Ah, the 70s. The decade started with the collapse of the studio system and the rise of the so-called movie brats. For the first half of the decade, Hollywood was producing the type of challenging films on which they would never again be willing to take the risk. The 70s were indeed a second cinematic golden age, full of anti-heroes and dark endings. Then, in 1977, Star Wars changed all of that and ushered in the era of the blockbuster. The 1970s gave the world disco, The Godfather, and some of the best Oscar winners ever. It also gave us more than a few snubs.
1971: Dirty Harry Is Totally Ignored
Dirty Harry may be one of the most influential films ever made but the Academy totally snubbed it. My guess is that, with The French Connection coming out that same year, the Academy only had room for one morally amibiguous cop film in its heart. Still, Dirty Harry has certainly held up better than the nominated Nicholas and Alexandra. Both Clint Eastwood and Andrew Robinson gave performances that were award-worthy as well. Say what you will about Eastwood’s range, I defy anyone not to smile at the way Harry snarls when he discovers that the man he’s talking to teaches a constitutional law course at Berkley.
1971: Gimme Shelter Is Not Nominated For Best Documentary Feature
Considering that Woodstock won the Documentary Oscar the previous year, it only seems appropriate the Gimme Shelter should have won the following year. In the end, the Academy decided to celebrate the best of the 60s while snubbing the worst of it.
1972: Burt Reynolds Is Not Nominated For Deliverance
If you’ve ever seen Deliverance, you know how important a character Lewis Medlock (played by Burt Reynolds) was. Not only was he the one who persuaded everyone to spend the weekend risking their lives on a canoeing trip but he also set the standard for “manlinness” that the rest of his friends tried to live up to. When Lewis ends up getting a compound fracture and is forced to spend the rest of the film deliriously lying in a canoe, it’s a reminder that nature and fate don’t care how confident or outspoken you are. Reynolds was perfectly cast. 1972 was a strong year with a lot of worthwhile nominations and, to be honest, there’s really not a bad or an unworthy performance to be found among the acting nominees. Still, it’s hard not to feel that the Academy should have found some room for Burt Reynolds.
1974: John Huston Is Not Nominated For Chinatown
In the role of Chinatown‘s Noah Cross, John Huston gave one of the great villainous performances. Cross represented pure avarice and moral decay, a man who committed terrible crimes but who, the film suggested, was also responsible for creating not only modern Los Angeles but also providing a home for Hollywood. Admittedly, there were a lot of good performances to choose from and I certainly can’t complain that the Academy awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to Robert De Niro, who deserved it. Still, in retrospect, John Huston’s evil turn was at least as strong as Fred Astaire’s likable (and nominated) turn in The Towering Inferno.
1974 and 1975: John Cazale Is Not Nominated For Best Supporting Actor
John Cazale had a brief but legendary career. A noted stage actor, Cazale made his film debut in 1972 with The Godfather. He played Fredo, the Corleone son who couldn’t get any respect. He final film, released after his early death from cancer, was 1978’s The Deer Hunter. Cazale appeared in a total of five films, every one of which was nominated for Best Picture. That this talented actor was never nominated for an Oscar just doesn’t seem right. But for which film should he have been nominated?
Godfather Part II received three nominations for Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro, Lee Strasberg, and Michael V. Gazzo. Personally, I would probably replace Gazzo with Cazale. Cazale’s performance as Fredo was one of the strongest parts of Godfather Part II. Who can forget Fredo’s legendary meltdown about always being overlooked? I would also say that Cazale deserved a nomination for his performance in Dog Day Afternoon, in which he played Sal and provided the film with some of its saddest and funniest moments. Neither Fredo nor Sal survive their films and, in both cases, it’s impossible not to feel that they deserved better than the world gave them.
1975: Steven Spielberg Is Not Nominated For Jaws
Seriously, what the Heck? Jaws totally reinvented the movies. It received a deserved nomination for Best Picture but the true star of the film, Steven Spielberg, was somehow not nominated.
1976: Martin Scorsese is Not Nominates For Taxi Driver
Seriously, what the Heck? Taxi Driver totally reinvented the movies. It received a deserved nomination for Best Picture but the true star of the film, Martin Scorsese, was somehow not nominated.
1977: Harrison Ford Is Not Nominates For Star Wars
Harrison Ford, despite having had the type of career for which most actors would sacrifice their soul, has never had much success with the Oscars. He’s been nominated exactly once, for Witness. That he’s never won an Oscar just feels wrong. The fact that he wasn’t even nominated for playing either Han Solo or Indiana Jones feels even more wrong. In the role of Solo, Ford bring some much needed cynicism to Star Wars. His decision to return and help the Rebels destroy the Death Star is one of the best moments in the film.
1978: National Lampoon’s Animal House Is Totally Ignored
This film deserved a nomination just for the scene in which John Belushi destroyed that annoying folk singer’s guitar. Seriously, though, this is another film that, more or less, defined an era. I’m not saying it deserved to win but it at least deserved a few nominations.
1979: Dawn of the Dead Is Not Nominated For Best Picture
Considering the Academy’s general resistance to honoring horror, it’s not really a shock that Dawn of the Dead was not nominated for Best Picture but still, it would have been nice if it had happened.
Agree? Disagree? Do you have an Oscar snub that you think is even worse than the 10 listed here? Let us know in the comments!
Up next: The 80s arrive and the snubs continue!
“Seriously, what the heck?” might as well be the subtitle for The Oscars, in my opinion
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