Best Actress – 1973

Official Nominations: Glenda Jackson. Ellen Burstyn. Marsha Mason. Barbra Streisand. Joanne Woodward.

Glenda Jackson won this year for A Touch Of Class – an entertaining farce basically about two horn-bags trying to have sex, then continuing an on-off affair. The main problem I have with the film is that the main characters are, well, dicks. The affair is slapstick stuff but eventually settles into a more typical relationship with all the guilt and jealousy you would expect. Still, Jackson is good, shows a talent for comedy, and deserves the nomination. Ellen Burstyn is the tortured mother in The Exorcist, helplessly clutching for some sort of salvation for her daughter. She comes across as cold in the early parts of the film but once the vomit hits the fan she is the concerned, terrified parent watching unimaginable trauma inflected on her child – Burstyn is the winner, no other choice.

Martha Mason earns her first of four nominations for Cinderella Liberty. The cynic in me looks at her marriage to Neil Simon who just happened to write most of the films she was nominated for, but that’s not the case here. She’s good here but there’s something too showy or theatrical about the performance? I don’t know. The film itself is a strange one too – good cast, decent drama, but forgettable. Barbra Streisand is Barbra Streisand, so you know exactly what you’re going to get – lots of scenery chewing and arm waving, while Joanne Woodward is a weird choice in a weird movie. It’s the requisite veteran vote, but she’d already won an award previously. Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams feels like a Bergman movie – even the title sounds like one, and isn’t a film anyone is ever going to seek out. It’s actually a genuine, accurate portrayal of depression and I think there is a great movie in here somewhere – it just doesn’t come off very well.

My Winner: Ellen Burstyn

My Nominations: Ellen Burstyn. Sissy Spacek. Julie Christie. Margot Kidder. Raquel Welch.

People think of Carrie when they think of Sissy Spacek’s breakout role, but the makings of her illustrious career can be found in Badlands – acting as both narrator and lead. As a slightly more passive character she is in danger of being overshadowed by Martin Sheen, but manages to more than hold her own. Julie Christie finds herself in a similar position in Don’t Look Now but her quiet turn to obsession is just as unnerving as what happens to Sutherland’s character. Margot Kidder gives perhaps the most impressive performance of my nominees in a dual role in De Palma’s Sisters while Raquel Welch appears this year in both The Last Of Sheila and The Three Musketeers – either of which is worthy of a nomination.

My Winner: Ellen Burstyn

Let us know in the comments which Actress you think deserves the Award this year!

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Best Actor – 1973

Official Nominations: Jack Lemmon. Marlon Brando. Jack Nicholson. Al Pacino. Robert Redford.

This is one of the few years in this category where I can’t argue against any of the choices. I mean, I won’t be picking Lemmon as winner but it’s still a terrific performance. Save The Tiger isn’t the best movie but it’s still a good find for anyone catching up on their 70s cinema and it’s difficult to picture anyone other than Lemmon in the role, thanks to his pathos and world weary everyman persona.

Even though Brando pissed off the Academy with his incident surrounding The Godfather win, he was nominated again 12 months later. Again, it’s difficult to argue against his brutal powerhouse showing in Las Tango In Paris. Nicholson continues his incredible 70s run with a film you feel doesn’t get enough attention now – The Last Detail runs the gamut from hilarious to tragic and Nicholson is alarmingly good. In the same boat is Al Pacino for Serpico – a good cop who is exposed to city wide corruption and tries to expose it all without getting cast out or hurt. Expect a lot of sudden shouts and energetic speeches, though his performance here is nowhere near top of the full Pacino volume scale as he reach later. Finally, another iconic performance by Redford in The Sting as a charming grifter who wants to learn and earn one big job, getting himself into trouble with cops and crooks along the way. Again you feel like Redford was made for the part.

My Winner: Al Pacino

My Nominations: Jack Lemmon. Marlon Brando. Jack Nicholson. Al Pacino. Robert Redford. Martin Sheen. Donald Sutherland. Harvey Keitel. Ryan O’Neal. Steve McQueen. Gene Hackman.

I copy all five official nominees over with the additional caveat that Pacino gets additional nomination for Scarecrow. He plays alongside Gene Hackman, who I also nominate – both are strong as drifters intent on starting a car wash. They meet on the road, strike up a friendship and decide upon the business venture but get into various scrapes along the way. It’s a classic cult road movie where we just watch the characters riff on each other and try to get on in the face of tragedy and hardship.

Hardship and tragedy are a common theme in the category this year – Donald Sutherland giving a convincing portrayal of grief and obsession in Don’t Look Now and Martin Sheen as the increasingly unstable, violent, and charismatic Kit in Badlands. Harvey Keitel tries to avoid violence and protect an increasingly unstable friend while hoping to be noticed by Mafia superiors – it’s a nice counter-balance to De Niro’s ‘not quite there yet’ performance. Steve McQueen gives one of his last great performances in Papillon as a wrongly convicted man planning escape from a tough prison – McQueen showing more than the mere ‘cool’ he was typically known for. Finally, a more lighter-hearted effort with Ryan O’Neal in Paper Moon. His real life daughter got the official plaudits, but O’Neal is rarely better as the con man who agrees to take an orphan to her auntie – their relationship works because it feels genuine and both show great charm.

My Winner: Al Pacino.

Let us know in the comments who you pick as the Best Actor of 1973!

Best Foreign Film – 1973

Official Nominations: Day For Night. The House On Chelouche Street. L’Invitation. The Pedestrian. Turkish Delight.

Day For Night saw Truffaut win his Oscar – it’s certainly accessible and one of his most popular films, dealing with the lives of a group of people struggling to make a film and filled with soap opera sentiment with love, secrets, sex, jealousy etc. It’s fine but there’s a better film here. We have another token Israeli nomination in The House On Chelouche Street (these films are incredibly difficult to find) which features a family living with loss and war on their doorstep – a mother trying to cope with grief, with her family growing up and whether or not she should remarry, a son joining a military force and falling in love – it’s one of those films. Nothing really happens in L’Invitation to warrant a nomination, while The Pedestrian sees Max Schell direct a film concerning a war criminal’s past catching up with them and being forced into a trial. My winner is of course going to be Turkish Delight – Paul Verhoeven’s first film of note, and one filled with sex and violence – something he would of course return to with increasing ferocity over the course of his career. Here it is almost tame, but all the more compelling in its realism – there isn’t much satire or fantasy here, just a portrait of a relationship hindered by mental illness and jealousy.

My Winner: Turkish Delight

My Nominations: Turkish Delight. Amarcord. Battles Without Honour And Humanity. Don’t Look Now. Live And Let Die. The Wicker Man

I’m only bringing my winner over to my category so that I have more space for some of the other greats this year. Amarcord gets nominated here – it would win the Oscar next year, Fellini at his most egotistical and self-deprecating getting a bunch of amateurs to tell a semi-real version of his youth. Does Live And Let Die really qualify as a foreign film? In my book it does, and as it is one of my favourite Bond films you’d better believe it’s getting nominated here. To be fair, the average cinema goer is going to want to watch this as a foreign movie over any number of Fellini or Kurosawa or whoever movies. Battles Without Honour And Humanity is Kinji Fukasaku’s first masterpiece – a brutal and damning depiction of Yakuza life over many years. It’s massively influential, at least in terms of Japanese Cinema, and it’s brilliant.

It’s back to The UK for my final two entries. Don’t Look Now actually, famously takes place mostly in Venice – the streets and canals taking on a sinister feel as Roeg’s mesmeric direction twists, confounds, and envelops. It’s one of the more unique horror movies ever – Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie have recently lost their daughter in a drowning accident, something which takes an expected mental toll. They take a trip to Venice and cope in different ways – Christie hangs with psychics and becomes withdrawn while Sutherland becomes obsessed with his work and various visions or appearances including a child in a red coat similar to how his daughter appeared. There’s some great editing here, and of course a shocking finale.

With arguably the most shocking finale of all, The Wicker Man is just as mesmeric and haunting, with a tonne of striking imagery and a bizarre, hypnotic tone which draws you in and keeps you in a haze. It goes without saying that you should see this before the Nic Cage abomination. It follows Edward Woodward as an upstanding, uptight, religious copper investigating the disappearance of a little girl on a Scottish Island called Summerisle. The island appears to be filled with hippy types and everybody either laughs of or hinders the investigation while engaging in various pagan acts which disturb Woodward’s Christian beliefs. I’d loved to have seen this at the time of release and you should try to go into it knowing as little about it as possible. Just know it’s one of the bets horror movies ever.

My Winner: The Wicker Man

Let us know which film you pick as the Best Foreign Film of 1973!

Best Picture – 1973

Official Nominations: The Exorcist. American Graffiti. The Sting. Cries And Whispers. A Touch Of Class

This was another year where we have clear front-runners and a couple of films which stood no chance of winning. A Touch Of Class is a strange one – a British film which is part sex romp, part drama, part comedy. There’s another, superior British film this year which deserved a nomination over this – this is a well acted, if unsubstantial film which doesn’t come close to the overall quality of the big boys in this category. The other no hoper is Cries And Whispers – Bergman’s most successful film in the US since the early sixties. It’s great, disconcerting, and visually gripping, but like most Bergman films it is slow, subtle, and quite ‘talky’ and yet filled with deafening silence – things which tend to not sit well with most audiences.

Out of the big boys, The Exorcist is the least likely to be picked by The Academy – it’s a horror movie, but it was also incredibly controversial, arguably the most controversial movie ever made at the time, but massively successful too. Lets get this out of the way now – it’s the film I’ll be picking as winner. Not only because I am a massive horror fan and because it is one of the best, most famous horror movies ever, but because it has retained unique power over the decades, has many genuinely shocking scenes, and at least a trio of terrific performances, not to mention the writing and direction. The contest was always between the two remaining films – an up and coming American film maker who finely crafts a piece of nostalgia which reminded the world of a simpler time, with gentle rock and roll, big cars, milkshakes, guys and gals, and all the rest of it – the Academy loves that shit. Audiences loved it too, and I’m fairly fond of it if not as enamored as most – maybe it’s a generational thing but I still prefer Dazed And Confused and Everybody Wants Some!!! A cast of relatives newbs and kids maybe swung the choice towards the more established crew of The Sting. The Sting is of course a classic and we can hardly argue with it being the winner – Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Robert Shaw, under the guidance of George Roy Hill? Academy Gold. The music, the costumes, the story all come together perfectly to establish yet another must see 70s movie.

My Winner: The Exorcist

My Nominations: The Exorcist. American Graffiti. The Sting. Don’t Look Now. Enter The Dragon. Mean Streets. Serpico. The Wicker Man

Those three big shots of course make it to my list. It was a fantastic year for cinema with another batch of undisputed classics ready to pick up the win too. Enter The Dragon – no chance of being nominated, but arguably the most famous martial arts movie ever. The scope of the fight scenes was unprecedented, Lee is at his best, the supporting cast are memorable, and it’s badass all around. Mean Streets is Scorsese at his most loose and visceral, a movie with a documentary feel and with dialogue and action which feels unscripted, it has several great performances and moments but each of the main players involved were yet to fully hone their skills. Serpico on the other hand finds a team at the top of their craft – Pacino and Lumet in particular making a tough cop drama as influential today as it was then.

Over to Britain for my final two picks, and another two horror movies. Don’t Look Now is another Nicholas Roeg masterpiece of paranoia and grief – one which I think I appreciate more than I love. There is a coldness and a distance to it which holds me back from being overly enthusiastic, but it’s so well acted, gripping, chilling, and haunting to behold that there are few films like it. It’s another essential horror movie but one with meticulous art-house sensibilities which continue to frustrate new fans who believe it is some by the numbers slasher or psychological drama. Finally, The Wicker Man. Possibly Christopher Lee’s best performance, same for Edward Woodward, same for (naked) Britt Ekland.

My Winner: The Exorcist.

Let us know which film you choose as the Best Picture of 1973!

1973 Academy Awards – An Introduction

The 46th Academy Awards were notable for honouring movies which were both alarmingly modern and groundbreaking, and those which unashamedly recalled the past. As if this needed any further proof outside of the films nominated, a man broke ground by becoming the first streaker at the ceremony, unashamedly recalling that ancient tradition of being naked in public. There were two main players this time, with one clear winner – The Sting claiming seven wins from 10 nominations and The Exorcist earning only two wins from 10. The ceremony also saw the largest age gap yet between winners, when young Tatum O’Neil became the youngest ever winner vesus John Houseman’s veteran win.

The awards were hosted this year by John Huston, Burt Reynolds, Diana Ross, and David Niven. Presenters this year included Linda Blair, Alfred Hitchcock, Katherine Hepburn, and Jack Lemmon, while Jodie Foster, Telly Savalas, Peggy Lee, and Liza Minelli were some of the performers on the night. Honorary Awards went to Henri Langlois, Lew Wasserman, Groucho Marx, and Lawrence Weingarten.

At a high level I can see switch in the balance between The Sting and The Exorcist in my personal picks, and I expect several gritty dramas and surprising horror movies to feature heavily. What will your picks be? Join us over the next few weeks to share!

 

Best Cast – 1972

My Nominations: Deliverance. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex. The Getaway. The Godfather. Junior Bonner. The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean. The Poseidon Adventure.

It’s time again for one of my favourite categories of the year. Here I can typically nominate films which would never normally get a nominations, although this year most of the films I have picked are fairly obvious choices. Deliverance is a terrific ensemble piece with the four central cast members descending into hell with the help of some memorable backup players. EYAWTKAS is a Woody Allen ensemble piece featuring himself in multiple roles but also esteemed performers like Lynn Redgrave and Anthony Quayle and new stars such as Burt Reynolds and Gene Wilder.

The Getaway and Junior Bonner saw Sam Peckinpah and Steve McQueen working together in the same year, the former also featuring Ali MacGraw, Ben Johnson and others with the latter also seeing Johnson as well as Joe Don Baker and the great Ida Lupino. TLATOJRB sees a massive case led by Paul Newman, Anthony Perkins, Victoria Principal while also featuring New Beatty, Jacqueline Bisset, John Huston, Ava Gardner, Richard Farnsworth and more. Also going for numbers is The Poseidon Adventure – Shelly Winters, Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Albertson and others. My clear winner though has to be The Godfather – even as an ensemble piece the minor performers stand out or get iconic scenes. We have some of the most famous performances ever and some of the best actors ever – Pacino, Brando, Duvall, Shire, Keaton, Cann, Cazale, as well as Sterling Hayden, Gianni Russo, Richard Castellano, Alex Rocco, Simonetta Stefanelli and many more.

My Winner: The Godfather.

Where’s Al?

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 you think has the Best Cast!

Best Stunt Work – 1972

My Nominations: The Getaway. The Poseidon Adventure. Aguirre The Wrath Of God. Deliverance. Fist Of Fury. Way Of The Dragon. The Mechanic.

The obvious winner here would be The Poseidon Adventure – lots of action and stunts aboard the ill-fated liner. I can also see The Getaway and Deliverance getting an official nomination had this category existed, the latter getting extra credit for having the actual cast members perform much of the work and the former for plenty of gun and car action. Also featuring the actual actors putting their lives at risk in rivers and jungles is Aguirre, while The Mechanic continues the gun and fisticuffs theme. My final two nominations… some may argue can’t be classed as stunts given either the realism of the fights or the fact that trained martial artists were involved. Nonsense of course. Both Way Of The Dragon and Fist of Fury feature wonderfully choreographed fight and action scenes and either is worthy of a nomination in my book. Although Way has the better one versus one scene, Fist Of Fury I think edges things for the variety of set pieces.

My Winner: Fist Of Fury

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 you would give the Best Stunt award to!