There are a few names that come to light when thinking about the great films, performances, directorial achievements, and screenplays that did not win Oscars in the seventies, despite seminal work. The easy ones come to mind first, such as Robert Altman for any number of films including M*A*S*H (1970) or Nashville (1975), or Stanley Kubrick for A Clockwork Orange (1971).
But digging deeper one can find many great films and achievements that were overlooked during the seventies.
Consider the great character actor Bruce Dern who gave a number of brilliant performances through the seventies, best of all in Black Sunday (1977) as a terrorist hellbent on blowing up the Super Bowl. Dern, sadly was typecast as a crazy after being the cowboy who shoots John Wayne in The Cowboys (1972), but people forget his superb performance as Tom in The Great Gatsby (1974) by far the best acting job in the film. His Big Bob in Smile (1975) was an electrifying piece of acting that was under seen during the decade, and his brilliant performance in Coming Home (1978) anchors the film.
The great director Hal Ashby slowly evolved through the seventies, moving from quirky, kind of interesting filmmaker to first class director. By the decades end he had been Oscar nominated for coming Home (1978), helmed Shampoo (1975) and guided Peter Sellers to the best performance of his career in the astounding Being There (1979).
The lovely late Jill Clayburgh gave some strong performances in the seventies, from Starting Over (1979), through the controversial Luna (1979) to her best work in An Unmarried Woman (1979) and though nominated she died without an Oscar.
Certainly Robert Duvall was deserving of Best Supporting Actor for his astounding work in Apocalypse Now (1979) as the film, though a stunner, never quite recovers from his exit. He represents the true madness of Viet Nam and we never achieve his height again. And hey, this is a film that should have won Best Picture and Best Director, but also a film the Academy feared.
How did Al Pacino lose Best Actor for The Godfather Part II (1974)?
How did John Wayne get snubbed for a Best Actor nomination for
The Shootist (1976)?
Diane Keaton wins an Oscar for Annie Hall (1977) but deserved to also be nominated for Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and Manhattan (1979).
Why was Hair (1979) and Milos Forman snubbed for Film and Director in 1979?
One of John Huston's crowning achievements, The Man Who Would Be King (1975) was snubbed for Film and Director, and one could argue Best Actor, for both Sean Connery and Michael Caine.
Lauren Bacall is snubbed for Best Supporting Actress in The Shootist (1976).
Gene Hackman wins an Oscar for The French Connection (1971), surpasses that performance with The Conversation (1974) and French Connection II (1975) and is not even nominated???
Close Encounters of the Third Kind deserved to win Best Picture in 1977, but was not nominated.
Three songs from Phantom of the Paradise (1974) should have been nominated for Best Song...nope.
He directed Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Network (1976) but never won an Oscar for Best Director. Weep for Sidney Lumet.
Shed a tear also for Alan J. Pakula, deserving of Best Director for All the President's Men (1976).