The exciting conclusion to my year of 1965...
You've seen Brock Peters square off against Oskar Werner for Best Supporting Actor...
Listened to music ranging from Cat Ballou to Morituri...
Actively rooted for The Flight of the Phoenix, maybe...
And now it comes down to this -- the awards for Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Picture of 1965 -- including my Top Ten!
All below the jump...
I am reminded of those perfectly repeated sequences where Kichi's wife runs swiftly through the high grass, carefree, only to be stopped by the sudden yet gliding appearance of a demon.
4. Doctor Zhivago
I am reminded of Lara out to dinner at a lavish restaurant, as Pasha and the workers make a peaceful demonstration outside -- only to be attacked by cossacks.
I am reminded of the Junkanoo, as Bond evades his would-be assassins by hiding in the crowds, Fiona Volpe in pursuit -- she finally corners him at the Kiss Kiss Club, entices him to the dance floor, and he must act swiftly or get a bullet in the back.
2. Who Killed Teddy Bear
I am reminded of Lawrence Sherman running through Times Square, the neon lights and storefronts of the porn shops flashing, shouting at him, as he runs away...from them? Himself? Temptation?
Charles G. Schelling
I am reminded of the perfection and economy of every sequence: the opening bit where we only see shoes and cars; the finale where every member of the ensemble gets a chance to warn, act, and react; the perfect cuts to Princess Livingston's hoarse cackle. Slows when necessary, but deliciously delirious otherwise.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
5. Young Cassidy
from the memoir Mirror in My House by Sean O'Casey
Earthy, sexy. Gets at the political turmoil of the time, with no solution being a good enough one; also does a fine job establishing Cassidy's gift for prose, his love for his ma, the sensitive intellectual hiding within the lusty brawler. I nominate it for its shady theater-goers, its complicated heroines, for the line, "That's the last toast this glass will ever make."
4. Doctor Zhivago
from the novel by Boris Pasternak
From my original post: "A lot of characters, a lot of history, a good amount of time to cover -- and never once does it get out of hand! Even smaller characters, like Kostoyed, the train jumper, and various Party Members, are as vibrant and specific as Zhivago and Lara. My favorite wrinkle, truly, is how Alec Guinness's high-ranking Party official even narrates over his own dialogue, so that everything he says is in retrospect -- and therefore vague, somewhat unreliable: rather human."
3. Ship of Fools
from the novel by Katherine Anne Porter
From my original post: "Long philosophical speeches that feel natural and organic; scenes that run the gamut from melodrama to slapstick without feeling uneven; complicated characters, even when they're sidelined."
2. The Sound of Music
from the Broadway musical book by Howard Lindsay/Russel Crouse
Rearranges scenes and songs, and actually comes up with something better! Of course "My Favorite Things" should be a bonding moment with the children; of course "The Lonely Goatherd" is better as a building block to the concert! Witty, too.
Raymond Friday Locke/W.E. Sprague
from the novel Streets Paved with Gold by Friday Locke
More than exploitation, it explores the effect change and crisis can have on individuals and groups. The Depression turns a small town into a pressure cooker of violence, everyone waiting for that moment when they can let loose and sacrifice someone, anyone, to the great god Fury. That's mob mentality, but Mudhoney also explores the desperation of families, the injustice done to workers, and the deep holes many buried themselves in when the work dried up. And still has time for sex jokes!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS5. Geraldine Chaplin as Tonya
4. Simone Signoret as La Condesa
Ship of Fools
From my original post: "I am once again stunned by Signoret's ability to deliver lines as though she were making them up on the spot. Natural and sensual, and her chemistry with Oskar Werner is dazzling to watch."
3. Vivien Leigh as Mary Treadwell
Ship of Fools
Leigh's final role feels like a grand farewell -- an older, exhausted Scarlett O'Hara, who still plays with men's emotions, still drinks, still gets dolled up...but she's just not as into it anymore. A few stand-out moments: her Charleston in the hallway, her calling out Lee Marvin's baseball player as being casually racist, and the piece de resistance, applying makeup "sexily" in the vanity, a mix of amusement and sadness.
2. Ruth Roman as Margot Eliot
Love Has Many Faces
I wanted to stand and applaud every time she appeared on screen. Margot's a bored broad on vacation, and while Hugh O'Brian may think he has one-up on her, he's actually met his equal. Roman's middle-aged good time gal has a way with one-liners, a penchant for side-eyes -- and a look of sadness after some of her tough talk. Few characters stuck with me from this year like Ruth Roman's Margot.
1. Maggie Smith as Nora
Even then, less was more with Smith. There are whole scenes where she lingers in the background, but her face, just out of focus, is telling the whole story -- watch her face when she realizes she's going to have to give up the man she loves so he can pursue his career. We know, of course, she's a master at the subtle wit; but did you know she could be sexy and bookish? A true "star is born" performance.
And now, here we come...the Best Picture of the Year. But first, the five movies that almost made it...
10. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
9. Ship of Fools
7. Young Cassidy
6. Who Killed Teddy Bear
Mag Bodard/Gilbert de Goldschmidt/Pierre Lazareff
Escapist tactics to deal with reality -- love, war, abandonment, all that good stuff.
George Costello/Russ Meyer
Raw, unflinching drama taking mob mentality, religion, law, and more to task.
3. Doctor Zhivago
Passionate romance, sweeping history, an epic worthy of its length.
Companionship, loneliness, and duty, through the lens of four ghost stories.
1. The Sound of Music
A perfect musical, a perfect romance, a perfect film about family -- nay, a perfect film, period.
[UPDATED: Producers nominated for Best Picture, as of 1/13/2017]