I knew that this was going to be a difficult task seeing how the 1970's was one of the best decades in movie history. So many great films nominated.
50. Heaven Can Wait (1978) - I'll admit, this one was easy. This is a remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan and not the original 1943 Heaven Can Wait. Confused? Think of it this way, it's like doing a remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark and calling it Apocalypse Now. Since Warren Beatty couldn't figure out the correct name, he didn't do much better with the movie.
49. An Unmarried Woman (1978) - Another weaker film from the decade. It does paint a somewhat accurate picture of New York City in the late 70's. But the story really doesn't go anywhere. This was a year they needed to find four other films to round out the nominations and it won the lottery.
48. The Turning Point (1977) - If you love ballet then you'll love this film. For the remaining 99.999998% of us it is more ballet than you'll need to see for the rest of your life. Useless conflict and unnecessary drama which somehow resolves itself at the very end.
47. All That Jazz (1979) - An attempt to bring musicals back to Hollywood but keep the gritty 1970's feel to it. Was very stylish and won a few technical awards for art and costumes, not much to watch or remember.
46. The Towering Inferno (1974) - Irwin Allen in all of his great disaster and destruction. Typical all star cast, good special effects, for the time, and cheesy dialogue. One of the better disaster films he made, but not that great of a movie over all.
45. Barry Lyndon (1975) - One of the few Stanley Kubrick films that you only need to see once. It is over three hours, and Ryan O'Neal is about entertaining as watching a tree grow. Great costumes, interesting story, but not that great of a film.
44. Coming Home (1978) - Vietnam War movie that is more of a protest film than a drama. Rather depressing, but good acting, especially Jon Voight. Time has forgot this movie and rightfully so.
43. A Touch of Class (1973) - How do you have a romantic comedy about people having an affair and make it a great film? Well this attempt failed. George Segal and Glenda Jackson are well matched in their roles, but the movie is rather tedious.
42. Bound for Glory (1976) - Biopic about Woody Guthrie and his travels during the 1930's. Music is great, really looks like the time period filmed, but drags at times. Also you really don't sympathize with Woody and his decisions, not a good angle to take in a biopic.
41. Love Story (1970) - Time has not been kind to this movie. And to be honest, it is sappy and the spoofs are better than the movie itself. If you can get past that, there is a powerful story, or the concept of a powerful story about love and losing your spouse to illness.
40. Airport (1970) - Another all star cast about the trials and tribulations at an airport on a blizzard day with a bomber trying to blow up a plane. Not as crazy as an Irwin Allen movie, but helped usher in the disaster genre for the decade.
39. The Goodbye Girl (1977) - This is a film that is a slice of time from when it was made. But since it is based on a Neil Simon play, it helps it from being ranked lower. Comedy drama that was standard for the time, doesn't hold up today though.
38. Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) - This is one of the last epic films to be nominated. While popular in the 50's and 60's, this one was made a few years too late. Rather long biopic that has an unhappy ending (spoiler alert). Still worthy of seeing, just to see the costume design and to remind yourself how communists were savages and had no respect for human life.
37. Star Wars (1977) - If I made up this list thirty five years ago, this film would be number one. As I have matured and watched other movies, I now understand why it didn't win best picture. Everyone knows about this movie, even those of you who live in a cave. Enjoyable but realistically not a great movie.
36. Jaws (1975) - The first major blockbuster and a great action film. Not the best picture of the year, but the best shark movie of the year. But since I am not ranking the Sharkies, it ends up ranked a lot lower. Still an enjoyable action film.
35. All the President's Men (1976) - Biopic about Bernstein and Woodward investigating the Watergate scandal. Well acted, especially Jason Robards who won Best Supporting Actor, and a strong cast. Not very well directed and drags at times. Still a good film and worthy of being nominated.
34. Nashville (1975) - Intense Robert Altman film about everything going on around the a political rally for a few days. Multiple characters and they weave in and out of each other story lines. One of his best films.
33. MASH (1970) - Another great Altman film, this one about doctors during the Korean War. The movie is much funnier and not political, as the television series turned out to be. If you've only watched the show, then you need to see this film. This is what the author wanted not what Alan Alda changed it to be.
32. Deliverance (1972) - Nothing like taking a canoe trip in the Appalachians. Great acting from a well known cast. Even the author has a cameo at the end as the Sheriff. One of the few films that mixes drama with action and does it well.
31. American Graffiti (1973) - The first real big film for George Lucas before he made some sci-fi film a few years later, can't remember it at the moment. Takes place during one evening, authentic clothing and automobiles and an all star cast of people who weren't all stars at the time. Just seeing how many people hit it big after this movie is worth watching again.
30. The Sting (1973) - An offbeat comedy-drama that won best picture in a year that didn't have a lot of strong competition. Not to say that it is a bad film, but there were so many other films that are classics compared to this one which why it finishes on the lower end of the pack.
29. The Emigrants (1972) - An impressive epic tale of Scandinavians who leave Sweden in the 1850's and their journey across the Atlantic and into the United States. Great acting from the well known stars of Swedish cinema Max von Sydow and Liv Ulmann and a cast of other impressive actors makes this a film worthy of watching, even though it is over three hours.
28. Fiddler on the Roof (1971) - This was another end of an era nomination being one of the last Broadway musicals to be made into a movie and get nominated. Enjoyable tale about the hard life of Russian Jews in the early twentieth century. Lots of memorable songs and quotes though.
27. Five Easy Pieces (1970) - Great drama about a character who is a skilled musician but floats through life. It is a period piece film, but one that shows the era and mindset of the time. Jack Nicholson is amazing, his first major breakout role. Karen Black is just as equally terrific. Still holds up today as a great film.
26. Norma Rae (1979) - Well known drama about an ordinary woman thrown into a union battle at her job. Sally Fields earned her first Oscar and made her a top notch actress. Otherwise the movie is a bit dated and a bit unrealistic after seeing what many unions have become.
25. The Exorcist (1973) - One of the scariest films ever made, not only gory but psychological as well. And one of the very few horror/thrillers to be nominated for best picture since this is a genre that is overlooked and usually for good reasons.
24. Sounder (1972) - A really good film that doesn't get the recognition it deserves. Tough gritty story about a family trying to survive during the 30's in the south. Great film if you can catch it, shame it isn't on more often.
23. A Clockwork Orange (1971) - One of Stanley Kubrick's finest movies. Part science fiction, part social commentary, part black comedy, this movie has a feel and style that was common for the time of underground movies. And if you don't love Beethoven's 9th Symphony, you will by the end of the movie.
22. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) - A strong movie for its time but a bit dated today. Possibly shouldn't have won best picture, Apocalypse Now was much better. But this film is a great time capsule of the late 1970's and did tackle the social issue of should the mother automatically get the child in a divorce.
21. Cries and Whispers (1973) - Ingmar Bergman film about a woman dying of cancer in the late 19th century in Sweden. But don't worry, it isn't all happy and cheerful as that. Flashbacks show how great the family is and how they are dealing with her death. Incredibly stylish and a great Bergman film, just don't watch it depressed.
20. Rocky (1976) - Another film that won Best Picture when it shouldn't have. Still a sports classic and popular to this day. Proof that the social climate of the country does play into how the academy votes, remember this was during the Vietnam, Watergate and Bicentennial area, so a movie like Rocky was a sure bet for best picture.
19. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) - The crazy true story about a bank robbery that went wrong. Well acted, great drama, just a really good film. One of the five films John Cazale agreed to act in, well worth it to just see him.
18. Julia (1977) - A WWII drama with great acting roles that is worth watching. While this movie doesn't get shown often or mentioned much, Jason Robards is great and Jane Fonda too. Worth catching if you can, good luck finding it.
17. Patton (1970) - Possibly one of the greatest war movies of all time. George C. Scott's portrayal of the great general is so amazing, the war scenes, everything about this film is great. Even though it is a long movie, you just don't want it to end.
16. Lenny (1974) - Intense biopic about Lenny Bruce. Filmed in black and white which was rare for that time period. Dustin Hoffman really looks and acts like him. If you don't know much about the man, it is worth watching to see how he struggled and fought against the censorship of the time.
15. Cabaret (1972) - Not really a musical, or might be considered a 1970's musical. Good acting, great costumes, art direction, very stylish. And like films of the era, drama mixed in to give just enough grit to it.
14. The Last Picture Show (1971) - A film that was ahead of it's time. A true independent film before there was such a thing and long before it was popular. Proof that every now and then the academy gets it right and nominates a great film.
13. The Conversation (1974) - It should be noted that this was the second movie that Francis Ford Coppola had nominated for best picture that year. Gene Hackman is fantastic in all of his paranoid glory. And another of John Cazale's film appearance worth watching.
12. Midnight Express (1978) - All the joy of spending your time in a Turkish prison. Intense true story of an American caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and how he survived in prison. Great drama filled with action and enough to make you think twice about smuggling hashish.
11. Chinatown (1974) - Proof that even a savage of a human being can direct a classic movie. Well written, well acted, good twists and one of the few classic movies without a happy ending. Still a great movie today.
10. Breaking Away (1979) - Simply a perfect movie. A simple story that is told well and keeps you interested all through the movie. One of the best sports films of all times.
9. Apocalypse Now (1979) - One of the finest Vietnam War films ever made. Great acting in a great adaption of the Joseph Conrad novel. Should have won best picture but since The Deer Hunter won the year before I think kept it from winning. Still one of the ten best of the decade.
8. The French Connection (1971) - Clearly the best cops and robbers film ever made. Tough, gritty, a true example of the 1970's had to offer for cinema. So few films can combine drama with action. Even the classic car chase scene wouldn't be done today, every fifteen seconds someone would have to throw in a witty comment or have some stupid explosion. But this film is a classic.
7. Annie Hall (1977) - A great film from the mind of Woody Allen that finally got him an Oscar for best picture. Comedy doesn't always do well, but in the '70's a film like this could be recognized for how great it was. As a kid I couldn't understand why it beat Star Wars, but now as an adult I understand and glad it won.
6. Taxi Driver (1976) - One of the finest movies ever made, showing the downfall of a man who ends up becoming a hero. Tough, gritty, bloody and every second worth watching. Scorsese's second greatest film, right next to Raging Bull.
5. The Deer Hunter (1978) - On of the greatest films of the decade, which a friend of mine used to brag that it had the longest wedding scene in any movie. I would say this is the best Vietnam War film to win best picture, and I think it hurt Apocalypse Now the next year from winning. Nevertheless, a great film that is in the top five of best pictures for the decade.
4. Network (1976) - One of the biggest snubs in Oscar history. A film that is still relevant today. History has been kind and people now see that this should have won best picture.
3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) - One of only three films to sweep all the major awards at the Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay), and rightfully so. Still holds up today as an amazing film. In fact after seeing Birdman win at this year's Oscars, I immediately turned over to TCM and this was on. I felt like my pallet was cleansed and felt proud to know the difference between art and kitsch.
2. The Godfather Part II (1974) - Clearly the greatest sequel ever made and one of my personal favorite movies of all time. Great acting combined with a dual story line showing the history of Don Corleone is amazing. It is second only because there could only be one film even better.
1. The Godfather (1972) - One of the best films ever made, a perfect movie. The amazing classic is still enjoyable today, has become part of our society, our lexicon, our lives. If you haven't seen it stop reading right now and go and watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again. Go now!