Best Films Of The 1970s

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Best Films Of The 1970s

Thinking about Best Films Of The 1970s, there is no limit to the creators reporting on this idea. Here are 25 of the best ones.

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather
★★★★
★★★★
3.7 out of 4 stars

From Francis Ford Coppola, starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton
Rated R

The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy. The story follows the aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty who transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son. The film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton. The story spans the years 1945 to 1955 and chronicles the Corleone family's criminal activities, while dramatically examining the dynamics of power, loyalty, respect, and family within the organization. The Godfather is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time and one of the most influential, particularly in the gangster genre. It was praised for its performances, screenplay, direction, cinematography, and music, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. It won 3 Academy Awards, and was nominated for 8 more.

The Godfather Part II (1974)

The Godfather Part II
★★★★
★★★★
3.6 out of 4 stars

From Francis Ford Coppola, starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton
Rated R

The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy. It is the second installment in The Godfather trilogy, following The Godfather (1972). The film stars Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, and Lee Strasberg, and follows Michael Corleone (Pacino) as he attempts to expand the family business into Las Vegas, Hollywood, and Cuba. At the same time, it is revealed that his father, Vito Corleone (De Niro), had a troubled past in Sicily and in New York. The film was critically acclaimed and won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was followed by The Godfather Part III in 1990.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From Milos Forman, starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco
Rated R

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 American drama film directed by Milos Forman and based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey. The film stars Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy, a criminal who is transferred from a prison to a mental institution, where he attempts to rally the other inmates against the oppressive Nurse Ratched. The film follows McMurphy's battle for control and his attempt to instill a sense of freedom and independence in his fellow patients. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress. The film has since become a classic in the canon of American cinema.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From George Lucas, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness
Rated PG

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope is the fourth installment in the Star Wars franchise, directed by George Lucas and released in 1977. The story follows a young farmhand named Luke Skywalker, as he embarks on an epic journey to save the galaxy from the evil Empire. The story begins on the remote desert planet of Tatooine, where Luke meets two droids - R2-D2 and C-3PO - who have escaped from the Empire. He soon discovers that the droids are carrying the plans for the Empire's newest and most devastating weapon, the Death Star. With the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a wise old Jedi Knight, Luke decides to join the Rebel Alliance in a daring mission to destroy the Death Star and restore freedom to the galaxy. Along the way, he meets a memorable cast of characters including Han Solo, Princess Leia, and the villainous Darth Vader. With the fate of the galaxy in their hands, Luke, Han, and Leia must use their wits and courage to overcome seemingly impossible odds and emerge victorious.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Francis Ford Coppola, starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest
Rated R

Apocalypse Now is a classic war film set during the Vietnam War and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The story follows Captain Willard, an Army officer tasked with the difficult mission of finding and terminating a mysterious and renegade Colonel Kurtz who has gone insane and embraced dark and brutal tactics. As Willard and his unit journey deeper into the jungle, they must confront the horrors of war, their own morality, and the darkness within themselves. The film is an adaptation of the classic novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and is an iconic masterpiece of contemporary cinema.

The Sting (1973)

The Sting
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From George Roy Hill, starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning
Rated PG

The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in 1936, directed by George Roy Hill and starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as a pair of grifters attempting to con a mob boss. The film's story centers around two con artists, Johnny Hooker (Redford) and Henry Gondorff (Newman), who seek revenge against a cruel mob boss, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), for the murder of their friend, Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones). In order to do so, they devise an elaborate plan to swindle Lonnegan out of a large sum of money with a false horse racing bet. The Sting features an intricate plot and a iconic score composed by Marvin Hamlisch, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The film also won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. The Sting was widely praised upon its release and has since become a classic of American cinema.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke
Rated R

A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The story is set in a dystopian near-future Britain and follows the exploits of a teenage gang leader named Alex DeLarge and his band of thugs, the “Droogs.” After a night of violence, Alex is eventually arrested and sent to prison. There, he is subjected to an experimental form of behavioral therapy that is meant to rid him of his violent tendencies. However, this therapy has unintended consequences, and Alex is left with an inability to choose right from wrong. In the end, Alex must decide what kind of person he wants to be: a violent criminal, or a moral and law-abiding citizen.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks
Rated R

Taxi Driver is a 1976 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. It stars Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, a lonely and alienated taxi driver in New York City who descends into insanity as he plots to assassinate both a presidential candidate and the pimp of an underage prostitute, played by Jodie Foster. The film is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time and a standout work in the career of Scorsese. Its exploration of alienation, existential angst, and urban violence are themes that continue to resonate in cinema today.

Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Roman Polanski, starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez
Rated R

Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir mystery film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The film, set in 1937 Los Angeles, centers around private investigator J.J. "Jake" Gittes, who is hired by Evelyn Mulwray to investigate the strange activities of her husband, Hollis Mulwray, the city's water commissioner. Gittes discovers a complex web of deception and corruption that involves the city's water supply, and ultimately leads him to uncover a twisted family drama and a shocking secret. In the end, Gittes must confront the powerful forces behind the corruption and find a way to bring them to justice.

Paper Moon (1973)

Paper Moon
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Peter Bogdanovich, starring Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal, Madeline Kahn, John Hillerman
Rated PG

Paper Moon is a 1973 American comedy-drama directed by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from the novel Addie Pray by Joe David Brown. Set in rural Kansas and Missouri during the Great Depression, the film stars Ryan and Tatum O'Neal as father and daughter con artists. After Addie (Tatum O'Neal) is orphaned, she meets Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal), a con artist claiming to be her father. Together, they form an unlikely team as they travel from town to town, conning people out of their money. Along the way, Moses and Addie learn to rely on each other and form an unexpected bond. Despite their differences and Addie's rebelliousness, the two develop a deep and loving relationship.

Rocky (1976)

Rocky
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From John G. Avildsen, starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers
Rated PG

Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen. The film stars Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, an uneducated but kind-hearted working class Italian-American boxer working in Philadelphia. Rocky, a small-time club fighter, gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship when the scheduled title-bout participant is injured. With the help of trainer Mickey Goldmill and Adrian, the brother’s shy girlfriend, Rocky takes on the challenge of fighting Apollo Creed in a 15-round match. Through sheer determination, Rocky fights his way to a win and newfound fame and fortune, ultimately proving that everyone has the potential to succeed.

Network (1976)

Network
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Sidney Lumet, starring Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall
Rated R

Network is a 1976 satirical drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, written by Paddy Chayefsky, and starring Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall. The film tells the story of a fictional television network, UBS, and its struggle with poor ratings. When the network's veteran news anchor, Howard Beale (Finch), begins to suffer from a mental breakdown on the air, the executives at UBS decide to exploit his breakdown for ratings. Beale's increasingly erratic behavior and his prophecies of a coming apocalypse attract a cult following, and the station's ratings skyrocket. The film deals with issues of power and control, media manipulation, and the changing face of television in the 1970s.

The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From William Friedkin, starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb
Rated R

The Exorcist is a 1973 horror film directed by William Friedkin and based on the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty. The film follows the story of a 12-year-old girl, Regan MacNeil, who becomes possessed by an evil spirit. The film follows the attempts of two priests, Father Damien Karras and Father Lankester Merrin, to try and exorcise the demon from Regan. The film earned international acclaim and is widely considered to be one of the most iconic horror films of all time. It won two Academy Awards and was nominated for several more. The film is noted for its intense and shocking use of horror imagery, and its strong religious overtones.

Jaws (1975)

Jaws
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary
Rated PG

Jaws is a classic 1975 horror film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film follows Police Chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Scheider, as he attempts to protect the small New England beach town of Amity Island from a large man-eating great white shark. After several people are killed by the shark, Brody teams up with a marine biologist, Matt Hooper, and an old seafarer, Quint, to hunt and kill the shark. Along the way, Brody and his team must overcome their fears and battle the elements of the sea, as well as their own personal demons. The film is notable for its iconic score by composer John Williams, its innovative use of a mechanical shark, and for becoming the highest grossing film of all time at the time of its release.

A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

A Woman Under the Influence
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From John Cassavetes, starring Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands
Rated R

A Woman Under the Influence is a 1974 drama film directed by John Cassavetes and starring Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk. The story follows Mabel Longhetti (Rowlands), a middle-aged housewife struggling with mental illness. Her husband, Nick (Falk), tries to cope with her illness but is overwhelmed. Ultimately, Mabel is sent to an institution for treatment, and Nick is forced to decide whether to keep his family together or seek a divorce. The film follows Mabel's journey as she struggles to come to terms with her illness and her husband's reaction to it. It's an intimate and powerful look at the devastating effects of mental illness and the complex dynamics of family life.

The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Deer Hunter
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Michael Cimino, starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage
Rated R

The Deer Hunter is a 1978 American epic drama film directed and co-written by Michael Cimino, starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep and John Savage. Set in Clairton, Pennsylvania, a small working class town on the Monongahela River, the film follows a group of steelworkers and their relationships with one another before, during, and after their time in the Vietnam War. The film is noted for its exploration of the effects of the war on its veterans and their families, and its story of friendship and camaraderie between the main characters. The title refers to the practice of ‘deer hunting’, which occurs in the Vietnam War scenes, which are portrayed in a highly stylized way. It received Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Cimino) and Best Supporting Actor (Walken).

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Krüger
Rated PG

Barry Lyndon (1975) follows the rise and fall of an Irishman, Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal), who attempts to rise through the social classes of 18th century Europe. After an unsuccessful duel to win the hand of his beloved, Barry sets out on a quest to win fortune and social status. He is taken in by an aristocratic family and begins a careful ascent in society by winning duels, cheating at cards, and manipulating influential people. Barry eventually wins the heart of a wealthy widow, Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), and takes on her title, becoming Sir Barry Lyndon. Although he is able to enjoy a life of luxury and privilege, his ambition and greed eventually lead to his downfall.

The Last Picture Show (1971)

The Last Picture Show
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Peter Bogdanovich, starring Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson
Rated R

The Last Picture Show is a 1971 American drama directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, and Cybill Shepherd. The film follows the story of two friends and high school seniors, Sonny (Bottoms) and Duane (Bridges), who are struggling to find meaning in their lives and a sense of purpose as they come of age in a small Texas town in the 1950s. With their relationships strained by broken promises and unrequited love, they seek solace in their friendship and in their longing to escape the monotony of their small town. The film also stars Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, and Ellen Burstyn, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. The Last Picture Show is renowned for its stunning black-and-white photography and its moving portrayal of a group of people searching for a place in the world – and for a life beyond the confines of their small-town existence.

Being There (1979)

Being There
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Hal Ashby, starring Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden
Rated PG

Being There stars Peter Sellers as Chance, a simple-minded gardener whose life changes drastically when his employer dies. After being evicted from his home, he finds himself in the middle of a Washington, D.C. power struggle. His naive and child-like responses to complex questions are misinterpreted as profound wisdom. Chance's newfound celebrity eventually leads him to the White House, where he becomes an adviser to the President. Through his wisdom and charm, Chance is able to find a place in society, despite his lack of knowledge about the modern world. Being There presents an ironic yet insightful look at the power of perception.

Sleuth (1972)

Sleuth
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Alec Cawthorne, John Matthews
Rated PG

Sleuth is a 1972 British-American mystery thriller film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. The story follows the intertwining lives of two men: Andrew Wyke (Olivier), a wealthy crime novelist; and Milo Tindle (Caine), a young hairdresser and thief. After Tindle learns that Wyke’s wife is having an affair with him, Wyke invites him to his country estate to discuss the matter. The two men begin a dangerous game of cat and mouse as they battle for supremacy, with both men's lives hanging in the balance. With stunning performances from its two leads, Sleuth is a thrilling exploration of power and morality, as well as a brilliant showcase for the masterful direction of Mankiewicz.

Papillon (1973)

Papillon
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Franklin J. Schaffner, starring Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory, Don Gordon
Rated R

Papillon (1973) tells the story of Henri “Papillon” Charrière (Steve McQueen), a French safecracker wrongly convicted of murder in the 1930s. After being sentenced to life in prison, he and his cellmate, Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman), attempt to escape the notorious penal colony of French Guiana. Along the way, Papillon survives multiple attempts on his life, makes powerful enemies, and befriends a host of colorful characters. Despite the harsh conditions, his indomitable spirit, and determination eventually lead him to freedom.

All the President's Men (1976)

All the President's Men
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Alan J. Pakula, starring Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam
Rated PG

All The President's Men is a 1976 political drama directed by Alan J. Pakula. The film is based on the book of the same name by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and recounts their investigation into the Watergate scandal. It stars Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook and Jason Robards. The story follows two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward (Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Hoffman), as they uncover the truth behind the break-in at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate Complex in June 1972. With the help of a mysterious source dubbed "Deep Throat" (Holbrook), the two uncover a web of political corruption and abuse of power at the highest levels of government. As the truth gradually comes to light, the duo face pushback from their superiors and the Nixon administration, determined to keep their secrets hidden. The film showcases the power of investigative journalism and the efforts of Woodward and Bernstein to uncover the truth and bring justice to those behind the Watergate scandal. Ultimately, their efforts help bring down the Nixon administration and reveal the corruption at the heart of the government.

Patton (1970)

Patton
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Franklin J. Schaffner, starring George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young, Michael Strong
Rated GP

Patton is a 1970 biographical war film about U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott as Patton, Karl Malden as General Omar Bradley, and Michael Bates as Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery. The film was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and written by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North. It follows the career of Patton from his successful campaigns in North Africa and Sicily to the Battle of the Bulge and the Relief of Bastogne, culminating with his appointment as commander of the U.S. Third Army. Along the way, the film examines Patton's own dynamic and controversial personality, as well as the situation of the Allied forces in Europe at the time. The film features a memorable soundtrack composed by Jerry Goldsmith, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Kramer vs. Kramer
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Robert Benton, starring Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander, Justin Henry
Rated PG

Kramer vs. Kramer is a 1979 American drama film directed by Robert Benton and starring Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep and Justin Henry. The film tells the story of the dissolution of a marriage and its impact on everyone involved, including the couple's young son. Ted Kramer (Hoffman) is a workaholic advertising executive who, when his wife Joanna (Streep) unexpectedly leaves him, is forced to take care of their son Billy (Henry) by himself. Initially, Ted and Billy struggle to adjust to the new lease on life, but eventually, Ted learns to bond with his son and manages to earn his affection. When Joanna returns and wants custody of Billy, Ted must fight to keep his son and prove to the court that he is the best parent for Billy. With its examination of the effect of divorce on the family and its focus on the importance of the father-son relationship, Kramer vs. Kramer has become a classic of modern cinema.

The Conversation (1974)

The Conversation
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Francis Ford Coppola, starring Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest
Rated PG

The Conversation is a 1974 psychological thriller directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who also wrote the screenplay. The film follows surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) who is hired to record a secret conversation between two people. After becoming increasingly suspicious of the motives behind the assignment, Caul becomes obsessed with the task, leading him to believe he is responsible for a potential tragedy. His paranoia leads him to extreme lengths, as he puts himself in danger in his attempt to discover the truth. The film is a psychological exploration of the effects of paranoia and surveillance on an individual, as well as a commentary on technology, morality, and privacy.

 



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