The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1972

There is nothing to say about 1972 except: The Godfather. I rest my case.

Outside of Best Picture, Marlon Brando wins Best Actor for the film (talked about here). Duh. Best Actress goes to Liza Minnelli for Cabaret (talked about here), Joel Grey wins Best Supporting Actor for the film (talked about here), and Bob Fosse wins Best Director for it (talked about here). I love the Best Actress decision, hate the Best Supporting Actor decision (seriously, not James Caan or Al Pacino?) and am completely perplexed by the Best Director decision (I love Bob Fosse, but even the DGA went with Coppola. But it worked out, since both Coppola and Fosse ended up with Oscars.) And the only award left was Eileen Heckart winning Best Supporting Actress for Butterflies Are Free (talked about here), which — okay. It was a weak category, and is pretty irrelevant historically.

Seriously, though — The Godfather. Let’s not play around here.


And the nominees were…

Cabaret (Allied Artists)

Deliverance (Warner Bros.)

The Emigrants (Warner Bros.)

The Godfather (Paramount)

Sounder (20th Century Fox)

Cabaret — This is always an interesting film to talk about.

The film starts with Michael York arriving in Germany. He meets Liza Minnelli, a cabaret singer. They move in together. She’s very promiscuous and lives a very carefree lifestyle. He’s very straight-laced and academic. They eventually start sleeping together, and then they meet another guy, and they both sleep with him. And the film is basically about the carefree days before the rise of the Nazis. And the film ends with the famous shot of Liza doing a song (the titular song) and then the camera panning over to a group of Nazis sitting at one of the tables.

It’s a great film. Really great. It almost won Best Picture, too. It had the most nominations, it won Best Director (even after Coppola won the DGA), and won the most Oscars this year overall. So in a way it’s surprising it didn’t win. But, when you see what beat it, it makes perfect sense. Perfect being the key word there. This is still amazing though. I don’t love it as much as All That Jazz, but that’s because All That Jazz is an absolute favorite of mine. Some might consider this to be Fosse’s best film (whereas All That Jazz is his magnum opus).

Deliverance — Don’t even read a synopsis with this film, just see it. Four friends go kayaking deep down South, and some shit happens. Don’t read about this film, experience this film. It’s amazing.

It was never going to win, though. This is not their cup of tea. The fact that it was even nominated is a huge blessing.

The Emigrants — This is a film about immigrants. Though I guess, since it’s about their journey to America, emigrants is the more appropriate term.

It’s about a bunch of people in Sweden who are all farmers and doing very poorly. So they decide to go to America, where they hear all the stuff people hear that makes them want to come here. So they come, and we follow them on their journey. And that’s the film, essentially.

This is a good film, even though I felt it was very long and was bored to tears by it. But me not enjoying it has no bearing on the fact that it is a good film. Though the fact that it’s all but forgotten nowadays (is it even on DVD? I don’t think it is) makes it seem like a weak choice. It’s also weird to see it here, considering it was nominated for Best Foreign Language film the year before this, in 1971. Very rarely is a film nominated in separate years like that. Still — it had no shot to win at all. It’s one of those filler nominees at best. Almost every time you see a foreign language film nominated for Best Picture, you can be sure it doesn’t have a shot at winning.

The Godfather — Really?

Sounder — Sounder is based on the young adult novel, that I’d never even heard of before I saw the movie. Though knowing me, that’s probably just because I’ve been weirdly sheltered from a lot of random young adult books. I’m sure it’s probably weird that I hadn’t heard of it.

The film is about a black family down south — sharecroppers. And they’re going through some hard times. The father goes out every day with Sounder, the family dog, hunting. And most days, they come back empty-handed. And one day, the father comes back with a huge ham (or some sort of meat). And the next day, the father is arrested. The dog attempts to bite the police, but they shoot at the dog and he limps off into the forest. And the boy goes out searching for the dog, who doesn’t come back. And we see the mother and son go through hard times while the father is out working on a chain gang. And the film ends with the father’s (and Sounder’s) return.

It’s a good film. Not quite my cup of tea, but a good film. (Though maybe it’s just because the copy I saw was just not a good print.) It was never going to win here, though.

My Thoughts: Come on.

My Vote: The Godfather

Should Have Won: The Godfather

Is the result acceptable?: Top five best decision of all time.

Ones I suggest you see: The Godfather — I’m not kidding when I say, if you haven’t seen this, you’re dead to the world, and you should just give it up right now. You’re doing life wrong.

Also, you need to see Deliverance. Otherwise you don’t love movies and we’re not friends.

You also need to see Cabaret, otherwise you don’t love movies.

Sounder is also really good. Check it out.

I’ll warn you about The Emigrants — it’s not bad, but it’s very long and very boring for most people. It is definitely not my cup of tea. You’ll know if it’s something you’re interested in.


5) The Emigrants

4) Sounder

3) Cabaret

2) Deliverance

1) The Godfather

One response

  1. Matt Zurcher

    I would never say that GODFATHER is a poor film, because it isn’t. But it isn’t half as good as the entire world has come to believe. Cabaret or Deliverance could very well have won this year. Since I was born, people have been building GODFATHER up to a level that it really does not attain. (The second installment, on the other hand, is deserving of this type of unquestioning praise.) Brando plays a hammy role that begged for the award that should have gone to Pacino’s finest performance of his career.

    Always glad to disagree a bit. Unquestioned praise or deeming a film “perfect” should at least be treated as suspect.

    Regardless, great read! Always love interacting with your writing.

    May 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm

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