Sunday, May 23, 2021

Pin It


1972: The Best Picture Oscar

The evening ends with Clint Eastwood (of Joe Kidd) presenting Best Picture, with, as he points out, a diverse slate of nominees. Cabaret (ten nominations, eight wins so far) is a musical about a showgirl and a tutor living it up as the Nazis rise to power in Germany. Deliverance (three nominations) is a thriller about a group of friends from the city who go camping and wind up in a fight for their lives against backwoods locals. The Emigrants (four nominations) is an epic about Swedish farmers who make the desperate decision to immigrate to the United States. The Godfather (ten nominations, two wins so far) is a family saga about a crime family adjusting to a new age. Sounder (four nominations) is a drama about a family of Black sharecroppers and their dog just trying to live with some dignity against the odds.

Man, The Godfather really made it count with those last categories! Did it deserve the win? Tell me what you think - I know what I believe, which you can read after the jump:

Cy Feuer, producer
first and only nomination in this category; BAFTA Award winner for Best Film, Golden Globe winner for Best Picture - Musical/Comedy, National Board of Review's Best Film of 1972

From that first drum roll all the way to the last, each against reflections that are funhouse surreal then hall-of-mirrors horrifying, Cabaret delivers. The musical numbers are both an effective diversion and a brilliant commentary on the events of the narrative. The performances are perfect. The editing knows just what to do, cutting about to keep the comic energy of "Money, Money," or slowing things down with dissolves for "Maybe This Time."  Makeup appropriately ghoulish, score adapted cleverly. The bit-by-bit expertise makes for an emotional experience, a fun, funny, frightening, sexy musical masterpiece.

John Boorman, producer
first of two nominations in this category; National Board of Review's Top Ten Films of 1972; Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture - Drama

Harrowing is the best word I can think of to describe this movie. The most famous scene of the film is so for a reason, but even knowing what it is doesn't prepare you for the actual happening: the humiliation of the act, the helplessness of the witness, the noises my God. A scoreless, unrelenting endurance test indicting urban condescension towards rural areas (the leads are actually working on "developing" an area near the river, and none but Reynolds seem to have any respect for the actual wildlife or people), and toxic masculinity (Reynolds is such an asshole). It is a tough movie to watch, but you daren't look away.
The Emigrants
Bengt Forslund, producer
first and only nomination in this category; NYFCC Awards second runner-up for Best Film

I think it's a fascinating story, that of Swedish settlers coming to America in the mid-1800s. What makes it a unique approach to the story is the time it takes to establish the why - the economic hardships, the religious oppression, the societal pressures - as well as the journey to - the days and weeks spent cooped up on top of each other below decks, lice running rampant, death and vomit all around them. It's a great story! It's a boring movie. I wish I liked it.

The Godfather
Albert S. Ruddy, producer
first of two nominations; Golden Globe winner for Best Picture - Drama, National Board of Review's Top Ten Films of 1972; NYFCC Awards runner-up for Best Film

It's easy to take for granted how excellent this movie is; even I had to remind myself, amid all my new watches, that may be the reason I wasn't overwhelmed by the movie this time is because I've watched it hundreds of times - and there's a reason! It's great, a class-act production full of great performances, moodily lit by Gordon Willis, a quotable screenplay, a classic score. To praise the film as one of the best is a cliche, but dammit, there's a reason!

Robert B. Radnitz, producer
first and only nomination; National Board of Review's Top Ten Films of 1972

Vivid are its characters and the environment they live in, from the central Morgan family all the way to the work camp laborers. Nothing overplayed, overscored, overwrought - just the Truth of people trying to get through their lives, trying to be better, and constantly being thwarted. Martin Ritt films are always a blast to watch because they're always so burrowed into the lives of their characters. Bone-deep. 


The Godfather took home the Oscar, only its third for the entire night. And sure enough, I gave it five stars, a perfect rating! But I did that with two other films here, too, and my own vote goes to:

produced by

Later this week: My Top Ten of 1972 and wrapping things up with the Retro Hollmann Awards!
You May Also Enjoy:
Like us on Facebook

No comments: