Best Music (Scoring) – 1961

Actual Nominations: (Score of a Dramatic or Comedy): Breakfast at Tiffany’sHenry Mancini El CidMiklós Rózsa FannyMorris Stoloff, Harry Sukman The Guns of NavaroneDimitri Tiomkin Summer and SmokeElmer Bernstein

(Scoring of a Musical): West Side StorySaul Chaplin, Johnny Green, Sid Ramin, Irwin Kostal Babes in ToylandGeorge Bruns Flower Drum SongAlfred Newman, Ken Darby KhovanshchinaDimitri Shostakovich Paris BluesDuke Ellington

The actual winners were Breakfast at Tiffany’s and West Side Story. Mancini has just the right mix of Jazz, class, and old Hollywood that this doesn’t feel irratating or dated, while West Side Story is renowned for, if nothing else, it’s music.

My Nominations: Again, I’m not differentiating between the groups but I don’t think I can do any better than the Academy this time, so my win goes to Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Best Sound – 1961

Actual Nominations: West Side Story. The Children’s Hour. Flower Drum Song. The Guns Of Navarone. The Parent Trap.

My choice of winner matches the real winner- West Side Story.

My Nominations: The Innocents. West Side Story. Guns Of Navarone. El Cid. Flower Drum Song.

My personal choice of winner is West Side Story.

West Side Story

Best Costume Design: 1961

Actual Nominations: BW: Piero Gherardhi – La Dolce Vita. Dorothy Jeakins – The Children’s Hour. Howard Shoup – Claudelle Inglish. Jean Louis – Judgement At Nuremberg. Yoshiro Muraki – Yojimbo.  Colour 1961: Irene Sharaff – West Side Story. Bill Thomas – Babes In Toyland. Jean Louis – Back Street. Irene Sharaff – Flower Drum Song. Edith Head/Walter Plunkett – Pocketful Of Miracles.

An interesting year with Jean Louis picking up a nomination in both BW and Colour categories and Irene Sharaff getting two for colour, including the win. Naturally, the eternal Edith Head got her yearly nomination.

My Winner: Out of the actual nominations my winner for colour would be West Side Story, agreeing with The Academy, and for Black and White I would go against La Dolce Vita and choose Yojimbo.


My Nominations: The Children’s Hour. Yojimbo. West Side Story. The Guns Of Navarone. Hogs And Warships. The Human Condition. Nefertiti. The End Of Summer. Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

I’ve picked a few films which  missed out on nominations- a few Japanese films marked by elegance, a war film accurately costumed, and Nefertiti, Queen Of The Nile which did a great job capturing the age with a limited budget and what would be deemed a lower quality European cast. It’s difficult to argue with the vibrancy of West Side Story once again, so it gets my vote.

My Winner: West Side Story

West Side Story

Best Art Direction: 1961

Actual Nominations:   The Absent Minded Professor. The Children’s Hour. The Hustler. Judgment At Nuremberg. La Dolce Vita. Breakfast At Tiffany’s. El Cid. Flower Drum Song. Summer And Smoke. West Side Story.

It’s difficult to argue against West Side Story as winner due to it being so vibrant and energetic. Out of the actual nominations it would be my winner too, but a lot of this is down to the sheer force of budget which other films couldn’t compete with. The other nominations each share a passion for looking damn good, and lend a realsim to their individual stories and places.

Rockets Vs Dolphins

My Nominations: The Absent Minded Professor. West Side Story. Breakfast At Tiffany’s. El Cid. Atlantis, The Lost Continent. The Pit And The Pendulum.

Ah ha! But the Oscars left out a classic of art direction and scope when they didn’t nominate Corman’s gothic hit. Timeless sets and a unique look lend the adaptation of Poe’s tale a fearful vibe which today’s films can’t equal. Atlantis comes close also for similar reasons, while it always seemed strange that Breakfast At Tiffany’s didn’t receive a nomination here.

My Winner: The Pit And The Pendulum.

Preparing The Pit

Best Cinematography: 1961

Official Nominations: The Hustler. Judgement At Nuremberg. One, Two, Three. The Absent-Minded Professor. The Children’s Hour. West Side Story. A Majority Of One. Fanny. Flower Drum Song. One-Eyed Jacks.

My Winners: The real winners this year were The Hustler for Black and White, and West Side Story for Colour. Fair enough.

My Nominations: I didn’t pick between BW and Colour:

West Side Story. The Day The Earth Caught Fire. The End Of Summer. Yojimbo. The Hustler.

Yojimbo’s Western influenced wide shots (infused with typical Kurosawa flair) and general inspired beauty from Kazuo Miyagawa and Takao Saito earn the win from me. Asakazu Nakai, famous for his work with Kurosawa, instead worked on The End Of Summer, offering tantalising glimpses of Kyoto, while Harry Waxman helped provide the singular vision for The Day The Earth Caught Fire.

My Winner: Yojimbo