glimpses of what North America Summers really looked like – in Northern Ireland it’s grey 90% of the year, so those hazy visuals were like  dream. Where the look truly excels from a technical standpoint is the variety of shots – not only the famous zoom to Brody, but the underwater creeping shots, the on the surface bobbing, the longer shots conveying the isolation of the three men in the ocean, and more. From a purely visual point of view, The Passenger may be the only film this year to rival Barry Lyndon, with long shots which are never less than stunning and make you wonder how they were achieved.

Bite The Bullet is all but forgotten now, a shame given it was directed by Richard Brooks and features Gene Hackman, James Coburn, Jan Michael Vincent, and Candice Bergen. It’s basically a bunch of different characters involved in a cross country horse race – think Cannonball Run but without the comedy and cars, but it looks great and showcases plenty of stunning locations. Deep Red, while not as visually stunning is certain later work, features Dario Argento honing his style alongside Luigi Kuveiller. Finally, Picnic At Hanging Rock dazzles not only because of its uncertain ending and chilling tone, but because of the way the cinematography complements the ambiguity, everything looking idyllic and dreamlike.

My Winner: Barry Lyndon

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Picture – 1975

Official Nominations: One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest. Jaws. Dog Day Afternoon. Barry Lyndon. Nashville

Jeepers, what do you do with this category? Five undisputed classics including three which have been personal favourites for most of my life. Anything you pick here is a worthy winner, but lets go through them anyway. One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest was the official winner and only the second movie ever to win the five major categories. If you’re here then you already know the story, but just in case – Jack Nicholson’s character RP McMurphy (who people forget is actually a scumbag criminal) is moved from prison to a mental institution because he thinks he’ll have an easier time. He meets the other inmates, has a lot of fun bending the rules, and clashes with the vicious lead Nurse. It’s iconic, filled with great scenes and performances, and runs the gamut from side-splitting laughs, to shocks, and tragedy. It’s a must see.

Next up is Jaws. Don’t even try to tell me you haven’t seen Jaws. Brody, Quint, Hooper, Orca, ‘we’re gonna need a bigger boat’ etc. Even if you don’t watch movies, you watch Jaws. Dog Day Afternoon also features iconic moments and is led by a blistering Al Pacino performance – when people begin watching Pacino movies, this film is one you’ll want to see as soon as possible, but it’s great for other reasons too – funny moments, an air of inevitability, and the general anti-establishment tone controlled by Sidney Lumet mean it’s a cult classic.

Barry Lyndon is Stanley Kubrick’s return, this time a period piece about the adventures of the titular character. Perhaps overlong and not as controversial or immediately engaging as some of his more popular work, it is nevertheless one of the most beautifully shot films ever. Finally, it’s Nashville. Possibly my least favourite film here, but when you look at the other four that isn’t a negative statement – it’s another masterstroke by Altman. In any other year any of these films would be in contention for a win, the fact that I enjoy it even though it’s a musical is a testament to its quality. It’s hilarious with a touch of the surreal, and bolstered by a bunch of good performances. For my win, I go with the one I know and love best.

My Winner: Jaws

My Nominations: One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest. Jaws. Dog Day Afternoon. Barry Lyndon. Nashville. The Holy Grail. Picnic At Hanging Rock

As great as the nominations are this year, there aren’t too many obvious choices to add or replace. Having said that, I add two personal favourites which never stood a chance of ever getting nominated. Monty Python And The Holy Grail is sheer British anarchy at its finest, turning comedy, and film, on its head in a parade of songs, violence, silliness, fourth wall breaking, and general inspired nonsense while Picnic At Hanging Rock is another symbol of the creativity emerging from Oz in the 70s. It’s an ambiguous mystery with definite beauty, a haunting score and the sort of tension only experienced inside the heart of darkness.

My Winner: Jaws

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Director – 1975

Official Nominations: Milos Forman. Federico Fellini. Stanley Kubrick. Sydney Lumet. Robert Altman.

If you needed any further proof that 1975 was one of the greatest years of Cinema, look at those five directors and their nominated films. Add to that the fact that a number of equal or even more significant films/directors weren’t nominated. We can drop Fellini immediately given that Amarcord was made 2 years earlier and had already won the Best Foreign Picture award. That leaves four nominees each deserving of the win and I’d be happy with any of them picking up the win. Altman picked up his second nomination for the hugely successful Nashville, while Lumet and his films had been getting nods since the late 50s – for me Dog Day Afternoon is his best film,  but not necessarily his best work as a director. Kubrick of course never picked up an official Directing win, but his work on Barry Lyndon is as worthy of an award as any other film here, while Forman attained mainstream acclaim with One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, bringing Kesey’s novel to the screen with heart, style, sadness, and joy. Take your pick.

My Winner: Milos Forman

My Nominations: Milos Forman. Stanley Kubrick. Sydney Lumet. Robert Altman. Steven Spielberg. Ken Russell. Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones

The main four nominees make my list, joining the central omission of the year – Senor Spielbergo and his painstaking work on Jaws. Russell gets a nomination for having the balls to work on and release two films as madcap as Tommy and Lisztomania in the same year while Gilliam and Jones get a nod for having the balls to create The Holy Grain. 

My Winner: Steven Spielberg

Let us know your pick in the comments!

Best Supporting Actress – 1975

Official Nominations: Lee Grant. Ronee Blakely. Lily Tomlin. Sylvia Miles. Brenda Vaccaro

Lee Grant picked up the official win this year for Shampoo, continuing her successful return from blacklisting – a good performance but a win that nevertheless feels like an apologetic gift. Ronee Blakely and Lily Tomlin both shine in Nashville as the up and coming sweetheart and the established Gospel singer respectively. Sylvia Miles gets her second bizarre nomination for a film she barely appears in – Farewell, My Lovely, while Brenda Vaccaro’s nomination is equally strange – an okay performance in an okay film no-one remembers.

My Winner: Ronee Blakely

My Nominations: Ronee Blakely. Lily Tomlin. Karen Black. Veronica Cartwright

Only the two Nashville stars make it over and are joined by… another Nashville star! Karen Black gets her second nomination of the year. Cartwright is certainly game in Inserts but this is a year where there aren’t many memorable performances in this category.

My Winner: Ronee Blakely

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actor – 1975

Official Nominations: George Burns. Brad Dourif. Burgess Meredith. Chris Sarandon. Jack Warden.

A lot of veteran nods this year, with Burns becoming the oldest winner (at the time) at 80 years old. Burgess Meredith follows with Day Of The Locust where he’s one of the story’s many failures, eking out his final days still trying to perform to anyone who’ll listen.  Jack Warden stars as a rich man and unwittingly part of a sexual rectangle… pentangle.. who knows? He gets many of Shampoo’s best lines and memorable moments. Brad Dourif is one of several well acted and sympathetic side characters in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest while Chris Sarandon is effective as Pacino’s transgender wife in Dog Day Afternoon. 

My Winner: Brad Dourif

My NominationsBrad Dourif. John Cazale. Richard Dreyfuss. Robert Shaw. Richard O’Brien. Oliver Reed. 

Even though all the official nominees are worthy, I’m only taking Dourif. Replacing Sarandon is John Cazale who gives the more notable performance in Dog Day Afternoon as Sonny’s hapless partner. Oliver Reed is equally hapless in Tommy, at least when it comes to bringing Roger Daltry out of his crippling psychosis, while Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff is a personal favourite in a film where everyone has their own pick. Finally, we have Jaws and both Dreyfuss and Shaw giving career-defining performances.

My Winner: Robert Shaw