best film:  Nashville is a massive artistic achievement and the crown jewel in the altman oeuvre. It has a large ensemble, overlapping dialogue, wonderfully used camera zooms to capture exactly what altman wants to capture and edit in scene. It’s ambitious film-making and clearly has influenced everyone from PT Anderson (magnolia) to Wes Anderson (Budapest, royal tenenbaums) and John Sayles (lonestar, sunshine state). Nashville is comic, tragic, politically potent and epic in stylistic ambition.

most underrated:  Fox and His Friends from Fassbinder features not only his immaculate direction and work behind the camera (indeed this is his 4th straight year with top 10 film) but a brilliant lead performance from him as well. He’s really good in it! The melodrama itself is a tragic fable clearly influenced by douglas sirk but frankly is even more depressing and despairing than anything sirk produced. It’s a landmark for gay cinema and though you can see the structure of the fable laid out a million miles away it doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking—in fact it might make it even more devastating. Anyways it’s not in the TSPDT top 1000 and should be. I’d have it somewhere from 600-1000.

 most overrated:  Jeanne Dielman is at #98 on the TSPDT list and I can’t get behind it after one viewing. I think it borders on the experimental line of where I divide what I like and study and what is in the Stan Brakhage/ maya deren space. I can appreciate slow cinema (I love tarkovsky and bela tarr amongst others) and glacial formal rigor is up my alley as well but this is hours of a woman cleaning a house and I couldn’t pick up on the stylistic, cinematographically or visual rhythms and interesting shots/editing. I’ll watch again but for now I can’t get behind it.

gem I want to spotlight: three days of the condor is a taut thriller with great performances by dunaway, redford and a few key scenes with max von sydow. Sydney Pollock was a great filmmaker.  It’s a great genre film and again I’m spotlighting something here I’d like to put in my top 10 but just can’t find room. The ending is so fitting of the era—pure disillusionment.

trends and notables:  1975 is led by Altman’s summit but beyond that it’s sort of a hodge-podge year with top 10 efforts out of nowhere from John Huston (the man who would be king), Woody’s best pure comedic effort (love and death) and two rare-bird sightings here with both a tarkovsky film and a Kubrick film in a single year (last one from Kubrick was 1971 which at the time is a long time off between films). Jaws clearly has a big impact on the box office and is a great artistic and stylistic achievement in its own right. 1975 gave us the first archiveable film from David Cronenberg (shivers) and Peter Weir (picnic at hanging rock). He doesn’t get a mention below but Gene Hackman leads two really good films (night moves and the French connection II), Nicholson and beatty give us two as well (cuckoo’s nest for Nicholson and shampoo for beatty and they both star together in the fortune). Connery is right there too (man who would be king and the wind and the lion)

best performance male: There are two excellent options here in 1975, both are in masterpieces, and both are on one of the best runs an actor or actress has ever been on at this point in the 70’s. If forced to choose, I’m going with Al Pacino in dog day afternoon as the best performance of the year with Nicholson backing him up for his grand achievement in one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Both are raw energy incarnate and arguably the best work of the career for both. For years I thought the Ryan O’Neil performance in barry lyndon was to the films detriment but I’s grown on me over the years and now I’ve had it somewhere up here among the best and my last slot here goes to the work of Robert Shaw in jaws. I actually think the first half of the film is stronger than the second but the first half is all Spielberg showing off (and I’m not complaining)—the second half is almost all shaw and the capper is the USS Indianapolis monologue.

best performance female:  I’m going to agree with the academy here and go with Louise Fletcher in one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Her adversary in the film, Nicholson, is all color and animation—but Fletcher’s more thankless role is poised and iron clad and fletcher is brilliant at it. She’s the establishment. It’s a triumph.  Behind her the talented Lily Tomlin gives the best single performance in Nashville (an ensemble so deep it’s really hard to pick from for these categories). Rounding out the top 4 (in this year’s case) we have Isabelle Adjani in truffaut’s the story of adele h and faye dunaway’s work in three days of the condor.

top 10

  1. Nashville
  2. Barry Lyndon
  3. Jaws
  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  5. Dog Day Afternoon
  6. The Mirror
  7. The Man Who Would be King
  8. Love and Death
  9. The Passenger
  10. Fox and His Friends

 

Archives, Directors, and Grades

Barry Lyndon- Kubrick MP
Cousin Cousine R
Daisy Miller- Bogdanovich R
Deep Red- Argento R
Dog Day Afternoon- Lumet MP
Fox and His Friends- Fassbinder HR
French Connection II- Frankenheimer R
Hard Times R
Jaws- Spielberg MP
Love and Death- Allen MS
Nashville- Altman MP
Night Moves- A. Penn R
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest- Forman MP
The Passenger- Antonioni
Picnic at Hanging Rock- Weir
Salo- Pasolini HR
Shampoo-Ashby HR
Shivers – Cronenberg R
Smile- B. Dern, Griffith R
The Day of the Locust- Schlesinger R
The Fortune- Nichols
The Man in the Glass Booth R
The Man Who Would Be King- J. Huston MS
The Mirror- Tarkovsky MS
The Mystery of Kasper Hauser- Herzog
The Story of Adele H.- Truffaut HR
The Sunshine Boys- Ross R
The Wind and the Lion R
Three Days of the Condor- Pollock HR
Traveling Players- Angelopoulos

 

 

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives