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

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Controversial? Let us know your winner in the comments!

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 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 Cast – 1973

My Nominations: Badlands. The Exorcist. The Last Detail. The Last Of Sheila. Live And Let Die. Mean Streets. Paper Moon. Scarecrow. Serpico. The Sting. The Three Musketeers.

As always we finish with the Best Cast category. It’s always been my opinion that the 1970s was when the best performers we’ve yet to see hit their peaks – most of my nominations this year feature those performers. In Badlands it’s pretty much the one-two of Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek announcing themselves to the world, while The Exorcist is features a mini ensemble each delivering their most iconic performances. The Last Detail sees Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, and Otis Young in an underrated film while The Last Of Sheila does the same for James Coburn, James Mason, Raquel Welch, Richard Benjamin, and Dyan Cannon.

Live And Let Die sees a new Bond in Roger Moore taking the series in a newer direction, ably backed up by some of my favourites in the series – Jane Seymour, Yaphet Kotto, and good old Clifton James. Mean Streets, while not featuring their debuts, got to the heart of the raw talents of Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro and Paper Moon sees father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neal in one of the most memorable real life partnerships along with Madeline Kahn. Scarecrow and Serpico were both Al Pacino vehicles with the former also seeing Gene Hackman in top form, the latter with a bunch of respected character actors in smaller roles. The Sting is another hit from Robert Redford and Paul Newman, also featuring Robert Shaw, Charles Dunning, Eileen Brennan and others. My only true ensemble nomination is The Three Musketeers – Michael York, Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay, Richard Chamberlain, Christopher Lee, Charlton Heston, Faye Dunaway and others make up the exciting romp.

My Winner: The Exorcist.

Let us know in the comments which film of 1973 you think has the Best Cast!

Best Cast – 1972

My Nominations: Deliverance. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex. The Getaway. The Godfather. Junior Bonner. The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean. The Poseidon Adventure.

It’s time again for one of my favourite categories of the year. Here I can typically nominate films which would never normally get a nominations, although this year most of the films I have picked are fairly obvious choices. Deliverance is a terrific ensemble piece with the four central cast members descending into hell with the help of some memorable backup players. EYAWTKAS is a Woody Allen ensemble piece featuring himself in multiple roles but also esteemed performers like Lynn Redgrave and Anthony Quayle and new stars such as Burt Reynolds and Gene Wilder.

The Getaway and Junior Bonner saw Sam Peckinpah and Steve McQueen working together in the same year, the former also featuring Ali MacGraw, Ben Johnson and others with the latter also seeing Johnson as well as Joe Don Baker and the great Ida Lupino. TLATOJRB sees a massive case led by Paul Newman, Anthony Perkins, Victoria Principal while also featuring New Beatty, Jacqueline Bisset, John Huston, Ava Gardner, Richard Farnsworth and more. Also going for numbers is The Poseidon Adventure – Shelly Winters, Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Albertson and others. My clear winner though has to be The Godfather – even as an ensemble piece the minor performers stand out or get iconic scenes. We have some of the most famous performances ever and some of the best actors ever – Pacino, Brando, Duvall, Shire, Keaton, Cann, Cazale, as well as Sterling Hayden, Gianni Russo, Richard Castellano, Alex Rocco, Simonetta Stefanelli and many more.

My Winner: The Godfather.

Where’s Al?

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 you think has the Best Cast!

Best Cast – 1971

My Nominations: The Anderson Tapes. The French Connection. Klute. The Last Picture Show. McCabe And Mrs Miller. Nicholas And Alexandra. Walkabout. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.

Another year, and another chance to talk about my favourite category – pub time/break time/lunch time discussions over who should have won Best Film are all well and good, but this is where the real action is at. There are some undoubtedly great casts and performances this year, so lets take a look.

The Anderson Tapes is a film no-one remembers much now. Before The Conversation, before Watergate it takes a look at surveillance, with criminals, Feds, bugs, cameras etc all playing their part  – Sean Connery, Martin Balsam, Ralph Meeker, and Christopher Walken all feature. The French Connection is an obvious choice with both Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider being nominated individually and Fernando Rey as the primary villain. Klute features a masterclass by Jane Fonda, alongside Scheider (again) and Donald Sutherland while The Last Picture Show’s cast got a bunch of nominations and awards – Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Ellen Burstyn, Randy Quaid, and Cloris Leachman.

McCabe And Mrs Miler was largely snubbed this year, but we can add it here for Julie Christie, Warren Beatty, Shelly Duvall, Keith Carradine, Rene Auberjonois, while Nicholas And Alexandra featured Laurence Olivier, Jack Hawkins, Janet Suzman, Tom Baker, Michael Redgrave, Michael Jayston, Ian Holm, Curt Jurgens, Brian Cox and more. Walkabout mainly features three performers, Jenny Agutter, David Gulpilil, and Luc Roeg, while Willy Wonka has a much larger ensemble lead by Gene Wilder but also with Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Julie Dawn Cole, Rusty Goffe and others.

My Winner: The Last Picture Show.

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Let us know in the comments what your winner for the Best Cast category is!

Best Cast – 1970

First, apologies for my absence last week – I was gallivanting around the countryside and couldn’t be arsed doing any internet things. Now, this:

My Nominations: Airport. Catch-22. Cromwell. Five Easy Pieces. Kelly’s Heroes. The Kremlin Letter. MASH. Ryan’s Daughter.

Another of my favourite categories, in that it has been unsullied by Academy rules and politics, this one you are free to choose between ensemble performance, a smaller group of strong performances within a larger cast, or simply having a stellar cast performing together. Pick what you like, basically. With the 70s, many of my most favourite performers, and some of the most respected of all time, began coming to the fore meaning we have films with these up and comers reaching their peak in films alongside past masters and veterans. The historical epic was given way to smaller director led films, though there was still plenty of room for films with ensembles thanks to the disaster movie.

Airport surely kicks things off having both a large cast of stars and a couple of acting awards and nominations. The cast includes Burt Lancaster, Helen Hayes, Dean Martin, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, George Kennedy, and Jacqueline Bisset, and doesn’t only feature them in minor roles. Likewise, Catch-22 goes for big names with Alan Arkin, Orson Welles, Anthony Perkins, Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart, Jon Voight, Art Garfunkel, Martin Balsam, Bob Balaban, and others as military misfits. MASH gives its key players bigger roles – from Donald Sutherland to Elliot Gould, Tom Skerritt to Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall to Carl Gottlieb. On the smaller side of things, Five Easy Pieces features strong outings from Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Susan Anspatch and The Kremlin Letter has Bibi Andersson, Orson Welles, Max Von Sydow, Richard Boone, Nigel Green and more.

My final three choices are more of the same – Kelly’s Heroes brings together old pals Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas once again, Cromwell sees Timothy Dalton joining Richard Harris, Alec Guiness, Patrick Wymark, Charles Gray and others while Ryan’s Daughter has Sarah Miles, Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, and John Mills hamming things up.

My Winner: MASH

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It’s a toss-up between the ensembles, so in the end it may come down to who you prefer or which film you like more. Let us know in the comments which film of 1970 you would give the Best Cast Award to!

Best Cast – 1969

My Nominations: The Wild Bunch. Midnight Cowboy. Anne Of The Thousand Days. Battle Of Britain. Butch Cassidy And The Cassidy Kid. The Italian Job. Marlowe. Marooned. Oh What A Lovely War. They Shoot Horses Don’t They. True Grit.

As always with this category, we have a bonanza of possibilities, and as always your personal preference may come down to the cast who give the most consistently strong performances regardless of size, or the cast which includes the most big hitters popping up in worthwhile roles.

This year we have a mixture of epics with large and varied casts, to smaller productions with a few main players. The Wild Bunch falls into the first category, a Western which sees the likes of William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Warren Oates, and Strother Martin all giving performances which cover fury, violence, futility, despair, and camaraderie. On the flip side we have Midnight Cowboy with Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight giving defining performances with Sylvia Miles, Bob Balaban, and Ruth White backing them. BCATSK takes this a little further with Katherine Ross holding her own alongside Robert Redford and Paul Newman – with support from Strother Martin, Cloris Leachman and others.

Anne Of The Thousand Days is another historical costume drama, so as expected you have an ensemble of classically trained actors hamming it up – Richard Burton, Genevieve Bujold, Anthony Quayle, and Irene Papas included. Battle Of Britain went all out in crafting a recognizable ensemble – Laurence Olivier, Ian McShane, Trevor Howard, Michael Caine, Robert Shaw, Susannah York, Christopher Plummer, Curt Jurgens are just a few of the familiar faces popping up in roles of varying degrees. Keeping the end up for the Brits again is Michael Caine in The Italian Job, and joining him are Noel Coward, Benny Hill, John Le Mesurier and many more.

Marlowe is a hard boiled American affair led by James Garner, but Rita Morena, Jackie Coogan, and of course Bruce Lee all appear in memorable roles. Marooned sees Richard Crenna, Gene Hackman, and James Franciscus trapped in space while Gregory Peck tries to bring them back to earth safely, while True Grit features John Wayne as a pirate cowboy. Strother Martin is there again of course, along with Kim Darby, Dennis Hopper, Robert Duvall, and Glen Campbell. They Shoot Horses Don’t They features Susannah York again, with Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern, Gig Young, Bonnie Bedalia and other dancing around and getting sweaty and stressed, while Oh What A Lovely War throws as many stars at us as possible – Miss Yorke once more (though Strother Martin is notably absent), a bunch of Redgraves, Ralph Richardson, Olivier, Maggie Smith, John Gielgud, Ian Holm etc etc. Take your pick. My winner is for the ensemble with the most meaningful performances.

My Winner: The Wild Bunch

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Let us know in the comments which film of 1969 you would choose as the winner of Best Cast, along with your reasons!

 

Best Cast – 1968

My Nominations: Candy. Bullitt. The Detective. Faces. Hell In The Pacific. The Lion In Winter. Once Upon A Time In The West. The Producers. Rosemary’s Baby. The Shoes Of The Fisherman.

It’s the last award of 1968, and one of the categories I always look forward to most – do we go with the film with the most impressive list of performers appearing on screen together, or do we go for a smaller, tighter cast who give undoubtedly brilliant performances? Candy is a forgotten romp and a definite product of its time – it does however bring together the obvious talents of Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau, and a bunch of cameos. It is what it is, but it’s interesting to see all these folks together. Bullit gives us Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, and Robert Vaugn as the A-Listers along with veterans such as Simon Oakland and Don Gordon, with Hell In The Pacific is only two actors at the top of their game – Toshiro Mifune and Lee Marvin. Faces is the critical darling of the bunch with two of its central cast being nominated for Oscars, while John Marley and Gina Rowlands are equally strong. The Lion In Winter is another epic costume drama, and although these movies were losing their star power, you can’t argue with Peter O’Toole, Anthony Hopkins, Katherine Hepburn, and Timothy Dalton. The Producers has a tonne of comic talent, but is led by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, while Rosemary’s Baby brings together veterans and young blood in the clashing of Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes with Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer. The Shoes Of The Fisherman is a film with some giants – John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Quinn, Vittorio De Sica, Oskar Werner, and an always good Burt Kwok. No-one remembers The Detective either, even though it features Bisset, Lee Remick, Jack Clugman, Ralph Meeker, Robert Duvall, and possibly Frank Sinatra’s best performance. My final pick is one which has featured in most of my nominations this year – Once Upon A Time In The West sharing Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, and Jason Robards, along with a host of cameos. It’s a difficult choice and any of these would be a worthy winner.

My Winner: The Producers

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Which movie of 1968 is your pick for the winner of Best Cast? Let us know in the comments!

Best Cast – 1967

My Nominations: Bonnie And Clyde. The Dirty Dozen. Casino Royale. The Graduate. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. In The Heat Of The Night.

Only one large/traditional ensemble this time around, with The Dirty Dozen featuring a cast of established heavy hitters, stars of the day, and up and comers. We have the top brass led by the likes of Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, and Lee Marvin who recruit such luminaries as John Cassavetes, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Telly Savalas and more. Many of the names above give performances which have become cult favourites and it is interesting to see the various stars interact. Casino Royale also features a large cast, with many cameos, but the majority of parts are minor though still add to the overall charm – Peter Sellers, David Niven, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles, and Woody Allen lead the way. The remaining films have a more condensed cast where each actor has a bigger role to chew on – Bonnie And Clyde sees Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder, and others alongside the central pairing of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway while The Graduate features Dustin Hoffman struggling through love, life and boredom with Anne Bancroft, Katherine Ross, and Murray Hamilton. Sidney Poitier stars in the final two films, alongside Katerine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey, and Katherine Houghton in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Rod Steiger and Warren Oats in In The Heat Of The Night. This is a very difficult one to call as each of the nominated films have stellar casts, by and large given terrific performances  -each is as deserving of a win as the next.

My Winner: Bonnie And Clyde

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Which of the above movies do you think has the Best Cast – or which movie of 1967 that I missed has a better cast? Let us know in the comments!