Best Original Song – 1971

Official Nominations: Theme From Shaft – Shaft. The Age Of Not Believing – Bedknobs And Broomsticks. All His Children – Sometimes A Great Notion. Bless The Beasts And Children – Bless The Beasts And Children. Life Is What You Make It – Kotch.

You know you’ve entered the 1970s when you hear those opening cymbols and guitars from the Shaft Theme. As iconic a song as you’re ever likely to hear, I had the pleasure of seeing Hayes play it live. It’s a rarity for a movie such as Shaft to receive any notice from The Academy, but the quality of the music is unavoidable and it is a deserving winner. Now, just compare that with The Age Of Not Believing, a cynical attempt at cashing in on the success of Mary Poppins. The lyrics are good, but the music, melody, and performance are all dreadful. It is quite clear that the world has moved on from such songs when paired with Shaft. All His Children is another weird choice, a dreary old Country Western song that sounds ridiculous alongside Shaft. Bless The Beasts And Children is a long forgotten song and film, but in both cases it feels like they should be cult hits – a coming of age outsiders tale, and a gorgeous performance by The Carpenters over a fairly average song. Life Is What You Make It is a touching song from a touching film, but let down by that old style vocal performance I despise.

My Winner: Theme From Shaft

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My Nominations: Diamonds Are Forever. Theme From Shaft. The Candy Man. Pure Imagination. I’ve Got A Golden Ticket.

Joining Theme From Shaft is one of the most famous Bond songs. Diamonds Are Forever is timeless and iconic, and features one of Shirley Bassey’s most incredible performances, though my favourite part has always been the eerie intro. My final three picks are all from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory – film etched into the minds of every British person who grew up in the 70s or 80s. It was played every year in my school towards the end of term, and rarely a month passes where it isn’t shown on TV. The Candy Man may be the most famous track worldwide, due to various covers and popping up in The Simpsons etc. It’s a saccharine, juicy, light and joyful song. Pure Imagination is exactly as the name suggests, a wistful, beautiful song with a dreamlike quality which instantly transports you back to your childhood. I’ve Got A Golden Ticket is another fun, hook-laden track, a song of celebration and hope. The film has a number of other memorable songs, but these three are the strongest.

My Winner: Theme From Shaft.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

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Best Costume Design – 1971

Official Nominations: Nicholas And Alexandra. Bedknobs And Broomsticks. Death In Venice. Mary, Queen Of Scots. What’s The Matter With Helen.

Two obvious picks with two big costume dramas – three other normals. Take your pick between Yvonne Blake and Antonio Castillo’s Nicholas And Alexandra and Margaret Furse’s Mary, Queen Of Scots. 

My Winner: Nicholas And Alexandra

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My Nominations: Nicholas And Alexandra. Mary, Queen Of Scots. A Clockwork Orange. McCabe And Mrs Miller. Red Sun. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Along with the costume dramas I add three should-have-beens, and one never-would-have-been. A Clockwork Orange may not at first glance seem as visually arresting as some of Kubrick’s other work, but the attention to detail in costume and set design is paramount. A Clockwork Orange wouldn’t be see unnerving without the pale, iconic, almost jumpsuit look of Alex and his droogs often as a counterpoint to the more stylized 70s flair of everyone else. McCabe And Mrs Miller is of course a gorgeous movie with the costumes a huge part of the overall tone, while the characters in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory appear as extensions of their clothing – from the drab look of Charlie and his grandfather to the exuberant red festive attire of Veruca, not to mention Wonka and the Oompa Loompas. Finally, lets add Red Sun as it doesn’t get mentioned enough.

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My Winner: A Clockwork Orange

Let us know your winner in the comments below!

Best Art Direction – 1971

Official Nominations: Nicholas And Alexandra. The Andromeda Strain. Bedknobs And Broomsticks. Fiddler On The Roof. Mary, Queen Of Scots.

Nicholas And Alexandra was the official winner this year, no surprises, but it’s a category filled with good choices. The Andromeda Strain is my choice as winner, something different from the typical costume epic and I tend to find these sorts of films more interesting from an aesthetic viewpoint, especially when they strive for a unique look. Bedknobs And Broomsticks, as much as I don’t like it, deserves it’s nomination here, as does Fiddler On The Roof, while Mary, Queen Of Scots is the second epic.

My Winner: The Andromeda Strain

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My Nominations: The Andromeda Strain. A Clockwork Orange. The Devils. McCabe And Mrs Miller. THX 1138. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.

Only my winner from the Official list makes it over to meet a few contenders who really should have been recognised. A Clockwork Orange is a glaring omission being one of the most uniquely visual films of the year while The Devils is unique all around. McCabe And Mrs Miller is a more rain drenched Western than what you may expect, its set growing as the story progresses yet feels downbeat and used rather than crisp and new. THX 1138 of course has a dystopian coldness while Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory is the polar opposite – vibrant, colourful, and brimming with energy and life.

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My Winner: Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Cinematography – 1971

Official Nominations: Fiddler On The Roof. The French Connection. The Last Picture Show. Nicholas And Alexandra. Summer of ’42.

A decent bunch to choose from this year, with Oswold Morris picking up the official win for Fiddler On The Roof. It’s okay, with a few particular shots which stand out but it isn’t something I feel should get the win, especially given the competition. The French Connection is a much better choice, the gritty style perfected and peppered with some scenes made more iconic by the camera work. The Last Picture Show with it’s gorgeous black and white’s giving a feel of both nostalgia and a sense of an era fading away is another fine choice, while Nicholas And Alexandra is the expected epic nomination of the year. Summer Of ’42 falls into a similar bracket with The Last Picture Show, except offering heated colour and shots which spread into the distance like a summer’s day which never wants to end.

My Winner: The French Connection

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My Nominations: The French Connection. Summer of ’42. The Last Picture Show. A Clockwork Orange. Dirty Harry. Duel. A Fistful Of Dynamite. Vanishing Point. Walkabout.

I have to add a bunch of classics to my list – A Clockwork Orange being iconic for a variety of reasons, including John Alcott’s cinematography. Cinematography isn’t the first thing to pop into the mind when you think of Dirty Harry but it features consistently strong work throughout, while Duel is a film which relies heavily on how the camera moves and what it allows us to see. A Fisftul Of Dynamite is Leone and Western, this time with Giuseppe Ruzzolini helping out while Vanishing Point allows for free-flowing shots of cars and the stripped away highways of America. Finally, my winner is Walkabout with Nicholas Roeg showcasing the outback as equally dangerous, haunting, hypnotic, beautiful – a freedom which could swallow you whole.

My Winner: Walkabout

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Let us know in the comments which film of 1971 you would pick as the winner of Best Cinematography!

Best Animated Feature – 1971

My Nominations: Animal Treasure Island. Daisy Town. Shinbone Alley.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks was released in 1971, but it’s a live action movie with some animation. And it’s crap. So don’t complain if it isn’t here. That’s okay, because most of the nominations here are crap too and don’t really belong on the list. There wasn’t anything else though.

My Winner: Animal Treasure Island

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Let us know in the comments what your favourite animated movie of 1971 is!

Best Foreign Film – 1971

Official Nominations: The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis. Dodesukaden. The Emigrants. The Policeman. Tchaikovsky.

Look at the names of those movies and their countries of origin – just look. Isn’t this just the most cliché list of ‘Best Foreign Film’ sounding films ever? It’s a strange year for the category, given that the first two choices above were actually released in 1970 and the third would be nominated for actual Best Picture the following year. The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis is a terrible title but a decent film following a group of Jewish people as fascism is rising in Italy – they manage to avoid and largely ignore the turmoil in Europe by being enclosed in their vast, wealthy manor but inner struggles and turmoil begin to surface as the outside world becomes increasingly dangerous. Dodesukaden I covered in my 1970 nominations – one of Kurosawa’s strangest films, while The Emigrants is a fine, but long movie about a bunch of Swedes moving to the US in the 1800s – the journey, the hardships etc. It’s basically The Animals Of Farthing Wood. The final two choices are typically odd – The Policeman is an occasionally funny film about a shy and morale policeman who is trodden on by everyone but eventually gets some notice, while Tchaikovsky is about dinosaurs (a biopic of the composer).

My Winner: The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis

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My Nominations: The Big Boss. Bleak Moments. A Clockwork Orange. The Devils. A Fistful Of Dynamite. Get Carter. Red Sun. Bay Of Blood. Wake In Fright. Walkabout.

A whole host of alternatives to choose from this year, so I’m not picking any of the Official nominations. Most of these I talked about in the Best Film category too, so I’ll skip those ones. Bleak Moments was Mike Leigh’s stunning, well acted,  low budget debut while The Devils is Ken Russell and Oliver Reed up to no good again, making one of the most controversial films ever. Naturally it is tame by today’s standards but due to the mixture of sex and religion it is still deeply conflicting. A Fistful Of Dynamite is on the other end of the spectrum – another enjoyable spaghetti western by Leone which is not spoken of as highly as his other epics. It’s a problematic film but still one with great entertainment value and Leone’s vision. Get Carter is one of the great British films and one features one of Michael Caine’s best performances – a gritty, no nonsense thriller with a lack of pretense and a sense of inevitability. Red Sun is an odd film which has never received the cult status it deserves – Charles Bronson trading blows and quips with Toshiro Mifune should be enough to sell it to anyone, but throw in Capucine, Ursula Andress, and Alain Delon in a plot about bandits and samurai – all directed by Terence Young. Finally, A Bay Of Blood is a confusing mess, but set up a lot of rules for horror films to come and was a benchmark in blood-letting.

My Winner: A Clockwork Orange

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Let us know in the comments which film of 1971 you would pick as Best Foreign Film!

 

Best Director – 1971

Official Nominations: William Freidkin. Peter Bogdanovich. Norman Jewison. Stanley Kubrick. John Schlesinger.

One of the finest and most difficult list of nominees to choose from this year. We have four classics and one good film which is not remembered like the others – five great directors. Freidkin got the official win and it’s difficult to argue against that – his decision to shoot in a gritty, realistic style would influence countless films and in many ways symbolizes the decade. Peter Bogdanovich shoots his coming of age drama in black and white somehow accentuating nostalgia, fearlessness of youth, and desolation. Jewison had already won Best Picture and been nominated for Best Director but Fiddler In The Roof is a standard stage to screen adaptation. Kubrick shows how to adapt a story for the big screen with character – making the end product unquestionably his own while retaining the plot and themes. Finally, Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday isn’t as bleak as some of his previous and later work, a progressive film which never fails to remind the viewer that most of us are broken. For me there are three directors on near enough even footing here, but Kubrick’s goes that bit further in crafting something which remains unique.

My Winner: Stanley Kubrick.

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My Nominations: William Freidkin. Peter Bogdanovich. Stanley Kubrick. Ken Russell. Don Siegel. Mike Hodges. Dalton Trumbo. Alan J Pakula. Robert Altman. Sam Peckinpah. George Lucas. Nicholas Roeg. Mel Stuart.

Ahem. Yes, I did go a little overboard with my choices, but it’s my blog so take your tears elsewhere. There are plenty of other directors deserving of a nomination this year who didn’t get an official one or from me. Ken Russell’s work on The Devils speaks for itself while Don Siegel’s pulling together of script, music, performance, and politics ensured Dirty Harry became one of the most famous films of the decade. Mike Hodges crafts a similar film with Get Carter, but one with a British grit and stark feeling throughout which Hollywood could not emulate in crime fiction – Bleak war movies were more in vogue in the US and Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun is as bleak as they come, with Trumbo adapting his own novel over thirty years after its release as the US found itself fighting another war.

Alan J Pakula gets a deserved nomination for the swerving Klute, Robert Altman racks up another nomination for his inside-out Western McCabe And Mrs Miller, and Sam Peckinpah is a must-nominate for the ever-violent, ever-popular Straw Dogs. George Lucas gives one of the most unique visions of the year with his rarely seen debut THX 1138, Nicholas Roeg makes his first mesmeric and unsettling film with Walkabout, while Mel Stuart creates a bright, youthful, and eternally charming entertainer with Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. 

My Winner: Stanley Kubrick.

Let us know in the comments who you would pick as the Best Director of 1971!