The Godfather (winner)
The Academy did a pretty solid job in the nominations for Best Picture 1972. Just on the surface here, I don’t have a lot of complaints, although there are a few that I think could sneak their way in. The Emigrants almost certainly took the “not in English” slot, but that means leaving out four truly great films from this year: Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Solaris, Cries and Whispers, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. If I’m honest, I think I’d prefer any of those four to the one we got. Super Fly is a film where the soundtrack made more money than the movie, and admittedly, it’s the soundtrack I love more than anything else. Silent Running, a slow-moving science fiction film, is clearly in the wrong genre for Oscar. Sleuth is twisty and devious, but is perhaps too small in scope with really only two actors in the whole thing. The last one I might want to consider is Fat City, a far better film than I expected it to be.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. Truthfully, I ended up liking The Emigrants pretty well, but as I said above, there are four non-English movies from this year that I think deserve to be here more. That’s not going to bode well for a film when it comes to putting them in an ordered list. It’s long and a bit rambling, although I think it’s one of those stories that is important for understanding at least a small part of the greater American experience. It’s a film I’m happy to have seen, but not one that I think I want to see again any time soon. That’s not because it’s a hard watch, but because it’s a really long one.
4. Sounder is one of those movies that was widely praised and with reason, but seems to be largely forgotten in general. It’s a good movie and oddly similar in some ways to The Emigrants in that it is very much an American story. I’m pretty satisfied with its inclusion as a nomination here, but I like the other three films better. That it looks like it wants to be The Yearling or Old Yeller and then really, really isn’t plays very much to its favor. It’s worth tracking down, but it’s not the best picture of its year.
3. Deliverance is a pretty shocking nomination. This veers pretty hard into the horror genre even as it stays entirely believable and realistic. There are moments in this movie that can’t be unseen after they’ve been seen once. Deliverance has entered the public consciousness in a way that few films have—anyone can make reference to it, even if they haven’t seen it. That’s unique, and again, I like the fact that this was nominated. I just don’t like it as much as I do the other two nominations.
2. No one was more surprised than I was at how much I liked Cabaret. And, really “liked” is probably the wrong word. There’s a lot here that is impressive, though. Liza Minnelli manages to be both terrible and completely sympathetic. Throw in the impressive work by Joel Grey and Michael York along with a few true show-stopping numbers, and we’ve got a movie that would win in a lot of other years. The only thing keeping Cabaret off the top of the list is the fact that it came out in 1972.
1. Could it be a film other than The Godfather? Truthfully, I don’t love this movie the way that virtually everyone I know does. I can’t dismiss it, though. It is one of the most important and influential films ever made, and when I look at it from all sides, I don’t see anywhere that it could be changed to make an improvement. The Godfather is one of those films that is going to be talked about for as long as there are people around to talk about movies. In a rare moment of clarity, the Academy gave the Oscar to the film that truly did exemplify the sort of power and eventual influence they hope to award.