Best Supporting Actor – 1977

Official Nominations: Jason Robards. Mikhail Baryshnikov. Alec Guinness. Peter Firth. Max Schell.

It’s not planned – I promise. It’s just that, again, I fnd the Star Wars nominee to be the best choice. Any new readers to these Oscars posts, just remember that these are simply my personal preferences, not based off Oscar history or buzz or necessarily who was ‘best’. Just which one I would have liked to win. It gets even more personal with My Nominations, but I try not to just add any old crap for the sake of it – I just don’t adhere to the Oscar rules or tropes.

But yes, Star Wars wins again for me here. Alec Guinness reportedly wasn’t a fan of the movie or script, but he plays the role straight and perfectly characterizes the old, wise hermit with a long detailed history. It’s Obi Wan Kenobi – everyone knows him. Can the average person on the street name any of the other characters nominated this year? Dashiell Hammett maybe. Jason Robards officially won as Hammett this year – he’s the love interest of of the woman searching for the missing title character. There’s a huge section of the film he’s not part of – not always a problem when this is a supporting role considering some have won for single scenes in the past. He’s solid but the issue with the movie is that we mainly care about the women. Max Schell was also nominated here, but it’s an even smaller role and feels like it was a shoehorned nomination. Peter Firth holds his own against Richard Burton in Equus – a film with enough controversy surrounding it that someone was always going to be nominated. He’s good but who doesn’t think of Harry Potter when they think of this role now? Finally, Mikhail Baryshnikov was nominated because he was the most famous dancer in the world. Even when there’s no Musical worth nominating, The Academy still has to force a dancer (or two in this year’s case) into the running. He shouldn’t be here – he’s better in Sex And The City. 

My Winner: Alec Guinness

My Nominations: Alec Guinness. Richard Gere. Raf Vallone. Jeroen Krabbe. Bruno Cremer. Harrison Ford.

Only Guinness makes it over to my personal list. The interesting thing about voting for someone because the character is iconic, is where do you cut off? Richard Kiel is the very essence of iconic, but would you vote him for The Spy Who Love Me? Guinness is good, quietly so, as befitting the character. Honestly, this was a great year for leading male performances – but supporting not so much. Most of those I nominate I don’t feel would have made the cut in other years, and are more to encourage you to watch the films as they have been underrepresented. Raf Vallone as a vengeful millionaire in The Other Side Of Midnight and Richard Gere as the abusive Tony in Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Maybe I should nominate Kiel?

Taking things down a more legitimate path, Jeroen Krabbe supports Rutgar Hauer as another passionate Resistance member in Soldier Of Orange, and Bruno Cremer as the straight man and negotiator on the run in Sorcerer. If Guinness is nominated in support, it only seems fair that Harrison Ford joins him for his Han Solo. He adds the roguish charm and sense of grounded cynicism to counter all of the fantasy going on, and in many scenes it’s him who catches the eye. Lets balance things and go with Ford this time.

My Winner: Harrison Ford

Let us know in the comments who you would pick as winner for Best Supporting Actor of 1977!

Best Director – 1977

Official Nominations: Woody Allen. Steven Spielberg. Fred Zinnemann. Herbert Ross. George Lucas.

This is a bit of a no contest for me. Really it’s a three horse race, but as time goes on that Allen win looks more and more concerning. Annie Hall is likely his crowning achievement but when viewed alongside Close Encounters Of A Third Kind and Star Wars it pales by some distance. Allen very much has a style which doesn’t change from movie to movie and his films are more concerned with script than direction. The amount of effort which went into both of those sci-fi classics from all corners, the influence…. it all dwarfs the other nominees combined. This is the perfect example of the Turning Point (pun intended) in Hollywood, with the Academy as always lagging behind the populace. We have poor old Fred Zinnemann and Herbert Ross – both no strangers to Oscars – getting what amounts to little more than traditional votes. That’s not truly fair given that both their films notched up additional nominations this year and both aren’t 100% old fashioned Oscar bait, but when viewed against the modern stylings of the other three films and directors it’s clear there is a generational gap. Generational gaps are one thing, but when making my choices here it’s all about quality. The Turning Point and Julia are no doubt well directed, but they are hardly innovative, both directors have made superior movies, and there are some other notable films from the year which probably should have made the cut over those two.

We know Woody Allen is out, and that leaves Spielberg and Lucas. Spielberg already had Jaws in his pocket by this point while Lucas had American Graffiti. Any other year Spielberg would be the choice here, but Lucas unleashed a little something called Star Wars upon the world With each new year a whole slew of blockbusters and special effects bonanzas swarm through the cinema but they are so lacking in energy and originality and are so cookie cutter that it’s difficult to differentiate between one and the other. With each viewing of those, it becomes increasingly clear just what an achievement A New Hope was – from the impossible odds of getting it done on time, the often horrid conditions making it, a cast of mostly unknowns with a couple of old-school leading actors, from creating visual and sound effects and techniques never seen before, right down to the handling of story, characters, and universe – it has to be Lucas for the win.

My Winner: George Lucas

star-wars-40th-anniversary

My Nominations: George Lucas. Steven Spielberg. Robert Altman. Sam Peckinpah. Ridley Scott. David Lynch. William Freidkin. Dario Argento. Luis Bunuel.

There was a number of war epics this year and depending on your preference for scale or action or story or character, you could name any of the directors here. My vote goes for Peckinpah and his violent anti-glory Cross Of Iron which acts as a precursor to many of the more downbeat and political war films of the subsequent ten years. Regardless of which area you decide to focus on, Ridley Scott’s The Duellists is probably the most consistent war film of the year and hits all of the aforementioned boxes, showing that Scott had a handle on each and could combine them within a historical setting and a large scope. Say what you will about Lynch or Eraserhead but you won’t see a more unique and nightmarish vision in 1977 than his tale of isolation, fear, and weirdness. In a time when everyone was pre-occupied with grand battles and huge budgets, Lynch goes grainy black and white to show an industrial wasteland, a bewildered man, and a screeching mutant. William Friedkin updates The Grapes Of Wrath with his toe-curling exercise in tension Sorceror while Dario Argento perfects his colourful giallo vision and penchant for stylish violence and madness with Suspiria. Luis Bunuel’s films are more often than not experimental, and while less overt in its art That Obscure Object Of Desire pushes traditional storytelling to certain limits and beyond. Finally, Robert Altman treads more fully into experimental territory with 3 Women – a film based on a dream and given a dreamlike quality in its depiction of relationships in a town on the edge of nowhere.

I know I’m not impartial, but I think time has proven that any one of my additional nominees are more worthy than the three official ones I left off. As much as I’d be happy with any of my other picks getting the win, I think we have to still go with Beardy Magee.

My Winner: George Lucas.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Academy Awards 1972 – An Introduction

45th_Academy_Awards.jpg

The 45th Academy Awards were marred by multiple controversies – The Godfather having it’s nomination for Best Score removed, Brando boycotting the whole thing, and Cabaret getting the most nominations without winning Best Picture. It was another year where lessons from past years were seemingly forgotten, with strange nominations in the face more obvious and deserving choices. There were even some strange choices for the wins. Both of the two aforementioned led the way for wins and nominations meaning other films were unrepresented, especially in the wins category. Edward G Robinson and Charles S Boren received Honorary Awards.

Carol Burnett, Charlton Heston, Michael Caine, and Rock Hudson hosted the show, which also saw James Coburn, Billy Dee Williams, Julie Andrew, John Wayne and other presenting. Meanwhile, Michael Jackson, John Williams, and a host of Disney Characters all performed music.

At least one of the two big winners will also be a big winner in my picks while the other may be sorely disappointed. There will be plenty of surprise nominations in some of the major categories and the usual mix of personal favourites popping up. Join us in the next few weeks to see what makes the cut!

Best Director- 1962

Actual Nominatons:  David Lean. Pietro Germi. Robert Mulligan. Arthur Penn. Frank Perry.

Although it was close between Lean and Germi, there can really only be one winner from these nominations- Lean’s singular vision and epic may never be a favourite of mine, but the man knew how to direct with a wider scope than many others would dare. Lean was the official winner and gets my nod too. Divorce, Italian Style is impressive but was a one off and didn’t exactly have a massive impression on filmmakers to come. Mulligan gives a fairly straight interpretation of Mockingbird and it could have just as easily been any other director of the time. Perry’s first film shows a promising new talent while Penn’s second film shows his command of both Stage and film work as he is able to translate faithful from one to the other.

My Winner: David Lean

My Nominations: Terence Young, John Ford, John Frankenheimer, J. Lee Thompson, David Lean, Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, Robert Aldrich.

My nominations are a much more sparklng and worthy bunch with John Frankenheimer appearing for 2 films, and Terence Young bringing Bond to life in vicious, suave fashion. Kubrick and Welles pop up too with strong work, but not strong enough to get my vote. Thompson comes close to a win with Cape Fear, Aldrich’s Baby Jane is not too far behind, while Hathaway and Marshall each provided segments to How The West Was Won. But Frankenheimer gets my win thanks to Birdman and Manchurian Candidate, two very different films with opposing styles.

My Winner: John Frankenheimer

1960 Academy Awards Prize Summary

Now that my choices for 1960 are over, I’m giving a handy, useless, summary of my thoughts. Once I have completed my re-imagnining of a particular year I will list my overall choices of winners from the actual nominations, as well as the numbers from my own nominations and winners. For any stats geeks amongst out there, you may find something of interest here. For everyone else, please accept my apologies. Note- I am not including a nomination per film when an actor or director is nominated for that film- so if Audrey Hepburn was nominated as Best Actress for Breakfast At Tiffany’s it would only be 1 nomination for Hepburn, not 1 for her and 1 for the film. Additionally, at the bottom I’ve added a recommended viewing list for anyone with similar tastes to me.

My Winners From The Actual Nominations: 

Spartacus: 3

The Apartment: 3

Psycho: 2

The Alamo: 2

The Magnificent Seven: 1

Alfred Hitchcock: 1

Sal Mineo: 1

Exodus: 1

Jack Lemmon: 1

Melina Mercouri: 1

Never On Sunday: 1

Shirley Knight: 1

The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs: 1

The Virgin Spring: 1

The Time Machine: 1

Sons And Lovers: 1

Elmer Bernstein: 1

My Own Nominations:

The Magnificent Seven: 13

Spartacus: 12

Psycho: 7

The Lost World: 6

Peeping Tom: 5

Village Of The Damned: 4

The Apartment: 4

The Alamo: 4

The Last Voyage: 3

The Bad Sleep Well: 3

Breathless: 3

House Of Usher: 3

The Brides Of Dracula: 3

Exodus: 3

Sons And Lovers: 2

Jigoku: 2

The Virgin Spring: 2

The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs: 2

Night And Fog In Japan: 2

Ocean’s Eleven: 2

Swiss Family Robinson: 2

Never On Sunday: 1

The Time Machine: 1

The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver: 1

Butterfield 8: 1

It Started In Naples: 1

The Story Of Ruth: 1

Eyes Without A Face: 1

The Young One: 1

Late Autumn: 1

Elmer Gantry: 1

Alfred Hitchcock: 1

Stanley Kubrick: 1

Michael Powell: 1

Nagisa Oshima: 1

John Sturges: 1

Akira Kurosawa: 1

Jean-Luc Godard: 1

Billy Wilder: 1

Horst Bulcholz: 1

Charles Bronson: 1

Laurence Olivier: 1

Dean Stockwell: 1

Sal Mineo: 1

Melina Mercouri: 1

Elizabeth Taylor: 1

Sophia Loren: 1

Elana Eden: 1

Dorothy McGuire: 1

Alida Valli: 1

Toshiro Mifune: 1

Yul Brynner: 1

Steve Mcqueen: 1

Carl Boem: 1

Kirk Douglas: 1

Shirley Knight: 1

Shirley Jones: 1

Janet Leigh: 1

Audrey Hepburn: 1

The Unforgiven: 1

13 Ghosts: 1

The Little Shop Of Horrors: 1

Alakazam The Great: 1

Elmer Bernstein: 1

Bernard Hermann: 1

Alex North: 1

Ernest Gold: 1

Dimitri Tiomkin: 1

My Winners From My Nominations:

The Magnificent Seven: 6

Psycho: 3

Spartacus: 2

Eyes Without A Face: 1

Alfred Hitchcock: 1

Horst Bulcholz: 1

Alida Valli: 1

Anthony Perkins: 1

Audrey Hepburn: 1

The Unforgiven: 1

The Virgin Spring: 1

Jigoku: 1

The Lost World: 1

The Apartment: 1

The Alamo: 1

Alakazam The Great: 1

Elmer Bernstein: 1

So unlike the official 1960 Academy Awards where The Apartment was biggest winner and most nominated, The Magnificent Seven, Spartacus, and Psycho lead the pack for me.

Recommended Viewing List:

Spartacus. The Apartment. Psycho. The Magnificent Seven. Village Of The Damned. Peeping Tom. The Lost World. Breathless. Jigoku. The Virgin Spring. The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs. Eyes Without A Face. Night And Fog In Japan.

Best Picture- An Introduction

The problem I, and many other movie fans have with the Oscars, is that it appears to be repressed and has an upper class selective nature rather than one based on ‘upper quality’. All this means is that it is likely that you’re favourite film of any given year will likely not win or receive any awards. I, and many others are big movie fans but we grew up on a diet of action movies, horror movies, science fiction, and comedy- in other words the genres which The Oscars would not touch with a 20 metre rolled up red carpet. We are wise enough (or at least some of us) to recognize that many of our favourite films are not Oscar worthy, but that is not to say they are inferior.

There are two types of non Oscar Worthy film I would like to mention here- the first is the type of film that we absolutely love, which entertains thoroughly, but doesn’t particularly have anything original, doesn’t progress a genre, and doesn’t have any standout plot, dialogue, or performances. Imagine Commando– one of my favourite films which I absolutely love and will defend to the death- it is a great film, but it is not Oscar Worthy in the traditional sense. The second type is that film which we know is a classic of the genre- one which few fans can argue over and is generally agreed by all to be perfect. Usually this type of film will have originality in a few areas, as well as having 5 star plot, acting, and everything else which films which win Oscars should have. These films however cannot be considered Oscar worthy because of their genre, because of their tone, or because of a myriad of other small details. It is on a rare occasion that these films are recognized by the Oscars committee, but are usually relogated to ‘minor’ awards such as effects, sound, editing etc. It is as if they know the film is good but are too embarrassed, too scared to put them in with the big boys- this would upset the decorum. Most of the time though these films are passed over, even when it is clear they are more than just popcorn gobblers. Take Die Hard for example- similar in most ways to Commando except that it has a relatively big name cast, original plotting, fast dialogue. Unfortunately it has guns and swearing too.

I won’t get into how it’s all subjective, the fact remains that there have been some very good films in these forgotton genres, some which truly are Oscar worthy, but which were and are completely overlooked. Since the Oscars began there have been clear genre favourites- Musicals, costume epics, biographies, and heartwarming character pieces. Understandably these were the norm back in the twenties and thirties, and these types of films were big budget extravagances with all the top stars, and genuinely did break boundaries, while horror and action movies were mostly cheap and created cult stars. This bias though has held over for reasons absurd- you can be sure that anytime a musical is released that it will be top of the Oscars list, regardless of quality- the unofficial rule would appear to be that a poor musical must be nominated over a flawless horror movie. A follow up rule to this is that Oscar loves his ‘big issue’ movies- a movie which deals with one taboo or subject- racism and homophobia have been the two big ones recently. This explains why otherwise average movies such as Crash and Brokeback Mountain clean up at the awards. Sure they’re decent movies, but for an already enlightened audience they don’t tell us anything we don’t already know. Racism is bad, there are still many racist people about from all walks of life, nothing is (sorry) balck and white. Well done for spouting the obvious, I proclaim thee best film of the year.

Anyway, what do I know? I’m just a fan- a popcorn gobbler who enjoys seeing things go boom as much as he enjoys Capra and Fellini. Perhaps I’m blinded by my love of horror, action, etc because that’s what I was weened on- but if that is true then it follows that The Oscars are equally selective. The only difference is I give everything a chance and give credit where credit is due. So there follows my selections of Best Film winners, from those which were nominated, and from my own nominations. For each award I’m going to start with 1960 and work my way from there- simply because I’ve seen more films since that date than before. I’ll update as I go along. If anything is missing it’s because I haven’t seen the film, but I’ll try to cover every year anyway- you can entertain yourself by picking your own! Chump.