The Truth be told they should have expanded the category to seven nominee to permit The Godafather Part II (1974) to fully dominate the category. As it was the film placed three of its actors among the final film, three of its eleven leading nominations.
Ayoung Robert De Niro would win the Academy Award for his powerful portrayal of the young Vito Corleone, the same character portrayed by Marlon Brando two year earlier, also an Oscar winning performance. De Niro upon being cast, grabbed a copy of the film and headed to Sicily to immerse himself in the culture and language, and study Brando’s iconic performance.
The nominees that year included…
De Niro in The Godfather Part II as discussed.
Michael V. Gazzo in The Godfather Part II portraying Frankie Pentangeli, the hoarse voiced soldier in the Corleone empire who smells a rat before anyone else. The former playwright turned actor was exceptional in the film, but his movie career never really took off.
Lee Strasberg in The Godfather Part II was cast as Jewish gangster Hyman Roth, clearly modelled on Meyer Lansky. The head of the Actors Studio, who claimed to know so much about acting was superb, but a holy terror on set, actually offering advice to the other actors in front of Director Coppola. Once his scenes were completed he was, as he had been on sets with James Dean, banned from the set for undermining the director. Great performance though.
Jeff Bridges in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was a surprise nomination for the rising young star, for his performance as Clint Eastwood’s sidekick in the film.
Fred Astaire in The Towering Inferno was obviously a sentimental choice. The great hoofer had long since put away his dancing shoes and Hollywood wanted to honour him for his acting. An all star cast dominated these Disaster films, some lived, some did not. This was one of the better ones, a Best Picture nominee.
So in my opinion they should have expanded the category to seven because the nominee should have been.
Robert De Niro
Michael V. Gazzo
John Cazale all from The Godfather Part II
Bruce Dern in The Great Gatsby
John Huston in Chinatown
How were Cazale and Duvall ignored? Seems inconceivable. You can not deny the staggering power of Dern in The Great Gatsby, by far the best performance in the film. And the great director Huston is evil personified as Noah Cross, the wrinkled old demon in Chinatown.
The winner is still De Niro who gave a performance for the ages.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.