70s SF Marathon Awards: The Damn Dirty Apes

Filmspotting finished up their 70s Sci-Fi Movie Marathon by handing out awards, titled The Damn Dirty Apes (in honor of Charlton Heston's contribution to the marathon). I followed along with their marathon, so I figured I might as well give out the awards as well...
  • Best Special Effects: I'm going to agree with Adam and Matty here and go with Silent Running. The film has many flaws, but special effects is not one of them. Director Douglas Trumbull worked on special effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain, and would go on to do effects for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Blade Runner. There are several sequences in this movie that must have influenced George Lucas when he made Star Wars. Most notably, the escape pod sequence from Star Wars seems lifted directly from Silent Running.
  • Best Actress: This is a really tough award because there weren't really that many great female roles in the movies (indeed, Silent Running didn't feature any female characters). Basically, it comes down to Jenny Agutter in Logan's Run or Candy Clark in The Man Who Fell to Earth. The Filmspotting guys went with Agutter (and she deserves some credit for bringing some humanity to an awful film), but I think I'm going to go with Candy Clark. I didn't like where here performance ultimately went, but I think that was more because of the character than the performance, and the opening scenes made a pretty good impression. I wish there were more choices here though, and sadly, it doesn't look like we're in good shape these days...
  • Best Actor: It was tempting to agree with Adam's pick of Charlton Heston's campy performance in The Omega Man (or even Soylent Green, which contains some great Heston outbursts, particularly the end of the film). And though I disagree with Matty's pick of Bruce Dern, I do think he makes a surprisingly effective argument, highlighting the "misplaced activism" of the character. Ultimately, however, I couldn't help but give it to David Bowie for his near catatonic (uh, in a good way) performance as the alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth. I'm not sure how much of this is just perfect casting, as Bowie's physical appearance is absolutely perfect for the role. His wiry, androgenous frame and gaunt face makes him look other-worldly, and his mannerisms and line delivery are pretty good as well.
  • Best Supporting Performance: Filmspotting rightly praises Edward G. Robinson's performance in Soylent Green, but I'm going to go with Kate Reid as the no-nonsense Dr. Ruth Leavitt in The Andromeda Strain. She gives a fantastic performance and also provides a refreshing contrast to the modern tendency to cast super-models as scientists (think Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in The World Is Not Enough). Unlike most of today's films, I actually believe she's a scientist (the same goes for most of the other no-name actors in the film - they're all pretty ordinary looking folks).
  • Best Moment/Scene: This is another tough one as there are a lot of scenes/moments in the films that would be worth picking. In the end, I'm going with Soylent Green for two scenes. First is the scene where Edward G. Robinson "goes home" by watching this nature montage of the way earth used to be. It's a moving scene, and one not ruined by Chuck Heston hysterics. Speaking of which, the other moment in the film I love is the ending, which does feature a wonderful Chuck Heston line reading. Another moment I considered was the opening scene from The Andromeda Strain in which two soldiers encounter the organism... but the scene is brilliant because it's told almost entirely through audio.
  • Dystopia You Would Most Like To Live In: Depending on how you define a Dystopia, only a few of the films feature one. I can say without a doubt that the one I'd least like to live in would be Soylent Green. The Omega Man has it's plusses, but there are too many disadvantages as well. If you consider Silent Running a dystopia, that would definitely be my choice. We don't actually see earth in the film, but from what is described, it doesn't sound too bad. The only thing that sucks is that there is apparently no vegetation or fresh food. Finally, Logan's Run would be ok, though as someone who is nearing their 30th birthday, I think their disadvantages hit a little closer to home than I'd like. Incidentally, we need more SF movies that don't feature dystopias. Someone get on that.
  • Best Picture: I agree with Adam that Soylent Green was the most surprising film in the series (I expected it to be much worse than it was), but I was really taken with The Andromeda Strain, and that's my pick. It's not a perfect film (the standard action movie climax featuring lasers is a bit of a stretch), but it's definitely my favorite of the series, and I think it's also the best made. It's certainly the most scientifically rigorous of the films (basically a science procedural), yet it doesn't sacrifice tension or pacing to achieve that feat. Director Robert Wise does an excellent job with the visuals, and I think the pacing is due to his work. Also worth noting is the exceptional set-design in the film. Despite the ending (which isn't bad so much as it doesn't really fit with the rest of the film), this is a great film and well worth a watch.
All in all, it was an interesting marathon. I think the biggest different between Filmspotting and me is that I loved The Andromeda Strain (which was strangely not even mentioned in their awards), while they really got into some of the movies I didn't care for.