The 1970s were a magical time for movies, with a whole new crop of stars and directors becoming household names, from Robert Redford and Al Pacino to Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen. After the tumultuous Sixties that included the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, and the Vietnam War, America was a different place, and Hollywood reflected the changing culture like a cinematic mirror. Films started exploring new ground with changing gender roles, political mistrust, and more subversive forms of comedy. The result was a new era, both in American cinema and around the world.
To celebrate the cinematic heyday of the 1970s, this list was compiled to rank the best movies of the decade. Stacker compiled data on all 1970s movies to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores. To qualify, the film had to have a premiere date between 1970 and 1979, have a Metascore, and have at least 1,000 votes. Ties were broken by Metascore and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating and votes. All data updated as of January 12, 2020.
This decade, part of the “New Hollywood” era of movies, was led by the film school generation. These filmmakers challenged the traditional, stagnant perspective of Hollywood while also encouraging the academic study of film and distribution of international films. These latter initiatives really gave birth to the field of film criticism as we know it today which, in turn, have changed how films are crafted and made, leading to the demise of the New Hollywood age at the end of the ’70s.
Keep reading to discover the Italian-American series that cleaned up at the Oscars and find out which controversial director appeared on the list three separate times.