If 1967 was when we transitioned to a grittier Hollywood, 1971 is when we transitioned to the 70s. As in, the 70s as we know them. Because 1968 was Oliver!, big musical holdover, in a year the Academy didn’t want to adapt to the changing times. 1969 was Midnight Cowboy, sort of adapting. Then 1970 was Patton, right back to the comfort zone. Now, 1971, they went straight 70s.
The French Connection wins Best Picture. It would be the first of many great 70s choices. Gene Hackman wins Best Actor for the film as well. Best Actress went to Jane Fonda for Klute, a very 70s movie. Best Supporting Actor went to Ben Johnson and Best Supporting Actress went to Cloris Leachman, both for The Last Picture Show. So, you have two 70s movies and an auteur 70s movie. That’s fucking ballsy. This from an Academy who rushes to nominate and vote in any kind of historical epic for Best Picture whenever they can.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1971
And the nominees were…
Pete Bogdanovich, The Last Picture Show
William Friedkin, The French Connection
Norman Jewison, Fiddler on the Roof
Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange
John Schlesinger, Sunday Bloody Sunday (more…)