Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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The 1976 Retro Hollmann Awards

February's gone - let us end our look at the year 1976.

We're going out with a bang, Googie.
We talked to my parents about their memories, my mother sounded off on Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor, many took an interest in Best Adapted Screenplay (thanks to Nathaniel of The Film Experience for linking, truly unexpected!), and of course, we talked Best Picture.

But those were Oscar's picks. What of my own? The full list of the 61 films eligible have been named already; now it's time to talk my personal favorites of 40 years ago.

These are the Retro Hollmann Awards of 1976.

Best Adapted Screenplay
All the President's Men
William Goldman
from the book by Carl Bernstein / Bob Woodward

2. The Man Who Fell to Earth (Paul Mayersberg); 3. Carrie (Lawrence D. Cohen); 4. Buffalo Bill and the Indians (Robert Altman / Alan Rudolph); 5. The Shootist (Scott Hale / Miles Hood Swarthout)

Of All the President's Men, I said already that "there's a lot of information...But every detail is clear, the suspense is genuine, and each character vividly realized." The Man Who Fell to Earth's gradual meting-out of information, its slide from possibilities to a squander of them, is haunting. Carrie is earnest and completely its own, so you can buy into its crazy. Buffalo Bill and the Indians is a typical Altman: wincingly funny. The Shootist may be cynical about progress, but it doesn't let its hero off scot-free - a complex heart-tugger.

17 more categories, plus the full top ten, after the jump...

Best Original Song

1. "Rainy Fields of Frost and Magic"
music and lyrics by Bo Harwood
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

2. "Watch Closely Now"
music and lyrics by Paul Williams / Kenny Ascher
A Star is Born

3. "With One More Look at You"
music and lyrics by Paul Williams / Kenny Ascher
A Star is Born

4. "Hooked On Your Love"
music and lyrics by Curtis Mayfield

5. "Something He Can Feel"
music and lyrics by Curtis Mayfield

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Fellini's Casanova
Rino Carboni, head makeup artist
Giannetto de Rossi / Fabrizio Sforza, Mr. Sutherland's makeup
Gabriella Borzelli, hair stylist

2. Rocky (Michael Westmore); 3. The Man Who Fell to Earth (Ellis Burman, Jr. / Linda De Vetta / Martin Samuel); 4. Buffalo Bill and the Indians (Monty Westmore)

Fellini's Casanova presents a gallery of grotesques, starting with the surprisingly seedy look of its leading man - but then, that's the whole thesis of the film, no? Rocky's indie budget still boasts the most naturalistic makeup effects I've seen in a film - those wounds look legit, honey. The Man Who Fell to Earth ages some subtly, others less so, depending on the character's vices; oh, and turns Bowie into an alien. And then there are the wigs, beards, and mustaches of Buffalo Bill and the Indians.

Best Actress

Faye Dunaway as Diana Christensen

2. Sissy Spacek in Carrie; 3. Karen Black in Burnt Offerings; 4. Barbra Streisand in A Star is Born; 5. Jessica Lange in King Kong

As I wrote before, Miss Faye is "bloodthirsty...having a ball, her eyes sparkling in both rage and triumph," while Miss Sissy is "full of innocence and hope throughout the majority of the movie's running time, [before the] prom sequence." Karen Black is terrifyingly convincing as she slowly becomes more attached to the evil in its walls. Barbra's arc of defensive to flirty to loving to jaded to resigned is thrilling enough - but that finale clinches it. Kong doesn't work if you don't get the ape's attraction, and Jessica Lange's surprisingly quiet charm and honest eyes absolutely do the trick.

Best Visual Effects

King Kong
Carlo Rambaldi / Glen Robinson, the construction of Kong
Joe Day, special effects
Frank Van Der Veer, special photographic effects

2. Midway (Jack McMaster); 3. Carrie (Gregory M. Auer); 4. Logan's Run (L.B. Abbott / Glen Robinson); 5. God Told Me To (Steve Neill)

Obviously this has to go to that big ape in King Kong - maybe I have bad eyes, but I was convinced. I admire, too, the explosive battles by air and sea in Midway, the telekinetically-charged objects flying hither and thither in Carrie, the futuristic graphics and floating carousel of Logan's Run, and the clever cribbing and shocking earthly divinity of God Told Me To.

Best Ensemble

Car Wash
Don Phillips

2. Buffalo Bill and the Indians; 3. Next Stop, Greenwich Village (Juliet Taylor); 4. Network (Juliet Taylor); 5. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (Don Phillips)

I give Car Wash the edge for the subtle complexity and realism its ensemble brings to a plotless comedy. Similarly, Buffalo Bill and the Indians and Next Stop, Greenwich Village are both great examples of a set group of people interacting throughout, completely in tune with the film's vibe. Network is the only one, really, whose troupe of actors isn't consistently together - but truly, what a troupe it is! And damn, didn't the Bingo Long cast make you laugh, cry, and have fun doing it?

Best Production Design

Fellini's Casanova
Danilo Donati, art direction

2. The Man Who Fell to Earth (Brian Eatwell); 3. Logan's Run (Dale Hennesy / Robert De Vestel); 4. The Ritz (Philip Harrison); 5. Buffalo Bill and the Indians (Anthony Masters / Jack Maxsted / Dennis J. Parrish)

A plastic sea, stacked pipe organs, ostentatiously ornate contraptions...Fellini's Casanova doesn't skimp. The Man Who Fell to Earth's dusty America, tangible sci-fi tech, rustic alien planet, and claustrophobic set-as-prison. I mentioned before how I adored the "run-down Chapel, curvy steel of [Home]," and "ice tunnel" of Logan's Run. The Ritz fully realizes a multi-storied bathhouse, complete with a stage by the steam baths, somewhat gaudy, but home. And Buffalo Bill and the Indians brought a faux Wild West encampment to life.

Best Original Screenplay

Paddy Chayefsky

2. God Told Me To (Larry Cohen); 3. Taxi Driver (Paul Schrader); 4. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone); 5. Fox and His Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

I called Network a "flawless...evisceration of the television industry, an indictment of us." God Told Me To is shocking, suspenseful horror, with a unique take on the Messiah and the Divine. Taxi Driver makes us with its offbeat antihero, espousing surface ideas many would support, and a solution that all should be horrified by. Rocky, as I said, is a "Beautiful...depiction of connecting." And Fox and His Friends is disturbing in its depiction of casual manipulation, of careless ruin.

Best Actor

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle
Taxi Driver

2. Peter Finch in Network; 3. Kris Kristofferson in A Star is Born; 4. William Holden in Network; 5. Robert Redford in All the President's Men

De Niro, I wrote, is a boyishly attractive ticking time bomb. As for Finch, I said he "rocket[s] to 10...and maintain[s] that energy." Kristofferson is not praised enough for the effortless performance he gives, only telegraphing wounds and resentments with his eyes and jaw. I said I was impressed by Holden's "prissy, entitled approach" giving shades of grey to Max. And finally, Redford: not always certain, constantly watching,  and listening, man, really listening. 

Best Score
1. Carrie
Pino Donaggio

2. Taxi Driver
Bernard Herrmann

3. The Omen
Jerry Goldsmith

4. Rocky
Bill Conti

5. Assault on Precinct 13
John Carpenter

Best Costume Design

Fellini's Casanova
Danilo Donati / Federico Fellini

2. Buffalo Bill and the Indians (Anthony Powell); 3. Murder by Death (Ann Roth); 4. Fox and His Friends (Helga Kempke); 5. Logan's Run (Bill Thomas)

Once again, a tip o' the cap to Fellini's Casanova, whose design work was unmatched this year. Dig also the literal costumes promoting the myth of the West in Buffalo Bill and the Indians, the character-specific duds of Murder by Death, the wardrobe-as-class-signifier in Fox and His Friends, and the pajama future-wear of Logan's Run.

Best Director
Sidney Lumet

2. Martin Scorsese for Taxi Driver; 3. Brian De Palma for Carrie; 4. Nicolas Roeg for The Man Who Fell to Earth; 5. Alan J. Pakula for All the President's Men

I said of Lumet that even within some stylistic choices, his ensemble remains real. Scorsese keeps us in Bickle's headspace - you know when he's reeling, and when he's at rest. De Palma maintains near hysteria, every exclamation the most - it is high school, after all. I don't think I've seen anything quite like Roeg's dreamscape. Pakula trusts his actors and his audience equally.

Best Sound

God Told Me To
Jeffrey L. Hayes

2. The Shootist (Jerry Whittington / Al Overton / Les Fresholtz / Michael Minkler / Arthur Piantadosi); 3. All the President's Men (Milton C. Burrow / Les Fresholtz / James E. Webb / Rick Alexander / Arthur Piantadosi); 4. Rocky (Harry W. Tetrick / Gene Ashbrook / Ray Alba / Bert Schoenfeld); 5. Midway (Robert Martin / Leonard Peterson / Roger Sword / James Troutman / Roger Heman, Jr. / Robert L. Hoyt / Earl Madery)

When I think of God Told Me To, I think of its soundscape: its eerie score, its chilling opening sequence with the sniper, the parade, the finale with the most haunting idea of a divine entity's voice you've ever heard. Followed closely by the creaking house, clomping hooves, and, oh, yeah, gunfire of The Shootist; the tappa-tappa-tappa newsroom murmurs in All the President's Men; the punches, scuffles, and loud Italian arguments of Rocky; and the battle of Midway.

Best Cinematography

1. Network
Owen Roizman

2. God Told Me To
Paul Glickman

3. Bound for Glory
Haskell Wexler

4. The Man Who Fell to Earth 
Anthony B. Richmond

5. The Omen 
Gilbert Taylor

Best Supporting Actor

Ivan Dixon as Lonnie
Car Wash

2. Peter Falk in Murder by Death; 3. Ned Beatty in Network; 4. Burgess Meredith in Rocky
5. F. Murray Abraham in The Ritz

There was no contest for me here - as soon as I saw Ivan Dixon's understated, moving performance as an ex-con trying to turn himself around, offering guidance to a militant Bill Duke but not pushing too hard, clearly the Elder Statesman without having to loudly announce it...I saw that performance and knew it was in the running. And his final scene, the last one in the movie, the most emotional, cathartic, bittersweet moment I saw in a 1976 film - that gave Dixon my win.

Followed soon thereafter by Peter Falk's committed absurdity to a Sam Spade riff, Ned Beatty's "tent revivalist" at a conference table, Burgess Meredith's "ball-busting toughness" tempered by a devastating loneliness, and F. Murray Abraham's camp queen who may be a bottom, but is never the butt of the joke.

Best Supporting Actress
Piper Laurie as Margaret White

2. Eileen Brennan in Murder by Death; 3. Marlene Warfield in Network; 4. Beatrice Straight in Network; 5. Ellen Greene in Next Stop, Greenwich Village

I said it once, I'll say it again: with Piper Laurie, "You never doubt her commitment...her faith...her warped love." Eileen Brennan sees Falk's routine and manages to raise the bar; as usual, her line readings are killer. Marlene Warfield is a force of nature, ruthless, with a calculated calm. Straight, I mentioned, has "not a false moment." Ellen Greene is the heart of Next Stop, Greenwich Village, its melancholy center, an embattled 1950s liberal woman, but no mere object of pity.

Best Editing

Scott Conrad / Richard Halsey

2. The Man Who Fell to Earth (Graeme Clifford); 3. Network (Alan Heim); 4. Taxi Driver (Tom Rolf / Melvin Shapiro); 5. Carrie (Paul Hirsch)

All of Rocky works beautifully, but let's admit: there's a reason why the montage is legendary, to say nothing of the fight itself. The Man Who Fell to Earth is hypnotic, entrancing, in its own universe. Network packs a punch, right down to its quick, brutal, ending. Taxi Driver frequently alternates between sudden bursts of quick cuts and slow, deliberate scenes. And Carrie...well, that split-screen finale of inescapable violence is justly iconic.

Top Ten: 10 - 6

10. The Ritz
A funny farce, perhaps dated, but a good time, and it genuinely feels like a community - and not community theatre, hey-oh!

9. Rocky
I said before: "The great American its heart, [a] love story."

8. Buffalo Bill and the Indians; or, Sitting Bull's History Lesson
Sardonic Western satire, as only Altman could do it.

7. The Man Who Fell to Earth
So this is an art film: beautiful, hideous, thought-provoking.

6. Car Wash
Hilarious, yes, but far more heartwarming and thoughtful than you'd expect. And the music!

Best Picture 
5. All the President's Men
Walter Coblenz
Like I said: "Genuine suspense, even when you know the end results going in."

4. God Told Me To
Larry Cohen

Bent in the best way.

3. Taxi Driver
Julia Phillips / Michael Phillips
Again, I say: "Like a fever dream...You are in the headspace of Travis Bickle, a young man about to become very, very dangerous."

2. Carrie
Paul Monash

A vital part of my being, genuinely horrific, with a tone to fit the madness of teen hormones - and, too, truly respectful of its heroine. 

1. Network 
Howard Gottfried
To reiterate: "Perfection."

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