Best of the 1970s

Now that those list-making juices are flowing, why not move ahead (or rather: backward) and release my rankings for another movie decade. I guess we can describe this as a perverse form of procrastination, as the endless but somehow more manageable task of putting together Top 10 lists for earlier decades should ultimately serve as some kind of preparation for the inevitable ’00s list. Simultaneously, it’s an easy way out, as I labored over lists like these as part of a larger project I participated in at an online film forum I frequent.

While looking over this list for publication here, I started having second thoughts on my unconventional choice for number one, and was momentarily tempted to move the more widely established classic The Godfather Part II up to the top spot. But then I revisited the “logic scene” from Kaspar Hauser, and immediately concluded that director Werner Herzog’s genius in casting the extraordinary Bruno S. as the film’s lead and the heartbreaking tenderness with which his character is presented simply transcends the usual criteria for film criticism, and deserves all the recognition it can get.

1. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Werner Herzog, 1974)
2. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
3. Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)
4. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
5. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
6. The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)
7. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
8. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
9. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
10. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
11. Le Fantome de la Liberté (Luis Buñuel, 1974)
12. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)
13. The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973)
14. Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)
15. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
16. Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975)
17. Gimme Shelter (David Maysles, 1970)
18. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
19. All the President’s Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1976)
20. Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
21. The French Connection (William Friedkin, 1971)
22. Cet Obscur Objet du Désir (Luis Buñuel, 1977)
23. Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
24. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
26. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Russ Meyer, 1970)
27. Lenny (Bob Fosse, 1974)
28. The Day of the Locust (John Schlesinger, 1974)
29. The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974)
30. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
31. Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974)
32. The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)
33. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
34. The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
35. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
36. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)
37. Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
38. The Last Waltz (Martin Scorsese, 1978)
39. Images (Robert Altman, 1972)
40. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1979)
41. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
42. Stroszek (Werner Herzog, 1976)
43. Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)
44. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
45. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
46. Saturday Night Fever (John Badham, 1977)
47. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman, 1975)
48. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
49. The Tenant (Roman Polanski, 1976)
50. The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)

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