Another great Oscar race was had in 1975. In both the "Of My Lifetime" and "Before" series I've done this might be the closest its ever gotten to having every nominee for Best Picture show up in my list.
Here's those crazy Best Pictures
WINNER - One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Dog Day Afternoon
And my crazy 6
While one of Stanley Kubrick's most decorated films, I honestly think its also his most underrated. The film took home many Academy Awards and was even nominated for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay as well. But, when it comes to the hit list or "You MUST See" essentials for Kubrick, this one never makes that list or is at the very bottom. If you're a Kubrick fan, it can be tough to place them in a certain order or hard to have certain ones at the bottom, but I really think Barry Lyndon deserves to be in the upper tier. Its an exceptional period piece that feels more genuine in its appearance and presentation than any that we even still see today. Its almost naturally lit, and doesn't go for any sort of gloss or polish. The story of the film is also quite groovy to watch the rise and fall of a cheat and scumbag. I'm sure this is one many have passed over when studying or watching Kubrick, but you really need to go back and check it out as its one of his best. Oh and Marisa Berenson is drop dead gorgeous in this movie! I hope Ryan O'Neal still does it for you ladies.
Dog Day Afternoon
An outstanding little movie from Sidney Lumet, featuring yet another outstanding 70s performance from Al Pacino. There's good stuff all around this depiction of a real life event. The film offers up drama, comedy, suspense and some action. Its a movie that just starts on up and you just go with it as it unfolds. A lot of people dogged the 90s comedy Airheads around the time of its release as some "dumb teen comedy", but I actually thought it was a little more clever than people gave it as it was complete reimagining of this film that I don't think its target teen audience really picked up on. Lumet's film, however, is probably one of those greatest films ever made type deals though when push comes to shove.
French Connection II
This one seems to never come up in the topic of good sequels discussion. Its not as good as the original, but its not really that far off either. The film continues the hunt we left off on in the first film, but is its own beast. The film features a dynamite performance from Hackman in a film that has its own feel and flavor but maintains the tone and thematics put in place by Friedkin's original film. Aaron Neuwirth and I have both been champions of this film and somewhere along the line it got some sort of bum rap or forgotten, but it shouldn't be at all. Its a pretty strong movie. A little fun fact, the Sylvester Stallone/Billy Dee Williams 1981 team up Nighthawks was apparently revamped from what was supposed to be French Connection III after Gene Hackman declined to return as Popeye.
The beginning of the blockbuster film. Jaws just delivers the goods and keeps on giving them years later. Roy Scheider didn't come back for French Connection II, but he was doing quite all right away from that film. Most everyone loves Jaws and its easy to see why. This movie not only did massive business, it was a complete phenomenon. People were literally afraid to go into the water because of this movie. Personally, I think the shark still looks good (assisted by the unintended minimalist approach), but for those younger people who might disagree, there's plenty more to this movie than just the shark attacking. Scheider, Dreyfuss and Shaw all share a great chemistry with one another and watching them sit and just chew on scenes together is an absolute delight. With this and Poltergeist, I really dig Spielberg's fun approach to parents and their dialogue. Yea, I know, no surprise that Jaws was going to be on this list.
Monty Python And The Holy Grail
My favorite comedy of all time. Its insanely quotable, insanely layered, insanely rewatchable, insanely silly. I love this movie and its a love that just kept growing year after year. I first saw the film in I believe 6th grade and obsessed over it all the way through high school and then some in college. Some of the lightest things, unnoticeable ones, or just plain not what you're looking for stuff gets more of the hardest laughs from me. Or when my mind tries to make sense of nonsensical things onscreen. Interestingly enough, this is a well researched film. If you ever study any in depth things about Arthurian legend or the time period, you'll find this film gets both smart and much funnier than before. I used the word insane a lot to start out, but if we really want to talk about insane...
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Jack Nicholson is one of my all time favorite actors, and this film is a joy to just sit around and watch him get to play around for its runtime. Like Cool Hand Luke, this movie is a lot of fun, whimsical and then kicks you right in the junk to finish off. Oddly, I didn't see this movie until college. I'd have this sort of thing where I'd go to the video store and I'd try to rent both a new release and something "classic" at the same time. This one sort of wound up being an "Okay, yea, sure" movie when I picked it up, but then became a film I really enjoyed quite a bit. This isn't my favorite Nicholson performance, but it is indeed one of his finest and deserving of one of his many Oscar trophies he's earned for his craft.