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Best Movies of the 1970s: Top 30 & Top 100 Films of the Disco Era

Best Movies of the 1970s: Top 30 & Top 100 Films of the Disco Era

Welcome to the Cinema of the 1970s

The 1970s may be a thing of the past, but thanks to an enthralling, good old invention called Film, it will never be really gone.

Whenever you feel like traveling back in time to relive the glamours of the decade, all you have to do, is watching one (or more) of its movies.

But which ones should you watch?
Well, if that’s the very question lurking in your mind right now, then you came to the right place. We’re just about to present 30 of the greatest cinematic gems of the 1970s.

However, if you’re not a first-timer, then there’s a fair chance you already saw most movies of this Top 30 List, and you may want to dive a little bit deeper. No worries!

In that case, you should go and check out the Top 100 List at the end of this article.

If this is your first ride on the time-travelling FrameTrek Wagon, here’s what this is all about:

We choose a topic, in this case: “Best Movies of the 1970s”, and we set sail for a journey, where the bricks of the trek are made of movie frames, and each stop represents a magnificent achievement in Film.

The Best Movies of the 1970s is an episode of FrameTrek’s Best Movies of All Time. A mega-journey dedicated to identify the greatest films of each decade, chronologically. It starts with the Silent Era and goes all the way to our ever moving present.


So what was Cinema like in the 1970s?

The 1970s is often called one of the greatest eras in movie history. However, the decade started out with a unique set of struggles. With a financial slump and a war, the film industry pivoted.

Filmmakers had to take greater risks, and thank God they did! The film industry blossomed, and the 1970s churned out loads of critically acclaimed and financially successful films.

Prior to the 1970s, films focused on the younger generation, but when a series of anti-war films flopped, the film industry switched its focus away from the light-hearted 1960s cinema to things that reflected people’s current struggles.

For example, with the draft in effect during the Vietnam war, movie-goers had an interest in the reality and hardships of combat. Films depicting World War II and the Korean war did pretty well in this decade.

Directors pushed the boundaries of appropriateness with a new wave of crime films featuring urban settings and streetwise characters. These films also featured gratuitous nudity and violence.

Horror movies improved drastically and they turned into a lucrative genre, carving out their own space at the box office and paving the way for future horrors.

The word “blockbuster” was used in the press since 1948, but the hallmark of a real blockbuster film is one that excites the viewers and keeps them interested beyond the theater.

In that sense, the first official blockbuster film was actually Jaws in 1975. So that was the movie that started the “blockbuster era”, although it was surpassed by Star Wars two years later.

The 1970s marks the launch of some the most iconic movie franchises of all time:

So yeah, there is plenty to talk about, when it comes to the Cinema of the 1970s, but this article concentrates on its Top 30 and Top 100 Films, so let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

After all, a cinematic era is as good as its greatest achievements. Thus, the finest way to explore a decade in film history, is through watching its finest films as a marathon.

Ready? Buckle up then, and let the best movies of the 1970s carry you to the Cinematic era they came from!

See FrameTrek's definition of 'Best' and the story behind this List (click to expand) ↴

How to define ‘Best’?

That’s a pretty good question, since ‘Best’ is relative. A movie can be considered being among the best for multiple reasons, such as: Critical Acclaim, Audience Feedback, Box Office Performance, Awards and Nominations, Iconic Status, Popularity, Watchability, and even Personal Preference, or for being part of a famous list such as the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die or Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies list – or because that particular movie defined its era.

So how did we pick the Top 30 and Top 100 movies of the 1970s

Well, it wasn’t simple, and it wasn’t easy! While composing the Best Films of the 1970s list, we tried to consider all of the factors mentioned in the ‘How to define Best’ paragraph, and then some.

We believe that the movies that made the cut should not compete with one another any further, so we will just present them in the order they were released in.

We picked 10 movies from each year of the 1970s, thus created a Top 100 List, which can be found at the end of this article. We also highlighted three movies from each year of the decade, so there’s a Top 30 List too. Let’s start with that!



Presenting the Top 30 Films of the 1970s

Chronologically
– 3 movies from each year –


Patton (1970)

Patton 1970, Best Movies of the 1970s
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American epic biographical war film starring George C. Scott.

Story: The World War II phase of the career of controversial American general George S. Patton. (IMDB)

George C. Scott’s sympathetic, unflinching portrayal of the titular general in this sprawling epic is as definitive as any performance in the history of American biopics.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Patton among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Winner of 7 Oscars, including the “Best Picture of the Year” Academy Award.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.


The AristoCats (1970)

The AristoCats 1970, Disney, Best Films of the 1970s
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Animated romantic adventure musical comedy film produced by Disney.

Story: With the help of a smooth talking tomcat, a family of Parisian felines set to inherit a fortune from their owner try to make it back home after a jealous butler kidnaps them and leaves them in the country. (IMDB)

Though The Aristocats is a mostly middling effort for Disney, it is redeemed by terrific work from its voice cast and some jazzy tunes.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The AristoCats among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ A critical and commercial success, with critics praising its humor, tunes and voice acting.
✓ One of the most popular animated films of the 1970s, and an all-time Disney classic.


MASH (1970)

MASH 1970, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Black comedy war film directed by Robert Altman and starring Donald Sutherland.

Story: The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and high jinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war. (IMDB)

Bold, timely, subversive, and above all funny, M*A*S*H remains a high point in Robert Altman’s distinguished filmography.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is MASH among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Winner of Palme d’Or, at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival.
✓ Received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and won for Best Adapted Screenplay.
✓ Deemed “culturally significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.


A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange 1971, Best Films of the 1970s
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Dystopian crime film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Malcolm McDowell.

Story: In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn’t go as planned. (IMDB)

Disturbing and thought-provoking, A Clockwork Orange is a cold, dystopian nightmare with a very dark sense of humor.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is A Clockwork Orange among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Rated as the #70 Greatest Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute.
✓ Rated #4 out of 10 by the American Film Institute’s “Sci-Fi” list.
✓ Rated by Premiere as one of “The 25 Most Dangerous Movies”.


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 1971, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Musical fantasy family film starring Gene Wilder.

Story: A poor but hopeful boy seeks one of the five coveted golden tickets that will send him on a tour of Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory. (IMDB)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is strange yet comforting, full of narrative detours that don’t always work but express the film’s uniqueness.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Voted number eight in channel 4’s (UK) “Greatest Family Films”.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.



Dirty Harry (1971)

Dirty Harry 1971, Clint Eastwood, Best Films of the 1970s
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Neo-noir action thriller film starring Clint Eastwood.

Story: When a madman calling himself “the Scorpio Killer” menaces the city, tough as nails San Francisco Police Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan is assigned to track down and ferret out the crazed psychopath. (IMDB)

As tough and taciturn as its no-nonsense hero, Dirty Harry delivers a deceptively layered message without sacrificing an ounce of its solid action impact.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Dirty Harry among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ It was a critical and commercial success and set the style for a whole genre of police films.
✓ Selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant”.


The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather 1972, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Best movies of the 1970s
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Crime drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino

Story: The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son. (IMDB)

One of Hollywood’s greatest critical and commercial successes, The Godfather gets everything right; not only did the movie transcend expectations, it established new benchmarks for American cinema.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Godfather among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ One of the highest grossing movies of the 1970s.
✓ Winner of 3 Oscars, including the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ Academy Award and Selected for the National Film Registry, Library of Congress.
✓ Voted the “Greatest Film of All Time” by Entertainment Weekly.


Deliverance (1972)

Deliverance 1972, Best Films of the 1970s
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Thriller film produced and directed by John Boorman, starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty.

Story: Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s dammed and turned into a lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a canoeing trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country. (IMDB)

Given primal verve by John Boorman’s unflinching direction and Burt Reynolds’ star-making performance, Deliverance is a terrifying adventure.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Deliverance among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and widely acclaimed as a landmark picture.
✓ Nominated for 3 Oscars, including the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ Academy Award, also nominated for five Golden Globe Awards.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”


Solaris (1972)

Solaris 1972, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Soviet science fiction art film co-written and directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.

Story: A psychologist is sent to a station orbiting a distant planet in order to discover what has caused the crew to go insane. (IMDB)

Solaris is a haunting, meditative film that uses sci-fi to raise complex questions about humanity and existence.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Solaris among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Won the ‘Grand Prix Spécial du Jury’ and the ‘FIPRESCI’ prize at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the ‘Palme d’Or’.
✓ Often cited as one of the greatest science fiction films in the history of cinema.


The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist 1973, Best Films of the 1970s
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Supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin.

Story: When a 12 year-old girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her. (IMDB)

The Exorcist rides its supernatural theme to magical effect, with remarkable special effects and an eerie atmosphere, resulting in one of the scariest films of all time.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Exorcist among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Winner of 2 Oscars, and nominee for another 8, including the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ Academy Award.
✓ The Library of Congress selected the film to be preserved as part of its National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.



The Sting (1973)

The Sting 1973, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Best Movies of the 1970s
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American caper film directed by George Roy Hill, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Story: Two grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con. (IMDB)

Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and director George Roy Hill prove that charm, humor, and a few slick twists can add up to a great film.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Sting among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Received universal acclaim and was hugely successful at the Academy Awards, being nominated for ten Oscars and winning seven, including Best Picture.
✓ Selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


Enter the Dragon (1973)

Enter the Dragon 1973, Bruce Lee, Best Films of the 1970s
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Martial arts film produced by and starring Bruce Lee.

Story: A martial artist agrees to spy on a reclusive crime lord using his invitation to a tournament there as cover. (IMDB)

Badass to the max, Enter the Dragon is the ultimate kung-fu movie and fitting (if untimely) Bruce Lee swan song.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Enter the Dragon among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant”.
✓ Considered to be one of the greatest martial arts films of all time.


Young Frankenstein (1974)

Young Frankenstein 1974, Gene Wilder, Best Movies of the 1970s
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American comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder.

Story: An American grandson of the infamous scientist, struggling to prove that his grandfather was not as insane as people believe, is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers the process that reanimates a dead body. (IMDB)

Made with obvious affection for the original, Young Frankenstein is a riotously silly spoof featuring a fantastic performance by Gene Wilder.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Young Frankenstein among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time”.
✓ Included among the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.


Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown 1974, Jack Nicholson, Best Films of the 1970s
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Neo-noir mystery film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson.

Story: A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder. (IMDB)

As bruised and cynical as the decade that produced it, this noir classic benefits from Robert Towne’s brilliant screenplay, director Roman Polanski’s steady hand, and wonderful performances from Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Chinatown among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Ranked #2 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Mystery”, and it is frequently listed as one of the greatest films of all time.
✓ Selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.


The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Slasher horror film directed by Tobe Hooper.

Story: Two siblings and three of their friends en route to visit their grandfather’s grave in Texas end up falling victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths and must survive the terrors of Leatherface and his family. (IMDB)

Thanks to a smart script and documentary-style camerawork, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre achieves start-to-finish suspense, making it a classic in low-budget exploitation cinema.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and it gained a reputation as one of the best and most influential horror films.
✓ Ranked #6 in Entertainment Weekly’s “Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time” and #2 on their list of the “Scariest Films Ever Made”.
✓ Credited with originating several elements of the slasher genre, including the use of power tools as murder weapons, the characterization of the killer as a large, hulking, faceless figure, and the killing of victims.



One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975, Jack Nicholson, Best Films of the 1970s
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Comedy drama film starring Jack Nicholson.

Story: A criminal pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients. (IMDB)

The onscreen battle between Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher serves as a personal microcosm of the culture wars of the 1970s – and testament to the director’s vision that the film retains its power indefinitely.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Winner of all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director and Screenplay).
✓ The American Film Institute ranked this as the #33 Greatest Movie of All Time.


Jaws (1975)

Jaws 1975, Steven Spielberg, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Adventure thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg.

Story: When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down. (IMDB)

Compelling, well-crafted storytelling and a judicious sense of terror ensure Steven Spielberg’s Jaws has remained a benchmark in the art of delivering modern blockbuster thrills.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Jaws among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Winner of 3 Oscars, and nominated for the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ Academy Award.
✓ It was pivotal in establishing the modern Hollywood business model, which pursues high box-office returns from action and adventure films with simple high-concept premises.


Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975, Best Films of the 1970s
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British comedy adventure film written and performed by the Monty Python comedy group.

Story: King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on a surreal, low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles. (IMDB)

A cult classic as gut-bustingly hilarious as it is blithely ridiculous, Monty Python and the Holy Grail has lost none of its exceedingly silly charm.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Monty Python and the Holy Grail among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time”.
✓ The film’s reputation grew over time, and now it is widely acclaimed by critics and audiences as an influential classic comedy.


Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver 1976, Robert De Niro, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Psychological drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, and starring Robert De Niro.

Story: A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action by attempting to liberate a presidential campaign worker and an underage prostitute. (IMDB)

A must-see film for movie lovers, this Martin Scorsese masterpiece is as hard-hitting as it is compelling, with Robert De Niro at his best.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Taxi Driver among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ A critical and commercial success upon release and winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.
✓ Considered “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant by the US Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.


Rocky (1976)

Rocky 1976, Sylvester Stallone, Best Films of the 1970s
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Sports drama film written by and starring Sylvester Stallone.

Story: A small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight a heavy-weight champion in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect. (IMDB)

This story of a down-on-his-luck boxer is thoroughly predictable, but Sylvester Stallone’s script and stunning performance in the title role brush aside complaints.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Rocky among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and considered to be one of the greatest sports films ever made.
✓ Winner of 3 Oscars, including the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ Academy Award.
✓ The film was critically acclaimed and solidified Stallone’s career as well as commenced his rise to prominence as a major movie star.



Carrie (1976)

Carrie 1976, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Supernatural horror film directed by Brian De Palma.

Story: Carrie White, a shy, friendless teenage girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom. (IMDB)

Carrie is a horrifying look at supernatural powers, high school cruelty, and teen angst – and it brings us one of the most memorable and disturbing prom scenes in history.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Carrie among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Entertainment Weekly ranked this as the 15th scariest movie of all time, and Empire ranked it #86 on its list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.
✓ Regarded as one of the greatest horror films of all time.


Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars A New Hope 1977, George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

Story: Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the mysterious Darth Vader. (IMDB)

A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Star Wars: A New Hope among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ The film opened to critical acclaim, most notably for its groundbreaking visual effects and it received ten Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), winning seven.
✓ Widely regarded as one of the most important films in the history of motion pictures.


Annie Hall (1977)

Annie Hall 1977, Woody Allen, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Romantic comedy film written, directed by and starring Woody Allen.

Story: Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditzy Annie Hall. (IMDB)

Filled with poignant performances and devastating humor, Annie Hall represents a quantum leap for Woody Allen and remains an American classic.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Annie Hall among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Winner of 4 Oscars, including the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ Academy Award.
✓ Ranked #2 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Romantic Comedy”.
✓ Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time” in 2006.


Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977, Steven Spielberg, Best Films of the 1970s
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Science fiction drama film written and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Story: Roy Neary, an electric lineman, watches how his quiet and ordinary daily life turns upside down after a close encounter with a UFO. (IMDB)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is deeply humane sci-fi exploring male obsession, cosmic mysticism, and music.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Close Encounters of the Third Kind among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ It was a critical and financial success, winning 2 Oscars, and being nominated for another seven.
✓ Included among the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.


The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Deer Hunter 1978, Robert De Niro, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Epic war drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino, starring Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken.

Story: An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania. (IMDB)

Its greatness is blunted by its length and one-sided point of view, but the film’s weaknesses are overpowered by Michael Cimino’s sympathetic direction and a series of heartbreaking performances from Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Deer Hunter among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Winner of 5 Oscars, including the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ Academy Award.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1996, as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”



Halloween (1978)

Halloween 1978, Best Films of the 1970s
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Slasher horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter, starring Jamie Lee Curtis.

Story: Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois to kill again. (IMDB)

Scary, suspenseful, and viscerally thrilling, Halloween set the standard for modern horror films.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Halloween among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ This was voted the fifth scariest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


Superman (1978)

Superman 1978, Christopher Reeve, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Superhero film starring Christopher Reeve.

Story: An alien orphan is sent from his dying planet to Earth, where he grows up to become his adoptive home’s first and greatest superhero. (IMDB)

Superman deftly blends humor and gravitas, taking advantage of the perfectly cast Christopher Reeve to craft a loving, nostalgic tribute to an American pop culture icon.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Superman among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Featured in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Groundbreaking in its use of special effects and science fiction/fantasy storytelling, the film’s legacy presaged the mainstream popularity of Hollywood’s superhero film franchises.
✓ Winner of a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects, and nominee for 3 other Oscars.


Alien (1979)

Alien 1979, Ridley Scott, Sigourney Weaver, Best Films of the 1970s
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Science-fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver.

Story: After a space merchant vessel receives an unknown transmission as a distress call, one of the crew is attacked by a mysterious life form and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (IMDB)

A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Alien among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ It was met with critical acclaim and box-office success, winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, three Saturn Awards, and a Hugo Award, along with numerous other nominations
✓ Consistently praised in the years since its release, and is considered one of the greatest films of all time.


Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now 1979, Marlon Brando, Best Movies of the 1970s
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Epic war film directed, produced and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Marlon Brando.

Story: A U.S. Army officer serving in Vietnam is tasked with assassinating a renegade Special Forces Colonel who sees himself as a god. (IMDB)

Francis Ford Coppola’s haunting, hallucinatory Vietnam War epic is cinema at its most audacious and visionary.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Apocalypse Now among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Winner of 2 Oscars, and nominee for another 6, including the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ Academy Award, and honored with the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
✓ The American Film Institute ranked this as the 30th Greatest Movie of All Time.


Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max 1979, Mel Gibson, Best Films of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Australian dystopian action thriller film directed by George Miller, starring Mel Gibson.

Story: In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang. (IMDB)

Staging the improbable car stunts and crashes to perfection, director George Miller succeeds completely in bringing the violent, post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max to visceral life.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Mad Max among the best movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ One of the most popular movies of the 1970s, and an influential, all-time classic with a significant cult following.



…end of the reel…

So there you have it: The 30 Greatest Movies of the 1970s

If you want to take a look at the movies listed above, without all that info between the titles, here’s a quick recap:

Top 30 Movies of the 1970s
Three films from each year, chronologically
- 1970 -
Patton 1970
Patton
*Part of the Collection: George C. Scott’s Patton Duology
The AristoCats 1970
The AristoCats
MASH 1970
MASH
- 1971 -
A Clockwork Orange 1971
A Clockwork Orange
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory 1971
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Dirty Harry 1971
Dirty Harry
*Part of the Collection: Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry Fanchise
- 1972 -
The Godfather 1972
The Godfather
*Part of the Collection: The Original Godfather Trilogy
Deliverance 1972
Deliverance
Solaris 1972
Solaris
- 1973 -
The Exorcist 1973
The Exorcist
*Part of the Collection: Original Exorcist Franchise
The Sting 1973
The Sting
Enter the Dragon 1973
Enter the Dragon
- 1974 -
Young Frankenstein 1974
Young Frankenstein
*Part of the Collection: Wolfrancula Cinematic Universe
Chinatown 1974
Chinatown
*Part of the Collection: Chinatown Duology
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
*Part of the Collection: The Original Texas Chain Saw Massacre Franchise
- 1975 -
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jaws 1975
Jaws
*Part of the Collection: Jaws Quadrology
Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- 1976 -
Taxi Driver 1976
Taxi Driver
Rocky 1976
Rocky
*Part of the Collection: Rocky and Creed Franchise
Carrie 1976
Carrie
*Part of the Collection: Carrie Duology
- 1977 -
Star Wars: A New Hope 1977
Star Wars: A New Hope
*Part of the Collection: Star Wars Cinematic Universe
Annie Hall 1977
Annie Hall
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
- 1978 -
The Deer Hunter 1978
The Deer Hunter
Halloween 1978
Halloween
*Part of the Collection: Original Halloween Franchise
Superman 1978
Superman
*Part of the Collection: Christopher Reeve’s Superman Quadrology
- 1979 -
Alien 1979
Alien
*Part of the Collection: Aliens and Predators Cinematic Universe
Apocalypse Now 1979
Apocalypse Now
Mad Max 1979
Mad Max
*Part of the Collection: Mel Gibson’s Mad Max Trilogy
*Click any Title for more Info and for Streaming / Disc Buying options.

Wait, there’s more!

If you’re a hardcore fan of the 1970s, and you already saw most of the movies in the Top 30 List above, than here’s the extended version for you:

TOP 100 FILMS OF THE 1970s
Click to reveal the List

The 100 Greatest Movies of the 1970s
Ten films from each year, chronologically
- 1970 -
Patton 1970
Patton
*Part of the Collection: George C. Scott’s Patton Duology
The AristoCats 1970
The AristoCats
MASH 1970
MASH
Kelly's Heroes 1970
Kelly's Heroes
Little Big Man 1970
Little Big Man
Five Easy Pieces 1970
Five Easy Pieces
The Conformist 1970
The Conformist
Love Story 1970
Love Story
El Topo 1970
El Topo
Two Mules for Sister Sara 1970
Two Mules for Sister Sara
- 1971 -
A Clockwork Orange 1971
A Clockwork Orange
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory 1971
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Dirty Harry 1971
Dirty Harry
*Part of the Collection: Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry Fanchise
The French Connection 1971
The French Connection
*Part of the Collection: Gene Hackman’s French Connection Duology
Diamonds Are Forever 1971
Diamonds Are Forever
*Part of the Collection: Sean Connery’s James Bond Franchise
Harold and Maude 1971
Harold and Maude
Straw Dogs 1971
Straw Dogs
THX 1138 1971
THX 1138
The Last Picture Show 1971
The Last Picture Show
*Part of the Collection: Jeff Bridges’s Anarene Duology
Fiddler on the Roof 1971
Fiddler on the Roof
- 1972 -
The Godfather 1972
The Godfather
*Part of the Collection: The Original Godfather Trilogy
Deliverance 1972
Deliverance
Solaris 1972
Solaris
Aguirre, the Wrath of God 1972
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Last Tango in Paris 1972
Last Tango in Paris
Cabaret 1972
Cabaret
Sleuth 1972
Sleuth
The Poseidon Adventure 1972
The Poseidon Adventure
*Part of the Collection: Poseidon Duology
Frenzy 1972
Frenzy
The Last House on the Left 1972
The Last House on the Left
- 1973 -
The Exorcist 1973
The Exorcist
*Part of the Collection: Original Exorcist Franchise
The Sting 1973
The Sting
Enter the Dragon 1973
Enter the Dragon
Papillon 1973
Papillon
Robin Hood 1973
Robin Hood
Serpico 1973
Serpico
Live and Let Die 1973
Live and Let Die
*Part of the Collection: Roger Moore’s James Bond Franchise
Mean Streets 1973
Mean Streets
American Graffiti 1973
American Graffiti
*Part of the Collection: American Graffiti Duology
The Wicker Man 1973
The Wicker Man
*Part of the Collection: Robin Hardy’s Wicker Duology
- 1974 -
Young Frankenstein 1974
Young Frankenstein
*Part of the Collection: Wolfrancula Cinematic Universe
Chinatown 1974
Chinatown
*Part of the Collection: Chinatown Duology
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
*Part of the Collection: The Original Texas Chain Saw Massacre Franchise
The Godfather: Part II 1974
The Godfather: Part II
*Part of the Collection: The Original Godfather Trilogy
Blazing Saddles 1974
Blazing Saddles
The Conversation 1974
The Conversation
The Man with the Golden Gun 1974
The Man with the Golden Gun
*Part of the Collection: Roger Moore’s James Bond Franchise
Murder on the Orient Express 1974
Murder on the Orient Express
*Part of the Collection: Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot Franchise
The Towering Inferno 1974
The Towering Inferno
Death Wish 1974
Death Wish
*Part of the Collection: Charles Bronson’s Death Wish Franchise
- 1975 -
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jaws 1975
Jaws
*Part of the Collection: Jaws Quadrology
Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Dog Day Afternoon 1975
Dog Day Afternoon
Barry Lyndon 1975
Barry Lyndon
The Rocky Horror Picture Show 1975
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Sholay 1975
Sholay
Three Days of the Condor 1975
Three Days of the Condor
The Man Who Would Be King 1975
The Man Who Would Be King
Love and Death 1975
Love and Death
- 1976 -
Taxi Driver 1976
Taxi Driver
Rocky 1976
Rocky
*Part of the Collection: Rocky and Creed Franchise
Carrie 1976
Carrie
*Part of the Collection: Carrie Duology
Network 1976
Network
The Omen 1976
The Omen
*Part of the Collection: The Omen Quadrology
All the President's Men 1976
All the President's Men
The Outlaw Josey Wales 1976
The Outlaw Josey Wales
Marathon Man 1976
Marathon Man
Logan's Run 1976
Logan's Run
The Message 1976
The Message
- 1977 -
Star Wars: A New Hope 1977
Star Wars: A New Hope
*Part of the Collection: Star Wars Cinematic Universe
Annie Hall 1977
Annie Hall
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Eraserhead 1977
Eraserhead
The Spy Who Loved Me 1977
The Spy Who Loved Me
*Part of the Collection: Roger Moore’s James Bond Franchise
Suspiria 1977
Suspiria
*Part of the Collection: The Three Mothers Trilogy
Saturday Night Fever 1977
Saturday Night Fever
*Part of the Collection: John Travolta’s Tony Manero Duology
The Rescuers 1977
The Rescuers
*Part of the Collection: Disney’s Classic Rescuers Duology
A Bridge Too Far 1977
A Bridge Too Far
Smokey and the Bandit 1977
Smokey and the Bandit
*Part of the Collection: Smokey and the Bandit Trilogy
- 1978 -
The Deer Hunter 1978
The Deer Hunter
Halloween 1978
Halloween
*Part of the Collection: Original Halloween Franchise
Superman 1978
Superman
*Part of the Collection: Christopher Reeve’s Superman Quadrology
Grease 1978
Grease
*Part of the Collection: Grease Duology
National Lampoon's Animal House 1978
National Lampoon's Animal House
Dawn of the Dead 1978
Dawn of the Dead
*Part of the Collection: George A. Romero’s Living Dead Franchise
Midnight Express 1978
Midnight Express
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Days of Heaven 1978
Days of Heaven
Drunken Master 1978
Drunken Master
*Part of the Collection: Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master Duology
- 1979 -
Alien 1979
Alien
*Part of the Collection: Aliens and Predators Cinematic Universe
Apocalypse Now 1979
Apocalypse Now
Mad Max 1979
Mad Max
*Part of the Collection: Mel Gibson’s Mad Max Trilogy
Life of Brian 1979
Life of Brian
Rocky II 1979
Rocky II
*Part of the Collection: Rocky and Creed Franchise
Manhattan 1979
Manhattan
Kramer vs. Kramer 1979
Kramer vs. Kramer
Escape from Alcatraz 1979
Escape from Alcatraz
Stalker 1979
Stalker
The Warriors 1979
The Warriors
*Click any Title for more Info and for Streaming / Disc Buying options.

Is there a movie on the list you’d replace with another one? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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