5. Dog Day Afternoon
Michael Chinich and Don Phillips
The bank manager, the tellers, the cops, the reporters, the pizza delivery guy, the family, the FBI, the security guard, Sal, Sonny...everyone is a completely realized, lived-in New York resident. You believe they grew up in that neighborhood, have the same daily routine, made plans for later that evening.
3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
5. Death Race 2000
Lee Alexander, sound mixer
Ben Burtt, sound designer
It's not just the sounds of those cars racing by and, often, crashing and burning. It's also the alternately horrifying/hilarious way in which the victims smash up against the hood of the car (or under the tire) that mark this film as a sound masterpiece.
4. The Hindenburg
Leonard Peterson/Don Sharpless, sound
Dennis C. Salcedo, optical sound recordist
The hum of the machine is constantly present, reminding you of the vulnerability of this explosive death-trap. And then of course there's the explosion itself, followed by the sequence of crashing furniture, screams, bodies falling...all very emotional.
Iain Bruce, sound recordist
John Moseley, quintaphonic sound developer
This film depends on the mix between music, vocals, and sound effects. It all works perfectly as the new arrangement accommodates for new, funkier, louder instruments without losing the performances.
John R. Carter/Robert Hoyt, sound
Surely just for that scene when the fishing line tips the hunters off to the shark's presence. But everything else is mixed perfectly; even the music sounds like you're hearing it underwater.
Chris McLaughlin/Jim Webb, sound
Richard Portman, sound re-recording mixer
William A. Sawyer, sound editor
Randy Kelley, assistant sound editor
Perfectly mixed, perfectly edited, perfectly executed soundscape. Snatches of conversation overlap and interrupt, acoustics change up depending on the venue, the syncing is consistently in its proper place. Revolutionary.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
3. The Hindenburg
John Borgese, special effects
Robert Beck/Frank Brendel/Andrew Evans/Glenn Robinson, special mechanical effects
Albert Whitlock, special visual effects
2. The Land That Time Forgot
Derek Meddings, special effects supervisor
1. Dark Star
Dan O'Bannon, visual effects supervisor
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Clever take on Uncle Remus imagery has Brother Rabbit and his gang shooting down rivals and taking over for the mob, all as a story told by a convict to an escaping inmate awaiting the getaway car. This satire on race relations, systematic corruption, sexuality and American mythology is often uncomfortable -- and that's the point. Prepare to be offended and amused.
4. The Yakuza
Paul Schrader and Robert Towne, story by Leonard Schrader
Neo-noir finds "fixer" Harry Kilmer back in Japan after 30 years to help an old friend; and, of course, there are twists and double-crosses and shocking secrets. A somber, sad tale, dealing in past regrets and the debts that cannot be repaid. It's not just about how much Japan has changed since westernization set in; it's about men the world over losing their spiritual ethics and codes of honor.
3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin
Of course it would be a sometimes absurd comedy that perhaps best captures that time in British history when if you weren't a nobleman or royalty, your worth was nil. Naturally, this is most evident in the famous Dennis scene, when he bemoans the monarchical system as being decided by "some farcical aquatic ceremony". But there's also great insight into old customs of land development ("that sank into the swamp"), chivalry (Galahad's sojourn at Anthrax), and shrubbery. And it's pretty damn funny.
Probably my favorite of the 1975 Ken Russell films, Mahler is one of his composer biopics that relies more on symbolism and spiritual truths rather than fact. Fortunately, this one is rather more sedate than Lisztomania, with the flights of fancy more contextual. We get a real sense of Mahler's childhood, marriage, wandering eye, conversion, and how they all influence, or are influenced by, his work as a conductor/composer. Genuinely moving.
Federico Fellini and Tonino Guerra
"With a colorful array of characters, Fellini's look at one year in a small town during Mussolini's reign is as uniquely Italian as it is universal. With the title translating to "I Remember", we are offered episodic glimpses into life at school (where the teachers are dull and pranks are pulled), home (quarreling yet well-meaning parents), and the neighborhood, along with those significant events that mark a lifetime. I'm talking holiday traditions, weddings, funerals, political rallies...and first brushes with sex. Warm, funny, with a teary-eyed mix of sadness and nostalgia, it's like hearing familiar and beloved stories from an old friend."
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To?)"
Michael Masser and Gerald Goffin
"The song and its variants play throughout the film, as Mahogany pursues her dreams of being a lauded designer while also pushing away the man she loves. So of course the song is pertinent to the film overall: while Mahogany may have these dreams and fantasies, does she really know what she wants, or what she's willing to sacrifice? Does she know where she's going to?"
One of the most beautiful songs ever written, in which Keith Carradine's caddish Tom shows some tenderness as he secretly sings to Lily Tomlin's married choir-leader Linnea. It's one of the most famous parts of the film, as each of Tom's other paramours think they are the target of his lyrics...until they follow his eyes. What woman could possibly resist hearing, "Take my hand and pull me down/I won't put up any fight/'Cuz I'm easy"? Bonus points for being the sole representative of Nashville's twelve original songs.
"My Idaho Home"
Barbara Jean's final song, one detailing a strong, happy childhood, is beautiful in its loyalty to mother and father. It's one of those wonderful songs that succeeds in romanticizing the strength of those who lived through "tougher times", especially poignant when you consider the source: a multi-platinum living legend who may the Queen of Country Music, but also a neurotic, nervous, mentally unstable woman who cannot handle her fame. No wonder she pines for the days when she could "bear floods and fires and bad weather."
[song begins at 9:08]
Many will react to this as a great spoof of nonsensical, sincere country songs. But damn if it doesn't hit me every time Karen Black sings, "I'd like to go to Heaven but I've forgotten how to pray" and "I'd like to give you all I got, but I don't know what that is". Besides being a great song on its own, it also establishes the talent and magnetism of Barbara Jean's rival Connie White.
Simply put, it's the most beautiful song in the film. Is it, secretly, meant for Barbara Jean's manager hubby, proclaiming that she's tired of all the stress he puts her through? Is it an anthem for the exhausted wives played by Lily Tomlin and Cristina Raines, or perhaps that of Haven Hamilton's longtime mistress Lady Pearl (Barbara Baxley)? Could be. But it's also goddamn beautiful, and is a part of one of the greatest scenes offered by the cinema.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
5. Barry Lyndon
Milena Canonero and Ulla-Britt Soderlund
4. The Story of O.
As befits a memory, many of the characters appear in the same outfits -- and what eye-catching outfits they are! Of course, the tobacconist's blue sweater is perfect for her ample bosom, and the stylish Gradisca looks regal in her red outfit with the black fur lining; but I also like the innocence of those short pants and caps on the students, or the almost-rags of that tall-tale peddler, or the hairnet of Titta's fey uncle.
2. Death Race 2000
1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
5. Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
4. Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer
3. Michael Caine as Peachy Carnahan
The Man Who Would Be King
2. Sean Connery as Daniel Dravot
The Man Who Would Be King
1. Al Pacino as Sonny
Dog Day Afternoon
4. Dog Day Afternoon
Victor J. Kremper
3. The Magic Flute
1. Barry Lyndon
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
5. Gwenn Welles as Sueleen Gay
4. Goldie Hawn as Jill
3. Lily Tomlin as Linnea Rees
2. Barbara Baxley as Lady Pearl
1. Ronee Blakley as Barbara Jean