Best Music (Scoring): 1966

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Official Nominations: Original: Born Free. The Bible. Hawaii. The Sand Pebbles. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf. Treatment: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. The Gospel According To St. Matthew. Return Of The Seven. The Singing Nun. Stop The World I Want To Get Off.

Two obvious winners for me this year with both my picks having memorable lead themes and plenty of finely tuned incidental pieces. Return Of The Seven does of course borrow heavily from The Magnificent Seven, but it’s still so much stronger than anything else on the list that it gets the win.

My Winner: Born Free. Return Of The Seven.

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My Nominations: Born Free. Return Of The Seven. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Blow-Up. The Sand Pebbles. Dracula: Prince Of Darkness.  Fahrenheit 451.

I borrow three from the official nominations, and add the steamy and restrained soundtrack by James Bernard which gives a gravitas and emotional content to your typical Hammer fare. Also added is Herbie Hancock’s immortal soundtrack to Blow-Up with an infusion of guitar psychedelia and jazz freak outs, and Bernard Hermann’s mysterious and ominous ode to the future for Farenheit 451. My win of course has to be The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. It’s unfortunately rare that movie soundtracks enter the public consciousness and have a lasting cultural significance, but that is exactly what Ennio Morricone gives us (and not for the first or last time). The soundtrack is easily one of the finest ever written, with the title track, with The Ecstasy Of Gold, The Story Of A Soldier, all being classic themes.

My Winner: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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What is your choice for the Best Score of 1966? Let us know in the comments (of course it’s going to be Morricone though…)

Best Cinematography – 1966

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Official Nominations: BW: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? The Fortune Cookie. Georgy Girl. Is Paris Burning? Seconds. Colour: A Man For All Seasons. Fantastic Voyage. Hawaii. The Professionals. The Sand Pebbles.

Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? and A Man For All Seasons picked up the wins this year, increasing their impressive respective tallies. Arguably strange choices in both places, particularly as Is Paris Burning? and Seconds have much more impressive and innovative work. On the colour side the winner is an expected and fine choice, but each of the other nominees could arguably be a better choice.

My Winner: BW: Seconds. Colour: Fantastic Voyage

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My Nominations: The Bible In The Beginning. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. The Plague Of The Zombies. Is Paris Burning? Seconds. Fantastic Voyage. Hawaii. The Sand Pebbles.

Only five films from the official nominations make it over to my list, and to those I add an epic and two genre classics. Giuseppe Rotunno would gain fame later with a nomination for All That Jazz, but his sweeping shots of the approach to The Ark and the generally lavish shots in The Bible: In The Beginning deserve more recognition. Similarly, The Plague Of The Zombies leaves a lsasting impression on the viewer thanks to Arthur Grant’s bleak, atmospheric shots of a claustrophobic English village. The undisputed winner, and yet another shocking omission by The Academy, must be Tonino Delli Colli’s work on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Taking all the tropes of the famous US Westerns of previous decades, and continuing on the path laid out by Dallamano on the previous Dollars movies, the film remains uncompromisingly vast and beautiful today. Horizons stretch out endlessly, specks in the distance draw the eye just as much as the full screen withered faces of the cast – how much of this is actually down to Leone is up for debate. Either way, it’s a clean winner.

My Winner: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

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What is your pick for the Best Cinematography of 1966? Let us know in the comments!

 

Best Foreign Film – 1966

Official Nominations: A Man And A Woman. The Battle Of Algiers. Loves Of A Blonde. Pharoah. Three

It’s another stellar war for World Cinema in the 60s, with at least three all-time classics in the official nominations and with Europe taking all the positions. A Man And A Woman was the official winner, Claude Lelouche’s tender romance drama captivating audiences with its acting and imagery. On the complete flip-side, Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle Of Algiers  is grimy, gritty, but shot in an equally stunning style, using locals rather than trained actors and shot in a modern-documentary style, portraying conflict as bloodying the hands of all who take part. Milos Foreman’s Loves Of A Blonde is significant as the Director’s first film, but stands on its own as an interesting, frank take on aimless love and crumbling society. The two remaining nominees are of a lesser pedigree, but interesting nonetheless – Aleksandar Petrovic’s Three is a peculiarly affecting look at death in three forms, while Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s Pharoah is a decent mini epic on the life of Ramses XIII.

My Winner: The  Battle Of Algiers

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My Nominations: The  Battle Of Algiers. A Man And A Woman. Blow Up. Farenheit 451. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Masculine-Feminine. Persona. The Sword Of Doom. Is Paris Burning?

As I mentioned earlier, this was a magnificent year for world cinema, and many greats were ‘snubbed’ – England/Italy’s Blow Up, France’s Farenheit 451, Is Paris Burning, and Masculine-Feminine, Sweden’s Persona, and Japan’s The Sword Of Doom veer between classic and cult gem. Towering above them all is The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. I’ve spoken about a few of these already in the Best Picture category, so moving on to Godard’s Masculine-Feminine – it is another seminal piece of 60s French Cinema, famous for its explicit nature, unusual structure, and pop-culture dedication. Is Paris Burning is arguably France’s greatest WWII epic, with a terrific ensemble cast and gorgeous black and white cinematography. Keeping with B and W of course is Bergman, and with Persona he crafts another controversial piece – largely a series of monologues and conversation between two women, interjected with dreamlike imagery. Finally, Kihachi Okamoto’s The Sword Of Doom is one of the more brutal Jidaigeki films whose protagonist is wholly unlikable, selfish, yet engaging as we follow him from one murderous encounter to the next.

My Winner: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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What is your choice as the Best Foreign Film of 1966? Remember, under my rules this doesn’t have to be a film which is not in the English Language, but simply a film made outside of the US. Let us know in the comments!

Best Picture – 1966

Official Nominations: Alfie. A Man For All Seasons. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? The Sand Pebbles

1966 saw Beatlemania and a love of all things British making an impact on The Academy. It was the height of the Swinging 60s, and for a brief moment, London seemed like the Capital of the world again. Lewis Gilbert and Michael Caine teamed up to make one of their most popular films (Alfie) respectively, yet it now seems like an overly camp, overly out-of-time curio. Okay performances, but it’s possibly best viewed as a relic of a long lost era. Zinneman’s unfortunately uninspired A Man For All Seasons reeks of stage adaptation, though good performances save it from being unwatchable. Even with this British invasion, the final three films officially nominated are distinctly North American affairs.

Jewison’s The Russians Are Coming (I won’t say it twice) is a daft farce, full of funny and ridiculous moments which Kafka would have been proud of, while Nichols’s Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? is a groundbreaking film mostly because of its adult content. Full of shocking language and innuendo for the time, as well as frank discussions about sex, the script is a powerful and engaging series of arguments and insults delivered well by the unexpected cast of Burton, Segal, Mason, and the beefed up Taylor. Viewers wondered if this was what Burton and Taylor were really like. In addition to this it must be noted that it is the only film ever to have been nominated in every category in which it was eligible. My winner though goes to the All-American The Sand Pebbles, by Robert Wise. The gung-ho cast of Steve McQueen, Mako, Attenborough, Crenna, and more make this a winner even though it is overly long and has the typical inaccuracies we come to expect when Hollywood speaks of the past. Even though Woolf is the best film here, I’ll go against the grain.

My Winner: The Sand Pebbles

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My Nominations: Blow Up. Born Free. Fahrenheit 451. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Torn Curtain. The Sand Pebbles. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

Out of the official nominations, only The Sand Pebbles and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? get The Spac Hole’s Seal Of Approval. Added to my list of nominations are a selection of worldwide hits, most of which are rightly held up as classics today. Arguably Antonioni’s best film, Blowup merged Italian flair and lust with the exuberance of the British swinging sixties, all wrapped up in a boundary-pushing story of existentialism and murder. The sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll proved to be a hit with audiences and forced Hollywood to realise that the world had moved on, and was no longer only interested in white picket fences, singing and dancing, and dogs being swept away from Kansas. Bringing a different flair to Bradbury’s under-appreciated vision of the future, Truffaut’s Farenheit 451 does a decent job of capturing the fears of the story whilst delivering poignant visuals. Like Antonioni, this was Truffaut’s first English film. Keeping with the English theme, Hitchcock returns with Torn Curtain, a typically tight political thriller which few people speak of when regarding the Director’s best work. It may not be his best, but it is a highlight of his twilight career. In a completely different type of film, Born Free is a timeless tale of love, dedication, and nature, and is a movie which deserves to be shown to children yearly, just like The Snowman or It’s A Wonderful Life. My winner though has to be Leone’s masterpiece. After a few brilliant attempts, he cements everything that he set out to do to the Western genre, and gives us arguably the genre’s finest film. Violent, gritty, stunningly beautiful, and with iconic performances and a sharp script, it is one of the all-time greats.

My Winner: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

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What do you think is the best film of 1966? Or more importantly, what is your favourite of 1966? Let us know in the comments!