Ben Johnson (The Last Picture Show)
Paul Mann – Fiddler on the Roof
My Overall Thoughts:
This is a year with 5 fine performances nominated, but none could be considered a front runner.
5. Roy Scheider
4. Richard Jaeckel
3. Leonard Frey
2. Jeff Bridges
1. Ben Johnson
4. Sometimes a Great Notion – Mediocre story about a family of loggers in Oregon that is helped by a very impressive cast but even they can’t keep this story interesting the entire time. The way that the story unfolds generally works and we get a sense of familial camaraderie between the characters no matter the difficulties and hardships that they must face together. Jaeckel was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the main optimist of the characters who helps keep the story from feeling too gloomy.
3. The Last Picture Show – Slow, but very good story that says so much about how youth want to get older and how older people reminisce about their vibrant youthful days. Great script that is portrayed expertly by its cast. Bottoms, Bridges and Shepard made names for themselves here. Johnson, Leachman and Burstyn are great in supporting roles that earned each of them an Oscar nomination with Johnson and Leachman taking home supporting actor gold for this movie.
2. The French Connection – Not the Best Best Picture, but still a film that helps define the detective genre for films and TV shows. Hackman is excellent as the main character and deserved his Oscar for the role.
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? – Yes! Johnson does a nice job in TLPS and once again shows how versatile a supporting actor he could be.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!