Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Best Picture of 1971

My good intentions of wrapping up this year of review quickly have clearly failed. Who would have thought producing a play would be so all-encompassing? Così, the play in which Kat and I are acting in and producing is now in its final week and I'm finally beginning to come up for air. We've had some great reviews and wonderful audiences, so if you're in New York City, get your tickets to the madness. We play until Sunday.

Now, at long last, let's review the latest contenders...

The nominees for Best Picture of 1971 are:
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • The French Connection
  • The Last Picture Show
  • Nicholas and Alexandra
All five are extremely entertaining films, fine examples of their respective genres, and interestingly, all five essentially end on downers. Perhaps the Academy was feeling depressed in 1971. Between getting kicked out of their hometown, failing to catch the bad guy and being executed, the protagonists in these films don't experience your typical Hollywood endings.

In no particular order, I will remove from competition Nicholas and Alexandra, an exquisitely presented and sumptuously designed period epic and The Last Picture Show, an engrossing slice-of-life coming-of-age drama. A tougher choice is the decision to eliminate Stanley Kubrick's dystopian masterpiece A Clockwork Orange, whose heavily stylized tone, while fascinating, keeps the audience at a distance.

Perhaps it's a guilty pleasure, but Fiddler on the Roof remains a very comfortable film for me, warm and inviting. Yet it will give way to the utterly gripping The French Connection. Despite its intensely unsatisfying ending, this cop thriller is so edge-of-your-seat brilliant that it could have ended with aliens inexplicably landing on earth destroying the entire planet and I still would have picked it as my favourite Best Picture nominee of 1971.

Best Picture of 1971
Academy's choice:

The French Connection

Matt's choice:

The French Connection

Your choice:

What is your favourite among this fine bunch of nominees? Have your say in the poll above. Next up (and be patient, it might be a while before I get to it) we move back to a golden era of Hollywood for a selection of classics.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1942 are:
  • The Invaders
  • Kings Row
  • The Magnificent Ambersons
  • Mrs. Miniver
  • The Pied Piper
  • The Pride of the Yankees
  • Random Harvest
  • The Talk of the Town
  • Wake Island
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy
Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on a successful first production. I would have loved to have seen Cosi. Looking forward to hearing about your next project.

    As for the 1971 movie year, my guess is that Sunday Bloody Sunday was sitting in sixth position, after Nicholas and Alexandra, when the ballots were counted. Today, The Conformist and McCabe and Mrs. Miller are probably the most critically acclaimed non-nominees. 1971 also had its share of cult classics such as Harold and Maude, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Two-Lane Blacktop and Vanishing Point. My noir pick for 1971 is Get Carter – the original with Michael Caine.

    For 1971s rankings, I’ll place Nicholas and Alexandra fifth, followed by Fiddler on the Roof. The remaining three films are all worthy of Best Picture. In 1971, I ranked them: 1. A Clockwork Orange, 2. The French Connection and 3. The Last Picture Show. Today, it would be reversed with A Clockwork Orange in third place, The French Connection remaining second, and my pick for best of the year: The Last Picture Show. It is the most endearing and enduring of the three for me. This trio of films makes 1971 one of the overall better years for The Academy.

    The 10 nominee slate for 1942 will be good practice for this year’s Academy Season. AMPAS just announced that they are moving the nominee announcement from to January 8th in 2013 (it was January 24th in 2012). I think most of the potential nominees will be available for us non-screener eligible viewers to see. The nomination guessing game will be more interesting since AMPAS voters will not have the benefit of the DGA and PGA nominations to help them along. Their ballots are due before those Guild nominations are announced.