Best Actor – 1979

Official Nominations: Dustin Hoffman. Jack Lemmon. Al Pacino. Roy Scheider. Peter Sellers.

It seems appropriate that the final Awards of the decade should end with such a 70s looking list. Dustin Hoffman got his win as the sympathetic Daddy Kramer, another extension of the everyman characters he had been playing for much of the decade and becoming one of his most famous roles. It’s difficult to argue against him getting the win, even if I’m not the biggest fan of the film. The same could be said for any of the nominees in this category this year – Jack Lemmon would have felt like a veteran nomination, but for the fact he had already been nominated several times, and won twice by this point. Lemmon is the power plant worker who believes something is amiss and that a meltdown is imminent, tries to convince first his management and then the general public that the plant is not safe. Lemmon was also best as an Everyman, here is frustration growing steadily and convincingly – it’s easy to see why the public may not be able to tell if his character is genuine or has lost his mind.

Al Pacino grabs another vote for one of his lesser known 70s works, this time as the jaded and fiery Defence Attorney who ends up defending a Judge he has a difficult past with. As it’s Pacino, you know you’re going to get plenty of grandstanding and explosive speeches, and that’s precisely what he delivers – while not letting the sympathetic side of the character down. Roy Scheider basically plays Bob Fosse in All That Jazz – a workaholic and pressure addict who refuses to stop or accept when enough is enough. He fully embraces his many vices and Scheider is perfect for the role – just intense enough without becoming something to be lampooned, and jittering all the way to his character’s inevitable conclusion. Finally, Peter Sellers feels like the bonus nominee here, not someone who really stood a chance against the other four. Having said that, it may be his best role, if not best performance, because while it lacks the obvious silliness of his more renowned work, this one feels more true to who he wanted to be as a performer. The character is ideal for him – a simple-minded, simple gardener who somehow becomes advisor in The White House. Honestly you can take any of these choices and not be concerned.

My Winner: Dustin Hoffman

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My Nominations: Dustin Hoffman. Al Pacino. Roy Scheider. Peter Sellers. Martin Sheen. Klaus Kinski. Phil Daniels.

As much as I’d like to put Mel Gibson here for Mad Max, I think the performance grows more in the sequel. It seems odd, especially in retrospect, that Martin Sheen wasn’t nominated here for Apocalypse Now. Possibly it’s a case of him being overshadowed somewhat by other performances in the film – with both Brando and Duvall stealing their scenes. But Sheen’s is the performance which holds the entire process together – we see the war and the journey through his eyes and he becomes increasingly crazed as the insanity around him intensifies. Klaus Kinski, in a year with a few notable vampire performances, delivers one of the all time best performances as a fanged monster. Obviously he is more visually horrific than the more romantic take on the creatures, but that doesn’t make him any less convincing, intriguing, seductive, or sympathetic – a credit to what Kinski was able to convey. Finally, Phil Daniels gives what I think is one of the finest British big screen performances of the decade in Quadrophenia – it’s authentic as hell, powerful on a number of emotional levels, and it is arguably one of the best performances focusing on teen rebellion, angst, and alienation. No-one else is ever going to go for him, so I will.

My Winner: Phil Daniels

Let us know in the comments who you pick as Best Actor of 1979!

Best Picture – 1979

Official Nominations: Kramer vs Kramer. All That Jazz. Apocalypse Now. Breaking Away. Norma Rae.

1979. You have the film fan’s favourite; the other film fan’s favourite; and the audience favourite. Then two other ones no-one cares about. Apocalypse Now is the winner here for me, and it’s not even close. I like Kramer Vs Kramer but it feels too much like a TV movie – I’ve always felt that way about court movies, no matter how cinematic they may be. Of course it isn’t strictly a court movie, but you understand my meaning. All That Jazz  – you can already anticipate my feelings on this one given that it’s a musical. Surprisingly though, it’s not as distasteful to me as other musicals and a fine end to Fosse’s career, with as much darkness as any of his other work. It’s just a pity it has all that singing and dancing crap. Roy Scheider has rarely been better, and yet the film’s attempts at the surreal don’t always work.

The final two films are Norma Rae  – Erin Brockovich for the 70s in which Sally Field stands up to The Man, and Breaking Away, in which a bunch of friends leave school and have no clue what to do with their lives. It’s fantastic, and probably my second favourite here, but then I’ve always had a thing for coming of age movies. So two undisputed classics, and three very good movies to round off the decade. Still though, only one winner.

My Winner: Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now Final Cut'Trailer: The Horror Returns – /Film

My Nominations: Apocalypse Now. Alien. Mad Max. Scum. The Warriors.

I add four personal favourites to my list. Of these, Alien is the only one who could have genuinely seen The Oscars nominate. It made a tonne of money, critics loved it, and was nominated for two Oscars – winning one. It’s every bit as chilling and epic now as it was then, with a set and sound design few films since have rivalled. It’s the perfect streamlined horror plot – people are trapped with an unknown and seemingly unstoppable killer – with just enough mystery to let our imaginations create a wider world and internal horrors. Unfortunately the Prometheus side of things has taken the mythology in ludicrous directions and slightly soured the impact of the original. As it stands, it’s undoubtedly one of the best horror movies ever made.

Mad Max is a film which, as I’ve mentioned before, has an unearthly atmosphere which I’ve rarely encountered in Cinema. Part of that is what I bring to it as a viewer, but much of it is just the weirdness of it all – it truly does feel ugly and apocalyptic and genuine – a world away from most modern Cinema’s attempts at depicting a world in collapse. The Warriors also takes place in a world, or a city, in a state of decay and acts like a road movie without cars – a chase movie on foot, a siege movie where the besieged are constantly moving. Finally, Scum is the least likely of my picks to ever have been nominated – it’s a British movie filled with gritty violence and peppered with controversy to the extent that it was one of famous needless busy body Brit Mary Whitehouse’s personal crusades – she wanted it banned and never spoken of again. Featuring future stars giving terrific performances – Ray Winstone, Phil Daniels, Julian Firth, it’s neither a pretty nor pleasant watch as it follows the glamour-free Scarface-esque rise of one troubled youth within the walls of a Borstal (pretty much a prison for kids).

My Winner: Alien

Let us know in the comments which film you would choose as the Best of 1979!

1979 Academy Awards – An Introduction

52nd Academy Awards - Wikipedia

The 52nd Academy Awards were again hosted by Johnny Carson and saw three movies taking most of the glory – Kramer Vs Kramer, All That Jazz, and Apocalypse Now. All three movies will make multiple appearances in my nominations, with one of them being a more obvious category winner for me. However, some other notable films of 1979 will also appear as frequent nominees and winners in my picks, so stay tuned for some large variances.

Honorary Awards were presented this year to Alec Guinness, Hal Elias, Ray Stark, Robert Benjamin, John O Aalberg, Charles G Clarke, and John G Frayne. Presenters included William Shatner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Steven Spielberg, and Farrah Fawcett, while performances were from Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Paul Williams, Dionne Warwick, and others.

Come back over the next few weeks to see my picks in each category, and be sure to share your own thoughts and choices!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1979

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Escape From Alcatraz (US)

9: Escape To Athena (UK)

8: Life Of Brian (UK)

7: Zombie Flesh Eaters (Italy)

6: Quadrophenia (UK)

5: Rocky II (US)

4: Apocalypse Now (US)

3: The Warriors (US)

2: Mad Max (AUS)

1: Alien (UK/US)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Three

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One

Don’t forget to report back on Thursday as I give some lovely Stats on my picks from the 70s!