the three demented stars of M*A*S*H: Elliot Gould, Tom Skerritt and Donald Sutherland

My Top 20:

  1. M*A*S*H
  2. Five Easy Pieces
  3. Patton
  4. Women in Love
  5. The Twelve Chairs
  6. Mississippi Mermaid
  7. Lovers and Other Strangers
  8. Floating Weeds
  9. The Passion of Anna
  10. The Milky Way
  11. The Human Condition Part III
  12. The Joke
  13. Big Dig
  14. The Aristocats
  15. The Ballad of Cable Hogue
  16. Catch-22
  17. Tristana
  18. My Night at Maud’s
  19. Au Hasard Balthazar
  20. The Wild Child

It is possibly the worst year for films.  Only the top three films earn **** and everything after #14 is only ***.  And how bad would it be if it were not for Foreign films reaching their eligibility?  Of the films from #5 to #13, only Lovers and Other Strangers is actually a 1970 film.  Of the top 20, only nine are actually from 1970, only nine are English language.

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Patton
  • Best Director:  Franklin J. Schaffner  (Patton)
  • Best Actor:  George C. Scott  (Patton)
  • Best Actress:  Glenda Jackson  (Women in Love)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  John Mills  (Ryan’s Daughter)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Helen Hayes  (Airport)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Patton
  • Best Foreign Film:  Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Director:  Franklin J. Schaffner  (Patton)
  • Best Actor:  George C. Scott  (Patton)
  • Best Actress:  Glenda Jackson  (Women in Love)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Chief Dan George  (Little Big Man)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Karen Black  (Five Easy Pieces)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Original Screenplay:  My Night at Maud’s

A strange film, but much beloved by critics: Au Hasard Balthazar

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. Au Hasard Balthazar -  #61
  2. My Night at Maud’s -  #278
  3. Five Easy Pieces -  #313
  4. Tristana -  #349
  5. Fellini Satyricon -  #371
  6. Kes -  #422
  7. The Wild Child -  #478
  8. M*A*S*H -  #576
  9. Husbands -  #684
  10. Gimme Shelter -  #769

Top 5 Films  (Consensus 1970 Best Picture Awards):

  1. M*A*S*H
  2. Patton
  3. Five Easy Pieces
  4. Love Story
  5. Airport

Top 10 Films  (1970 Awards Points):

  1. Patton -  1230 points
  2. M*A*S*H -  858 points
  3. Women in Love -  775 points
  4. Five Easy Pieces -  768 points
  5. Love Story -  726 points
  6. Ryan’s Daughter -  601 points
  7. Airport -  567 points
  8. Little Big Man -  264 points
  9. I Never Sang For My Father -  245 points
  10. My Night at Maud’s -  237 points

Top 5 Films  (Box Office Gross):

  1. Love Story -  $106.39 mil
  2. Airport -  $100.48 mil
  3. M*A*S*H -  $81.60 mil
  4. Patton -  $62.50 mil
  5. The Aristocats -  $55.67 mil

AFI Top 100 Films:

  • M*A*S*H -  #56  (1998)  /  #54  (2007)
  • Patton -  #89  (1998)

Ebert Great Films:

  • Floating Weeds
  • Patton
  • Five Easy Pieces
  • Au Hasard Balthazar
  • Woodstock

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Oliver Reed and Oscar and Nighthawk Award winner Glenda Jackson in Women in Love

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  Five Easy Pieces
  • Best Director:  Franklin J. Schaffner  (Patton)
  • Best Actor:  Jack Nicholson  (Five Easy Pieces)
  • Best Actress:  Glenda Jackson  (Women in Love)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Gene Hackman  (I Never Sang for My Father)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Bibi Andersson  (The Passion of Anna)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Women in Love
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Five Easy Pieces

Comedy  /  Musical:

  • Best Picture:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Director:  Robert Altman  (M*A*S*H)
  • Best Actor:  Alan Arkin  (Catch-22)
  • Best Actress:  Glenda Jackson  (The Music Lovers)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Robert Duvall  (M*A*S*H)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Sally Kellerman  (M*A*S*H)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Original Screenplay:  My Night at Maud’s

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Director:  Robert Altman  (M*A*S*H)
  • Best Actor:  Jack Nicholson  (Five Easy Pieces)
  • Best Actress:  Glenda Jackson  (Women in Love)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Gene Hackman  (I Never Sang for My Father)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Sally Kellerman  (M*A*S*H)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Five Easy Pieces
  • Best Editing:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Cinematography:  Ryan’s Daughter
  • Best Original Score:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Sound:  Patton
  • Best Art Direction:  Women in Love
  • Best Visual Effects:  Patton
  • Best Sound Editing:  Patton
  • Best Costume Design:  Women in Love
  • Best Makeup:  Little Big Man
  • Best Original Song:  “Suicide is Painless”  (M*A*S*H)
  • Best Animated Film:  The Aristocats
  • Best Foreign Film:  Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

the famous diner scene in Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Line:  “Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give a check for the chicken salad sandwich and you haven’t broken any rules.”  Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces
  • Best Opening:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Ending:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Scene:  the diner scene in Five Easy Pieces
  • Best Ensemble:  M*A*S*H
  • Best Use of a Song:  “Suicide is Painless” in M*A*S*H
  • Sexiest Performance:  Glenda Jackson in Women in Love
  • Coolest Performance:  Donald Sutherland in M*A*S*H
  • Funniest Performance:  Orson Welles in Catch-22
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  Fellini Satyricon
  • Worst Film:  Fellini Satryicon

Film History: The MPAA institutes the PG rating (a replacement for M) and raises the ages for R and X to 17.  Richard D. Zanuck is forced out at 20th Century-Fox while 30 year old Stanley Jaffe takes over at Paramount, the youngest studio head in Hollywood history.  Critic Roger Ebert becomes a screenwriter with Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.  CBS holds a demonstration of color video recordings.  MGM begins to sell off its back lot.  Akira Kurosawa release Dodes Ka-Den, his first film in five years and his first in color.  M*A*S*H wins the Grand Prix at Cannes.

Academy Awards: Patton becomes the first film in 10 years to win Picture, Director and Original Screenplay.  Ryan’s Daughter becomes the fourth consecutive David Lean film (and fifth overall) to win Best Cinematography.  Woodstock becomes the first film to earn nominations for Best Documentary and regular feature nominations (Editing and Sound) since 1952 (Navajo) and the first to win Best Documentary while earning feature film nominations.  The Academy changes the names of its music categories (Original Score, Original Song Score) and writing categories (Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Story and Screenplay – Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Produced or Published).  Though all of the songs from Let it Be are Oscar-eligible, only the Song Score gets nominated (and wins).  Patton is nominated for Best Visual Effects but loses; this makes it the only Best Picture winner (or nominee) to lose the award since its discontinuation as a regular category in 1945 without losing to a fellow Best Picture nominee (it loses to Tora! Tora! Tora!).

The Academy embarrasses itself across the board.  They nominate Love Story and Airport, two of the worst films ever nominated.  They compound that sin by nominating them both for their atrocious screenplays and nominate Love Story for Director, Actor and Actress.  They nominate Fellini for his worst film while failing to nominate Bob Rafelson for Five Easy Pieces.  They nominate the editing of the way way overlong Tora! Tora! Tora! but not Five Easy Pieces.  They manage to ignore Frank Langella’s brilliant performances in both The Twelve Chairs and Diary of a Mad Housewife.  They nominate the costumes from Airport but the ones from Women in Love.  The longlist for Best Song includes “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat”, “Let it Be” and “Suicide is Painless” but all three of them are left out of the eventual list of nominees.  What they do get right, though, is Best Foreign Film.  In fact, this is perhaps the best period for the Academy for Foreign Film – from 1967 to 1975, the Oscar went to one of my top three choices every year – and in 69, 70 and 74 I agree with the winner.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Visual Effects for Tora! Tora! Tora!
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Picture for Love Story
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Original Songs for “Suicide is Painless” from M*A*S*H
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Fellini Satyricon
  • Best Film with No Oscar Nominations:  The Twelve Chairs
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Costume Design
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Actor
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Actress, Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Foreign Film

Golden Globes: Love Story ties the record for most nominations (7), most wins (5 – which it still holds) and sets a record for most points (455 – which it still holds).  It becomes the second straight winner of Best Picture, Director and Screenplay to fail to repeat any of those wins at the Oscars (something that has never happened since).  Patton, on the other hand, with only 3 nominations, has the worst showing for an eventual Oscar Best Picture since 1956.  All five of the eventual Oscar nominees are nominated for Best Picture, with Women in Love replacing Airport in Best Director.

Awards: The New York Film Critics kicked off the awards with Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actress going to Five Easy Pieces.  Their choices for Best Actor and Actress (George C. Scott for Patton and Glenda Jackson for Women in Love) would win the same awards from the National Board of Review, National Society of Film Critics and the Oscars.  Both of the other groups would go domestic for Best Picture (Patton for NBR, M*A*S*H for NSFC) and foreign for director (Francois Truffaut for Wild Child for NBR, Ingmar Bergman for Passion of Anna for NSFC).  The National Society was going with both new choices (M*A*S*H was the first American film to win the award in its 5 year history) and old (the third time Bergman had won Best Director from the group).  Both groups also gave Best Supporting Actress to Five Easy Pieces, but while the NYFC and NBR gave the award to Karen Black, the NSFC gave it to Lois Smith.

Patton becomes the first film to win all four guild awards – Directors Guild, Writers Guild, American Cinema Editors and Sound Editors Guild.  It would not be until 1990, after the addition of the Producers Guild and American Society of Cinematographers that another film (Dances with Wolves) would finally win four guild awards.  M*A*S*H would finish behind Patton at the DGA and ACE, but would win Best Adapted Comedy from the WGA.  The other two WGA winners would be I Never Sang For My Father and The Out-of-Towners.  Also nominated at the DGA would be Arthur Hiller (Love Story), David Lean (Ryan’s Daughter) and Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces).  Rafelson would join Paul Newman as only the second director to be nominated by the Globes and the DGA and to win a critics awards but fail to earn an Oscar nomination (they would be joined in 1987 by James L. Brooks, in 1993 by Martin Scorsese and in 1995 by Ang Lee – all of them except Scorsese would end up with Best Picture nominations).

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would play in Britain in 1970 and would earn a place in the BAFTA records books, winning all nine of its nominations (no other film has ever won more than 7 BAFTA awards).  Its 600 points would stand until Schindler’s List in 1993.  It would take home Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Score and Sound.  Losing to Butch in six of those categories (Picture, Director, Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Sound) as well as losing Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Art Direction and Costume Design, Ryan’s Daughter would join Women in Love from the year before in going 0 for 10, a record for BAFTA futility that would stand until 2004.  Also losing in Picture and Director would be Kes (which would go 1 for 4, winning Supporting Actor) and M*A*S*H (going 0 for 5).

Mel Brooks' forgotten classic: The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Under-appreciated Film of 1970:

The Twelve Chairs (dir. Mel Brooks)

When I first began my directors project, some seven years ago now, Mel Brooks was on the list.  When I finally got around to watching the Brooks films in 2005, I was stunned to find, stuck between The Producers and Blazing Saddles, this film that I had never heard of.  A film that was based on a Russian novel and had actually won a critics award (Best Supporting Actor for Frank Langella from the National Board of Review for his performance here and in Diary of a Mad Housewife).  It wasn’t reviewed by Roger Ebert and has less than 2000 votes on the IMDb (as opposed to the other three early Brooks films, which average over 40,000 votes each).

Yet, this is really a wonderful film.  It is set in the early years after the Russian Revolution and is the story of a formerly rich man who has now become a minor bureaucrat in a town.  He finds out from his dying mother-in-law that she hid the family jewels in a chair to keep them from the Bolsheviks.  He goes in pursuit, but also in pursuit is the local priest, who had gotten the same information when he came to give last rites, as well as a con man, Ostap Bender.  The chase proceeds through the entire film, but the jewels are really a MacGuffin.  It is all about the journey.

The bureaucrat is played quite well by Ron Moody, all nerves and anxiety.  Dom DeLouise does his best job in any film as the utterly amoral priest who is desperate to find the jewels first.  But the film really belongs to Langella as Bender.  He perfectly embodies the role of con man (as my wife pointed out, it’s wonderful how he puts on a vest and essentially makes himself into a town clerk with one motion).

I won’t say too much more, except that you really should treat yourself to this.  It is one of the best films in a really weak year, is nothing that you would expect from Brooks (the original novel is also worth a read) and begins with a wonderful song that deserved an Oscar nomination much more than most of the nominees (even the title is perfect – “Hope for the Best (Expect the Worst)”).  And Langella’s performance is a perfect example of why he has for a long time been one of our most under-rated actors.

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