Influential Filmmakers of the 1970s: Alan J. Pakula

Alan J. Pakula was a prolific film director in the 1970s known for his dark conspiracy thrillers, including his “paranoia trilogy.” In particular, Pakula was interested in exploring man’s psyches when faced with fear. He also had a reputation for being an actor’s director who directed Jane Fonda, Jason Robards and Meryl Streep in Oscar winning performances. He also directed Liza Minnelli, Jane Alexander, Richard Farnsworth, Jill Clayburgh and Candice Bergen in Oscar nominated roles.

Alan J. Pakula on set

Pakula began his career working as an assistant to the head of the cartoon department at Warner Brothers. He later became an assistant producer at MGM before moving to Paramount Pictures. By the 1960s, Alan J. Pakula was a well-established film producer who was nominated for an Oscar for producing Best Picture nominee To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

He made his directorial debut with The Sterile Cuckoo (1969), which was nominated for two Oscars for Best Actress (Liza Minnelli) and Best Original Song (Come Saturday Morning). Minnelli was also nominated for a Best Actress – Drama Golden Globe. The movie tells the story of a love affair between two inexperienced college freshmen, a neurotic young woman (Minnelli) and a reserved young man (Wendell Burton).

Paramount Pictures Promotional Poster

Pakula then directed the first of his three 1970s conspiracy thrillers Klute (1971). The movie was nominated for two Oscars with Jane Fonda winning her first Best Actress Oscar. The film was also nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. Fonda also won the Best Actress – Drama Golden Globe. In addition, the film was nominated for a Best Screenplay Golden Globe. Klute was also nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen. The film’s story focuses on a private detective (Donald Sutherland) who is investigating a missing person case and becomes involved with a high-priced prostitute (Fonda) being stalked by a killer.

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Pakula next directed a romantic dramady Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973). The movie follows the story of a young American (Timothy Bottoms) on a bicycle tour of Europe who meets and falls in love with an older English woman (Maggie Smith).

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He followed this movie with directing the second of his conspiracy thrillers The Parallax View (1974). The film was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium. The film is about a news reporter (Warren Beatty) who is investigating a conspiracy connected to the assassination of a senator and the shady dealings of a multinational corporation.

Paramount Pictures Promotional Poster

Pakula received his only Best Director Oscar nomination for his next project, which was the third of his 1970s conspiracy thrillers All the President’s Men (1976). He also received a Directors Guild of America and a Best Director Golden Globe nomination for the movie. The film was a commercial and critical success. It was nominated for a total of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Jane Alexander) and Film Editing. It won four Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Jason Robards), Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction and Sound. The movie also received a Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium. In addition, it received four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Robards) and Screenplay.  Based on a best-selling novel, the movie tells the true story of investigative journalists Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) as they uncover the illegal activities surrounding the Watergate scandal, ending the presidency of Richard Nixon.

Warner Brothers Promotional Poster

Pakula moved away from the thriller genre with his next film Comes a Horseman (1978). The movie is a western about a 1940’s struggling rancher woman (Jane Fonda) who refuses to sell her family’s land to a ruthless land owner (Jason Robards) buying up her neighbours’ properties in the quest for oil. The movie resulted in Richard Farnsworth receiving his first Oscar nomination (in this instance for Best Supporting Actor Oscar). Farnsworth was a former movie stunt man who transitioned in later life to a successful career as an acclaimed film actor.

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Pakula’s last movie in the 1970s was the romantic comedy Starting Over (1979). The film was nominated for two Oscars with Jill Clayburgh receiving her second Best Actress Oscar nomination and Candice Bergen received her first Best Supporting Actress nomination. The movie was also nominated for four Golden Globes, including Best Actor – Comedy (Burt Reynolds), Best Actress – Comedy (Clayburgh), Best Supporting Actress (Bergan) and Best Original Song (Better Than Ever). In addition, the movie received a Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium. The movie follows a newly separated man (Reynolds) as he tries to create a new life for himself while juggling relationships with an independent school teacher (Clayburgh) and his cheating songwriter wife (Bergan).

Paramount Pictures Promotional Poster

Pakula continued to direct motion pictures in the 1980s. His most notable achievement during this time period was Sophie’s Choice (1982), for which Pakula received his last Oscar nomination (in this instance for Best Adapted screenplay). The movie was nominated for a total of five Oscars with Meryl Streep receiving her first Best Actress Oscar for the movie.  

In the 1990s, Pakula directed a number of notable films. These movies included the thrillers Presumed Innocent (1990) with Harrison Ford and Raul Julia, and The Pelican Brief (1993) with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. Pakula’s last movie was The Devil’s Own (1997) with Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt.

In his personal life, Pakula was married twice. His first marriage was to actress Hope Lange who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Peyton Place (1958). She was best known for her two-time Emmy winning Best Actress in a Comedy role in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (1968-1970), which was highly popular in syndication.

Alan J. Pakula died on November 19, 1998 at age 70 following a freak motor vehicle accident. Another car struck a metal pipe on the roadway sending the pipe through Pakula’s windshield and hitting him in the head. He then smashed his car into a fence. Upon arrival at the hospital, Pakula was pronounced dead.

Pakula’s influence on the filmmaking continues to be recognized today with his films All the President’s Men and To Kill a Mockingbird both being selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

~Terry Gale

My 2012 Oscar Nomination Predictions

The Academy of Motion Picture Sciences will announce their nominations for the 2012 Academy Awards on Thursday, January 10, 2013.

Here are my 2012 Oscar nomination predictions (in order of probability) along with the actual nominations in blue:Argo

Best Picture

Predicted Nominations:

  • Argo
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Les Misérables

If Six Nominations:

  • Life of Pi

If Seven Nominations:

  • Django Unchained

If Eight Nominations:lincoln-movie-poster

  • Moonrise Kingdom

If Nine Nominations:

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild

If Ten Nominations:

  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Other Possible Contenders:

  • The Master
  • Amour
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Skyfall

Other Note-Worthy Films:

  • The SessionsSilverLiningsPlaybook
  • Flight
  • The Impossible
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Hitchcock
  • Promised Land
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • The Hunger Games

Best Director

Predicted Nominations:

  • Ben Affleck, Argo
  • Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
  • David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbookzero_dark_thirty_ver3_xlg
  • Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Other Possible Contenders:

  • Tom Hooper, Les Misérables
  • Michael Haneke, Amour
  • Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
  • Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom

Other Note-Worthy Directors:

  • Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Ben Lewin, The Sessions
  • Sam Mendes, Skyfall
  • Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises
  • Gus Vant Sant, Promised Land
  • Robert Zemeckis, Flight Les-Miserables-2012-Movie-Poster
  • Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • John Madden, The Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Lasse Hallström, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • Joe Wright, Anna Karenina
  • Juan Antonio Bavona, The Impossible
  • Sacha Gervasi, Hitchcock

Best Actor

Predicted Nominations:

  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
  • John Hawkes, The Sessions
  • Denzel Washington, Flight
  • Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook 
  • Hugh Jackman,  Les Misérables

Other Possible Contenders:life_of_pi_movie_poster_1

  • Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
  • Richard Gere, Arbitrage 
  • Denis Lavant, Holy Motors
  • Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock

Other Note-Worthy Performances:

  • Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour 
  • Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained
  • Ben Affleck, Argo
  • Daniel Craig, Skyfall
  • Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe
  • Suraj Sharma, Life of Pi
  • Matt Damon, Promised Land
  • Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson
  • Christian Bale, The Dark Knight Rises
  • Jack Black, Bernie
  • Ewan McGregor, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen & The Impossibledjango-unchained-poster
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, End of Watch

Best Actress

Predicted Nominations:

  • Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
  • Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
  • Naomi Watts, The Impossible
  • Helen Mirren, Hitchcock

Other Possible Contenders:

  • Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
  • Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea 
  • Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Other Note-Worthy Performances:moonrise_kingdom_ver2

  • Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
  • Laura Linney, Hyde Park on Hudson 
  • Deanie Yip, A Simple Life
  • Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Maggie Smith, Quartet 
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed 
  • Meryl Streep, Hope Springs 
  • Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • Emayatzy Corinealdi, Middle of Nowhere

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominations:

  • Alan Arkin, Argo
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
  • Tommy Lee Jones, Lincolnbeastssouthernwild
  • Javier Bardem, Skyfall
  • Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook

Other Possible Contenders:

  • Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
  • William H. Macy, The Sessions
  • Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike 

Other Note-Worthy Performances:

  • Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained 
  • Jason Clarke, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Ezra MillerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Eddie Redmayne, Les Misérables
  • John Goodman, Flight or ArgoBest Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Hal Holbrook, Promised Land
  • Russell Crowe, Les Misérables

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominations:

  • Sally Field, Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
  • Helen Hunt, The Sessions
  • Amy Adams, The Master
  • Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Other Possible Contenders:

  • Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
  • Ann Dowd, Compliance
  • Samantha Barks, Les Misérablesbatman-dark-knight-rises-fire-regular-reprint-movie-poster
  • Judi Dench, Skyfall 

Other Note-Worthy Performances:

  • Jennifer Ehle, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Pauline Collins, Quartet
  • Kelly Reilly, Flight
  • Kerry Washington, Django Unchained
  • Helena Bonham Carter, Les Misérables
  • Frances McDormand, Promised Land
  • Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominations:

  • Chris Terrio, Argo
  • Tony Kushner, Lincoln
  • David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbookamy-adams-new-the-master-poster
  • David Magee, Life of Pi
  • Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Other Possible Contenders:

  • Lucy Alibar & Ben Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Ben Lewin, The Sessions 
  • Ol Parker, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • William Nicholson, Les Miserables

Other Note-Worthy Adapted Screenplays:

  • Tom Stoppard, Anna Karenina
  • Jose Rivera, On The Road
  • Jacques Audiard & Thomas Bidegain, Rust and Bone
  • Christopher & Jonathan Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises 
  • Judd Apatow, This is 40
  • John Logan, Patrick Marber, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, Skyfall amour_2_movie_poster
  • John J. McLaughlin, Hitchcock
  • Simon Beaufoy, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • Ronald Harwood, Quartet

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominations:

  • Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
  • Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
  • Rian Johnson, Looper

Other Possible Contenders:

  • Michael Haneke, Amour
  • John Gatins, Flight 
  • Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano, The Intouchablesskyfall
  • Ava DuVernay, Middle of Nowhere
  • Reid Carolin, Magic Mike

Other Note-Worthy Original Screenplays:

  • Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths 
  • Matt Damon & John Krasinski, Promised Land 
  • Sergio G. Sanchez, The Impossible 
  • Dan Fogelman, The Guilt Trip
  • Sarah Polley, Take This Waltz 
  • Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard, The Cabin in the Woods

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominations:

  • Brave
  • Frankenweeniesessions_ver2
  • ParaNorman
  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Rise of the Guardians

Other Possible Contenders:

  • Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
  • The Painting (Le Tableau)
  • From Up on Poppy Hill
  • The Rabbi’s Cat
  • Hotel Transylvania
  • A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman 

Other Note-Worthy Animated Films:

  • Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  • Zarafaflight-movie-poster1
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift

Best Foreign Language Film

Predicted Nominations:

  • Amour
  • The Intouchables
  • A Royal Affair
  • Kon-Tiki
  • No

Other Possible Contenders:

  • War Witch
  • Sister
  • The Deep
  • Beyond the Hills110237_glg

Other Note-Worthy Foreign Films:

  • Rust and Bone
  • I Wish
  • The Kid with a Bike
  • Once Upon A Time in Anatolia
  • Holy Motors
  • Tabu
  • The Loneliest Planet
  • The Turin Horse
  • Oslo, August 31st 
  • Lore
  • Our Children
  • Barbara

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominations:the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower-poster

  • Searching for Sugar Man
  • The Gatekeepers
  • How to Survive a Plague
  • The Invisible War
  • This is Not a Film

Other Possible Contenders:

  • The Imposter
  • Detropia
  • The Waiting Room
  • Bully
  • Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
  • Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
  • The House I Live In
  • Chasing Ice
  • Ethelhitchcock-final-movie-poster
  • 5 Broken Cameras

Other Note-Worthy Documentaries:

  • The Queen of Versailles
  • The Central Park Five
  • Samsara
  • West of Memphis

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominations:

  • Skyfall, Skyfall
  • Suddenly,  Les Misérables
  • Learn Me Right, Brave
  • From Here to the Moon and Back, Joyful Noise
  • Abraham’s Daughter, The Hunger GamesPromised-Land-Movie-Poster-300x444

Other Possible Contenders:

  • Still Alive, Paul Williams Still Alive
  • For You, Act of Valor
  • Not Running Anymore, Stand Up Guys
  • Touch the Sky, Brave
  • Ancora Qui, Django Unchained

Other Note-Worthy Songs: 

  • Safe & Sound, The Hunger Games
  • Dull Tool, This is 40
  • Breath of Life, Snow White and the Huntman
  • Strange Love, Frankenweenie
  • When Can I See You Again, Wreck-It Ralph
  • Still Dream, Rise of the Guardians