Best Music (Scoring) – 1961

Actual Nominations: (Score of a Dramatic or Comedy): Breakfast at Tiffany’sHenry Mancini El CidMiklós Rózsa FannyMorris Stoloff, Harry Sukman The Guns of NavaroneDimitri Tiomkin Summer and SmokeElmer Bernstein

(Scoring of a Musical): West Side StorySaul Chaplin, Johnny Green, Sid Ramin, Irwin Kostal Babes in ToylandGeorge Bruns Flower Drum SongAlfred Newman, Ken Darby KhovanshchinaDimitri Shostakovich Paris BluesDuke Ellington

The actual winners were Breakfast at Tiffany’s and West Side Story. Mancini has just the right mix of Jazz, class, and old Hollywood that this doesn’t feel irratating or dated, while West Side Story is renowned for, if nothing else, it’s music.

My Nominations: Again, I’m not differentiating between the groups but I don’t think I can do any better than the Academy this time, so my win goes to Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Best Original Song- 1961

Actual NominationsMoon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Music by Henry Mancini; Lyric by Johnny Mercer. Bachelor in Paradise from Bachelor in Paradise – Music by Henry Mancini; Lyric by Mack David. Love Theme from El Cid (The Falcon and the Dove) from El Cid – Music by Miklos Rozsa; Lyric by Paul Francis Webster. Pocketful of Miracles from Pocketful of Miracles – Music by Jimmy Van Heusen; Lyric by Sammy Cahn. Town Without Pity from Town Without Pity – Music by Dimitri Tiomkin; Lyric by Ned Washington

Batchelor In Paradise:  Another annoying Mancini, dated, rambling song with lyrics about nothing and a sound straight out of a shopping mall glory hole. It is twee, but surprisingly has some sort of memorable tune.

El Cid: The Falcon And The Dove: This is a different beast entirely, sounding huge with the full orchestra backing, especially when merged with the introduction piece. It does show some aging but it has more of a timeless feel and at least the melody is memorable. It does feel like a bunch of lyrics were thrown in to the epic scoring last minute, but the song still pays off.

Pocketful Of Miracles: The intro may sound like Jingle Bells, and the singing may sound like a group of girl scouts dancing around your garden but it is jolly and has a catchy, advertisement like tune.  After hearing it I feel like I’m being forced into buying a pair of trousers. Or a gun.

Town Without Pity: This is a decent enough song, sung with that late 50s rock drawl with the likes of Elvis and Holly loved to use. There’s a jazzy drunkeness to it and an underlying current of sadness.

My pick from the actual nominations matches the real winner, with Moon River. It’s one of those few movie songs which both transcends the movie and becomes something special in its own right, and also evokes images of the film when its opening notes are heard.

Moon River

My Nominations: Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Moon River). Love Theme (El Cid). The Young Ones (The Young Ones). 101 Dalmations (Cruella De Vil)

My Winner: The Young Ones

My win goes to The Young Ones, mostly due to memories of the TV show. It’s still a great song without these memories and much faster than Moon River.

The Young Ones

Let me know if my ears need a re-tuning, or if I have missed one of your favourites, and have a go at the super-exciting poll!

Best Writing (Adapted)- 1961

Actual Nominations: Judgement At Nuremberg- Abby Mann. Breakfast At Tiffany’s- George Axelrod. The Guns Of Navarone- Carl Foreman. The Hustler- Sidney Carroll, Robert Rossen. West Side Story- Ernest Lehman.

My Winner: The real winner was the tense Judgement At Nuremberg, but my choice from the actual nominations is Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

My Nominations: Breakfast At Tiffany’s. The Guns Of Navarone. The Hustler. The Pit And The Pendulum- Richard Matheson. The Innocents William Archibald, Truman Capote, John Mortimer.

My Winner: Close between The Pit And The Pendulum and The Innocents, and as much as I love Matheson, I think The Innocents edges this one. Dreary, deep,creeping, ugly stuff from Capote and William Archibald

The Innocents

Best Actress: 1961

Official Nominations: Sophia Loren. Natalie Wood, Piper Laurie, Audrey Hepburn, Geraldine Page

Thankfully the leading actress award is much better than the supporting actress award this year. It was a year of big guns, with Sophia Loren edging out the competition. It was the first time an Oscar had been awarded for a non-English spoken performance and it is well deserved in a gut-wrenching display of emotions. However, Natalie Wood, Piper Laurie, and Audrey Hepburn were also nominated, and my pick, only by a slight amount goes to Hepburn. ‘Cos she’s prettier’. Laurie exudes exuberance in The Hustler and she would get even greater roles as time progressed, while Wood is strong in a role which seemingly proves that if you’re not a whore, you’ll go crazy and be locked up. Rounding up the category is Geraldine Page who would get a succession of nominations and has an adequate time in the Tennessee Williams play adaptation.

My Winner: Audrey Hepburn

My nominations: Audrey Hepburn. Piper Laurie. Sophia Loren. Deborah Kerr. Natalie Wood.

I’ve only added one more nomination to the list – Deborah Kerr’s deliberatly frigid performance in The Innocents in which she cowers in fear, tries to act as a confident maternal figure whilst battling demons and sexual repression.

My Winner: Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey Hepburn

If you agree, disagree, or neither… , let us know in the comments and the poll!