Best Cinematography 1977

1927/28 through 1997

Which of this year's films Oscar nominated for Best Cinemaytography was best?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Vilmos Zsigmond)
11
65%
Islands in the Stream (Fred J. Koenekamp)
1
6%
Julia (Douglas Slocombe)
2
12%
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (William A. Fraker)
2
12%
The Turning Point (Robert Surtees)
1
6%
 
Total votes: 17

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Re: Best Cinematography 1977

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:34 pm

It's getting a one-week run beginning September 1st. It's also being shown at the Venice Film Festival.

https://myspace.com/article/2017/7/25/c ... trailer-ew

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Re: Best Cinematography 1977

Postby dws1982 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:30 pm

For what it's worth, Close Encounters is supposed to get some kind of theatrical re-release the first weekend in September for its 40th Anniversary. Whether that's a week-long release, or a few of those two-day only showings (like the TCM presents series), I'm not sure.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1977

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:44 pm

The Original BJ wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:I've never seen (or had much desire to see) Islands in the Stream, and I haven't been able to track it down in time.


It's available to rent on iTunes. (Not that I want the blame if you decide to put yourself through it, but...it's there.)


iTunes I can do (that's how I finally saw The Bold and the Brave, thanks to your direction), so I will probably take the plunge. (Though it really seems like the sort of thing that should turn up on TCM.)

The Original BJ wrote:And I assume it was just a temporary lapse that caused you to omit mention of Looking for Mr. Goodbar's nomination, though I wouldn't blame you if it was sheer denial either.


Because I devoted a paragraph to the non-nominated Star Wars, it threw off my count, and I didn't realize Goodbar was missing.

I saw Looking for Mr. Goodbar on opening night at a late show in Times Square -- this in the days when Times Square was more Ratso Rizzo than Elmo. The film made me not want to go back on the street; everything about it screamed disgust and ugliness. It was obviously possible to express the sleaze of NY (well, various cities unconvincingly standing in for NY) back in the day and still display some visual panache: you only have to go so far as Taxi Driver for voluptuous images. But this film had no such texture; it was ugly-for-ugly's sake. (By the way, I watched most of this on TCM sometime in the past year, so it's not just a fading memory.) How did it get nominated? I think the answer is the cronyism of the cinematographers' branch: Fraker, by my recollection, got several nominations in this period for unremarkable work, none more "huh?"-evoking than this one.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1977

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:28 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I've never seen (or had much desire to see) Islands in the Stream, and I haven't been able to track it down in time.


It's available to rent on iTunes. (Not that I want the blame if you decide to put yourself through it, but...it's there.)

And I assume it was just a temporary lapse that caused you to omit mention of Looking for Mr. Goodbar's nomination, though I wouldn't blame you if it was sheer denial either.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1977

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:12 pm

I can't vote this year on account of integrity -- I've never seen (or had much desire to see) Islands in the Stream, and I haven't been able to track it down in time. I figure the title tells me why it was nominated.

Like BJ, I'd advocate for the beautiful-looking 3 Women. I'd also come out for New York, New York and Sorcerer -- the latter was clearly inferior to Wages of Fear (which I didn't see till many years later), but looked pretty terrific.

The Turning Point looked better than it sounded whenever anyone started talking, but choosing it here baffles me. Even among the squarer films, there's a better choice.

1) I was very surprised Star Wars wasn't nominated; 2) I was happy it wasn't, because it very likely would have won, whereas its absence opened the door to at least one win by the film I preferred; 3) I'm closer to Sabin than BJ on the matter of its (not) deserving citation. The film's sets did most of the work in creating a memorable environment; I didn't see anything special in the cinematography. (In fact, I recall many people citing the double-sunset shot as the only notable visual/lighting moment in the film.)

I thought Julia might win that night, and it's not like I'd have protested loudly. The film has a wide visual palette -- the sunlit flashbacks, the chilly evenings on the beach, the outright frost during Hellmann's dangerous mission. It's classical filmmaking, nothing as exciting as the other winners this part of the decade, but unimpeachable work.

But I was delighted to see Close Encounters win this -- not just because, warts and all, it was my favorite film of the year, but because of all sorts of memorable visual moments: the abduction of little Cary Guffey that BJ noted, the roadside chase after the zipping-by ETs, and of course that lengthy finale on Devil's Tower that offered such a crescendo of beauty it brought tears to my eyes. The only niggling matter here is that the prize went Zsigmond alone, when that final sequence was apparently the work of half the top-rank cinematographers of the era (including loser-this-year Slocombe). But, hey -- Zsigmond more than deserved an Oscar for his work prior and subsequent to this effort, so I'm happy to have him the champion at the Oscars and (last I looked) here. If I track down Islands in the Steam, I'll add to his win tally.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1977

Postby Sabin » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:10 pm

Big Magilla wrote
I do think Star Wars should have been nominated, and it should have won.

Star Wars should not have been nominated and it should not have. I'm rather surprised it wasn't nominated. That strikes me as very weird in this era and I'm sure compared to other films its cleanness is a blessing. I know it gets a lot of credit for drawing inspiration from the serial-style of adventure storytelling, but the images are largely static and not terribly compelling. Its iconic images are usually more a product of character design and music than anything that can be attributed to the lensing. The other two in the original series are better shot.

All that said, it is very surprising that it didn't pick up a nomination.
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Re: Best Cinematography 1977

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:21 am

I thought when we got to 1977 that I would have seen all the nominees in original release at the cinema but that is not the case. I have only ever seen Islands in the Stream on TV, a nice looking, agreeable and totally forgettable film.

My choice from the nominees is easily Julia. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Gordon Willis' great work on Annie Hall which really captures a time and place beautifully.

My choices for the year were:

1. That Obscure Object of Desire
2. 3 Women
3. Julia
4. Annie Hall
5. The Other Side of Midnight
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Re: Best Cinematography 1977

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:18 am

The Original BJ wrote:Magilla, I will have to disagree with you pretty excessively on this year's slate.


I'd say your disagreements were pretty extensive, but not excessive.

I do think Star Wars should have been nominated, and it should have won. 3 Women would have been a good nominee in place of Looking for Mr. Goodbar, but Islands in the Stream, Julia and The Turning Point were good nominees in a less than stellar year overall. Given the nominees, Julia would have been an acceptable winner, but the unfairly maligned The Turning Point would still be my preferred choice given the absence of Star Wars.

The kid and the aliens in Close Encounters were cute, but the rest of the movie was pretty dopey. Richard Dreyfuss and Melinda Dillon's characters were ridiculous, and what was Francois Truffaut doing wasting his time in it? Even Spielberg wasn't happy with it. When he released his revised version in 1980, dropping five scenes and adding six including the scene inside the ship, he called the original version, which had been rushed into theatres to capitalize on the success of Star Wars, a work in progress. As late as 2000 he was still tinkering with it.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1977

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:59 pm

Magilla, I will have to disagree with you pretty excessively on this year's slate.

3 Women would probably be my top alternate -- its dream-like images are perhaps the most intoxicating aspect of the movie.

But the most baffling exclusion is Star Wars. In an era in which so many big spectacles were nominated here despite looking atrocious, it's crazy that the biggest one of all, which otherwise cleaned up in the tech categories, would be denied a spot, particularly when it did feature plenty of eye-catching photography, from the gorgeous sunsets in the Tatooine desert, to the thrillingly captured climactic raid on the Death Star. (It's odd, too, that Gilbert Taylor could have shot so many notable movies -- Star Wars, The Omen, Frenzy, Repulsion, Cul-de-sac, A Hard Day's Night, Dr. Strangelove -- without receiving a single Oscar nomination.)

To the actual nominees: I'd veto The Turning Point without a second thought, because I see very little of merit in the cinematography there. (Is shooting a cat fight supposed to impress me?) For a movie about dance, it has alarmingly little in the way of cinematic energy, and I find all of the numbers (as well as basically everything else) to be shot in a totally perfunctory (though at least professionally-lit) manner.

Islands in the Stream is yet another example of the cinematography branch's annual desire to nominate as many boring-ass movies as possible. The film was shot on a pretty island, so...I guess that means it gets a cinematography nomination? There just doesn't seem to be much shaping of the images for any aesthetic purpose, beyond keeping the waves in frame. This award should be for more than simply the most beautiful setting.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a movie that imagines it's edgy, but is so often irritating in its strain for effect, that by the end of it, I found it almost impossible to take seriously. The film's cinematography is clearly trying to create a provocative mood -- I believe it was Eric who described the film as one where the big city acts as essentially a horror movie setting -- but all I see is a lot of effort, without the artistry (or restraint) to deliver the intended impact. In the end, some of it just borders on ugly.

Julia would be my runner-up, and thankfully, it's at least a worthy runner-up. Like the film as a whole, Julia's cinematography isn't breaking the mold, but it's classical photography of an admirable sort, and the movie is good-looking throughout. The flashbacks between Lillian and Julia have an ethereal glow to them that brings out the special quality to this relationship, and once Hellman's mission kicks in, the lighting and framing are effectively used to bring out the most suspenseful elements of the story. A respectable nominee.

But Close Encounters of the Third Kind is visual magic, and my easy choice for the win. The entire sequence where the boy is taken by the UFO is a visual marvel, from the various colors of light that intrude into the house, to the nimble camera moves which follow Melinda Dillon and her child from room to room. Throughout Dreyfuss's journey, countless scenes use striking light sources in gorgeous and suspenseful ways. And the entire film reaches its cinematic peak in the Devils Tower sequence, a phantasmagoria of visuals that's utterly transporting in the way it tells this portion of the story almost entirely through its images -- this is the kind of movie where you could turn the sound off, and be completely captivated by the cinematography alone. Another well-earned winner.

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Best Cinematography 1977

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:18 pm

1977 was a great year for actresses, a so-so one for actors and a rather ho-hum one for films in general.

Most conspicuous by its absence is a deserved nomination for Gilbert Taylor for Star Wars.

I've greatly enjoyed numerous films about friendly aliens from Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still through Steven Spielberg's E.T. to Jeff Nichols' Midnight Special and Denis Villeneuve's Arrival, but Spielberg's first attempt at the genre failed to impress me.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is to me, slow, dumb and annoying, on top of which the film in its original release was ugly to look at. It was as though the camera were covered in mud. It was color-corrected for its 1980 re-release, but I think Zsigmond's best work didn't come until the following year with The Deer Hunter.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar was one of my favorite films of the year, thanks mainly to Richard Brooks' strong direction and an outstanding cast, but having been priced out of the novel's New York locales, the film's unnamed city which was a bizarre combination of San Francisco and Los Angeles that never felt right. A cinematography nod for William Fraker for that was unwarranted. Fraker, by the way, also did second unit work on Close Encounters.

Islands in the Stream had the year's prettiest cinematography, a justifiable nomination for Fred Koenekamp in a year without much competition.

I was more impressed, however, by the work done on two competently filmed women's pictures, a genre pretty much in its last gasps.

Douglas Solocombe, who would be d.p. on Spielberg's Indiana Jones films, did a very effective job on Julia for which he won his second BAFTA on his ninth nomination. It was only his second Oscar nod.

Multi-awarded Robert Surtees (Ben-Hur, The Graduate, The Last Picture Show, The Sting) was nominated for the 15th out of 16 times for The Turning Point. He gets my vote for photographing, amongst other things, Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine in the best on-screen catfight since Marlene Dietrich and Una Merkel went at in Destry Rides Again 38 years earlier.


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