Oscar Vault Monday – The Towering Inferno, 1974 (dir. John Guillermin)
Believe it or not, the Irwin Allen produced The Towering Inferno was not only nominated for eight Academy Awards, it won three of them. This star-studded ensemble disaster flick was not the first of its kind, but it is definitely one of the best. I remember when I first watched it, I was dubious of its merit and wondered about its Oscar pedigree, but in the end, I was sucked in by it and entertained from start to finish. If you look at a lot of the other Oscar nominated films from 1974 – and the 70s in general – The Towering Inferno is like a breath of fresh air made of pure entertainment. I hate the notion that Oscar nominated films need to be serious or arty or what have you. This is cinema in all its glory. The Towering Inferno’s Oscar nominations were as follows: Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (won), Best Film Editing (won), Best Original Song (won), Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Supporting Actor Fred Astaire and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny and winner The Godfather Part II.
Oscar Vault Monday – Top Hat, 1935 (dir. Martin Sandrich)
Featuring one of Hollywood’s most famous screen pairings – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – Top Hat was the duo’s most financially successful film; it was the second highest grossing film of 1935. At once a musical, a dance film and a screwball comedy, the film is non-stop fun from start to finish. Top Hat was nominated for four Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Song – “Cheek To Cheek”, Best Art Direction, Best Dance Direction (a category that only existed from 1935-1937) and Best Picture. The other films nominated that year were Alice Adams, Broadway Melody of 1936, Captain Blood, David Copperfield, The Informer (which, with four wins, won the most awards that year), Les Misérables, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Naughty Marietta, Ruggles of Red Gap and winner Mutiny on the Bounty (nominated for seven awards, it is the last film to only win Best Picture and nothing else).