Best Movies Of The 70s

Updated
Best Movies Of The 70s

Many directors have explored Best Movies Of The 70s. We assembled 25 of our favorites.

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 the saga of the powerful and influential Corleone crime family in New York City. The story follows the family’s aging patriarch Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), his sons Michael (Al Pacino), Sonny (James Caan), and Fredo (John Cazale), and his daughter Connie (Talia Shire). After an attempt is made on Vito’s life, Michael takes over the family business and builds an empire of power and respect. He makes alliances and deals with the other families, including the rival Tattaglias, and is forced to battle those who seek to undermine his success. Along the way, Michael falls in love with a woman from a rival family and must come to terms with the criminal nature of his family’s business.

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 epic directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy. It is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, presenting parallel dramas: one picks up the 1958 story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), the new Don of the Corleone crime family, while the other moves back to the years 1945–1955 and depicts the early life of his father Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro). The film chronicles the early life of Vito Corleone, his immigration to America, his rise to power as the Don of a New York crime family, and his eventual downfall. The Godfather Part II also delves into Michael’s own attempts to legitimize his family businesses and expand their reach, while also exploring his growing disillusionment with the Mafia lifestyle. The film also features flashbacks to Vito’s youth and his rise to power in Sicily, as well as flashbacks to Michael’s struggles to maintain power after Vito’s death. The Godfather Part II received critical acclaim, with praise for its performances, direction, writing, cinematography, and score, and won six Academy Awards

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 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, an antisocial criminal who feigns insanity to serve his sentence in a mental health facility rather than prison. He quickly clashes with the facility's oppressive head nurse, Nurse Ratched, and forms a bond with the other patients, inspiring them to rebel against the oppressive system. The film also stars Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, and Brad Dourif. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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 a 1977 space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, and David Prowse. The story follows Luke Skywalker, a young farmhand who discovers the lost plans for the Death Star, a powerful space station built by the evil Galactic Empire. He joins forces with a rag-tag group of rebels and in a daring mission to save Princess Leia, the rebel leader, from captivity on the planet Alderaan. Along the way, Luke discovers he has a special power, known as the Force, and he uses it to help the rebel forces defeat the empire. In the climactic battle, Luke destroys the Death Star, bringing an end to the empire's reign of terror and restoring freedom to the galaxy.

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 1979 American epic war film directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. It stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, and Dennis Hopper. The film follows U.S. Army Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) who is sent on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a renegade U.S. Army Special Forces officer accused of murder and insanity. Through Willard's journey into Cambodia, he discovers the horror and brutality of the Vietnam War, and investigates the mysterious Kurtz and his own dark nature. The film is loosely based on the 1899 novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

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" tells the story of Alex, a sadistic and violent teenage delinquent living in a near-future dystopian Britain. He and his gang of "droogs" commit acts of extreme violence, including rape, assault and theft. After being arrested and convicted of murder, Alex is chosen to be part of a radical social experiment to cure him of his violent and anti-social tendencies. He is subjected to a controversial form of aversion therapy, leaving him unable to perform acts of violence, but also a shell of his former self. The story follows him as he struggles to gain control of his life, torn between his violent past and his new, unemotional state.

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 an Oscar-winning caper film set in 1936 Chicago. It follows two con artists, Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) and Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), as they team up to take revenge on a crime boss named Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), who has left Johnny Hooker penniless. The two plan an elaborate scheme to swindle Doyle Lonnegan out of a large sum of money, with the help of a variety of colorful characters. As the plan comes to fruition, the two must stay one step ahead of the law, while also outsmarting their ruthless target. They eventually succeed in their con and take away a hefty sum of money.

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 classic crime drama set in the New York City of the 1970s. The movie follows Travis Bickle, a Vietnam War veteran, who is struggling to make sense of the world around him. After a series of rejections from women, Travis takes a job as a taxi driver to keep himself busy. He quickly gets involved in the city's criminal underworld, and his increasing isolation leads him to a plan of vengeance and violence. The movie explores Travis' descent into madness and his struggle to find redemption and a sense of purpose in a world that he can no longer understand.

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 neo-noir mystery film directed by Roman Polanski, and starring Jack Nicholson, and Faye Dunaway. Set in 1937 Los Angeles, the story follows private investigator J.J. "Jake" Gittes, who investigates a case of corruption and incest involving the wealthy Noah Cross and his daughter Evelyn Mulwray. As Gittes digs deeper into their lives, he uncovers a vast conspiracy involving the shaping of modern-day Los Angeles, and a struggle between the city's old-money elite, and the upstart nouveau riche. With its dark tone, intricate plot, and memorable characters, Chinatown is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made.

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 written by William Peter Blatty, based on the 1971 novel of the same name by Blatty. The film follows the demonic possession of Regan, the 12-year-old daughter of a movie actress, and her mother’s desperate attempts to win back her child through an exorcism performed by two priests. Aided by advanced makeup, special effects and cinematography, the film is widely considered one of the greatest horror films ever made and was selected in 2010 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

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 American thriller directed by Steven Spielberg. It follows the story of a great white shark terrorizing a small resort town of Amity Island. Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) is faced with the task of dealing with the shark and saving the townspeople. With the help of a local marine biologist, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and a grizzled shark hunter, Quint (Robert Shaw), Brody sets out to hunt the shark and keep the beachgoers safe. As the body count of beachgoers rises, the trio of hunters become more determined to take down the shark and restore peace to Amity Island.

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 war drama directed by Michael Cimino. It tells the story of three close friends—Michael, Steven, and Nick—and their service in the Vietnam War. The film follows their lives before, during, and after their tour of duty and examines their struggle to cope with the intensity of the war and its aftermath on their lives and relationships. It chronicles the effects of the war on the three men and their families, showing how they are changed forever. The Deer Hunter was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won five, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor. It has since become one of the most acclaimed war films of all time.

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 and starring Sylvester Stallone. The film tells the rags-to-riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated but kind-hearted working class Italian-American boxer working as a debt collector for a loan shark in the slums of Philadelphia. Rocky, a small-time club fighter, gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship when the current title holder refuses to face a leading contender. With the help of his trainer, Mickey Goldmill, and his former rival turned friend, Apollo Creed, Rocky strives to go the distance and to come out a winner. The film did well both critically and financially, winning three Oscars and spawning four sequels.

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 film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Ryan and Tatum O'Neal as a father and daughter con artists. The film is set in Depression-era Kansas and Missouri, and is based on the novel Addie Pray by Joe David Brown. The plot follows Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal), an opportunistic con man who meets a young girl claiming to be his daughter, Addie (Tatum O'Neal). Despite initial skepticism, Moses gradually warms to the girl and takes her under his wing. Together, they embark on a cross-country journey, hustling townsfolk out of their money with their con game. Along the way, Moses and Addie form a unique bond and learn about life, love, and family.

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 film follows the struggles of Mabel Longhetti, a housewife, and her husband, Nick Longhetti, a construction worker, as they cope with Mabel's deteriorating mental health. The film follows the couple through their attempts to maintain a semblance of a normal life while dealing with Mabel's increasingly erratic behavior, which eventually leads to her being institutionalized. Throughout the film, Nick struggles to find a balance between being supportive of Mabel while also trying to maintain some control of their lives. The film is an unflinching look at the mental health crisis and its effects on the family dynamic. It is considered one of the best films of the 1970s and continues to be praised for its strong performances and Cassavetes' sensitive direction.

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 drama film written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet. The film stars Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, and William Holden. The story follows news anchor Howard Beale, who is fired from his job and decides to commit suicide on the air. Instead, the network decides to use Beale's rantings as a ratings boost, resulting in a show that panders to the audience's sensationalism and builds upon the controversy of Beale's words. As the show becomes a massive hit, Beale's mental state deteriorates and the ratings-hungry executives continue to push him, not caring about the consequences. The film explores the corporate greed of the television industry, as well as Beale's own descent into madness.

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 is a 1975 period drama film by director Stanley Kubrick. It stars Ryan O'Neal as the titular character, an Irishman who experiences incredible success and failure during the turbulent times of the 18th century. The story begins in rural Ireland, where Lyndon works as a highway robber alongside his comrade Captain Potzdorf (Leon Vitali). After Potzdorf is killed in a duel, Lyndon is determined to rise above his class, and sets out to become a gentleman. He begins by joining the British Army, where he is able to secure a commission as a cornet. Despite his military successes, Lyndon is increasingly drawn to the decadent lifestyle of the upper classes and soon finds himself at the center of a bitter struggle for power and wealth. As his fortune rises and falls, he is forced to make a series of difficult decisions that will ultimately shape his destiny. The film is a fascinating exploration of one man's journey through the world of privilege and power.

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 film directed and co-written by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from the 1966 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. The film is set in a small town in Texas in 1951 and follows the coming of age of two high schoolers, Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges). The film follows Sonny and Duane as they navigate the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood, and explore the struggles of growing up in a small town. Through their experiences, the characters grapple with the issues of loneliness, disappointment, love, sexuality, and loss. The film is an intimate character study, exploring themes of alienation, regret, and the erosion of traditional values. The film features a star-studded cast, including Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, and Ellen Burstyn, and was a critical favorite, receiving eight Academy Award nominations. It is widely considered a classic of American cinema and one of the best films of the 1970s.

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 is a 1973 prison drama directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. The film tells the story of Henri Charrière (McQueen), nicknamed "Papillon," who is falsely convicted of murder in 1930s France and sent to the notorious penal colony on Devil's Island. After several escape attempts, Papillon eventually forms an unlikely alliance with a fellow prisoner, Louis Dega (Hoffman), and together they plan a daring escape. Along the way, they endure unbelievable hardships, both physical and psychological, in the pursuit of freedom. The film ultimately chronicles Papillon's determination to survive despite the oppressive circumstances, and his unflagging will to be free.

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 is a 1979 film directed by Hal Ashby. Based on the novel by Jerzy Kosinski, it stars Peter Sellers as Chance, a man of simple means who has spent his entire life as a gardener in the home of a wealthy industrialist. After the death of his employer, Chance finds himself alone in the world, and is taken in by an influential Washington D.C. family. Through a series of misunderstandings and chance encounters, Chance is mistaken for a sage political adviser, and his simplistic proverbs are taken as profound insights on modern life, leading him to become a trusted advisor to the president of the United States. As his influence grows, Chance's newfound fame and power threaten to expose the deception, and he must decide whether to continue his charade, or take a chance on a new life.

Annie Hall (1977)

Annie Hall
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Woody Allen, starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane
Rated PG

Annie Hall is an award-winning romantic comedy directed by Woody Allen. The film follows the story of neurotic comedian Alvy Singer, played by Woody Allen, and his eccentric, free-spirited love interest, Annie Hall, played by Diane Keaton. As their relationship progresses, Alvy and Annie must confront and overcome the obstacles of their differences in order to find love. Throughout their journey, the audience is taken on a roller coaster ride of comedy, heartache, and self discovery. The film is a critique of relationships in the modern world, and ultimately, a celebration of the beauty of love.

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 American war film about the career of General George S. Patton during World War II. The film stars George C. Scott as General Patton, Karl Malden as General Omar Bradley, Michael Bates as Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, and Karl Michael Vogler as General Erwin Rommel. The film focuses on Patton's successes in North Africa, Italy and France, and also features his famous speech to the Third Army before the invasion of Germany. His controversial and outspoken attitude and aggressive leadership earn him both praise and criticism. In the end, he is celebrated as a great military leader whose tactical genius and larger than life personality are both his greatest strengths and his ultimate downfall.

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, directed by Alan J. Pakula and released in 1976, tells the story of two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, as they uncover the Watergate scandal. With the help of their source, the mysterious “Deep Throat,” the two follow a trail of corruption and lies that leads all the way to the White House and the Nixon Administration. As they draw closer to the truth, they face increasing pressure from the government, the media, and their own newspaper to stop their investigation and keep the scandal under wraps. The film is based on the true story of Woodward and Bernstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation, and it is an evocative and gripping drama.

Harold and Maude (1971)

Harold and Maude
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Hal Ashby, starring Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles, Cyril Cusack
Rated PG

Harold and Maude is a 1971 American romantic dark comedy directed by Hal Ashby and starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort. The film follows the unlikely relationship between Harold, a depressed 19-year-old, and Maude, a 79-year-old free spirit. Throughout their relationship, they explore themes of life, death, love, and rebellion. Harold, who is obsessed with death, finds solace in Maude, who is fascinated by life. Together, they discover that life is worth living and that death is not the end. The film follows Harold as he discovers a newfound appreciation for life, and ultimately finds true love.

Manhattan (1979)

Manhattan
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Woody Allen, starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway, Michael Murphy
Rated R

Manhattan is a 1979 romantic comedy-drama film written, directed, and starring Woody Allen. The story follows Isaac Davis (Allen), a twice-divorced 42 year old comedy writer who is dating Tracy, a 17 year old high school student. Isaac's best friend Yale (Michael Murphy) is dating Mary, an intellectual lesbian who also happens to be Isaac's ex-wife. Throughout the film, Isaac struggles to balance his relationship with Tracy with his friendship with Yale and his complicated past with Mary. The film is most remembered for its lush black-and-white cinematography, featuring many of the landmarks of Manhattan, and its moving soundtrack by George Gershwin.

 



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