Thursday, January 21, 2016

1973--The Year in Review

When Universal Studios' executives were presented with the script for my film of choice, they insisted it would never work: there were too many story lines running concurrently, and audiences would be hopelessly lost in navigating its plot. When the aging execs finally saw the film, they abjectly hated it--but, then again, Universal Studios had been famously behind the times for many years. American Graffiti ended up being not only the best movie of the year, but also among the most profitable of all time. It also changed the way we processed cinematic storytelling, even after filmmakers like Robert Altman had accepted its forward thinking. Though I absolutely ADORE the ten films that follow it on my list, I could go no other way. The acting, the dialogue, the look, the sound, the editing, the needle-drop scoring (even better than the remarkable Mean Streets)…it changed so much of American film that it simply could not be ignored. Its effects are still being felt today, with each decade producing a movie of prime similarity (in the 80s Fast Times at Ridgemont High; in the 90s Dazed and Confused, in the 2000s Superbad). But I have to give props to so many other films this year, and so I think my relatively well-balanced ballot says it all (there was no way I could ignore the Best Director of the year). I have to note that the song category was packed to the max with possibilities, and though both the Hamlisch/Bergman standard and the Dylan anthem live on in lively ways, I was compelled to go another direction; the protracted final shot of Electra Glide in Blue, with the insanely emotive song "Tell Me" as its backing, is just TOO unforgettable. And finally, as to the oft-neglected short film category, I COMPLETELY urge you all to look at Frank and Caroline Mouris’ Frank Film; it is utterly unlike anything ever made--a singular achievement. 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: AMERICAN GRAFFITI (US, George Lucas) (2nd: O Lucky Man! (UK, Lindsay Anderson), followed by: The Exorcist (US, William Friedkin); Scenes from a Marriage (Sweden, Ingmar Bergman); Mean Streets (US, Martin Scorsese); Electra Glide in Blue (US, James William Guercio); Paper Moon (US, Peter Bogdanovich); Badlands (US, Terrence Malick); The Long Goodbye (US, Robert Altman); The Sting (US, George Roy Hill); Amarcord (Italy, Federico Fellini); Painters Painting (US, Emile de Antonio); The Mother and the Whore (France, Jean Eustache); The Spirit of the Beehive (Spain, Victor Erice); Holy Mountain (Mexico, Alejandro Jodorowsky); Don’t Look Now (UK, Nicolas Roeg); F for Fake (France/US, Orson Welles); Payday (US, Daryl Duke); Papillon (US, Franklin J. Schaffner); The Wicker Man (UK, Robin Hardy); Scarecrow (US, Jerry Schatzberg); Theatre of Blood (UK, Douglas Hickox); The Iceman Cometh (US, John Frankenheimer); The Last Detail (US, Hal Ashby); Charley Varrick (US, Don Siegel); Sleeper (US, Woody Allen); High Plains Drifter (US, Clint Eastwood); Godspell (US, David Greene); Bang The Drum Slowly (US, John Hancock); The Friends of Eddie Coyle (US, Peter Yates); Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (US, Sam Peckinpah); The Day of the Jackal (UK, Fred Zinnemann); Serpico (US, Sidney Lumet); The Night Porter (Italy, Liliana Cavani); Sisters (US, Brian de Palma); Day for Night (France, François Truffaut); Magnum Force (US, Ted Post); The Paper Chase (US, James Bridges); Jeremy (US, Arthur Barron); Turkish Delight (Netherlands, Paul Verhoeven); A Brief Vacation (Italy, Vittorio de Sica); Distant Thunder (India, Satyajit Ray); The Last of Sheila (US, Herbert Ross); Save the Tiger (US, John G. Avildsen); That'll Be the Day (UK, Claude Whatham); Charlotte's Web (US, Charles Nichols and Iwao Takamoto); Blume in Love (US, Paul Mazursky); Dillinger (US, John Milius); Wattstax (US, Mel Stuart); The Way We Were (US, Sydney Pollack); Breezy (US, Clint Eastwood); Coffy (US, Jack Hill); Tom Sawyer (US, Don Taylor); Fantastic Planet (France, René Laloux); Enter the Dragon (US/Hong Kong, Robert Clouse); The Seven-Ups (US, Philip D'Antoni); The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob (France, Gerard Oury); Let the Good Times Roll (US, Robert Abel and Sidney Levin); Ganja and Hess (US, Bill Gunn); La Grande Bouffe (France, Marco Ferreri); My Name is Nobody (US/Italy, Tonino Valerii); The Laughing Policeman (US, Stuart Rosenberg); White Lightning (US, Joseph Sargent); Soylent Green (US, Richard Fleischer); The Crazies (US, George A. Romero); Robin Hood (US, Wolfgang Reitherman); Jesus Christ Superstar (US, Norman Jewison); Walking Tall (US, Phil Karlson); Emperor of the North (US, Robert Aldrich); The Devil in Miss Jones (US, Gerard Damiano))

DIRECTOR: Lindsay Anderson, O LUCKY MAN! (2nd: Martin Scorsese, Mean Streets, followed by: George Lucas, American Graffiti; William Friedkin, The Exorcist; Ingmar Bergman, Scenes from a Marriage; Terrence Malick, Badlands; Peter Bogdanovich, Paper Moon; George Roy Hill, The Sting)

ACTOR: Vincent Price, THEATRE OF BLOOD (2nd: Malcolm McDowell, O Lucky Man!, followed by: Robert Blake, Electra Glide in Blue; Al Pacino, Serpico; Donald Sutherland, Don't Look Now; Rip Torn, Payday; Harvey Keitel, Mean Streets; Jack Nicholson, The Last Detail

ACTRESS: Liv Ullmann, SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (2nd: Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist, followed by: Sissy Spacek, Badlands; Pam Grier, Coffy; Barbara Streisand, The Way We Were; Julie Christie, Don’t Look Now; Kay Lenz, Breezy; Charlotte Rampling, The Night Porter)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jason Miller, THE EXORCIST (2nd: Robert De Niro, Mean Streets, followed by: Robert Ryan, The Iceman Cometh; Max Von Sydow, The Exorcist; John Houseman, The Paper Chase; Paul Le Mat, American Graffiti; Charles Martin Smith, American Graffiti; Arthur Lowe, O Lucky Man!)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tatum O’Neal, PAPER MOON (2nd: Madeline Kahn, Paper Moon, followed by: Valentina Cortese, Day for Night; Candy Clark, American Graffiti; Cindy Williams, American Graffiti; Mackenzie Phillips, American Graffiti; Diane Keaton, Sleeper; Linda Blair (and Mercedes McCambridge), The Exorcist)

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (Sweden, Ingmar Bergman) (2nd: Amarcord (Italy, Federico Fellini), followed by: The Mother and the Whore (France, Jean Eustache); The Spirit of the Beehive (Spain, Victor Erice); Holy Mountain (Mexico, Alejandro Jodorowsky); The Night Porter (Italy, Liliana Cavani); Day for Night (France, François Truffaut); Turkish Delight (Netherlands, Paul Verhoeven); A Brief Vacation (Italy, Vittorio de Sica); Distant Thunder (India, Satyajit Ray))

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: PAINTERS PAINTING (US, Emile de Antonio) (2nd: F for Fake (US, Orson Welles), followed by Wattstax (US, Mel Stuart); Let The Good Times Roll (US, Robert Abel and Sidney Levin))

ANIMATED FEATURE: CHARLOTTE'S WEB (US, Charles Nichols and Iwao Takamoto) (2nd: Fantastic Planet (France, René Laloux), followed by: Robin Hood (US, Wolfgang Reitherman)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: George Lucas, Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, AMERICAN GRAFFITI (2nd: David S. Ward, The Sting, followed by: Ingmar Bergman, Scenes from a Marriage; Martin Scorsese and Mardik Martin, Mean Streets; Robert Boris and Rupert Hitzig, Electra Glide in Blue)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: William Peter Blatty, THE EXORCIST (2nd: Alvin Sargent, Paper Moon, followed by: David Sherwin and Malcolm McDowell, O Lucky Man!; Leigh Brackett, The Long Goodbye; Kenneth Ross, The Day of the Jackal)

LIVE ACTION SHORT: THE WOLD-SHADOW (US, Stan Brakhage) (2nd: Cristo’s Valley Curtain (US, Albert Maysles, David Maysles and Ellen Giffard), followed by: L’Ammbassade (Chile, Chris Marker); The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water (UK, Jeff Grant); A Field of Honor (US, Robert Zemeckis))

ANIMATED SHORT: FRANK FILM (US, Frank and Caroline Mouris) (2nd: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (US, Bill Melendez), followed by: The Trip (Japan, Kihachiro Kawamoto); Where The Wild Things Are (US, Gene Deitch); Tup Tup (Yugoslavia, Nedeljko Dragic))

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Lazslo Kovacs, PAPER MOON (2nd: Owen Roizman and Billy Williams, The Exorcist, followed by: Rafael Corkidi, Holy Mountain; Conrad Hall, Electra Glide in Blue; Robert Surtees, The Sting)

ART DIRECTION: THE STING, Paper Moon, The Exorcist, High Plains Drifter, Holy Mountain

COSTUME DESIGN: THE STING, Paper Moon, The Way We Were, Amarcord, Godspell 

FILM EDITING: AMERICAN GRAFFITI, The Exorcist, The Sting, The Day of the Jackal, Godspell

SOUND: AMERICAN GRAFFITI, The Exorcist, Paper Moon, The Sting, Papillon 

ORIGINAL SCORE: Jerry Goldsmith, PAPILLON (2nd: Marvin Hamlisch, The Way We Were, followed by: James William Guercio, Electra Glide in Blue; John Williams, The Long Goodbye; Nino Rota, Amarcord)

ADAPTED/SONG SCORE: Alan Price, O LUCKY MAN! (2nd: Marvin Hamlisch, The Sting, followed by: Stephen Schwartz and Stephen Reinhardt, Godspell; Paul Giovanni, The Wicker Man; Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, Charlotte's Web)

ORIGINAL SONG: “Tell Me” from ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE (Music and lyrics by James William Guercio) (2nd: “The Way We Were” from The Way We Were (Music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman), followed by: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Music and lyrics by Bob Dylan); “O Lucky Man!” from O Lucky Man! (Music and lyrics by Alan Price); "The Long Goodbye" from The Long Goodbye (Music by John Williams, lyrics by Johnny Mercer); “Live and Let Die” from Live and Let Die (Music and lyrics by Paul and Linda McCartney); "There Must Be Something More" from Charlotte's Web (Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman); “She’s Only A Country Girl” from Payday (Music and lyrics by Shel Silverstein); "River Song" from Tom Sawyer (Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman); "Poor People" from O Lucky Man! (Music and lyrics by Alan Price); "Are You Man Enough?" from Shaft in Africa (Music and lyrics by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter); "Corn Rigs" from The Wicker Man (Music and lyrics by Paul Giovanni); "Tom Sawyer!" from Tom Sawyer (Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman); "Beautiful City" from Godspell (Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz); "Nice to Be Around" from Cinderella Liberty (Music by John Williams, lyrics by Paul Williams))

MAKEUP: THE EXORCIST, Papillon, The Sting

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