Best Picture Showdown: 1971

Year after year I watch the Academy Awards and most years I feel like they get it wrong, whether it was the year 1994 when Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) beats Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), in 2002 Nicole Kidman (The Hours) beat Renee Zellweger (Chicago) for Best Actress or the entire 2018 award season for not giving Bradley Cooper any love for his masterful Direction and fantastic performance in A Star is Born.

They get it wrong and get it wrong often. So I decided I was going to go back into the vault and start with the Best Picture, go by decade starting in the 70’s and find the movies that won Best Picture and find the movie I thought should have won that year and go back and rewatch both films and give you my verdict on whether not a rewatch changed my mind or not.

The way I view movies now and the way I watched movies 10+ years ago has changed drastically, I like to pay attention to the details, to the editing, to the score, to how that score had an effect on the movie or if it ruined the movie.

So the year is 1971, The French Connection (directed by William Friedkin) was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and won 5 including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.

When I go back and looked at who was nominated that year, I look back and I felt A Clockwork Orange should have easily beaten The French Connection.

A Clockwork Orange was nominated for 4 Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Editing) and crazy enough it lost all 4 Oscars to The French Connection.

So here we are now, I have now rewatched both films and will breakdown whether or not The French Connection win was correct or if A Clockwork Orange was robbed.

Cinematography: A Clockwork Orange

John Alcott’s palette in this film is truly remarkable. The range from the outrageous colors early on and moving on as the film progressed to a darker tone was truly beautiful to watch. The Cinematography was just right for this film.

Score: A Clockwork Orange

A score can truly make or break a film sometimes and it really could have done a number on A Clockwork Orange. BUTTTT Wendy Carlos brought the goods. This score was equally as eccentric as the film was. I am at a lost for words of why this didn’t get a nomination.

Editing: Tie

Both of these films were nominated for the work of art on the editing floor. I think they were both equally as good and I truly couldn’t pick a winner.

Lead Acting: Tie – Malcolm McDowell & Gene Hackman

Look, I know another tie but watch both of these movies and just pick one of these guys.

McDowell: It was a crime he wasn’t even nominated for one. He truly had the harder of the two roles here I do believe but they had a lot of similarities in their roles. McDowell was truly out of this world in this film, he was haunting, creepy, sarcastic, witty, funny and all the while extremely strange. Kubrick truly nailed the casting of this role.

Hackman: He plays the maniac cop trying to take down these drug smuggles, and goodness he was just so raw and intense on every scene. He was a true nutcase in this film. I loved every second he was on the screen.

Directing: William Friedkin

This was extremely close but I gave the slight edge to Friedkin because he had the perfect pace of the movie and his transition from act to act. The other reason I gave him the edge was the Third Act was a true masterpiece in cinema. I loved everything about it including the cliffhanger like ending.

Overall Verdict:

The French Connection: **** 1/2 out of ***** gavels
A Clockwork Orange: **** out of ***** gavels

Best Picture Winner: The French Connection
My Best Picture Winner: The French Connection

The Academy got this one right, I will say this wasn’t an easy one at all. The thing that set the French Connection over the top for me was that Third Act, it was a pure thrilling adrenaline rush. Gene Hackman was masterful in this movie. Cop drama’s can be hit and miss but this truly set the tone and you can see how some of the movies NOW, truly took somethings from this movie.

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