What I love most about 1974 is that the top ten (and the top ten most people would have for this year, which is even more impressive) has two films on it from two different directors! 40% of the top ten list is two directors. Well, if we’re getting specific… that’s four of my top five for this year. Which is nuts.
But also, this top ten list is great. There’s one movie that absolutely no one has ever heard of that I hold dear for a variety of reasons that will translate to almost no one else, but everything else is just amazing stuff.
And I will repeat what I’ve said in other years from this decade… there’s a lot of cool stuff below the line. Some really cool movies you might not know at first glance that you’ll really enjoy if you give them a shot. (more…)
Oh, I love 1974 so much. (This will be, and has been, a recurring theme of the 70s with me.) Look at all five of these choices. And look at what won! Man, what a year.
The Godfather Part II, I think we can all agree, is one of the top five or ten best Best Picture winners of all time. Francis Ford Coppola winning Best Director for it (talked about here) is one of the top five Best Director decisions of all time, especially considering the Academy passed over him for the first Godfather. Robert De Niro also won Best Supporting Actor for the film (talked about here). I think we all know how good he was. Now, outside of those three — Art Carney wins Best Actor for Harry and Tonto (talked about here), which is one of the single worst Best Actor decisions of all time. Seriously Bottom five. Simply because Carney beat Al Pacino (in Godfather), Jack Nicholson (in Chinatown), Dustin Hoffman (in Lenny) and Albert Finney (in Murder on the Orient Express). None of these actors had an Oscar at this point, and this decision is what prevented Al Pacino from getting his Oscar until 1992 (and then prevented Denzel from getting his until 2001. Not to mention also potentially keeping Robert Downey Jr. and Clint Eastwood from an Oscar as well). I think we can agree it was bad. Best Actress was Ellen Burstyn for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (talked about here). It was a good decision. Burstyn was great in the role, but I can’t help but feel that Gena Rowlands deserved it more for A Woman Under the Influence. And Ingrid Bergman won Best Supporting Actress for Murder on the Orient Express (talked about here), which is clearly a veteran win, because she’s only on screen for five minutes and does next-to-nothing in the film.
Overall, 1974 is a huge success, and is in a way, the heart of the 70s. I’m seriously in awe of this decade.
BEST PICTURE – 1974
And the nominees were…
The Conversation (Paramount)
The Godfather Part II (Paramount)
Lenny (United Artists)
The Towering Inferno (20th Century Fox, Warner Bros.) (more…)
1974. The Godfather Part II wins Best Picture. Francis Ford Coppola wins Best Director for it after not winning for the first one (which I talked about here). And Robert De Niro wins Best Supporting Actor for the film as well (talked about here). Art Carney wins Best Actor for Harry and Tonto, a decision I consider the single worst Best Actor decision of all time (which I bemoaned here). And Ingrid Bergman wins Best Supporting Actress for Murder on the Orient Express (talked about here). Which means two things. One, aside from one terrible decision and one poor one, this was a rather stellar year. And two, this is actually the last category from this year I’ve yet to discuss. This might be a first for me.
Anyway, this particular category is the most interesting of the bunch (even more so than the abortion that was Best Actor this year), mostly because there were three legit competitors this year. Like, legit contenders. You have Faye Dunaway, who pretty much cemented her overdue status with this performance. In a way, she was building toward her Network performance that eventually won her the award. But still, she was good enough to win here. Then there was Gena Rowlands, who delivered a tour de force performance in A Woman Under the Influence, which, even though she wasn’t due, she did deliver the strongest performance in the category. And then there was Ellen Burstyn, who delivers a very good performance and was overdue. You see, the year before this (talked about here), she probably should have won Best Actress for The Exorcist (it wouldn’t have been a sexy decision, but it was the right one, I feel). Her not winning there basically assured she’d win here. But for me — I have to choose between these three performances. I have my work cut out for me, don’t I?
BEST ACTRESS – 1974
And the nominees were…
Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Diahann Carroll, Claudine
Faye Dunaway, Chinatown
Valerie Perrine, Lenny
Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence (more…)
I like years like 1974. Because all you need to say is something like — The Godfather Part II — and everything takes care of itself. Everyone’s like, “Oh, yeah, I get it.”
The Godfather Part II swept Best Picture, Best Director for Coppola (which is what we’re talking about here. Sorry to ruin the surprise) and Best Supporting Actor for De Niro. I talked about Best Supporting Actor already. Ellen Burstyn won Best Actress this year for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, which I’m very okay with, and I’ll explain why when I get to the category. Best Supporting Actress went to Ingrid Bergman for Murder on the Orient Express, which I’ve discussed in detail here. And Best Actor went to Art Carney for Harry and Tonto in what I consider one of the worst, if not the worst Best Actor decision of all time (I forget what the final prognosis was, but you can read all about it here).
Wow, I’m almost done with this year. Just Best Actress left to talk about. Which makes sense. This is a year where most people tend to see all the films very easily, even if they aren’t on an Oscar Quest.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1974
And the nominees were…
John Cassavetes, A Woman Under the Influence
Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part II
Bob Fosse, Lenny
Roman Polanski, Chinatown
François Truffaut, Day for Night (more…)
I know myself so well. I seem to schedule these things on purpose so things come up at just the right time. I generally set out an entire month’s worth of categories in advance, just so I don’t have to sit and pick from the lot. Everything gets nice and balanced that way, and when the day comes up, it’s, “Oh, hey, I’m talking about this category today.” And, somehow, I manage to always have things scheduled for the right mood. For instance, if I’m on a really productive streak, it seems like all the categories I really want to talk about come up, so that way I end up writing a lot and really recommending the films I want to recommend. Or if I’ve been out binge drinking the night before, it seems like the category for that day is always a quick one. Things always seem to work out that way. Today I get to vent my frustrations on what I consider to be one of the worst single choices (in the acting categories) in the Academy’s history. Worst. Of all time.
My criteria for judging how bad a category is consists of several factors. First, who won, and how does that performance rate on its own? Second, who, specifically did they beat? As in, what was the main competition for it. Example: How Green Was My Valley beat Citizen Kane. That is, for all intensive purposes, the main competition. Next, how strong was the rest of the category? Is it a simple case of voting one over another, or did they pass on multiple good and/or better choices in favor of the bad one? And the last two — these are to a much lesser extent, but still factor in — how badly did this mess up history (ie, did this require that a makeup Oscar be given to someone at some point in the future, which would then possibly deprive someone else of an Oscar in that case and perpetuate the makeup Oscar cycle) and did someone not get an Oscar because of this? That means, was this someone’s only/best chance to win an Oscar, and did they not ever end up getting one, possibly due to this bad decision. Think people like Richard Burton or Peter O’Toole, who never won Oscars. A bad decision is made worse if because of it, someone like Peter O’Toole was deprived of an Oscar. These last two categories definitely get intertwined at a certain point, but, largely, can remain separate. Now, if a decision fits firmly in the sweet spott of the Venn Diagram, then it deserves to be counted among the worst decisions of all time. This, my friends, is in that sweet spot. (more…)
1974’s a fun year. The Godfather Part II, Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny, The Towering Inferno — and those are just the Best Picture nominees.
The Godfather Part II wins Best Picture in a decision nobody can contest, no matter how much we all love Chinatown. It also wins Best Director for Francis Ford Coppola — finally — after he was snubbed for The Godfather in favor of Bob Fosse for Cabaret a decision that works in the historical sense (both directors have Oscars, which is great), but not in the specific category. Best Actor this year was Art Carney for Harry and Tonto, a veteran/career Oscar, and one of the worst decisions of all time. I love Art Carney, but, come on, when you see who else was nominated in that category (hint, three of the four come from the Best Picture nominees), it was a terrible decision. Best Actress was Ellen Burstyn for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (most likely a makeup Oscar from 1973, but we’ll get to that another time), and Best Supporting Actress was Ingrid Bergman for Murder on the Orient Express, which I talked about already. So this year is almost like the opposite of — whatever other year I talked about recently, which had a bunch of good acting decisions but a bad Best Picture decision.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1974
And the nominees were…
Fred Astaire, The Towering Inferno
Jeff Bridges, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
Robert De Niro, The Godfather Part II
Michael V. Gazzo, The Godfather Part II
Lee Strasberg, The Godfather Part II (more…)
1974. The year of The Godfather Part II. The year of career achievement awards and veteran awards. the year where they scarcely got anything right besides Best Picture. In fact, in anything not related to The Godfather the Oscars woefully fucked up this year.
Just to get who won out of the way, Coppola won Best Director for Part II and Robert De Niro won Best Supporting Actor. Art Carney won Best Actor for Harry and Tonto, and Ellen Burstyn won Best Actress for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Which leaves us with this:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1974
And the nominees were…
Ingrid Bergman, Murder on the Orient Express
Valentina Cortese, Day for Night
Madeline Kahn, Blazing Saddles
Diane Ladd, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Talia Shire, The Godfather Part II (more…)