Monday, May 10, 2021

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1972: Some Nominees

Cinematography, documentary, and film editing - these are the films honored in those categories only, who didn't break the threshold into the music, screenplay, acting, directing, or Picture categories - though, frankly, one or more of them definitely should have:

nominee: Best Cinematography
dir: Peter H. Hunt
pr: Jack L. Warner
scr: Peter Stone
cin: Harry Stradling, Jr.

Adaptation of the stage musical about the debates leading to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the United States of America. Most of the cast and crew come directly from the stage production, from the director to the hairstylist, but gosh, do they have a handle on this cinema business! No rah-rah blindly patriotic thing, but an honest look at the flawed human beings who make up a revolution, the snobs and assholes and horndogs and drunks, the idealists and holier-than-thous, the slave traders and abolitionists, all arguing, making compromises, having arguments that we continue to this day! And all beautifully acted, edited, and shot. The cinematography nod is earned a number of times: the opening evening shots of the Liberty Bell, the vaselined fantasy conversations between John Adams and his wife Abigail, the amber lighting of "Momma, Look Sharp" and "Molasses To Rum," the final pull-out. This is a great movie.

The Hot Rock
nominee: Best Film Editing (Frank P. Keller / Fred W. Berger)
dir: Peter Yates
pr: Hal Landers / Bobby Roberts
scr: William Goldman
cin: Edward R. Brown

Frequent ex-con Robert Redford partners with brother-in-law George Segal, their attempts to steal a diamond continuously thwarted by bad luck. A very funny movie bringing together the heist flick, the prison breakout flick, the long con flick, really every kind of caper you can think of. A well-earned editing nomination: this story moves, it thrills, it amuses. Terrific score from Quincy Jones.

Malcolm X
nominee: Best Documentary Feature
dir/scr: Arnold Perl
pr: Mick Benderoth / Nancy Reals Perl / Marvin Worth

Documentary of the life of Malcolm X, adapted from his autobiography (as told to Alex Haley). No interviews, predominately archival footage charting the man's development through his interviews and statements to the press, with news footage of the time providing context. James Earl Jones narrates passages from the autobiography. It's very alive, one is impressed not just by the ability to craft an entire biopic using only these films and clips, but how there much there is to work with. We get to see his full arc, the warts-and-all complexity and evolution of his thinking, "performed" by the man himself. A vital, moving, and exciting document.

winner: Best Documentary Feature
dir/pr: Sarah Kernochan / Howard Smith
cin: Ed Lynch / David Myers / Richard Pearce / Thomas Reichman / Michael Shea / Kenneth Van Sickle

Marjoe Gortner has been a mainstay of evangelical churches and revival meetings since he was three years old, the youngest preacher in the world; now, he's exposing himself as a fraud and the evangelical business as a money scheme in this quasi-confessional documentary that doesn't dig or challenge its subject enough. Only near the end do they actually ask the question - isn't he just a con man? But they don't ask him, they ask his girlfriend. The patina of revelation without the actual substance.

Tomorrow, the nominees for Best Supporting Actress: Jeannie Berlin (The Heartbreak Kid), Eileen Heckart (Butterflies Are Free), Geraldine Page (Pete 'n' Tillie), Susan Tyrrell (Fat City), and Shelley Winters (The Poseidon Adventure)

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