Wednesday, March 02, 2011

35 YOPC - 35 Years Of Oscar (1975-1979)

With arguably the worst Oscar telecast in my lifetime behind us (Seriously, James Franco, you could have acted like you wanted to be there), I thought I would devote my next installment of "35 Years of Pop Culture" to the Oscars. This will be a pretty simple rundown of various aspects of each Oscar race from the films of 1975 to 2010. So you guys aren't having to read a novel, I will divide this up into four segments; 1975-1979 will be covered in this post, and will therefore be the shortest of the four.

I don't hate the Oscars by any means; they are what they are and some of the time they actually get it right. Sure it's irritating, especially starting in the 80's, that many genre films have not gotten the recognition that they deserve (especially comedies), but film is a realm of all kinds of fan bases, and I'm sure someone out there was really glad that Chicago won "Best Picture." Anyways, here goes. Hope all enjoy! Please add comments of what you think should have won, or shouldn't, or if you think I'm a stupid little girl or something. All opinions are appreciated.


COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon) - "Attica, Attica!" Easily one of my all time favorite performances ever in a film, and one of the main reasons Pacino has become my throwaway answer to "Who is your favorite actor?" It's hard to argue against Nicholson winning for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; although more on my feelings of that film later, but I like to pretend that Pacino's ridiculous win for Scent of a Woman (probably more on that later as well) was more for his unfortunate losses for performances like this.

Honorable Mention: Fellini's directing nod for the brilliant Amarcord.

LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Barry Lyndon (Best Picture) - I love Kubrick, and I don't dislike Lyndon by any means, but it's not a great film, and there were plenty of more deserving ones that year.

LEAST DESERVING WIN - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Best Picture) - I'm sorry, but Jaws like Citizen Kane and Psycho before it completely changed the cinematic landscape, and so how do you not award that kind of achievement? Granted, Kane and Psycho didn't win either.

MOST DESERVING WIN - Louise Fletcher (Best Actress for Cuckoo's Nest) - Nurse Ratched is just one of those great classic cinema roles that are few and far between and Fletcher nailed it in every sense of the word.

BIGGEST SNUBS - It's great Fellini got nominated in the directing category, but how do you not honor Steven Spielberg (Jaws) with at least a nomination? If you were going to knock out one of the Best Picture nods for Fellini, why not have it be Milos Forman ("Cuckoo's Nest") or Kubrick?

Honorable Mentions: Three Days of the Condor for Best Screenplay; Roy Schneider, Richard Dreyfus, and Robert Shaw could have all gotten acting nods for Jaws.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - Dario Argento (Deep Red) for Best Director.

STRANGEST NOMINEE - "The Hindenburg" got 4 nominations and two wins. The wins were "Special Achievement" awards for sound and visual effects (which have their own categories now), but still: "The Hindenburg?" Really?


COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Laurence Olivier for Best Supporting Actor in "Marathon Man" - the Supporting Actor/Actress category has always been one of my favorites; it seems to be one of the few that the Academy isn't scared to think a little outside of the box with, and for his evil Dentistry scene alone he deserved the nomination.

Honorable Mention: Robert Deniro for Best Actor in "Taxi Driver." Yes, he actually didn't win.

LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Talia Shire for Best Actress in "Rocky" - Shire has never been a good actress (I don't care who she's related to), and while the love story really works in "Rocky" and makes it something other than just another "Boxing" movie - that has more to do with the script and Stallone.

Honorable Mention: Best Picture nominee "Bound for Glory."

LEAST DESERVING WIN - Peter Finch for Best Actor in "Network" - Don't misunderstand me, Finch is brilliant, and I would have loved to have seen "Network" take the Best Picture prize from "Rocky" (which I love as well), but come on? How does Deniro not win for his iconic turn in "Taxi Driver?"

MOST DESERVING WIN - "Harlan County U.S.A." for Best Documentary - It's surprising how the Oscars seems to screw up this category more than any other (look no further than "Exit Through a Gift Shop" losing out this year), but here they got it so right. One of my top ten favorite docs of all time.

Honorable Mention: "The Omen" for Best Original Score

BIGGEST SNUBS - "Taxi Driver" got the Best Picture nod but no directing nod for Scorcese? "The Outlaw Josey Wales" for Best Picture; Richard Pryor or Gene Wilder for their great acting turns in "Silver Streak." Brian DePalma ("Carrie") for Best Director.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - John Carpenter ("Assault on Precinct 13) for Best Director or even better, Best Original Score.

STRANGEST NOMINEE - Best Cinematography: "King Kong" - It's as if they felt bad for how big of a financial disappointment it was. Because trust me, this is one ugly fucking movie.


COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Woody Allen ("Annie Hall") for Best Actor - Allen has been nominated a total of 21 times, but this was the only acting nod he ever got, and he deserved it. This is one of the classic comedic performances and I actually wouldn't have minded seeing him win based on his competition. He lost to Richard Dreyfus for "The Goodbye Girl."

Honorable Mentions - John Travolta ("Saturday Night Fever") for Best Actor, Sir Alec Guinness ("Star Wars") for Best Supporting Actor, and Steven Spielberg ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind") for Best Director

LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "The Goodbye Girl" for Best Picture - Sometimes great performances don't translate into a Best Picture worthy nominee, and "The Goodbye Girl" is a prime example of this phenomenon.

LEAST DESERVING WIN - Jason Robards ("Julia") for Best Supporting Actor - The Academy had a hard on for Robards for a couple of years (He won in the same category the previous year for "All the President's Men"), and Robards was a great actor, but this was one of the weakest years for this category. Sir Alec Guinness should have won easily as Obi Wan Kenobi (and I'm not even a huge "Star Wars" fan).

MOST DESERVING WIN - "Annie Hall" for Best Picture - This is one of the few years where I think they nailed it in the Best Picture category, plus I will always celebrate a great comedy getting a win since so few get nominated.

BIGGEST SNUBS - Christopher Walken ("Annie Hall") for Best Supporting Actor; "Saturday Night Fever" for Best Picture; William Friedkin ("Sorcerer") for Best Director; Harrison Ford ("Star Wars") for Best Supporting Actor.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - Jim Abrams, Jerry Zucker, and David Zucker ("Kentucky Fried Movie") for Best Original Screenplay; George Romero ("Martin") for Best Director.

STRANGEST NOMINEE - "Airport 77" got nods for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Who said horrible sequels never get any love?


COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Woody Allen ("Interiors") for Best Original Screenplay - Allen's early dramas get lost in the midst of all of his comedies, but they shouldn't and "Interiors" is a great example of why. And the fact that he lost to the overindulgent and horribly dated "Coming Home" is flat out annoying.

Honorable Mention - "Ready to Take a Chance Again" for Best Original Song from "Foul Play."

LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "Hopelessly Devoted to You" for Best Original Song from "Grease" - The "Original Song" category has so many stupid restrictions that eliminated all of the other better songs from "Grease" since they were from the play, but even with that being the case, to stick a terrible song from the movie just because it was the highest grossing musical at the time is still ridiculous.

LEAST DESERVING WIN - "The Deer Hunter" for Best Picture - If they had a "Best Scene/Sequence" category, then I would give the "Russian Roulette" scene an immediate win. It's a brilliant bit of film making and storytelling, but the rest of the movie? Pretty bland in my opinion. But to be honest, this was one of the worst "Best Picture" groupings in the history of the awards (especially considering how many groundbreaking films were released in 78), but I still would have given it to "Midnight Express" or "An Unmarried Woman" over "Deer Hunter."

MOST DESERVING WIN - Nestor Almendros ("Days of Heaven") for Best Cinematography- It's one of the most beautifully shot movies ever.

BIGGEST SNUBS - "Halloween" for Best Picture and John Carpenter for Best Original Score and Best Director; John Belushi ("Animal House") for Best Supporting Actor; George A. Romero ("Dawn of the Dead") for Best Director; Christopher Reeve for Best Actor or Gene Hackman for Best Supporting Actor in "Superman;" Dustin Hoffman ("Straight Time") for Best Actor.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - "Dawn of the Dead" or "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" for Best Picture; with these two movies and "Halloween," 1978 was a great year for the horror genre.

STRANGEST NOMINEE - The killer bee themed disaster movie, "The Swarm," got nominated for Best Costume.


COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "Alien" getting nominated for Best Art Direction - I think it should have gotten cinematography as well, but when one of the best looking films ever gets noticed in any of these types of categories I'll take it.

Honorable Mentions - Al Pacino's Best Actor nod for chewing up as much scenery as possible in the otherwise unimpressive "...And Justice For All." ("You're All Out of Order!!!"); "The Rainbow Connection" getting a nod for "Best Original Song" from "The Muppet Movie."

LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "Norma Rae" for Best Picture - Sally Field is great (We really like you), but the movie itself is just preachy and predictable.

LEAST DESERVING WIN - Robert Benton ("Kramer Vs. Kramer") for Best Director - I actually do like "Kramer vs. Kramer" but Benton sure as hell didn't deserve a directing win over the likes of Bob Fosse's dreamlike vision with "All That Jazz" or Francis Ford Coppola's take no prisoners film making approach in "Apocalypse Now."

MOST DESERVING WIN - Melvyn Douglas ("Being There") for Best Supporting Actor - Many think Robert Duvall was robbed for his entertaining performance in "Apocalypse Now," and in any other year I might agree, but I just think Douglas's understated performance in "Being There" is a thing of beauty. I would not be upset if Duvall had won, but I'm glad Douglas got recognized.

BIGGEST SNUBS - "Alien" for Best Picture and Ridley Scott for Best Director; Martin Sheen ("Apocalypse Now") for Best Actor; Don Siegel ("Escape from Alcatraz") for Best Director; Best Screenplay (or Picture) for "Life of Brian."

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - "The Muppet Movie" for Best Picture; Angus Scrimm ("Phantasm") for Best Supporting Actor as the mysterious and frightening Tall Man.

STRANGEST NOMINEE - The Best Sound category has never been the most prestigious award and plenty of nonsensical action spectacles get nominated every year, but the extremely awful disaster movie, "Meteor," just doesn't deserved to be noticed anywhere except for maybe The Razzies.

1980-1989 will be up by this weekend hopefully. Peace.


At 3/05/2011 11:31:00 AM, Blogger Will Profit said...

Couldn't agree more. Pacino should have won for Dog Day Afternoon.

At 3/06/2011 09:41:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Don't have much to add, enjoyed this.

At 3/07/2011 09:19:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Will: I'm glad I'm not the only one; it still kills me that the only performance Pacino has ever won for is "Scent of a Woman." No "Dog Day," "Serpico," "Godfather I or II;" Hell, "Devil's Advocate" would have made more sense than "Scent of a Woman." "Hoo-Hah!"

Mike - Glad you enjoyed; hope to hear more from you after I write the rest of them up. I figured you would appreciate the love given to Fellini and Allen.

At 3/09/2011 07:46:00 PM, Blogger Bilge Bay said...

The snub of Jaws illustrates a general bias towards any kind of movie that is not a straight drama. As you will no doubt cover in subsequent entries, the same occurred for E.T. in 1982. It wasn't until Titanic in 1997 that the Academy voted for a huge blockbuster, but that movie was something I think the Oscars could live with: epic historical drama. It beat far superior competition.

If you're an Academy voter, the idea of "shark movie" or "alien movie" winning Best Picture might make you recoil, even if those movies are more than that. Then you have to take into consideration the politics of the awards process. I think Lucas, Spielberg, and Scorsese have been the sources of derision over the years...they were looked upon as "mavericks" who changed the system, outcasts...assholes, if you will.

There is no doubt this fate befell Scorsese. I think he was looked upon as weird and not well liked by a lot of people. This bias hurt his chances against far inferior competition. Also, his movies were not regarded as the masterpieces they are today. If you really want to understand this bias point-blank, how about the all-time snub of Citizen Kane. That's another situation where it appears that people A) Did not regard the movie as we do today and B) Fuck Orson Welles. And oh by the way, fuck Hitchcock too.

You know in the hearts of many of these voters they want to vote for something else. But it's safe to vote for The King's Speech and disregard a movie you might have liked better. I think the first wave of critics influence a second wave--through either joining the throng or creating backlash. There were times in the past when I made a top
10 list and felt obligated to put certain films on it, even though I didn't really agree.

Love it so far man. Look forward to that awful decade of the eighties, where there are more undeserving Best Pictures of all time (the 2000s give it a run for it's money). Really every decade is peppered with this phenomenon, but the eighties seemed to get it wrong the most.

At 3/09/2011 07:47:00 PM, Blogger Bilge Bay said...

By the way, it's Chris. I have another google account and it signs me up as this occasionally.

At 3/09/2011 09:16:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

You bring up a great point of having no clue what movies will stand the test of time. There are actually very few "Best Picture" winners that get talked about years later. In the past 35 years, "Silence of the Lambs," might be the most discussed but a lot of people, especially at the time, consider it to be one of the lesser picks. It's weird.

And not to mention that when a lot of the great directors or actors do lose early on for stuff that is applauded more years later than what actually won, they end up getting basically a token Oscar down the road for lesser work. Al Pacino for "Scent of a Woman," Paul Newman for "The Color of Money," and some people would say Martin Scorcese for "The Departed" (I don't think it's his best film by any means, but I think he directed the hell out of it and deserved the Oscar).

I'm working on the 80's now every little chance I get; I hope to have it up in the next couple of days. I think the 80's are underrated at times considering all of the great strides that were made, especially in big budget studio genre pictures, but at the same time the Academy didn't seem to give a shit and gave all of the big awards to rather pointless epics that very few people even mention today. When was the last time someone came up to you and said, "Hey! What about that Gandhi? Pretty cool shit."

Thanks for the comment.

At 3/09/2011 09:49:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Just because I've been dissing it, here's Siskel on Silence of the Lambs.

I agree that it did little to grab me emotionally.

Bill Simmons recently brought up an idea of a five year waiting period, like for the Hall of Fame. I think it'd give much better results, but not as good TV ratings.

At 3/09/2011 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

"Silence of the Lambs" was not my favorite film of 1991 or even favorite film that was nominated (I think "JFK" is better), but my point was that it might be the most talked about of any of the winners over the past 30 years or so ("Forrest Gump" is another one that comes to mind). I do think "Lambs" is a great film though, and a pretty cool film to win "Best Picture" even if it wasn't my favorite of that given year. Granted, I only pretend to be so arrogant to think that the Academy should do what I tell them; oh wait, I actually am that arrogant.

I don't know how the five year rule would work, but I like it. And the fact is most people know what they like and don't need Oscar to tell them otherwise, but it's still fun to dissect what has happened. At least it is for me.


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