Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Best Picture of 1975

Once again, I am confronted with five very worthy contenders for the Best Picture crown. As is the case with most of the awards years of this decade, the films on 1975's shortlist could each plausibly have been my pick in some other year. Despite this abundance of cinematic excellence, I had little trouble selecting my favourite.

The nominees for Best Picture of 1975 are:
  • Barry Lyndon
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Jaws
  • Nashville
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Five classics of 1970s film-making from five accomplished directors whose films feature heavily in this project. With the exception of perhaps Barry Lyndon, the only period piece in the mix, all these films achieve their engaging mood mostly through realistically conversational dialogue. Characters talk over each other and there is a general feeling of chaos. Understandable when you consider some of the circumstances - a bank robbery, a mental institution, a shark-induced panic. In any case, each of these films are certainly compelling so it simply comes down to degrees of compulsion.

In Nashville, Altman compellingly explores the country music industry with a fascinating fly-on-the-wall style and no shortage of characters. In Barry Lyndon, Kubrick compellingly studies 18th century social climbing with an austere attitude and a leisurely pace. In Dog Day Afternoon, Lumet compellingly relates the true story of a bizarre bank robbery with both tension and empathy. In Jaws, Spielberg compellingly presents a maritime thrill ride with genuine compassion and edge-of-your-seat suspense. In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Forman compellingly examines mental health with a sincere sensibility and an utterly gripping climax.

With such a well-structured story and deft direction, Jaws comes very close to taking my top prize. But, like the Academy, sombre material often trumps action thrillers (or comedies, for that matter). Why? Probably because it is human nature to take serious matters more seriously than fun and excitement. Totally unfair, but what can you do? So, like the Academy, I am choosing One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest as my pick for the Best Picture of 1975 for its sheer powerfulness.

Best Picture of 1975
Academy's choice:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Matt's choice:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Your choice:

Vote for your own favourite with the poll above. As to your collective wishes, we will now be moving to 1950 for our next five review subjects.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1950 are:
  • All About Eve
  • Born Yesterday
  • Father of the Bride
  • King Solomon's Mines
  • Sunset Blvd.
Some fun films in that group, so stay tuned...


  1. I've only seen two of the nominees, Nashvile and Cuckoo, and I thought Cuckoo was rather dull. I think Nashvile was a much superior choice, more original and interesting. As for 1950, All About Eve all the way!

  2. Wow! What a tough year to pick. I tried making a rough ranking of all 50 nominated films from the 1970s and all 5 nominees from 1975 finished in the top 25 - however only one cracked the top 10. Still differentiating among them is hard. I'll place Dog Day Afternoon 5th, Barry Lyndon 4th and Jaws 3rd - without much space in between. I didn't expect Cuckoo's Nest to challenge - I think it was my 4th favorite nominee back in '75. I definitely appreciated it more this go-around. I think the Academy got the Best Actor and Actress right as well as the Adapted Screenplay. However, I would have to give my awards for Director and Picture to Robert Altman and Nashville. Though it has scenes that are difficult to watch and its subject matter isn't especially interesting to me, every time I see it I can't take my eyes off the screen. It really is Altman's crowning achievement.

    As always I'll mention a few films from 1975 that are special to me, granted that none are what I would consider Best Picture material: Three Days of the Condor - I've seen this one countless times; Night Moves - Gene Hackman in over his head as private investigator looking into a missing teen and literally going in circles. Finally, Farewell My Lovely - I had never seen this remake of Murder My Sweet until a couple of years ago and was quite impressed. Robert Mitchum makes a great Philip Marlowe even if he's about 15 years too old. He tried it again a few years later with the remake of The Big Sleep, but this time, the result was disappointing.

    I should mention what I consider the only challenger to the 5 nominees in 1975 and that's John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King. If not the picture, certainly both Sean Connery and Michael Caine were overlooked in the Best Actor category.

    Back we go to the 50s. I really like this decade, although most years will have a few overblown nominees the earned their way based on spectacle. I voted for 1950 as I suspect most due to the monumental contest between All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard.