Best Director – 1974

Official Nominations: Francis Ford Coppola. John Cassavetes. Bob Fosse. Roman Polanski. Francois Truffaut.

It’s always unfortunate for the other nominees when they come up against such a sure-fire clear winner. No-one stood a chance against Coppola here, and rightly so, but each of the other directors and their films are notable. Not only did Coppola unleash The Godfather Part II, but he also gave us The Conversation – either film would be strong enough to win in this category, but when he directed both in one year – fuggetaboutit. John Cassavetes directs possibly his most straightforward film, and yet it’s probably his most dense featuring an, at times, incredible lead performance from Gina Rowlands. It’s a character study at heart, yet takes shots at wider society and its expectations, and Cassavetes directs it at his least experimental, most personal.

Bob Fosse’s Lenny likewise feels like the least Fosse film from a directorial standpoint, yet all his usual interests are present an accounted for, and it’s bolstered by another wonderful lead performance. Truffaut’s Day For Night is as experimental as you would assume, yet not so much that it is a detriment to the story or alienating to the viewer. It’s not quite a love letter to cinema, as much as it is a pervert’s eye view of the unseen parts of film-making. Finally, Roman Polanski loses out in Chinatown – a clear winner any other year such is its majesty.

My Winner: Francis Ford Coppola

My Nominations: Francis Ford Coppola. John Cassavetes. Roman Polanski. Francois Truffaut. Tobe Hopper. Mel Brooks. John Guillerman.

If you’ve read my previous posts for this year, then you’ll be expecting my additional nominees – Tobe Hopper for his horrific The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in which every trick in the book is used to get under the skin, and every aspect of film-making is twisted so that the viewer is repulsed. Mel Brooks on the other hand balances script and performance manically in both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein to elicit wild giggles from anyone fortunate enough to stumble upon either film – another fine example of a double effort by one director. Finally, John Guillerman ensures that the disaster movie reaches its peak, making The Towering Inferno more than mere spectacle but filling it with tense drama, action, and even laughs.

My Winner: Francis Ford Coppola

Let us know in the comments who your pick is for the Best Director of 1974!

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Best Director – 1972

Official Nominations: Bob Fosse. John Boorman. Francis Ford Coppola. Joseph L Mankiewicz. Jan Troell.

Bob Fosse picked up his win here. Seriously. As much as you may love Cabaret, and as much as Fosse does a great job, there is only one winner here. Indeed, I’d probably put Boorman and Mankiewicz higher than Fosse for two very different types of taut thriller in Sleuth and Deliverance respectively. Jan Troell shouldn’t be here at all given that The Emigrants movie came out in 1971 – remembering I don’t care for what and when a film finally showed in LA or USA. My winner is Coppola – isn’t everyone’s? The Godfather is a masterclass from A-Z in the art of Cinema.

My Winner: Francis Ford Coppola

My Nominations: Francis Ford Coppola. Bob Fosse. John Boorman. Joseph L Mankiewicz. Werner Herzog. Bruce Lee. Bernardo Bertolucci. Ronald Neame. Andrei Tarkovsky.

The four big shots all make it over to my list – you can’t really argue against any of them being nominated. I don’t think you can argue against Coppola still winning here – most of my additions would never stand a chance of getting nominated in reality, but each is strong in their own right. I didn’t go so far as giving John Waters one (matron). Herzog’s Aguerre was famous just as much for trouble on set so the fact that such a great movie emerged from the other side speaks volumes, while Bruce Lee made his only complete movie (Way Of The Dragon) as director, one which remains at the top of the martial arts genre. One of the great shames of his early death was not only that he didn’t appear in any more films, but that he didn’t direct any more. Bertolucci gets an obvious nomination for Last Tango In Paris, beauty and disgust colliding, while Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris is incredibly influential in many departments. My final nomination is for Ronald Neame’s The Poseidon Adventure – arguably the most thrilling of all the disaster movies although I admit the nomination is more to do with scope than overall quality.

My Winner: Francis Ford Coppola

Let us know in the comments who you choose as the Best Director of 1972!