Mike’s Top Ten of 1970-1979

The 70s might be the single best decade for American film. I love the 30s and 40s, but the 70s is just so good. There’s not really much to say about this decade except, this is when the director was king. Directors got to make these offbeat, weird films that they thought would be good, stuff the studios would have never made ten years earlier, and while there were some failures, it led to so much more interesting filmmaking that has continued to endure.

Surprisingly, this wasn’t an overly difficult list. Four of them are in my top ten of all time, and one more is in the top twenty. So that’s half the list. The rest — you don’t need to go down very far on my list of favorite films to get to them. And you’d think the hardest part was narrowing the list down to 20. But no. That was easy too. I got a solid 20 and really only could have fit on one more. I think this one hit the sweet spot.

For methodology purposes, the way I compile these Top Tens of the Decade lists: I take my top ten for each year of the decade, throw them all together, and simply whittle it down until I find what I feel are my ten favorites from that decade. Not the best, my favorite. That’s really all it is. I feel like if I can figure out what my favorite films of all time are, then I can figure it out by specific decades.

Mike’s Top Ten of 1970-1979

All That Jazz (1979)

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Blazing Saddles (1974)

The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather Part II (1974)

Grease (1978)

Rocky (1976)

The Sting (1973)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

All That Jazz and Apocalypse Now are top tenners for me. Those were automatic. And so are The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. Branch out to top 15 or 20 and The Sting shows up. So half the list was done for me without any thought. Then — Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka, The Deer Hunter, Rocky. Easy as shit. I love all of those movies and have seen them all over a dozen times. And then, if we’re being honest — Grease had to be the last movie. It’s such a huge part of my life and I really love it. So there you have it. That’s my list. I know there are better movies out there, but we’re talking about my favorites. And these ten are my favorites.

The only years not represented on this list are 1970, 1975 and 1977. Don’t worry, those will show up soon enough. ’74, ’78 and ’79 are on twice, but otherwise we’re pretty well covered.

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  1. All the President’s Men (1976)
  2. Chinatown (1974)
  3. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  4. The French Connection (1971)
  5. Jaws (1975)
  6. Love Story (1970)
  7. Paper Moon (1973)
  8. Suspiria (1977)
  9. Taxi Driver (1976)
  10. Young Frankenstein (1974)

This is just a further extrapolation of my favorite films. All the President’s Men, Chinatown, French Connection — top 100 films for me. Jaws, Taxi Driver, Dog Day — they’re pretty obvious choices for me. I really love them. Young Frankenstein, great. Love Story — I really love it and still hold it dear. Paper Moon is incredible. And Suspiria I fucking love. So yeah, this required almost zero thought whatsoever. The only movie I could have put on here alongside these is Little Big Man. But I’m fine without it.

This also covers the missing years from the top ten. It gives us one film for each year of the 70s, with all years except 1972 having at least two films. 1974 ends up with four total films, 1976 gets three, and everything but 1972 has two. And come to think of it, I do really love 1776, so we almost had a situation where every year had two films on it. Going to show just how strong the decade is as a whole.

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