RANKING THE DECADE’S BEST: FROM OSCAR MOVIES TO BLOCKBUSTERS
Walk down memory lane… And let the movie nerd debate begin.
TOP 10 Lists are always tons of fun. You can debate my choices, while getting a better idea of how I review newer movies. With looking back on years past, you can also stroll down memory lane. You never know, you may uncover a hidden gem or two.
Let’s REWIND all the way back to the 1970s…
…focusing on 1970 – 1974.
1970s: Part 2 finishes off the decade with another TOP 10.
These are personal TOP 10s that combine Oscar-nominated movies right alongside popcorn munching blockbusters, indie films, and cult classics.
The 70s had some supremely influential films. The decade is filled with memorable stories that perforated pop culture. Blockbusters were also born during the 70s, with quite a few disaster flicks. While the box office was normally dominated by Oscar nominated Best Pictures, there was a larger audience hungry for large scale adventures. The decade also gave birth to mainstream independent cinema and exploitation cult classics willing to break the rules and examine darker subject matter.
This REWIND & RANK edition takes a look at movies released during the first half of the decade, 1970 – 1974. The #1 film at the box office during this period was THE STING, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. This comedic caper made $156 million (not adjusted for inflation).
My TOP 10 is followed by HONORABLE MENTIONS.
Let’s dig in…
THE TOP 10
1970 – 1974
10. BLAZING SADDLES (1974)
This Mel Brooks mega-comedy spoofs Westerns. Gene Wilder stars in this incredibly high joke per minute ‘story’. It’s hard to compare this to Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Both are excellent comedies with memorable scenes and hilarious dialogue. This one has the edge for its social commentary… and campfire beans.
9. BADLANDS (1973)
THIN RED LINE and TREE OF LIFE director Terrence Mallick made his stunning cinematic debut with this Bonnie & Clyde vibing story. Martin Sheen (APOCALYPSE NOW) and Sissy Spacek (CARRIE) star in this crime drama. A beautifully shot character piece.
8. SERPICO (1973)
A grimy 70s crime thriller starring Al Pacino. This one is a character study in the crime genre focused on a tale of dirty cops. Intense thriller fueled by Pacino’s hard-boiled performance. One of the better Pacino movies.
7. ENTER THE DRAGON (1973)
Bruce Lee broke through into the mainstream with this pop culture phenomenon. Lee brought martial arts to North America. He brought his blinding quick speed and breathtaking fighting skills to the big screen, unlike any action the audience had seen before. One of the best martial arts movies ever made starring one of the best action heroes to ever grace the silver screen.
6. THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)
Gene Hackman stars in this edgy thriller. This hard-nosed crime flick is filled with compelling characters. The handheld action was revolutionary. The main highlight is a truly iconic car chase, filmed on the fly without permits on ‘live’ streets. The sequence is incredibly pulse-pounding, earning its elite status in cinematic history.
5. THE GODFATHER (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola’s cinematic sprawling epic tells the tale of immigrants rising to power chasing the American dream. This fascinating glimpse into the Italian mafia was entirely captivating. Brutal and unflinching, the dark recesses of humanity are explored. The dense narrative appreciates with second viewing. All around fantastic filmmaking, from the director to the impeccable cast.
4. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
One of the best horror movies ever made. This brutal tale focused on reality to terrify the audience. Filmed with a documentary approach, the insanity of a cannibalistic family in the middle of nowhere was more terrifying than any monster put on screen. The idea that this could happen made the story absolutely horrifying. While the MASSACRE has a perception of being extremely violent, on-screen bloodshed is actually kept to a minimum. Unfortunately (for the audience), the imagination is far more frightening than any blood and gore. A relentless and shocking experience.
3. CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
Stanley Kubrick beautifully stages ultra-violence with this tale of anarchy. British youths chase every delight and gleefully break every crime they can imagine. At times disgusting, there is rich social commentary to explore. Violence as entertainment is turned on its head. Disturbing and unsettling, yet artfully composed. A haunting dystopia.
2. CHINATOWN (1974)
Jack Nicholson stars in one of the best film noirs ever. A complicated thriller spools through several knots, leading the audience through an intricate maze. Cinematic and atmospheric, with a memorably haunting score, CHINATOWN is one of the best mysteries ever with astounding performances from the cast. Nicholson portrays an unlikely hero you can’t take your eyes off of. This film is hypnotizing.
1. THE GODFATHER: PART 2 (1974)
This is the rare sequel that is better than the original (which was already amazing on its own). The story here is a bit more engaging, with a compelling narrative. The sprawling tale continues with a focus on characters and history. One of the best acted and best photographed thrillers ever. Grandiose, but not overwhelming.
AMERICAN GRAFITTI / CLAUDINE / COFFY / DUEL / THE EXORCIST / THE HARDER THEY COME / LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT / THX 1138 / WOODSTOCK / YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
THE BEST OF ART VS POPCORN: 1970 – 1974
THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ / BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES / BENJI / BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS / THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE / BLACK CHRISTMAS / BOXCAR BERTHA / CAGED HEAT / CHARIOTS OF THE GODS / THE CONVERSATION / DEATH WISH / DELIVERANCE / DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER / DIRTY HARRY / EMMANUELLE / FOXY BROWN / FRITZ THE CAT / GAME OF DEATH / THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD / HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER / JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR / LADY SNOWBLOOD / LIVE & LET DIE / MEAN STREETS / PINK FLAMINGOS / SHAFT / SOLARIS/ THE STING / STRAW DOGS / SUPER FLY / SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAD ASS SONG / EL TOPO / VANISHING POINT / WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
5 Need-to-see Notable Films from each year
+ Helen Mirren in SAVAGE MESSIAH
What do you think?
Stay tuned for REWIND & RANK: 2001