1980 is the transition period from the filmmaker-driven period of the 70s to the studio-driven period of the 80s. You can definitely see that shift taking place. Plus, this year has the big end marker: the giant bomb that effectively ended directors having complete control of projects.
The 80s as a decade always felt a bit formless to me. It’s just a weird time. But when you take each year on its own, there’s some great stuff. Here, two of the all-time most iconic films ever made were released. And honestly, if you didn’t know they came out in 1980, you wouldn’t know when it was they came out.
I think the theme of this decade is going to be, “Strong at the top, weak down below, with some good gems sprinkled throughout.” And a lot of terrible fashion choices. Oh, but it looks good on you though.
Here’s 1980. (more…)
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. (more…)
If I had an affinity for 1978 because it has two of my all-time favorite films, double down on that for 1979. I’ve got two top ten favorite films this year. And there’s a bunch of stuff I love down below the line too.
There’s just so much great stuff here. And, in a way, this is really the last of the auteur years. People often point to the 70s as being the best decade in American film. Typically what they mean is 1967-1976. That’s the decade. But even so, that ’70s’ mentality hung around for the last couple years after Star Wars, before it started getting phased out. This is the last year where it had a noticeable presence. 1980 was the year where it officially ‘ended’, before being turned over to big corporations and mainstream filmmaking. This year still feels like it has some freedom for the cool auteur stuff to come out. Though you can definitely see things coming to an end based on what we had five years before this. (more…)
A lot to like about 1978. Two of my all-time favorite movies came out this year. So I’ll always think back fondly on it. Plus, there are a couple of really iconic films, aside from those two. The superhero movie started this year. The comedy genre changed forever this year. The horror genre definitely changed forever this year. There’s not really an overarching cinematic change here so much as the 70s continue to churn out great movies.
If there’s one thing I can say about this year, it’s just… Magic. Go see Magic. It’s awesome. (more…)
1977 changed moviemaking forever. This is when the blockbuster began. Technically Jaws is the grandfather, but this is the year the floodgates broke open, and the one that changed cinema forever. Ironically, this is the year that ended whatever future the auteur era of the 70s had. After this, the studios all got bought by conglomerates, and we moved toward where we are today, a cinema built on franchises and tentpoles. There are still some twists and turns along the way, but that’s what this year ultimately led to.
The big movies take a bit of the air out of the room this year, and you also start to see a bit of the changing of the guard anyway. The auteur works that defined 1971 to 1976 are all starting to look a little stale. They aren’t working as well as they used to, and you start to see a couple of big failures start to happen, which is what will ultimately (after 1980) push Hollywood away from that system and a more studio-driven format.
Still, there’s some cool stuff here. (more…)
1976 is a year that a lot of people gravitate to because it’s got some of the most memorable films of the 70s in it. The Best Picture list of this year includes All the President’s Men, Network, Rocky and Taxi Driver. That alone means it’s gonna have a lot of eyeballs on it. And then there’s some other really iconic films from this year too. You could pinpoint a lot of really pivotal moments for film that all happened in this year. John Wayne’s last film, the last great western before the genre died out, and, oh yeah… those four films previously mentioned.
The other great thing about this year, as is the case with most 70s years, is that there are so many great films below the top ten that are just great, most of which are true hidden gems that are largely forgotten nowadays.
Also take a look out for one of my absolute favorite comedies of all time. (more…)
If 1973 isn’t the strongest year of the decade, then 1975 for sure is. This top ten list, though. Holy shit. When the weakest one in the bunch is something that you disagree with because it’s not your cup of tea, that’s a strong year. You can’t argue with the cultural impact or strength of any of these films. Kubrick, Lumet, Spielberg, Gilliam, Altman, Forman, Pollack, Russell. That’s just 8 of the top 10. That’s nuts.
I will admit, it’s somewhat top heavy a year, as the lower films aren’t as strong as the ones in some other years. But still, when you have a top ten as strong as this one, you don’t need much else. (more…)