Thursday, August 27, 2015

Movies in the 1970's

In a recent posting on Facebook (never mind the context), my old friend Bill Tarrant made the comment that "the 1970's was a great decade for movies."

Hmmm.  I had never really thought about it, but decided to see whether or not I agreed with him on this point.  Being basically lazy, I didn't want to spend a LOT of time researching this hypothesis, so I decided that I would use a fairly small sample size that was, theoretically at least, on the high end of the quality scale, and that sample would be the fifty movies that were nominated for Best Picture of the Year throughout that decade, and I can tell you this, the Oscar winning movies in those years represent a damn good list of quality movies.  The Best Picture winners from 1970 through 1979 were as follows, in order:

Patton, The French Connection, The Godfather, The Sting, Godfather Part II, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer

Pretty good list, I'd say.  In fact, using the Bob Sproule standard of  "Is This A Movie That I Will Watch Time and Again As the Years, Go By?" at least five of these movies fall into that category, and I'll leave you to figure out which five from that list I would choose.  (If you know me fairly well, you can probably guess.)

Here are the others nominated for Best Picture from those years with appropriate commentary.  If there are no comments, it is most likely due to the fact that I didn't see it.


"Airport" - Yes, Tim Baker, this actually was nominated for Best Picture in 1970.  The Academy was obviously "goin' for broke".
"Five Easy Pieces" - I tried watching this a few years ago and couldn't get through it.  Only the "diner scene" was worth it.
"Love Story" - Seriously, Best Picture of the Year.  C'MON MAN!
"M*A*S*H" - Great movie.  Maybe it should have won instead of Patton.


"A Clockwork Orange"
"Fiddler on the Roof"
"Last Picture Show" - Watched this a few years ago and was amazed how well it has held up over the years.  Inspired a major crush for me on Cybil Shepard that exists to this day.
"Nicholas & Alexandra"


"The Emigrants"

In retrospect, NONE of these movies had a snowball's chance against "The Godfather"!


"American Graffiti" - Absolutely terrific movie.
"Cries and Whispers"
"The Exorcist" - Scared the hell out of you when you saw it.  So much so, that I don't believe that I have ever watched it a second time.  Good movie, though.
"A Touch of Class"


"Chinatown" - Good movie that would probably have won were it not for Godfather Part II.
"The Conversation"
"The Towering Inferno" - Second disaster movie in the decade nominated for Best Picture. Again, C'MON MAN!


"Barry Lyndon" - I seem to recall that this movie got panned when it came out, yet here it is.  I never saw it.  Has anyone?  It may have killed Ryan O'Neal's career.
"Dog Day Afternoon" - Terrific movie.
"Jaws" - Great movie that redefined how Hollywood does business, and a movie that STILL packs a whallop, no matter how many times you've seen it.  "Cuckoo's Nest" was good, but, really, don't you think that "Jaws" should have won that year?


"All the President's Men" - Should have won Best Picture over Rocky.  Great, great movie.
"Bound for Glory"
"Network" - Another really good movie that is amazingly relevant to this day.
"Taxi Driver" - Iconic Scorsese and DeNiro.  "You talkin' to me?"


"The Good-Bye Girl" -  Comedies almost never win Oscars (although "Annie Hall" was the winner this year), but Richard Dreyfuss was Best Actor for this one.  It's classic Neil Simon and how can you go wrong with that?
"Star Wars" - Okay, this was the first in the Canon, and the only one of these that I have seen. Not my cup of tea, but it inspired a legacy that is STILL running and shows no sign of stopping, but "Annie Hall" is still a better movie.  Bazinga!
"The Turning Point"


"Heaven Can Wait"
"Midnight Express"
"An Unmarried Woman"
"Coming Home" - Oscars for Voight and Fonda.  Personally, I thought this was better than the ultimate winner, "The Deer Hunter".


"All That Jazz"
"Apocalypse Now"
"Breaking Away"
"Norma Rae"

All in all, the 1979 movies don't do a lot for me.  I was obviously busy that year settling into a new job and following the Pirates to a World Series victory.

So there you are.  Some really good flicks among those fifty, and some head scratchers, too.  Obviously, there were no doubt many, many other movies from the Seventies that would have contributed to this being a "great decade for movies", and someday I may have the ambition to actually dig into it.  

Thank you, Bill Tarrant, for being the inspiration for this post.

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