Friday, November 13, 2015

1963--The Year in Review

An abysmal year for American film, with only one Best Picture nominee (Elia Kazan's beautiful memory piece America, America) worthy of the honor. The slate was rounded out with two bloated epics--the now-dull Cinerama showcase How The West Was Won and the intermittently entertaining Cleopatra (the year's most controversial work, for all the wrong reasons)--and one good-hearted drama, Lilies of the Field, starring Sidney Poitier, who probably won the '63 Best Actor award because he wasn't even nominated for his supreme screen performance the year before (for A Raisin in the Sun). The winner, ultimately, was Tony Richardson's bawdy farce Tom Jones, a handsome and totally inconsequential choice (though one that harkens to the looming sexual revolution and British Invasion). It's holds, then, that Fellini takes the prize (here, at least) for his impressively thoughtful, visually striking personal epic about a filmmaker's bout with creative ennui; it kinda goes without saying that it's a dazzling work, deserving of the award even if American movies had been ten times their power. Spearheaded by Marcello Mastroianni's complex, charismatic lead performance, Fellini's soul-baring movie would be much imitated by only the bravest directors in later years, but never with quite as much verve (though Bob Fosse would come dangerously close in 1979). Still, the great Italian auteur spars mightily with Jean-Luc Godard, another master filmmaker critically examining his chosen craft with the brightly-colored and beautifully scored Contempt. The closest the US could come to this remarkable level of filmmaking aptitude was Martin Ritt's Hud, a sourly dour look at the death of the American West, led by nasty Paul Newman as an odious drunkard causing trouble for his aging cowpoke father (a stern, lovely Melvin Douglas) and straight-talking housemaid (Patricia Neal, whose wonderfully naturalistic, Best Actress-winning role really belonged in the supporting category). Instead, for Best Actress, I initially leaned towards competing performances delivered by Ingrid Thulin in service of Ingmar Bergman (agilely directing two intensely challenging movies about religious faith), but in the end had to give the award to Julie Harris. whose manic heroine finds solace with a haunted house (for me, it's her second Best Actress award, after 1952's The Member of the Wedding). In the newly lively Documentary Feature category, it was impossible to ignore Robert Drew's Crisis, an intimate examination of President John F. Kennedy's trying battle with Alabama's governor George Wallace over allowing black students into the state university. As for the short films, none surpass The House is Black, the shockingly frank look at a leper colony from Iran's Forugh Farrokhzad--a masterpiece if there ever was one. The same goes for Stan Brakhage's silent "animated" short film Mothlight, consisting of pieces of moth wings embedded withing long strips of 16mm editing tape (both films are like nothing you've ever seen--and you can watch them here!). And, finally, in the special effects category, Ray Harryhausen finally wins, this time for his most deeply loved work. Unbelievably, it wasn't even nominated for the Special Effects award. What the hell were the voters THINKING? NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold. 

PICTURE: 8½ (Italy, Federico Fellini) (2nd: Contempt (France, Jean-Luc Godard), followed by: Hud (US, Martin Ritt); High and Low (Japan, Akira Kurosawa); The Leopard (Italy/US, Luchino Visconti); America, America (US, Elia Kazan); Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (US, Robert Drew); Winter Light (Sweden, Ingmar Bergman); The Birds (US, Alfred Hitchcock); Shock Corridor (US, Samuel Fuller); The Haunting (US, Robert Wise); Billy Liar (UK, John Schlesinger); Lord of the Flies (UK, Peter Brook); An Actor’s Revenge (Japan, Kon Ichikawa); The Servant (UK, Joseph Losey); Ladybug Ladybug (US, Frank Perry); This Sporting Life (UK, Lindsay Anderson); The Silence (Sweden, Ingmar Bergman); The Big City (India, Satyajit Ray); Charade (US, Stanley Donen); From Russia With Love (UK, Terence Young); The Great Escape (US/UK, John Sturges); Cleopatra (US, Joseph L. Mankiewicz); Bye Bye Birdie (US, George Sidney); It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (US, Stanley Kramer); Jason and the Argonauts (UK, Don Chaffey); The Nutty Professor (US, Jerry Lewis); Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (Italy, Vittorio de Sica); La Baie des Anges (France, Jacques Demy); Tom Jones (UK, Tony Richardson); X--The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (US, Roger Corman); The Cool World (US, Shirley Clarke); Flaming Creatures (US, Jack Smith); These are the Damned (UK, Joseph Losey); Love with the Proper Stranger (US, Robert Mulligan); Lilies of the Field (US, Ralph Nelson); The Pink Panther (US, Blake Edwards); The List of Adrian Messenger (US, John Huston); The Cardinal (US, Otto Preminger); Irma La Douce (US, Billy Wilder); The Day of the Triffids (US, Steve Sekely); Johnny Cool (US, William Asher); Black Sabbath (Italy, Mario Bava); Dementia 13 (US, Francis Coppola); Blood Feast (US, Hershel Gordon Lewis))

ACTOR: Marcello Mastroianni, 8½ (2nd: Paul Newman, Hud, followed by: Toshiro Mifune, High and Low; Richard Harris, This Sporting Life; Jerry Lewis, The Nutty Professor; Dirk Bogarde, The Servant; Kazuo Hasegawa, An Actor’s Revenge; Ray Milland, X--The Man with the X-Ray Eyes; Gunnar Bjornstrand, Winter Light)

ACTRESS: Julie Harris, THE HAUNTING (2nd: Ingrid Thulin, Winter Light, followed by: Ingrid Thulin, The Silence; Tippi Hedren, The Birds; Sophia Loren, Yesterday Today and Tomorrow; Rachel Roberts, This Sporting Life; Audrey Hepburn, Charade; Madhabi Mukherjee, The Big City; Natalie Wood, Love With the Proper Stranger)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Melvyn Douglas, HUD (2nd: Rex Harrison, Cleopatra, followed by: Walter Matthau, Charade; Larry Tucker, Shock Corridor; Robert Shaw, From Russia With Love; James Best, Shock Corridor; Roddy McDowall, Cleopatra; John Huston, The Cardinal; Paul Lynde, Bye Bye Birdie)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Neal, HUD (won as Best Actress) (2nd: Ethel Merman, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, followed by: Julie Christie, Billy Liar; Ann-Margret, Bye Bye Birdie; Lilia Skala, Lilies of the Field; Joyce Redman, Tom Jones; Diane Cilento, Tom Jones; Sandra Milo, ; Suzanne Pleshette, The Birds)

DIRECTOR: Federico Fellini, 8½ (2nd: Jean-Luc Godard, Contempt, followed by: Martin Ritt, Hud; Ingmar Bergman, Winter Light; Luchino Visconti, The Leopard; Elia Kazan, America America; Akira Kurosawa, High and Low; Alfred Hitchcock, The Birds; Samuel Fuller, Shock Corridor; Ingmar Bergman, The Silence)

NON-ENGLISH-LANGUAGE FILM: 8½ (Italy, Federico Fellini) (2nd: Contempt (France, Jean-Luc Godard); High and Low (Japan, Akira Kurosawa); The Leopard (Italy/US, Luchino Visconti); Winter Light (Sweden, Ingmar Bergman); An Actor’s Revenge (Japan, Kon Ichikawa); The Silence (Sweden, Ingmar Bergman); The Big City (India, Satyajit Ray); Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (Italy, Vittorio de Sica); La Baie des Anges (France, Jacques Demy))


ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:  Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tulio Pinelli and Brunello Rondi, 8 ½ (2nd: Samuel Fuller, Shock Corridor, followed by: Ingmar Bergman, Winter Light; Eleanor Perry and Lois Dickert, Ladybug Ladybug; Elia Kazan, America, America)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Irving Ravetch and Harriett Frank Jr., HUD (2nd: Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Ryuzo Kikushima and Eijiro Hisaita, High and Low, followed by: Harold Pinter, The Servant; David Storey, This Sporting Life; Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, Billy Liar)

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: THE HOUSE IS BLACK (Iran, Forugh Farrokhzad) (2nd: Showman (US, Albert and David Maysles), followed by: Towers Open Fire (UK, Antony Balch); What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (US, Martin Scorsese); The Five Cities of June (US, Walter de Hoog and Bruce Herschensohn))

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: MOTHLIGHT (US, Stan Brakhage) (2nd: Labyrinth (Poland, Jan Lenica), followed by: The Critic (US, Ernest Pintoff); Automania 2000 (UK, John Halas); Le Nez (France, Alexander Alexeieff, Claire Parker))

BLACK-AND-WHITE CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gianni di Venanzo, 8½ (2nd: James Wong Howe, Hud, followed by: Sven Nykvist, Winter Light; Haskell Wexler, America America; David Boulton, The Haunting)
COLOR CINEMATOGRAPHY: Raoul Coutard, CONTEMPT (2nd: Leon Shamroy, Cleopatra, followed by: Giuseppe Rotunno, The Leopard; Robert Burks, The Birds; Walter Lassally and Manny Wynn, Tom Jones)

BLACK-AND-WHITE ART DIRECTION: THE HAUNTING, 8½, Hud, America America, Love with the Proper Stranger

COLOR ART DIRECTION: CLEOPATRA, The Leopard, Tom Jones, The Cardinal, Contempt 

BLACK-AND-WHITE COSTUME DESIGN: 8½, The Stripper, Love with the Proper Stranger, America America, Toys in the Attic

 COLOR COSTUME DESIGN: CLEOPATRA, The Leopard, Tom Jones, The Cardinal, Irma La Douce 

FILM EDITING: 8 1/2, Hud, The Great Escape, The Birds, America America 

SOUND: THE BIRDS, The Haunting, Bye Bye Birdie, The Great Escape, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

ORIGINAL SCORE: Georges Delerue, CONTEMPT (2nd: Nino Rota, 8½, followed by: Henry Mancini, The Pink Panther; John Barry, From Russia with Love; John Addison, Tom Jones; Elmer Bernstein, Hud)

ADAPTED OR MUSICAL SCORE: John Green, BYE BYE BIRDIE (2nd: Andre Previn, Irma La Douce)

ORIGINAL SONG: "More" from MONDO CANE (Music by Riz Ortolani and Nino Oliviero, lyrics by Norman Newell) (2nd: "Bye Bye Birdie" from Bye Bye Birdie (Music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Lee Adams), followed by: "A Gringo Like Me" from Gunfight at Red Sands (Music by Ennio Morricone, lyrics by Dicky Jones); "Call Me Irresponsible" from Papa's Delicate Condition (Music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Sammy Cahn); "Charade" from Charade (Music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer))


  MAKEUP: CLEOPATRA, 8 1/2, The List of Adrian Messenger

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