Best Pictures of the 1970’s

To simplify my blog posts, especially as I’m trying to watch a dozen movies in a month, I’m going to divide them up into decades. This one is the Best Picture winners of the 1970’s, with Midnight Cowboy thrown in because I forgot to blog about that one.

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1969 – “Midnight Cowboy”

Staring John ‘Holy Crap he was young once!’ Voigt and Dustin ‘I’m Walking Here’ Hoffman, the tale of a cowboy who goes to New York City to make a living sleeping with rich women.  The city turns out to be more than he expects, and his adventures become more about survival than enrichment.

This is one of those winners I probably would have never watched except for this project. I can see the artistic value of it, but I can’t say I found myself fond of it.  I found the story kind of boring and unsurprising.  I was more interested to see how many scenes I’ve seen referenced in other works.  Probably will not watch this one again.

TheFrenchConnection.jpg1971 – “The French Connection”

Another movie with a pair of young looking actors (Gene Hackman and Roy Schneider), this one is about heroin smuggling into New York City. Somewhat based on a true story, this movie is definitely a high-quality crime movie.

I enjoyed this film, maybe not as much as someone more versed in police dramas than I am am, but I liked it. The car chase scene is a particularly fun to watch.  I must also admit this is a movie where I didn’t particularly like one of the main characters (Hackman’s Detective Popeye Doyle), even as I wanted him to beat the villain.  I’d watch this one again.

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1973 – “The Sting”

With Paul Newman and Robert Redford, this movie is set in the 1930’s and involves a number of scams and cons played on a gangster in revenge for the death of a friend. A rather light-hearted movie, there are a lot of layers that the story goes through.

This is another one I enjoyed. The music was a bit of an anachronism (coming from the 1910’s, and if you’ve ever played Bioshock: Infinity will sound familiar), but it was a fun movie to watch, even if I did not understand a significant amount of the scheming.  But I imagine that when you can enjoy the movie without understanding the jargon, you should probably consider it a success.  I’d watch again.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest poster.jpg1975 – “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Jack Nicholson as a ridiculous man brought into a mental institution and the wacky hi-jinks he instigates. The inmates, who are more worried about Nurse Ratched than getting better, emulate him, and chaos ensues.

Another good movie I might not have watched otherwise, I spent half of the movie trying to figure out who Nurse Ratched was. It took me a long time to realize it was Louise Fletcher, who I know better as Kai Winn from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’d probably watch this one again.  Also, if you watch this, try to catch the other famous actors who were just starting out when they got their roles in this film.  I’d watch again.

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1977 – “Annie Hall”

A Woody Allen movie set mostly in New York, Annie Hall is the type of serious comedy that Woody Allen excels at. It is the story of a relationship between Woody Allen’s persona Alvy Singer and the title character, Annie Hall (played by Diane Keaton). Allen’s style of film making, with the flash backs, side jokes, and breaking the fourth wall really do bring humor to what would otherwise be a sad film.

I’m usually surprised by how much I enjoy Woody Allen movies. I keep meaning to watch more, but I get sidetracked. This one was enjoyable enough for me to watch again.

Robert De Niro, in character, points a pistol to his head. It is a black-and-white image with red highlighting his bandanna and the film credits below.
1978 – “The Deer Hunter”

This movie stars Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage as three friends who travel from rural Pennsylvania to the horrors of Vietnam. The film comes in three acts: the pre-war celebration, the war itself, and the impact of the war afterwards. Notable for the prominence of Russian Roulette in the second and third acts.

I’m a bit mixed when it comes to this movie. One the one hand, the stars all knew how to play their roles, and you certainly understand the impact of the war on the characters. On the other hand, the first act does drag on a bit, and some of the plot points didn’t make a lot of sense (but had to happen for the movie).  That being said, I definitely know why this movie won Best Picture. Maybe I’ll get it more if I watch it again.

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1979 – “Kramer vs. Kramer”

All I knew about this movie before I watched it was that it involved a divorced couple fighting for custody of their child. What I didn’t know was that the custody fight is only the last bit of the movie. The movie starts with Mrs. Kramer (Meryl Streep) leaving Mr. Kramer (Dustin Hoffman), who spends the bulk of the movie become a better father for their son.

One of the shorter movies in the Best Picture category, it is a compact and well told story. I did not expect to like it when I started, but I found it very enjoyable. I did get aggravated with the lawyers and the custody battle, but as that was the intention of the filmmakers, I can’t say that’s a detriment to the movie.  I would watch this one again.

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