Most cinephiles agree that the movies from the 70s represented the last golden age of American cinema. The economic environment in Hollywood combined with the social movement in the country spawned a decade sometimes referred to as the “New Hollywood.” Major studies like MGM, Paramount and RKO had lost much of their control over the industry. Film stars continuing their battle against studio heads for more creative freedom, a surge in foreign movies, and loosened censorship all gave rise to a new era in movie making. Even the appetite of the audience changed. After the social activism of the 60s, moviegoers were no longer satisfied with cloyingly sweet and superficial films. They were ready to taste the raw meat of creative license, and that’s what they were served.
Movies from the 70s reflect the world views of society with a clearer lens than perhaps any other decade. When given this chance, new filmmakers rose to the occasion by holding up a mirror to the prevailing governing authorities in the film industry. The best movies from the 70s aptly expressed the changing social tide, but they also hold their own to this day. Take any movie on this list and it can stand up next to anything you can throw at it from the 21st century.
This list isn’t homage to snoozer movies that you know you should sit through (with plenty of caffeine on hand) because of their significance in course of history. This is a list of genuine blockbuster movies from the 70s that are awesome even if you don’t give a damn about what was happening when they were made. This is worth the preemo snacks and the imported beer.
So get settled, fire up your Amazon stick, or your Roku, or your streaming device of choice and relive these favorites from our list of the best movies from the 70s:
Apocalypse Now (1979)
“During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.” – IMDB.com
Here you have a collection of movie greats – Francis Ford Coppola directs Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford and Dennis Hopper. An epic movie with a stellar ensemble cast that will never be together again. Worth every second of the 153 minutes runtime.
Taxi Driver (1976)
“A mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.” – IMDB.com
Let’s put Martin Scorsese, Robert de Niro, Jodi Foster, Cybil Shepherd and Harvey Keitel together on a project and see what happens. This raw commentary on the true costs of war kept audiences still reeling from the Vietnam War riveted to their seats.
“A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor’s ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.” – IMDB.co
A population awakening to the lies permeating everyday American life turned this movie with Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall and William Holden into an overnight sensation.
“A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape.” – IMDB.com
Featuring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, this mesmerizing convict escape film has unforgettable scenes that are still widely used in epic film montages today.
“A giant great white shark arrives on the shores of a New England beach resort and wreaks havoc with bloody attacks on swimmers, until a part-time sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and an old seafarer to hunt the monster down.” – IMDB.com
One of Steven Spielberg’s first films, Jaws has been dissected and examined by film critics, teachers and students almost more than a real fish filleted on a monger’s block. Chances are, you’ve either seen it once on screen and many times in your nightmares, or you can’t get enough of this brilliant directorial masterpiece, and have your own personal copy.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
“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.com
Another movie about the ravages of the Vietnam War, done with an impossible blending of emotional human connection and horror. A heart wrenching view of courage, fear, and the depths of humanity we should hope to never experience again.
This list doesn’t come close to having all the best movies from the 70s on it. Please help us out by adding some of your favorite movies from the 70s in the comment section below.