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The Oscar Quest: Reconsidered (Best Picture, 1973-1974)

The Oscar Quest began in May of 2010. I finished about fifteen months later, and wrote it up for this site. That was essentially the first thing I did on here. Five years have passed since then. I’ve grown as a person. My tastes have changed, matured (or gotten more immature, in some cases). So it feels fitting, on the five year anniversary of the site and of the Oscar Quest, to revisit it.

I want to see just how my opinions about things have changed over the past five years. I didn’t do any particular work or catch-up for this. I didn’t go back and watch all the movies again. Some I went back to see naturally, others I haven’t watched in five years. I really just want to go back and rewrite the whole thing as a more mature person, less concerned with making points about certain categories and films than with just analyzing the whole thing as objectively as I can to give people who are interested as much information as possible.

This is the more mature version of the Oscar Quest. Updated, more in-depth, as objective as possible, less hostile. You can still read the old articles, but know that those are of a certain time, and these represent the present.

1973

American Graffiti

Cries and Whispers

The Exorcist

The Sting

A Touch of Class

Analysis:

American Graffiti is George Lucas’s nostalgia masterpiece. It’s pure nostalgia, but somehow that works.

A bunch of kids are spending their last day before going off to college. They go around, trying to get girls, enjoying their lives, etc, etc. It’s incredible. The soundtrack, the look — this is just a great movie.

This could have won Best Picture and I’d have been okay. Wouldn’t particularly have held up, but it would have been a nice choice. Third choice for me, even though I’d put this movie on over The Exorcist any day.

Cries and Whispers is an Ingmar Bergman chamber drama.

The joke I always make about this movie is, “And here I thought The Exorcist was the only Best Picture nominee this year featuring menstrual blood.”

But yeah, it’s a chamber drama. A woman dying of cancer is visited by her two sisters. They all walk around the house sadly for 90 minutes until the one sister dies.

This movie looks great, but it was a real chore to sit through. I don’t love it. I’m not sure why it needed to be nominated. But it is. So that’s fine. But I’d never take this. Fifth choice for me by far.

The Exorcist is one of the most famous films ever made and one of the best horror films ever made.

Everyone knows this movie, so that’ll save us some time.

This movie is great, I love it. Not gonna take it, because it’s not my favorite film in the category. It also is a very small film. I don’t remember it looking as limited as it does. But hey, good is good. This is the second choice here. I can see voting for it. I just wouldn’t. Just because…

The Sting is such a perfect movie. What a masterpiece of the caper genre.

Robert Redford is a small time hood who accidentally crosses a major crime boss. His friend and partner is murdered. Seeking revenge, he looks up Paul Newman and enlists him to help pull a “big con” on the crime boss.

This movie is perfect. I’d take this 100 times out of 100. It’s so great. I’m not even gonna pretend like I’d take anything else. I’m fine if someone doesn’t want to take this, but I know what’s up. This is the choice.

A Touch of Class is a nice romantic comedy-drama. Very 70s, totally forgotten, but solid.

Glenda Jackson is a divorced mother of two. She starts an affair with George Segal. They decide to plan a weekend trip together. Everything during it goes hilariously wrong and it’s a total disaster. But it brings them together. And they continue their affair after their return, and things start to get serious after a while. It’s actually very similar to a previous film by the director, The Facts of Life, with Lucille Ball and Bob Hope. Both are very good films.

Fine as a nominee, though not overly strong. A fifth choice, generally. Fourth for me, because I just would not take Cries and Whispers under any circumstance. Either way, not gonna take this over The Sting. Or The Exorcist. Or American Graffiti. Like it, though. Very good film.

– – – – – – – – – –

The Reconsideration: The Sting is the choice for me. It’ll always be the choice for me. I’m curious how most people vote here. Is it The Sting? Is it The Exorcist? Do people take American Graffiti? Cries and Whispers? I don’t know. But The Sting is the vote for me. Ya follow?

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Rankings (category and films):

  1. The Sting
  2. The Exorcist
  3. American Graffiti
  4. A Touch of Class
  5. Cries and Whispers

My Vote: The Sting

Recommendations:

The Sting is one of the most essential movies ever made, and it’s one of those films that you see so early as a film buff, I don’t even need to tell you to see it, because you already have. Oh, and by the way, it’s fucking perfect.

The Exorcist is essential, and you also know that. You can’t list the best horror films ever made without this being in the top ten. Maybe even top five.

American Graffiti is a masterpiece of nostalgia and just a wonderful movie. So many famous people in it, one of the best soundtracks ever. Must see for all people. It’s so great.

A Touch of Class is a nice film. If you’ve seen The Facts of Life, this is that, just in the 70s. Really well done. High recommend. Terrific film, and essential for Oscar buffs because of the win.

Cries and Whispers is Bergman. I don’t know how to rate Bergman. The more pretentious wing of film buffdom will tell you that you have to run out and see it. I say, probably see it because you should see some Bergman outside of Seventh Seal, and at least this has some Oscars and stuff to make it worth your while. It also helps contextualize a couple of Woody Allen movies (namely Interiors, which I don’t think most people have even seen anyway). I don’t love it. I respect how good it looks, but I don’t love it as a film. Moderate recommend as a film, maybe solid recommend for historically. I guess look at seeing it because of Bergman and all that, but it’s not something I love. I don’t know if I’m the right person to tell you how essential this is.

The Last Word: I think they made a great choice. What would have held up better? The Exorcist didn’t need to win. Cries and Whispers wouldn’t have held up. A Touch of Class definitely wouldn’t have held up. American Graffiti? Maybe on name value, but it wouldn’t have been that strong a choice. The Sting is one of the great American movies. This is a top tier winner for me. I think it’s great.

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1974

Chinatown

The Conversation

The Godfather Part II

Lenny

The Towering Inferno

Analysis:

Chinatown is an all-time classic.

What a perfect film. This would have been such a great winner. And a lot of people would still take it. And I can’t argue with that.

But let’s not pretend this category isn’t all about Godfather II for me. Sucks when Chinatown isn’t the vote, but it is what it is.

The Conversation is Francis Ford Coppola’s second Best Picture nominee of the year. How nuts is that? The dude made two masterpieces in a year.

Gene Hackman is a surveillance expert who is hired to follow a couple. Complications ensue when he suspects the couple he’s watching may be plotting a murder.

This is a film that would be top two most years. Here, it had the unfortunate business of being up against Godfather II and Chinatown. It had no chance.

The Godfather Part II.

I’m taking it. The end. Moving on.

Lenny is a biopic of Lenny Bruce directed by Bob Fosse starring Dustin Hoffman. How much better sounding can you get?

This movie is terrific. I’m not gonna say it’s as good as Cabaret, but it’s really good. It would be a solid #3 most years that maybe you take top two. But here… also-ran. No chance it beats the top two and I’d argue The Conversation is a better choice than it. Fantastic film and great nominee, but it’s no better than a #4.

The Towering Inferno is one of the classic disaster movies. Maybe not the quintessential disaster movie (that’s probably The Poseidon Adventure), but it’s up there.

A giant building is constructed and they’re having the grand opening at the top. Unfortunately, they cut some corners when building it, and the faulty wiring leads to a fire. The guests are trapped at the top, and it’s up to Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, firefighters, to get them out.

It’s a great disaster movie. The cast is just stacked. William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jones, O.J. Simpsn, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner.

It’s terrific. Love this movie a lot. Not a chance it wins and it really shouldn’t have won. Fifth choice, though you could make a case for it as fourth. But let’s face it — Godfather II, Chinatown… this didn’t have a chance.

– – – – – – – – – –

The Reconsideration: It’s Godfather II for me. I’m not gonna say no contest, but I would take it. Chinatown is like a 1A here. You could easily take it and I’d completely agree with you. Those two are the choices. It really comes down to personal preference. Sure, it’s almost a Sophie’s choice, but think of it this way — you win no matter what. (Just like Sophie’s choice.)

So I take Godfather II, Chinatown can also be taken, oh and we have The Conversation, Lenny and The Towering Inferno here too. Which is just a murderer’s row of choices. It’s almost nice that we don’t have to struggle with deciding this one.

– – – – – – – – – –

Rankings:

  1. The Godfather Part II
  2. Chinatown
  3. The Conversation
  4. Lenny
  5. The Towering Inferno

My Vote: The Godfather Part II

Recommendations:

Well this’ll be easy.

The Godfather Part II. These.

Chinatown. Movies.

The Conversation. Are.

Lenny. All.

The Towering Inferno. Essential.

I shouldn’t have to tell you anything about the first two. The Conversation is one of the hidden gem masterpieces of all time. Most people see it. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and enlighten yourself. Lenny is fucking wonderful and more people need to tune into how much of a genius Bob Fosse is. And The Towering Inferno — fucking yes. Look at the cast, look at the plot. It’s wonderful, and it’s one of those disaster movies everyone must see. It’s just great.

The Last Word: This is one of the top ten choices of all time. I can’t rightly say it’s top five just because Chinatown also would have been a top ten choice all-time. So with that debate firmly able to be had, I can’t make it one of the top slam dunk winners of all time, even though, in a way, it is one. They had two perfect choices here (and at least one other very good choice). Hard to fuck this one up. Oh, and have I mentioned yet? It’s THE GODFATHER PART II.

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(Read more Oscar Quest articles.)

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