Best Actor – 1971

Official Nominations: Gene Hackman. Peter Finch. Walter Matthau. George C Scott. Chaim Topol.

There were two clear front-runners this year, with Gene Hackman picking up the win for his (arguably) career best performance in The French Connection. Missing out was Topol in Fiddler In The Roof – a full-blooded performance but one I’m never going to pick over Hackman. Peter Finch plays one third of a sexual triangle in Sunday Bloody Sunday, a million miles away from camp, while Walter Matthau is not grumpy in the forgotten, curious, and light Kotch. Finally, George C Scott is grumpy and stressed and more besides in The Hospital. As mentioned – only one winner.

My Winner: Gene Hackman

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My Nominations: Gene Hackman. Gene Wilder. Dustin Hoffman. Al Pacino. Sean Connery. Malcolm McDowell. Oliver Reed. Michael Caine. Warren Beatty. Richard Roundtree. Robert Duvall.

Only Hackman transcends reality to make it onto my list, joining a list of snubs and others. Gene Wilder seems like a major snub here, at least with hindsight – his portrayal of Willy Wonka one of the most beloved ever, commanding every scene he is in and providing many memorable moments. Similarly, Dustin Hoffman may feel aggrieved that he didn’t get a nomination for Straw Dogs – Hoffman slowly cracking then shattering. Al Pacino got off to his first major lead role in Panic In Needle Park, an interesting film raised by his performance while Sean Connery plays a more dastardly version of Bond in The Anderson Tapes. Malcolm McDowell gives a tour de force performance as Alex in A Clockwork Orange, ensuring he would have a career playing madcap characters while Oliver Reed furthered his legend with The Devils. Staying in England, Michael Caine earns another nomination from me thanks to his meanest performance in Get Carter while back in the US, Warren Beatty should feel aggrieved by not getting a nomination for Mccabe & Mrs Miller. Finally, two performances which never would have got a nomination – Robert Duvall in a rare lead role for THX 1138 and Richard Roundtree for the ground-breaking Shaft. 

This is a tough one, but I think it’s between Wilder and McDowell for me.

My Winner: Gene Wilder

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Who do you pick as the Best Actor of 1971? Let us know in the comments!

Heartbreakers

Heartbreakers

A romantic comedy with an unusually varied cast giving good performances. Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt star as a mother and daughter con-team. They are like the legacy hunters of Ancient Rome, following around wealthy men in order to get their money. Their usual scam involves Max (Weaver) seducing a man, then marrying him. Then Page (Hewitt) appears and makes him unfaithful so that Max can divorce him and get half his money. The film begins with such a scam, taking mechanic Ray Liotta for a ride. Max is annoyed though with their slim pickings, and Page claims she can move out on her own. They decide to go for one last score each, to see who can earn the most. Max sets her sights on aging Billionaire Tensey, played by Hackman and Page follows Bartender Jason Lee who is also rich. However, Page falls for Lee and Max realises she may lose her daughter, as well as Tinsey’s fortune as he refuses to die. Also, Liotta has found the two and realised their plans. He wants his money back…

Although this starts out as quite a dark and cynical comedy it soon becomes more light-hearted and typical fare. There remains though a subtle tone of skepticism throughout which is refreshing in a genre which rarely offers any originality, or entertainment. Each actor seems to enjoy themselves fully, some being pulled widely away from the characters they usually play. Weaver is very strong and in control, Hewitt is extremely sexy rather than her usual roles involving screaming, crying or cuteness, and she does very well. Liotta is excellent giving the best jokes in the film, Hackman is also very funny, and Jason Lee, though toned down from his Kevin Smith roles is still capable of getting our laughs and sympathy. You can usually buy this pretty cheap so it would hardly be a waste, better than most of its type but unfortunately it is a type which is limited. Overall, good fun.

The DVD has a few tiny feautures- trailers, TV spots, nothing overly exciting. For any fans of the cast or of romantic comedies (which do not rely on overly sexual or toilet based humour) this is a cheap purchase.

Feel free to comment on the review and/or the movie- what did you like, what didn’t you like?