Oscar Rewrite: 1971


Best Picture: The French Connection      A Clockwork Orange

Best Director: William Friedkin (The French Connection)  Robert Altman (McCabe & Mrs. Miller)

Best Actor: Gene Hackman (The French Connection)

Best Actress: Jane Fonda (Klute)      Ruth Gordon (Harold & Maude)

Best Supporting Actor: Ben Johnson (The Last Picture Show)  Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory)

Charlie Bucket may have been the main character, but Gene Wilder absolutely stole the show as the unforgettable Willy Wonka. Wedged between The Producers (1968) and Young Frankenstein (1974), Wonka was Wilder’s greatest role, offering an “everlasting gobstopper” of possibilities ranging from the dark to the hilarious, as Wonka takes great pleasure in messing with the spoiled brats and sending them off with the Oompa Loompas. Even Johnny Depp couldn’t match Wilder’s brilliance.

Best Supporting Actress: Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show)

Best Original Screenplay: The Hospital   Dirty Harry (Harry & Rita Fink, Dean Riesner)

The writing team of Harry & Rita Fink and Dean Riesner gave Clint Eastwood his most famous role as Detective Harry Callahan and the AFI’s No. 51 Movie Quote of All Time, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” The AFI’s No. 6 quote, “Go ahead, make my day,” didn’t arrive until the fourth installment.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The French Connection / Shaft (Ernest Tidyman)

The 1971 crime drama belonged to screenwriter Ernest Tidyman, who penned not one, but two hits. Not only did he win an Oscar for adapting Robin Moore’s novel The French Connection, he also adapted his own book Shaft; thus crafting two legendary cops: Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle and Richard Roundtree’s “black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks.” You damn right.