Best Cinematography – 1969

Official Nominations: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Anne of The Thousand Days. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Hello Dolly. Marooned.

A clear winner this year, with Anne Of The Thousand Days, Hello Dolly, and Marooned more notable for their interior scenes. I’ve no idea what Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is doing here.

My Winner: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

butch_cassidy_and_the_sundance_kid_conrad_l_hall.jpg

My Nominations: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Battle Of Britain. The Gypsy Moths. The Italian Job. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The Wild Bunch. Downhill Racer.

I’ve only brought over one film from the official list and I’ve added a few which seem much more deserving than those who did get a nod. The Italian Job speaks for itself, with all those exterior car scenes looking wonderful –  the same goes for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Battle Of Britain’s features stunning flying scenes photographed by Freddie Young, while in Downhill Racer Brian Probyn compares and contrasts the vast emptiness of the outdoors with the torment and void of its characters. The Wild Bunch of course gets a vote, while The Gypsy Moths does for skydiving photography what Battle of Britain did for aircraft.

My Winner: Downhill Racer.

71qa6vlxdgl__sl1024_

 

Let us know in the comments which movie of 1969 is your winner for Best Cinematography!

Best Art Direction – 1969

Official Nominations: Hello Dolly. Anne Of The Thousand Days. Gaily Gaily. Sweet Charity. They Shoot Horses Don’t They.

Three obvious picks this year, one additional good one, and one bizarre one. Gaily Gaily is a film surely no-one remembers and a very odd choice for any Oscar nomination (it received three) given its subject matter. Still, it’s funny and looks okay I guess. They Shoot Horses Don’t They is an interesting choice, but a valid one as it creates a bizarre look which is a mixture of near and distant future, and an otherworldly vision of the past. Sweet Charity and Hello Dolly are your standard old fashioned musicals and as pretty to look at as you would expect, while Anne Of The Thousand Days does and looks like what a costume drama should.

My Winner: Hello Dolly

hello-dolly-barbra-streisand.jpg

 

My Nominations: Hello Dolly. Sweet Charity. They Shoot Horses Don’t They. Satyricon. Hello Down There. The Italian Job. Marooned. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The Damned.

Five new additions for my list. Hello Down There is an odd cross between The Brady Bunch, The Jetsons, and Big Brother – a camp undersea adventure where a family, a band, and various animals live in an underwater house as a social experiment – it’s as silly as it sounds but the sets are good. Satyricon is odd and looks odd, Marooned doesn’t quite live up to 2001’s standards, while The Italian Job does the camp thing in a more madcap British way. Finally On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has some of the Bond’s series more memorable sets and designs, although it does leave me cold as a whole. PS – I just edited the post to add in The Damned which would be a worthy winner, its vision of Nazi Germany stylized to heighten the debauchery and shock the senses.

My Winner: Hello Dolly

Hello Dolly 3.png

 

Let us know in the comments what your pick for the Best Art Direction of 1969 is!

 

Best Animated Film – 1969

My Nominations: A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Tintin And The Temple Of The Sun. The Wonderful World Of Puss n Boots

I was never a fan of Tintin – something about the hair, the way the characters moved, and the animation as a whole just made me uneasy. So Temple Of The Sun, you’re out. The Wonderful World Of Puss In Boots is one of Toei Animation’s most iconic films as Puss (or Pero) went on to become the company’s mascot. The film is a mixture of fast paced action and slapstick humour, the odd song, and bright animation – any fans of Japanese animation need to see it. My winner though is of course, A Boy Named Charlie Brown. While not as famous as his festive outing, this one still has the laconic charm and mixture of downbeat cynicism and offbeat humour as Charlie enters spelling bees to convince himself that he can be ‘a winner’.

My Winner: A Boy Named Charlie Brown

film__9686-a-boy-named-charlie-brown--detail.jpg

Let us know in the comments which Animated movie of 1969 gets your vote as the best!

Best Foreign Film – 1969

Official Nominations: Z. Adalen 31. The Battle Of Neretva. The Brothers Karamazov. My Night At Maud’s.

Another interesting selection, with one clear winner from my perspective. Bo Widerberg’s Adalen 31 is a retelling of true events in Sweden when five small town workers were killed during a protest. It’s exactly the sort of film The Academy loves but they tend to focus too on whatever the issue is with too heavy a hand; fortunately this is watchable and remains prescient. The Battle Of Neretva is an impressive and entertaining war film which is memorable for starring a number of familiar faces (Orson Welles, Yul Brynner), The Brothers Karamazov is yet another version of the book, while My Night At Maud’s feels very much like a play, minimalist and only concerned with dialogue and discussion – interesting, but it doesn’t stand a chance alongside Z.

My Winner: Z

z

My Nominations: Z. Burn! The Damned. Eros + Massacre. Fellini Satyricon. The Italian Job.

Costa-Gavras’s Z is the only copy and paste this time around, joining a host of controversial and entertaining entries. The Damned still has the power to unnerve and worry the viewer now, while The Italian Job is more fun than most comedies today. Burn! is essentially a forgotten movie, odd given that it features Brando as a man trying to serve Britain’s colonial ends by exploiting a slave uprising – it’s weird, but good. Over to Japan then for the beautiful and sometimes surreal loose biopic of Sakae Osugi, an anarchist during the later 19th and early 20th century. Yoshishige Yoshida’s film deserves to put him alongside more known directors like Kurosawa and Oshima, but it is one which has never found an audience in the West. Finally Fellini Satyricon would see the director get nominated at the following year’s Academy Awards, a bizarre and dazzling work.

My Winner: The Italian Job

ItalianJob_wedding.png

Let us know in the comments which Foreign Film of 1969 gets your vote!

Best Director – 1969

Official Nominations: John Schlesinger. Arthur Penn. George Roy Hill. Sydney Pollack. Costas Gravas.

John Schlesinger was more known for musicals and comedies and costume dramas in 1969  -fluff in other words, so it seems all the more surprising that he was able to comfortably make such a contemporary and dark, at times, movie like Midnight Cowboy. It was his second nomination and first win. Also hitting dark notes but with a distinctly comic approach is Arthur Penn’s Alice’s Restaurant – it’s definitely a product of its time but asks some pertinent questions which America is still trying to answer today. No-one really remembers it, but it’s one worth re-visiting. George Roy Hill’s films were no strangers to Oscar nominations, but with BCATSK he had his greatest success to date making some unconventional choices in editing and music and style to create a timeless vision. Sydney Pollack takes They Shoot Horses, Don’t They, a popular story which on paper doesn’t sound cinematic or entertaining, and makes it gripping, tense, and exhausting viewing while Costas Gravas merges vital political issues with fast-paced personal triumph and tragedy in Z.

My Winner: John Schlesinger

john.jpg

My Nominations: John Schlesinger. George Roy Hill. Dennis Hopper. Federico Fellini. Peter Collinson. Francis Ford Coppola. Sam Peckinpah. Costas Gravas.

Three of the official nominees join my list, featuring a few interesting snubs. Fellini’s Satyricon would get nominated for Best Director the following year but I’m including it here too, while Dennis Hopper’s chaos-filled, on-the-fly approach for Easy Rider ensures the film is an endearing classic. Peter Collinson keeps thinks energetic and uniquely English in The Italian Job, while Francis Ford Coppola branched out into more mature territory on The Rain People, hinting at where he was headed as a filmmaker. My final nominee, and my winner is Sam Peckinpah for The Wild Bunch – the movie which puts one final explosive round through the Western genre, filled not only with innovative edit techniques but also merging the old and new styles of the genre to complete a poignant, violent sign-off.

My Winner: Sam Peckinpah.

13-1050x840

Let us know in the comments if I have missed one of your choices and share your winner!

Best Supporting Actress – 1969

What day is it? Yeah, I’ve been off the grid for a while opening all my Christmas toys and mourning the passing of more cultural legends. Double posts now to catch up!

Official Nominations: Goldie Hawn. Catherine Burns. Dyan Cannon. Sylvia Miles. Susannah York.

Goldie Hawn gets an Oscar win pre-empting her daughters nod decades later for a bright, light, eye-catching performance. Hawn shows her comic ability here, something which would continue to flourish through more well-remembered movies over the next years. It’s one of those wins which feels both apt and unusual. Catherine Burns gives an equally memorable performances for opposing reasons in Last Summer – a performance which is made more poignant given the fact that Burns only made a few more movies before retiring from acting. Dyan Cannon, continuing the trend for new or almost new actors getting a nomination, but her role may be the lesser of the four in Bob & Carol, Ted & Alice. Sylvia Miles is also memorable in Midnight Cowboy but given that her role is essentially a cameo it seems like more of a political vote than anything else while Susannah York has again a fairly small role as part of an ensemble but still does enough to ensure her scenes stand out.

My Winner: Catherine Burns.

cath.jpg

My Nominations: Goldie Hawn. Catherine Burns. Faye Dunaway.

Two from the officials, and I’ve added only one more performer in what appears to be not the best year for this category. Faye Dunaway it could be argued is a lead in The Arrangement but I wanted to squeeze her in somewhere so here we are – it’s not a great movie but she makes it watchable.

My Winner: Catherine Burns.

images2kz2cuy4

Let me know in the comments who your pick for the Best Supporting Actress of 1969 is!

Best Supporting Actor – 1969

Official Nominations: Gig Young. Rupert Crosse. Elliot Gould. Jack Nicholson. Anthony Quayle.

Gig Young already had almost thirty years of performances and two Oscar nominations before he picked up the win for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They. It’s a suitably reptilian performance, a Cowell before there was a Cowell, as he eggs on competitors for his own amusement becoming the viewer’s focal point for rage, becoming more venomous with each minute. Rupert Crosse was primarily a TV actor before landing the role in The Reivers, and becoming the first African American to be nominated in this category. It’s a fine performance but your focus is always drawn to McQueen so it feels like a strange nomination. Gould picks up a nomination for his straight-laced portrayal and landed him on the map – it would almost become his signature role as he would continue to tow the line between comedy and drama with a straight face. Jack Nicholson makes an impact in Easy Rider, firmly announcing himself to the world in a typically madcap way. For the next few years Nicholson would play straighter characters before eventually going ‘full Nicholson’, and here he manages to shows a little of both sides. He is a minor character and doesn’t have a huge amount of screen time, but uses that time to perfection. Finally, it’s Anne Of The Thousand Days again and Anthony Quayle. It’s… very stagey, Quayle is good at authority but not so good at authority slipping away. It’s fine, just not something I would ever pick.

My Winner: Gig Young.

gig-young-they-shoot-horses-gig-young.jpg

My Nominations: Gig Young. Jack Nicholson. Noel Coward. Gregory Peck. Robert Duvall. James Cann. Robert Ryan. Richard Thomas.

Only two from the official list make it over to mine. My list sees existing and future legends competing for the crown, with Noel Coward bringing the laughs in The Italian Job. Many would say that Peck’s role in Marooned was as a lead – he was certainly the big name, but I find it more of an ensemble piece so for the sake of argument he’s being included. It’s a tense movie and Peck is his usual commanding self, and is conflicted and at odds with various characters throughout the movie. It’s a good performance and a movie no-one really remembers. Robert Duvall gets a nomination for The Rain People, already a star thanks to a number of previous big hits, but happy to appear in this seemingly minor indie. Again it isn’t a huge role but he garners enough empathy from the viewer and Natalie that he becomes another integral part.

Robert Ryan was notable as Captain Nemo in 1969, but he gets the nomination for his performance as Deke in The Wild Bunch, the Grim Repair stalking the central gang. We see him in flashback and in the present, and though ostensibly the villain we know that his revenge is justified given the circumstances. Ryan is just as cunning as the men he is chasing down and though it seems he is always one point behind he is in fact one step ahead. My final pick is for Richard Thomas, only 18 but already a veteran, very good as the bronzed, snobbish teen who gets his kicks through punishing and humiliating others – a little against type. Burns gets the most admiration in the film, but Thomas is very strong too.

My Winner: Gig Young

gig-young-they-shoot-horses-dont-they

Let us know in the comments who is your pick as the Best Supporting Actor of 1969!

Best Actress – 1969

Official NominationsMaggie Smith. Genevieve Bujold. Jane Fonda. Liza Minnelli. Jean Simmons. 

Although nowadays Maggie Smith is known for building nests in your neighbour’s trees and swooping down to gobble up stray worms and centipedes, back in 1969 she was winning an Oscar for her performance in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie. It is an excessively ugly film with many bizarre accents, topped off by the dead eyed stare of Maggie as she gives it her all. Genevieve Bujold is the best thing about Anne Of The Thousand Days, Jane Fonda gets a deserved nomination in the bleak, bizarre, and still shocking They Shoot Horses, Don’t They, and Liza Minnelli is just on the verge of irritating in The Sterile Cuckoo. Jean Simmons is the final pick, very strong in the unusually frank The Happy Ending. 

My Winner: Genevieve Bujold.

genevieve-bujold-anne-087

My Nominations: Genevieve Bujold. Jane Fonda. Jean Simmons. Natalie Wood. Shirley Knight. Diana Rigg.

Not too many changes for my personal nominations this year – three existing and three new. Ted and Alice got nominations for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, so why not Carol? Natalie Wood stars as the liberal Carol who is okay with her husbands extra-marital antics so decides to have some of her own, before eyeing up a more dedicated commitment to swinging. Shirley Knight goes on a personal odyssey encountering various characters and reflecting the frustration and stress of someone who has not yet worked out what they want out of their own life. Finally, long before she was trading barbs and quips with royalty in Westeros, Diana Rigg was hanging out in equally dangerous snake-pits. Her performance in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is good, but it is in the same year in The Adjustment Bureau that she earns my nomination, a strong woman driven to personal and public gain through moral and dubious ventures.

My Winner: Shirley Knight.

the-rain-people

Let us know in the comments who gets your pick as the Best Actress of 1969 – any of the above, or someone I have missed?

Best Actor – 1969

Official Nominations: John Wayne. Richard Burton. Dustin Hoffman. Peter O’Toole. John Voight.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the late 60s saw a troubling shift for Hollywood as the old guard of musicals and costume dramas became less popular and the demand for more realistic, gritty, and dramatic films was heightened. The Academy still sought to perpetuate the old ways by offering some strange choices of films as their nominees and winners. In this category this year, we see a list of five legends – some existing and some who would later cement their titles, but it’s quite amusing to see them getting confused about what is considered ‘Old Hollywood’ and awarding John Wayne with a win. Part justified for his performance, part political based on his popularity and past works, it seems like an unusual choice. Wayne is good, but Wayne is Wayne, eye-patch or nor.

Peter O’Toole seems like another example of this pandering to the old ways – a good performance wavering between stiff and charming, but in a film which few will remember. Richard Burton’s nomination is another unusual choice – a film few will think of when they think of him, and a film whose success at the Oscars appeared to be part of a vicious marketing campaign more than anything else. The final two nominations then are for the same movie, with Hoffman and Voight giving two of their finest performances as a pair of hustlers looking to make a fast buck and exploit a cold and uncaring world by undertaking seedy dealings – it’s the Anti-American dream and it’s difficult to pick a winner out of the two, Hoffman the more obvious of the two due to the more hyperactive character veering between street wisdom and desperation.

My Winner: Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman Midnight Cowboy.PNG

My Nominations: Jon Voight. Dustin Hoffman. Michael Caine. Robert Redford. Paul Newman. David Bradley. Oliver Reed. William Holden. Helmut Berger.

Only two of the official nominees make it over to my list, both from Midnight Cowboy. Michael Caine gets the nod for another early iconic performance in The Italian Job – a film which has still not made much of an impact in the States, bizarre considering the Brit Invasion of the 1960s. Fellow Brit Oliver Reed is great alongside a strong leading cast in Women In Love, while a young David Bradley looked set to be one of the next big things after a memorable performance in Kes which received glowing reviews. Outside of Britain, Helmut Berger makes a definite impression in the shocking and dark The Damned as one of the most reprehensible figures in cinema – unfortunately it’s a film few people have seen. Back in the US, Robert Redford gets my pick over Paul Newman in BCASK and William Holden is ostensibly the lead and figurehead in The Wild Bunch, leading his men with a weary guile from one near miss to inevitable demise.

My Winner: Helmut Berger

helmut-berger-the-damned

Who is your pick for the best Actor of 1969 – any of the above, or someone else entirely? Let us know in the comments!

Best Picture – 1969

Official Nominations: Midnight Cowboy. Anne Of A Thousand Days. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Hello Dolly. Z.

1969 saw a return to form and a return to the New Hollywood. With the new decade beckoning, Vietnam raging, and fear, paranoia, and crime rising throughout the country, many younger, more adventurous film makers were emerging. Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy was the first X Rated film to win best film, featuring rampant sex and knocking more than a few boundaries to grateful dust. Dustin Hoffman features again, his relationship with newcomer Jon Voight proving highly effective. The film has memorable music, scenes, and dialogue, and portrays small town America, New York, and innocence in a less than glamorous or appealing light. This type of thins had rarely been seen before on screen even though it was surrounded audiences daily lives. Sandwiched between this and Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, is the unfortunate and quite frankly embarrassed to be there Anne Of The Thousand Days. Between two films of brutal realism, and exciting freshness,  this out of touch costume drama looks like it was made during the time it was portrayed and stands out only because there are big name actors and silly clothes. Reportedly the studio plied the Academy with champagne and lavish meals to win them over. Thankfully good sense prevailed – it’s a by the numbers drama with a fine cast, but completely out of place here.

George Roy Hill’s BCATSK features Robert Redford and Paul Newman in their career defining, and probably best performances. The outlaws are portrayed in a sympathetic light, Bacharach’s famous song ensuring that we come to love these characters before they are inevitably frozen in sepia and bullets at the end. The many dreamlike sequences serve to both interrupt and strengthen the film showing that the director wasn’t sure to go for an all out adventure or merge with his prior aesthetic. Gene Kelly’s directed Hello, Dolly! is another Streisand musical, this time devoid of any music of note while Gavras’ Z is a stark, funny, and gripping thriller dealing with the assassination of a Greek politician. This one has largely become forgotten over the years but comes highly recommended for all lovers of freedom, common sense, and good movies.

Three very good films then this year, one of which has gone on to iconic status, one which is still highly revered, and one which should be re-consumed. It’s a tight one, but my choice as winner goes to Midnight Cowboy.

My Winner: Midnight Cowboy

mc

My Nominations: Midnight Cowboy.  Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Easy Rider. The Italian Job. The Wild Bunch. Z

I take the three main picks from the official list and add another three iconic films. Nothing says 1960’s counter-culture like Easy Rider and while it has dated more than some of the other movies in the list its importance cannot be underestimated. With Hopper, Fonda, and Nicholson, a realism and style which had never been mainstream before, and an assured and honest look at part of the country and its people which had been largely ignored by cinema, it is vital viewing. Not quite as influential but just as essential and a hell of a lot more fun is The Italian Job – some of the biggest names in British culture appear in this caper, probably the best of its type, and it is filled with quotable dialogue and memorable scenes all while moving at top speed. My final pick is one of the greatest Westerns ever made, a defining moment for the genre while simultaneously acting as a nail in the coffin for a genre which had dominated for the last couple of decades. Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch has the smarts to merge standard Western plot fare with ultra modern and vibrant techniques and sensibilities – the editing, the soul-searching, and of course the stylized violence are all significant. Peckinpah depicts a world filled with aging men well past their best days, yet still trying to survive using their old wits as time marches on with increasing brutality.

My Winner: The Wild Bunch.

thewildbunchfinalfourshowdown_zpsb147c3d5.jpg

What is your pick for the Best Picture of 1969? Do you pick something from my list, or the official one, or something different entirely? Let us know in the comments!