Best Art Direction – 1973

Official Nominations: The Sting. The Exorcist. Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Tom Sawyer. The Way We Were.

As much as I’d love to pick The Exorcist as winner here, the lack of variation while adding to the atmosphere, stifles the artistic look and feel of the production when compared with the variety on display in the official winner – The Sting. Zeffirelli’s movies always look pretty, but there’s little going on beneath the surface in Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Likewise The Way We Were doesn’t have much going for it. Tom Sawyer is exactly as you expect.

My Winner: The Sting

My Nominations: The Sting. The Exorcist. American Graffiti. Enter The Dragon. The Three Musketeers.

American Graffiti is added for… making car interiors look pretty? Everything about the film is dripping with 50s rock and roll teen stylings. Enter The Dragon has a few very specific sets with styles bordering on iconic – most notably the mirror room in the finale which must have required a lot of skill to prepare and shoot. Finally, The Three Musketeers trumps Tom Sawyer in the literary/period stakes.

My Winner: The Sting

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1973

Official Nominations: The Sting. Cries And Whispers. Ludwig. Tom Sawyer. The Way We Were.

There is really only one winner out of these choices, and another notch for Edith Head. It’s The Sting, it’s old-timey, you already know it’s my winner. Cries And Whispers seems like too basic a choice, the costumes are mere footnote to the rest of the visuals. Ludwig would have been in with a shot had it been more successful – it definitely looks the part, while Tom Sawyer has been made so many times now it’s difficult to see anyone doing anything unique with it. The Way We Were has absolutely no business being nominated here.

My Winner: The Sting

My Nominations: The Sting. Ludwig. Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid. The Three Musketeers. Westworld.

Three period pieces are added to my list – a traditional Western, a futuristic Western, and maybe the best take on d’Artagnan, Milady and co (aside from Dogtanian). No point discussing them though, as there’s still only one winner.

My Winner: The Sting

Let us know in the comments which film you pick as having the Best Costume Design of 1973!

Best Writing (Original) – 1973

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

The Sting was the deserving and expected winner this year, even though the story was heavily inspired by real life events which had been previously documented. Nonetheless, it’s the nuances of the script, the dialogue, and the rapport between Gondorff and Hooker which helped the film become such a hit – you feel that even with lesser names than Newman and Redford the movie still would have been acclaimed, if not as financially successful. American Graffiti deserves a nomination more for its loose, near improvised feel which would go on to inspire many future directors, writers, and the slacker film movement. The script is both nostalgic and innocent, yet eternally prescient – the cars, the moves, the style, the lingo may have changed, but we grow, we explore, and we seek friendship, a mate, and the desire for freedom in an exciting and uncertain future.

Cries And Whispers doesn’t need to be here given that it was released in 1972, suffice it to say, it’s another dense exploration by Bergman, dealing with family, sexuality, life, and death. Save The Tiger is kept afloat by Jack Lemmon’s performance and in many ways it’s the perfect dramatic script for him, the everyman drowning in a world passing him by with the script highlighting his isolation and inability to stay relevant. Finally, A Touch Of Class feels like a film which would have had a greater impact in the 60s, with its depiction of marriage, affairs, sex etc. Its characters are finely drawn, though thoroughly unlikable even with the witticisms  on display.

My Winner: The Sting

My Nominations: The Sting. American Graffiti. Badlands. Day For Night. High Plains Drifter. The Holy Mountain. Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid.

Only two make it over to my list. Joining them is Terence Malik’s screenplay for Badlands – one of the finest examples of being sparse yet dense at the same time; when the characters aren’t talking, the pictures do the rest. Nevertheless, his two central characters and their dispute with the world is both universal, timeless, and symbolic of the USA in the early 1970s. Spacek’s narration feels innocent and alarming, while Sheen’s infrequent outbursts and speeches feel like they deserve iconic status. There aren’t many great films about making movies, or the love of movies, but Day For Night experiments with both of these themes playfully and cynically. Fresh off his work on The French Connection, Ernest Tidyman makes one of the great new US Westerns – new as in being influence by Leone, a story which throws out most notions of the glorious Wild West where enterprising individuals built North America. The Holy Mountain… well, I’ve got to nominate it for something. Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid is a Peckinpah film which is only now getting reevaluated after an initial critical mute response – a film with a torrid production, not least between writer and director with Peckinpah rewriting Wurlitzer’s script – a harsh, downbeat story.

My Winner: The Sting

Let us know your winner in the comments!