Top 100 Movies of the 1970’s

By Year from Patton (1970) to Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

The films of the 1970s had a distinctive look and feel to them. New styles in filmmaking and the rise of independent filmmakers resulted in films that were more realistic and edgy.

Here are my selections of the top 100 English language movies (by year) of the 1970’s that defined the decade.

1. Patton – Director: Franklin J. Schaffner (George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young and Michael Strong) Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North (7 Oscars out of 10 nominations)
2. M*A*S*H – Director: Robert Altman (Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kellerman and Robert Duvall) Screenplay: Ring Lardner Jr. (1 Oscar out of 5 nominations)
3. Five Easy Pieces – Director: Bob Rafelson (Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Susan Anspach, Lois Smith and Ralph Waite) Screenplay: Adrien Joyce (4 Oscar nominations)
4. Women in Love – Director: Ken Russell (Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden) Screenplay: Larry Kramer (1 Oscar out of 4 nominations)
5. I Never Sang For My Father – Director: Gilbert Cates (Melvyn Douglas, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Dorothy Stickney and Elizabeth Hubbard) Screenplay: Robert Anderson (3 Oscar nominations)
6. Love Story – Director: Arthur Hiller (Ryan O’Neal, Ali MacGraw, John Marley and Ray Milland) Screenplay: Erich Segal (1 Oscar out of 7 nominations)
7. Ryan’s Daughter – Director: David Lean (Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, John Mills and Sarah Miles) Screenplay: Robert Bolt (2 Oscars out of 4 nominations)
8. Diary of a Mad Housewife – Director: Frank Perry (Richard Benjamin, Frank Langella and Carrie Snodgrass) Screenplay: Eleanor Perry (1 Oscar nomination)
9. The Great White Hope – Director: Martin Ritt (James Earl Jones, Jane Alexander, Chester Morris, Hal Holbrook and Beah Richards) Screenplay: Howard Sackler (2 Oscar nominations)
10. Airport – Director: George Seaton (Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, Barry Nelson, Dana Wynter, Lloyd Nolan and Barbara Hale) Screenplay: George Seaton (1 Oscar out of 10 nominations)
1. A Clockwork Orange – Director: Stanley Kubrick (Malcolm McDowell, Patrick MaGee and Adrienne Corri) Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick (4 Oscar nominations)
2. The Last Picture Show – Director: Peter Bogdanovich (Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman and Cybill Shepherd) Screenplay: Larry McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich (2 Oscars out of 8 nominations)
3. The French Connection – Director: William Friedkin (Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey and Roy Scheider) Screenplay: Ernest Tidyman (5 Oscars out of 8 nominations)
4. Harold and Maude – Director: Hal Ashby (Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort and Vivian Pickles) Screenplay: Colin Higgins (2 Golden Globe nominations)
5. Klute – Director: Alan J. Pakula (Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Roy Scheider) Screenplay: Andy Lewis and Dave Lewis (1 Oscar out of 2 nominations)
6. Sunday Bloody Sunday – Director: John Schlesinger (Glenda Jackson, Peter Finch and Murray Head) Screenplay: Penelope Gilliatt (4 Oscar nominations)
7. Nicholas and Alexandra Director: Franklin J. Schaffner (Michael Jayston and Janet Suzman) Screenplay: James Goldman and Edward Bond (2 Oscars out of 6 nominations)
8. McCabe and Mrs. Miller – Director: Robert Altman (Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and Rene Auberjonois) Screenplay: Robert Altman and Brian McKay (1 Oscar nomination)
9. A New Leaf – Director: Elaine May (Elaine May, Walter Matthau and Jack Weston) Screenplay: Elaine May (2 Golden Globe nominations)
10. Fiddler on the Roof – Director: Norman Jewison (Topol, Norma Crane and Leonard Frey) Screenplay: Joseph Stein (3 Oscars out of 8 nominations)
1. The Godfather – Director: Francis Ford Coppola (Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton) Screenplay: Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola (3 Oscars out of 10 nominations)
2. Cabaret – Director: Bob Fosse (Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Joel Grey and Marisa Berenson) Screenplay: Jay Allen (8 Oscars out of 10 nominations)
3. Sounder – Director: Martin Ritt (Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield) Screenplay: Lonne Elder III (4 Oscar nominations)
4. Sleuth – Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine) Screenplay: Anthony Shaffer (4 Oscar nominations)
5. Lady Sings The Blues – Director: Sidney J. Furie (Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor) Screenplay: Chris Clark, Suzanne de Passe and Terence McCloy (5 Oscar nominations)
6. What’s Up, Doc? – Director: Peter Bogdanovich (Barbra Streisand, Ryan O’Neal and Madeline Kahn) Screenplay: Buck Henry, David Newman and Robert Benton (1 Golden Globe nomination)
7. Travels With My Aunt – Director: George Cukor (Maggie Smith, Alec McCowen, Louis Gossett Jr. and Cindy Williams) Screenplay: Jay Presson Allen and Hugh Wheeler (1 Oscar out of 4 nominations)
8. The Ruling Class – Director: Peter Medak (Peter O’Toole and Alastair Slim) Screenplay: Peter Barnes (1 Oscar nomination)
9. Deliverance – Director: John Boorman (Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty) Screenplay: James Dickey (3 Oscar nominations)
10. The Poseidon Adventure – Director: Ronald Neame (Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Shelley Winters, Roddy McDowall and Stella Stevens) Screenplay: Stirling Silliphant and Wendall Mayes (2 Oscars out of 9 nominations)
1. The Exorcist – Director: William Friedkin (Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Jason Miller and Linda Blair) Screenplay: William Peter Blatty (2 Oscars out of 10 nominations)
2. American Graffiti – Director: George Lucas (Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charlie Martin Smith, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips and Cindy Williams) Screenplay: George Lucas, Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck (5 Oscar nominations)
3. The Sting – Director: George Roy Hill (Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Robert Shaw, Eileen Brennan and Charles Durning) Screenplay: David S. Ward (7 Oscars out of 10 nominations)
4. Paper Moon – Director: Peter Bogdanovich (Ryan O’Neal, Madeline Kahn, John Hillerman and Tatum O’Neal) Screenplay: Alvin Sargent (1 Oscar out of 3 nominations)
5. The Paper Chase – Director: James Bridges (Timothy Bottoms, Lindsay Wagner, James Naughton and John Houseman) Screenplay: James Bridges (1 Oscar out of 3 nominations)
6. Don’t Look Now – Director: Nicolas Roeg (Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland) Screenplay: Alan Scott and Chris Bryant (1 BAFTA Film Award out of 7 nominations)
7. The Way We Were – Director: Sydney Pollack (Robert Redford, Barbara Streisand, Bradford Dillman and Lois Chiles) Screenplay: Arthur Laurents (2 Oscars out of 6 nominations)
8. A Touch of Class – Director: Melvin Frank (George Segal, Glenda Jackson and Paul Sorvino) Screenplay: Melvin Frank and Jack Rose (1 Oscar out of 5 nominations)
9. The Last Detail – Director: Hal Ashby (Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, Randy Quaid and Carol Kane) Screenplay: Robert Towne (3 Oscar nominations)
10. Save the Tiger – Director: John G. Avildsen (Jack Lemmon, Jack Gilford and Laurie Heineman) Screenplay: Steve Shagan (1 Oscar out of 4 nominations)
1. Chinatown – Director: Roman Polanski (Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston) Screenplay: Robert Towne (1 Oscar out of 11 nominations)
2. The Godfather: Part II Director: Francis Ford Coppola (Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and Talia Shire) Screenplay: Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola (6 Oscars out of 11 nominations)
3. Murder on the Orient Express – Director: Sydney Lumet (Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts, Richard Widmark and Michael York) Screenplay: Paul Dehn (1 Oscar out of 6 nominations)
4. The Conversation – Director: Francis Ford Coppola (Gene Hackman, John Cazale and Cindy Williams) Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola (3 Oscar nominations)
5. Young Frankenstein – Director: Mel Brooks (Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr and Madeline Kahn) Screenplay: Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks (2 Oscar nominations)
6. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – Director: Martin Scorsese (Ellen Burstyn, Kris Kristofferson and Diane Ladd) Screenplay: Robert Getchell (1 Oscar out of 3 nominations)
7. Harry and Tonto – Director: Paul Mazursky (Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn and Geraldine Fitzgerald) Screenplay: Paul Mazursky and Josh Greenfeld (1 Oscar out of 2 nominations)
8. Lenny – Director: Bob Fosse (Dustin Hoffman and Valerie Perrine) Screenplay: Julian Barry (6 Oscar nominations)
9. A Woman Under the Influence – Director: John Cassavetes (Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk) Screenplay: John Cassavetes (2 Oscar nominations)
10. The Towering Inferno – Director: John Guillermin (Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire and Jennifer Jones) Screenplay: Stirling Sillipant (3 Oscars out of 8 nominations)
1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Director: Milos Forman (Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher and Brad Dourif) Screenplay: Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman (5 Oscars out of 9 nominations)
2. Nashville – Director: Robert Altman (Ned Beatty, Ronee Blakley, Keith Carradine, Karen Black, Geraldine Chaplin, Henry Gibson, Michael, Murphy and Lily Tomlin) Screenplay: Joan Tewkesbury (1 Oscar out of 5 nominations)
3. Dog Day Afternoon – Director: Sydney Lumet (Al Pacino, John Cazale, James Broderick, Charles Durning and Chris Sarandon) Screenplay: Frank Pierson (1 Oscar out of 6 nominations)
4. Jaws – Director: Steven Spielberg (Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss) Screenplay: Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb (3 Oscars out of 4 nominations)
5. Barry Lyndon – Director: Stanley Kubrick (Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson and Patrick Magee) Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick (4 Oscars out of 7 nominations)
6. Picnic At Hanging Rock – Director: Peter Weir (Rachel Roberts, Anne-Louise Lambert, Dominic Guard, Vivean Gray, Helen Morse and Jacki Weaver) Screenplay: Cliff Green (1 BAFTA Film Award out of 3 nominations)
7. The Sunshine Boys – Director: Herbert Ross (Walter Matthau, George Burns and Richard Benjamin) Screenplay: Neil Simon (1 Oscar out of 3 nominations)
8. Lies My Father Told Me – Director: Jan Kadar (Jeffrey Lynas, Yossi Yadin, Marilyn Lightstone and Len Birman) Screenplay: Ted Allan (1 Oscar nomination)
9. The Man Who Would Be King – Director: John Huston (Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer) Screenplay: John Huston and Gladys Hill (4 Oscar nominations)
10. Shampoo – Director: Hal Ashby (Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn and Lee Grant) Screenplay: Robert Towne and Warren Beatty (1 Oscar out of 4 nominations)
1. Network – Director: Sydney Lumet (Peter Finch, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight) Screenplay: Paddy Chayefsky (4 Oscars out of 9 nominations)
2. All The President’s Men – Director: Alan J. Pakula (Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jason Robards and Jane Alexander) Screenplay: William Goldman (2 Oscars out of 8 nominations)
3. Taxi Driver – Director: Martin Scorsese (Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster and Cybill Shepard) Screenplay: Julia Philllips and Michael Phillips (4 Oscar nominations)
4. Marathon Man – Director: John Schlesinger (Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier and Roy Scheider) Screenplay: William Goldman (1 Oscar nomination)
5. Rocky – Director: John G. Avildsen (Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith and Burt Young) Screenplay: Sylvester Stallone (3 Oscars out of 10 nominations)
6. Bound for Glory – Director: Hal Ashby (David Carradine, Ronny Cox and Melinda Dillon) Screenplay: Robert Getchell (2 Oscars out of 6 nominations)
7. Carrie – Director: Brian De Palma (Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving and John Travolta) Screenplay: Lawrence D. Cohen (2 Oscar nominations)
8. Silver Streak – Director: Arthur Hiller (Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor and Jill Clayburgh) Screenplay: Colin Higgins (1 Oscar nomination)
9. The Omen – Director: Richard Donner (Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and David Warner) Screenplay: David Seltzer (1 Oscar out of 2 nominations)
10. Family Plot – Director: Alfred Hitchcock (Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris, William Devane and Karen Black) Screenplay: Ernest Lehman (1 Golden Globe nomination)
1. Annie Hall – Director: Woody Allen (Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane and Paul Simon) Screenplay: Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman (4 Oscars out of 5 nominations)
2. Star Wars – Director: George Lucas (Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Alec Guinness) Screenplay: George Lucas (6 Oscars out of 10 nominations)
3. Julia – Director: Fred Zinnemann (Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards and Maximilian Schell) Screenplay: Alvin Sargent (3 Oscars out of 11 nominations)
4. The Turning Point – Director: Herbert Ross (Anne Bancroft, Shirley MacLaine, Tom Skerritt. Mikhail Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne) Screenplay: Arthur Laurents (11 Oscar nominations)
5. The Goodbye Girl – Director: Herbert Ross (Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason and Quinn Cummings) Screenplay: Neil Simon (1 Oscar out of 5 nominations)
6. Equus – Director: Sidney Lumet (Richard Burton, Peter Firth and Jenny Agutter) Screenplay: Peter Shaffer (3 Oscar nominations)
7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Director: Steven Spielberg (Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr and Melinda Dillon) Screenplay: Steven Spielberg (1 Oscar out of 8 nominations)
8. The Late Show – Director: Robert Benton (Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy, Eugene Roche and Joanna Cassidy) Screenplay: Rodolfo Sonego and Robert Benton (1 Oscar nomination)
9. 3 Women – Director: Robert Altman (Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Janice Rule) Screenplay: Robert Altman (1 BAFTA Film Award nomination)
10. Saturday Night Fever – John Badham (John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller and Donna Pescow) Screenplay: Norman Wexler (1 Oscar nomination)
1. The Deer Hunter – Director: Michael Cimino (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, John Cazale and John Savage) Screenplay: Deric Washburn (5 Oscars out of 9 nominations)
2. Coming Home – Director: Hal Ashby (Jane Fonda, Jon Voight and Bruce Dern) Screenplay: Waldo Salt and Robert C, Jones (3 Oscars out of 8 nominations)
3. Days of Heaven – Director: Terrence Malick (Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard and Linda Manz) Screenplay: Terrence Malick (1 Oscar out of 4 nominations)
4. Midnight Express – Director: Alan Parker (Brad Davis, Bo Hopkins, Randy Quaid and John Hurt) Screenplay: Oliver Stone (2 Oscars out of 6 nominations)
5. Heaven Can Wait – Director: Warren Beatty and Buck Henry (Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, James Mason, Charles Grodin, Dyan Cannon, Buck Henry, Vincent Gardenia and Jack Warden) Screenplay: Elaine May and Warren Beatty (1 Oscar out of 9 nominations)
6. An Unmarried Woman – Director: Paul Mazursky (Jill Clayburgh, Alan Bates and Michael Murphy) Screenplay: Paul Mazursky (3 Oscar nominations)
7. Foul Play – Director: Colin Higgins (Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase, Burgess Meredith, Brian Dennehy, Rachel Roberts, Eugene Roche and Dudley Moore) Screenplay: Colin Higgins (1 Oscar nomination) 
8. Interiors – Director: Woody Allen (Diane Keaton, Mary Beth Hurt, Richard Jordan, E.G. Marshall, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Sam Waterston and Kristin Griffith) Screenplay: Woody Allen (5 Oscar nominations)
9. Halloween – Director: John Carpenter (Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis) Screenplay: John Carpenter and Debra Hill (1 Saturn Film Award nomination)
10. California Suite – Director: Herbert Ross (Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Maggie Smith, Michael Caine and Walter Matthau) Screenplay: Neil Simon (1 Oscar out of 3 nominations)
1. Kramer vs. Kramer – Director: Robert Benton (Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander and Justin Henry) Screenplay: Robert Benton (5 Oscars out of 9 nominations)
2. Apocalypse Now – Director: Francis Ford Coppola (Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Larry Fishburne and Dennis Hopper) Screenplay: John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola (2 Oscars out of 8 nominations)
3. Alien – Director: Ridley Scott (Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto) Screenplay: Dan O’Bannon (1 Oscar out of 2 nominations)
4. Breaking Away – Director: Peter Yates (Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, Paul Dooley and Barbara Barrie) Screenplay: Steve Tesich (1 Oscar out of 5 nominations)
5. Norma Rae – Director: Martin Ritt (Sally Field, Ron Leibman and Beau Bridges) Screenplay: Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. (2 Oscars out of 4 nominations)
6. All That Jazz – Director: Bob Fosse (Roy Scheider, Jessica Lange and Ann Reinking) Screenplay: Robert Alan Aurthur and Bob Fosse (4 Oscars out of 9 nominations)
7. My Brilliant Career – Director: Gillian Armstrong (Judy Davis, Sam Neill and Wendy Hughes) Screenplay: Eleanor Witcombe (1 Oscar nomination)
8. Being There – Director: Hal Ashby (Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine and Melvyn Douglas) Screenplay: Jerzy Kosinski (1 Oscar out of 2 nominations)
9. The China Syndrome – Director: James Bridges (Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas) Screenplay: Mike Gray, T.S. Cook and James Bridges (4 Oscar nominations)
10. The Rose – Director: Mark Rydell (Bette Midler, Alan Bates and Frederic Forrest) Screenplay: Bo Goldman and Bill Kerby (4 Oscar nominations)

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