Gene Wilder – Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory
My Overall Thoughts:
This year has some very fine performances for characters in somewhat controversial roles (for that time). Not all of these issues are as controversial now as they were then and that makes it even harder to judge them 47 years onward.
4. Gene Hackman
3. Peter Finch
2. George C. Scott
5. Kotch – Matthau is quite good in this film yet the story itself doesn’t age very well. The idea of an unwed pregnancy for a young girl was probably much more shocking 47 years ago than it is today. I really liked the way that Matthau relates to all of the other characters as he himself tries to understand who and what he is along the way.
4. Sunday Bloody Sunday – Film that tries to show how people get caught up in their lives and are willing to settle for small amounts of love along the way without trying to find a reason to commit to a real relationship. Finch and Jackson are both quite good here, but the story itself moves along at such a slow pace that it too often reaches lulls where it is less interesting to watch what will happen as the story unfolds.
3. The French Connection – Not the Best Best Picture, but still a film that helps define the detective genre for films and TV shows for decades to come.
2. The Hospital – This is a great black comedy that pinpoints with precision many of the ‘faults’ of bustling institutions. Chayefsky wrote a script worthy of its Oscar win. After winning an Oscar for his role of Patton one year earlier, Scott proves that he can also play the comic actor just as well.
1. Fiddler on the Roof – This film is not only my favorite musical but its also one of my all-time favorite movies. The idea of dealing with a changing world is such a universal concept that is even relevant to people in today’s world. I have seen this film so many times and despite the fact that it’s three hours long, I could watch it over and over and never get tired of it. The songs and themes depicted here are superb and I cry at some of the simple moments in the film because its so powerful. Topol is an amazing lead actor and gave this film a more lofty and serious tone than his on-stage predecessor Zero Mostel was ever able to do. This film was clearly the best film of 1971 and should have beaten The French Connection (1971) for the Oscar for Best Picture.
Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not really! Hackman’s performance might have been groundbreaking for a police thriller, but at least three of the other nominees gave more powerful performances in more challenging roles.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!