Wednesday, April 1, 2015

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This Is It: The 1971 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part Three

It all ends today. This is the last of the Retro Hollmann Award of 1971.

Within, you will find: my favorite costumes; my full Top Ten; my lineup of Original Song, the final winner of which was not decided until three minutes before I hit PUBLISH...

And, to start us off, the prize for Best Ensemble, which has no equivalent at the Oscars, but hey -- these are the Hollmann Awards.

1. The Boy Friend
Always give props to a troupe of dancing, singing thesps, all bringing their A-Game, all on-tone, none ever better. Maybe you wouldn't think to combine the talents of Glenda Jackson, Twiggy, Tommy Tune, and Vladek Sheybal (not to mention Max Adrian, Georgina Hale, and Antonia Ellis) -- but thank goodness someone did.

4. Carnal Knowledge

Unexpected performances from Ann-Margret, Candice Bergen and Art Garfunkel; effective cameos by Carol Kane and Rita Moreno; an almost movie-stealing turn from Cynthia O'Neal; and a phenomenal Jack Nicholson at the center of it all.

5. Cold Turkey

Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart against type, yes -- but let's also give props to Barnard Hughes' desperate, chain-smoking doctor, Barbara Cason's snooty cigarette fiend, Simon Scott's surly tobacco exec, and Bob & Ray.

3. Dodes'ka-den

Kurosawa's cast has to run the gamut from comedy to drama, varying degrees of each, without being in different films. Nailed it. Little Hiroyuki Kawase is a real find as the beggar's son, Tomoko Yamazaki wrings your heart as the paper flower girl, and at the heart of it all -- Yoshitaka Zushi as the boy conducting a train.

2. The Last Picture Show

Ross Brown, casting director
Anarene feels like the real deal, not just because of the soon-to-be legends like Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, and Cybill Shepherd; not just due to the reliable character work of Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, and Ben Johnson; but also because of the work from Sharon Taggart, Joe Heathcock, Sam Bottoms, and Gary Brockette. It takes a village to make a masterpiece.

What more can I possibly give to the films of Ken Russell? Find out after the jump...

5. The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Elsa Fennell
Vulnavia's wardrobe is, of course, the main attraction, but I've also always been a big fan of whatever shiny cloak it is that Phibes seems to favor. Lem's sweaters, too.

1. The Boy Friend

Shirley Russell
I cannot count the number of costume changes, but there are many -- and they are all perfect. Period appropriate for the frame story, adequately theatrical for the play, and of course -- va-va-voom for the dream sequences, outfitting the cast as golfers, Americans, card decks, dice, and on and on and on!

4. The Devils

Shirley Russell
There's the fur-collared indulgence of Father Grandier's cloak -- he is a vain man, after all; the sleeveless apparel of Father Barre, a kind of rock-star exorcist; the pure white of the nuns' habits. And then there's whatever excesses the King drapes himself in.

3. Nicholas and Alexandra

Yvonne Blake
Great attention to detail, recreating the splendor and the squalor of Imperial Russia. Especially do I love the contrast of Rasputin's simple peasant garb with the finery of Alexandra -- little does she realize who's really in control here.

2. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Helen Colvig
Storybook outfits -- Willy Wonka's perfect purple coat, hat, and "fun" big bow tie; Charlie's simple turtleneck; Mike Teavee's cowboy cosplay; Veruca Salt's furious red schoolgirl skirt; and I don't know what to call Violet's duds, but I dig it. Oh, and then we have the Oompa-Loompas.

5. "Bless the Beasts and the Children" from Bless the Beasts and Children
music and lyrics by Barry De Vorzon/Perry Botkin, Jr.

3. "He Gives Us All His Love" from Cold Turkey
music and lyrics by Randy Newman

4. "Last Morning" from Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?
music and lyrics by Shel Silverstein

2. "The Candy Man" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley

1. "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley

4. Carnal Knowledge
Jules Feiffer
Accurately captures both the good and bad in normal people, the late-night desires, sexist demands, and unexpected cruelties between friends, lovers, and otherwise. Everyone is a shade of grey, and everyone is capable of doing better than they are. But aren't we all? One of the truest depictions of relationship politics I've ever seen.

2. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Elio Petri/Ugo Pirro
As I said before: "Remarkably funny -- and fucked up. The suspense mounts along with the absurdity... Reality, insanity, fantasy -- all become blurred by the time we get to the breathtaking finale(s)... wickedly clever."

3. Klute
Andy Lewis/Dave Lewis
As I said before: "Everything here, everything, is sublime, from the careful set-up of the thriller aspects to the evolving relationship between Klute and Bree. Thoughtfully written from every aspect, with dialogue pared down to its necessities. Understated, exactly what's needed."

5. Mary, Queen of Scots
John Hale
Highly entertaining historical romance, with all the things you could possibly want out of such a film. There's verbal cat-fighting between Queens, sinister homosexuals, political intrigue, and a central oh-so-sexy romance. Is it historically accurate? Who cares? All I know is that it's a damn good time!

1. Sunday Bloody Sunday
Penelope Gilliatt
As I said before: "Voice-over, flashbacks, fantasies and breaking of the fourth wall all used sparsely, surprisingly, appropriately. You understand why this character at this point is suddenly using this method to communicate to the audience. And all in the service of a beautiful story that skimps on the melodrama despite its premise."

4. Julie Christie as Marian

The Go-Between
You know what I like about Christie's performance? She plays it the way Daisy Buchanan should be played -- she's calculating, absolutely uses the titular boy, and you're not quite sure to what level her dalliances with Alan Bates are about love or sex or forbidden thrills. But she's so completely charming that you almost don't care -- you'd do anything for her, too.

2. Jane Fonda as Bree Daniel

As I said before: "Perfection. There is not a false moment in this performance, from the emotionally naked therapy sessions to the defeated escape to the club, from the genuine confusion over a guy like Klute to the very real terror when confronted with a killer. She's watchful in every scene, always looking for the angle -- both her own and whoever she's with."

3. Glenda Jackson as Alex Greville

Sunday Bloody Sunday
As I said before: "From her frazzled run through her disaster of a flat, through the doomed weekend where she sees both fake married life and fake motherhood imploding but puts on a good face throughout...Jackson puts all the neurosis, hope and sadness out there, and she's just fascinating to watch. A real woman."

1. Vanessa Redgrave as Sister Jeanne

The Devils
A deliciously weird performance. Redgrave is a very subtle actress (and has only grown to be more so), and she certainly brings great nuance and surprising humor to her role as the repressed, obsessed, and allegedly possessed Sister Jeanne. But holy shit, when her freak flag flies, it billows in the wind -- the laughing, the keening, the shouting of "Grandier", whether as an accusation or in sexual abandon (often both). I mean, good Lord, her recitation of the "Hail Mary" needs to be seen to be believed.

5. Twiggy as Polly Browne

The Boy Friend
It's true that Twiggy's singing voice isn't what you'd call a very good one, but it works -- after all, Polly Browne isn't an actress, merely called to be one at the last-minute. She's awkward yet winning, and Twiggy nails the sleepy-eyed romance as well as she does the wide-eyed naiveté of the character. Really, since Polly's at the center, she needs to be charming enough to carry the film -- Twiggy is all that and more.

Finally, the moment you may or may not have been waiting pick for Best Picture of the Year. But first, the five runner-ups, in ascending order...

10. Cold Turkey
Not a perfect movie (the middle is made up mostly of montages), but I find it just the right amount of corny and genuinely clever. It is Norman Lear, after all.

9. The Abominable Dr. Phibes
I think it says something that, after 15 years of repeated viewings, I still manage to find something new to appreciate. Clever, funny, and truly -- thanks to the Art Deco look, bizarre plot, and unique score -- unlike anything you've ever seen.

8. Klute
Jesus, what a scary, superb little movie, one of those New York 70s flick that captured the City's seediness in a way that makes you want to shower with Comet. And what a superb Jane Fonda performance at the center!

7. The Go-Between
A real beaut, with a ravishing Julie Christie, haunting images of the English countryside (all that land! so imposing!), and a cricket match! And while the one at the center is more apt to concealment, there's something about its portrayal of families -- the little looks, the mutual understandings, the unsaid secrets -- that's genuine.

6. Wake in Fright
A queasy movie in many respects, and one I've thought about on days where the drinking started before sundown. Its depiction of small town life, from my understanding, is as true for modern-day America as it was for early-70s Australia: nothing to do but drink, fuck, and fire guns at things (sometimes it feels like there's nothing else to do in the city, either). It's a sweaty, nasty, rabid little film. I love it.

And now...the nominees for...


5. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Marina Cicogna/Daniele Senatore

Suspenseful, funny, clever, and important, but not too boastful about any of it. There's a deceptive lightness, slowly dissipating beneath an ever-growing cloud.

4. Sunday Bloody Sunday
Joseph Janni

A beautiful, realistic drama, unafraid to play with the form. Terrific performances from its ensemble, a thoughtful screenplay, and an empathic director at the helm.

3. The Boy Friend
Ken Russell

Zany, lovely musical -- each number outdoes the one before it. And it's a great depiction of the hopes and dreams of artists/actors/people, as everyone gets their own fantasy sequence. Delightful.

2. Fiddler on the Roof
Norman Jewison

A perfect movie musical.

1. The Devils
Ken Russell/Robert H. Solo

Thought-provoking, frustrating, shocking. It's everything that fascinates me -- religion, sex, repression, pre-20th century, demonic possession -- all in one delirious, horrifying film.

[UPDATED: Producers nominated for Best Picture, as of 1/13/2017]

And there you have it. The best of 1971.

The Devils - Picture, Director, Actress, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Makeup (6)
The Boy Friend - Supporting Actress, Production Design, Costume Design, Ensemble (4)
Fiddler on the Roof - Editing, Sound (2)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks - Visual Effects (1)
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion - Original Score (1)
McCabe & Mrs. Miller - Cinematography (1)
Sunday Bloody Sunday - Original Screenplay (1)
Wake in Fright - Supporting Actor (1)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - Original Song (1)

Give another couple of months before I'm ready for another go, though. But also, get excited, because next on the roster: the films of 1965! Stay tuned!

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