To me, doing a ranking for this year is absolutely pointless as I consider this one of the finest years for this category, despite the fact that it is hardly discussed (The Godfather was released the next year). I went crazy over 1975, but I really think this one is better as the films are so different, belonging to 5 different genres. More importantly, I consider them the finest representations of their own genres: musical, drama, social commentary, crime thriller, period drama. They would all have been worthy winners, even Fiddler on the Roof, which in my opinion is much better than the actual musical winners in 1964 and 1965. If I were to classify them, I can break them up into 2 different groups: amazing and great. Amazing would be the 3 5/5 films (A Clockwork Orange, The Last Picture Show, Nicholas and Alexandra) while great would be the remaining 2 4.5/5 films that I highly respect, but don’t love. The French Connection would be the greatest surprise for me, as I used to dislike it but now I found that there are a lot of admirable details in it. One particular aspect would be Gene Hackman’s performance; I used to think he was very good, but not Oscar-worthy. This time round, however, I am fully in awe at how he developed and became Popeye Doyle without the usual Oscary scenes. This kind of unselfish acting and dedication is something that should be taught in acting class. I’m not sure whether I’d pick him over Topol’s funny and heartbreaking work in Fiddler on the Roof, but he was terrific nonetheless. Still, Malcolm Mcdowell’s disgusting but un-nominated turn in A Clockwork Orange is my best male performance of 1971.
Still, if you held a gun and point it to my head, I would probably have picked:
I’m biased, since I have always liked this film, but I still do very much. The performances here are the best among the 5 films, but more importantly the story is so soulful and full of life, evoking all kinds of emotions in the viewers and making them laugh, cry, annoyed, touched etc. The black and white realism and the howling of the winds at the end of the film is probably one of the most haunting endings ever. No apologies here 🙂
The next year I’m going to examine is also a great year (I predict): 1973. It has an iconic horror film, a controversial best actress winner, INGMAR BERGMAN and Newman-Redford duo. I’m excited, to say the least, but it’s probably going to take even longer than 1971 because schools’s starting next Monday 😦 Bummer. Still, I’m really glad I did 1971 because it’s such a wonder year for this category.