The 140 Essential 1970s Movies

#100

Slap Shot (1977)
85%

#100
Adjusted Score: 87.785%
Critics Consensus: Raunchy, violent, and very funny, Slap Shot is ultimately set apart by a wonderful comic performance by Paul Newman.
Synopsis: Paul Newman plays Reggie Dunlop, the coach of a pathetic minor-league American hockey team. His career at a standstill and... [More]
Directed By: George Roy Hill

#99

Grease (1978)
75%

#99
Adjusted Score: 82.628%
Critics Consensus: Grease is a pleasing, energetic musical with infectiously catchy songs and an ode to young love that never gets old.
Synopsis: "Grease," said the poster and the Barry Gibb song, "is the word." Transferring its setting from Chicago to sunny California,... [More]
Directed By: Randal Kleiser

#98

Mad Max (1979)
90%

#98
Adjusted Score: 95.425%
Critics Consensus: 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.
Synopsis: This stunning, post-apocalyptic action thriller from director George Miller stars Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky, a policeman in the near... [More]
Directed By: George Miller

#97

Enter the Dragon (1973)
94%

#97
Adjusted Score: 98.684%
Critics Consensus: Badass to the max, Enter the Dragon is the ultimate kung-fu movie and fitting (if untimely) Bruce Lee swan song.
Synopsis: One of the most popular kung fu films ever, and perhaps the peak of the famed Bruce Lee's career, Enter... [More]
Directed By: Robert Clouse

#96

Hearts and Minds (1975)
89%

#96
Adjusted Score: 92.778%
Critics Consensus: A powerful, unflinching exploration of the Vietnam War, with first-person stories from both sides of the conflict, Hearts and Minds still hits the mark decades after its release.
Synopsis: Peter Davis' 30-year-old, landmark documentary unflinchingly confronts the United States' involvement in Vietnam. Using a wealth of sources -- from... [More]
Directed By: Peter Davis

#95

House (Hausu) (1977)
90%

#95
Adjusted Score: 92.326%
Critics Consensus: House is a gleefully demented collage of grand guginol guffaws and bizarre sequences.
Synopsis: A schoolgirl travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt's creaky country home and comes face-to-face with evil spirits, a... [More]
Directed By: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi

#94
#94
Adjusted Score: 83.066%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: One of the earliest major films starring Jackie Chan, this 1978 Hong Kong offering highlights the relationship between a student... [More]
Directed By: Woo-ping Yuen

#93

Coffy (1973)
79%

#93
Adjusted Score: 80.842%
Critics Consensus: Pam Grier brings spunk and vinegar to Coffy, supported by director Jack Hill's combustible mixture of authentic grit and salacious thrills.
Synopsis: After her sister becomes a heroin addict, a nurse (Pam Grier) takes gun in hand and goes undercover to track... [More]
Directed By: Jack Hill

#92
#92
Adjusted Score: 100.491%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This film chronicles the bitter and violent struggle waged by coal miners during a strike in 1973 in Eastern Kentucky... [More]
Directed By: Barbara Kopple

#91

The Warriors (1979)
89%

#91
Adjusted Score: 92.002%
Critics Consensus: As violent as it is stylish, The Warriors is a thrilling piece of pulp filmmaking.
Synopsis: Walter Hill's hip, super-stylized action film unfurls in a dystopian near-future, when various gangs control New York City. Each gang... [More]
Directed By: Walter Hill

#90
Adjusted Score: 101.641%
Critics Consensus: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles offers a lingering, unvarnished, and ultimately mesmerizing look at one woman's existence.
Synopsis: In this experimental film about a middle-aged widow driven to desperation by the crushing boredom of making beds, cleaning bathtubs,... [More]
Directed By: Chantal Akerman

#89

Wake in Fright (2012)
100%

#89
Adjusted Score: 101.116%
Critics Consensus: A disquieting classic of Australian cinema, Wake in Fright surveys a landscape both sun-drenched and ruthlessly dark.
Synopsis: Awe-inspiring, brutal and stunning, Wake in Fright is the story of John Grant, a bonded teacher who arrives in the... [More]
Directed By: Ted Kotcheff

#88
#88
Adjusted Score: 100.684%
Critics Consensus: One of the most influential of all teen films, American Graffiti is a funny, nostalgic, and bittersweet look at a group of recent high school grads' last days of innocence.
Synopsis: This Academy Award-nominated classic, voted one of the American Film Institute's top 100 Films Of All Time, features the coming... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#87
#87
Adjusted Score: 98.018%
Critics Consensus: The kinetic camerawork and brutal over-the-top gore that made Dario Argento famous is on full display, but the addition of a compelling, complex story makes Deep Red a masterpiece.
Synopsis: The film that has become the master work in Italian horror maestro Dario Argento's canon, Deep Red holds up brilliantly... [More]
Directed By: Dario Argento

#86
#86
Adjusted Score: 90.533%
Critics Consensus: This post-Watergate thriller captures the paranoid tenor of the times, thanks to Syndey Pollack's taut direction and excellent performances from Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway.
Synopsis: In this thriller, Turner is a New York-based CIA employee. Sent to pick up lunch, Turner returns to discover that... [More]
Directed By: Sydney Pollack

#85
Adjusted Score: 90.336%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Marianne and Johan always seemed like the perfect couple. But when Johan suddenly leaves Marianne for another woman, they are... [More]
Directed By: Ingmar Bergman

#84
#84
Adjusted Score: 89.566%
Critics Consensus: Filled with stunning imagery, The Man Who Fell to Earth is a calm, meditative film that profoundly explores our culture's values and desires.
Synopsis: Space alien (Bowie) crash lands on Earth, seeking help for his drought-stricken planet. By securing patents to advanced technology, he... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Roeg

#83

Superman (1978)
94%

#83
Adjusted Score: 101.142%
Critics Consensus: 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.
Synopsis: Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel in a big-budget epic with Oscar-winning effects. Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#82
Adjusted Score: 96.06%
Critics Consensus: 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.
Synopsis: Promoted as a family musical by Paramount Pictures, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is more of a black comedy,... [More]
Directed By: Mel Stuart

#81

Dirty Harry (1971)
91%

#81
Adjusted Score: 95.674%
Critics Consensus: 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.
Synopsis: "You've got to ask yourself a question: 'do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" Dirty Harry provoked a critical... [More]
Directed By: Don Siegel

#80
Adjusted Score: 98.927%
Critics Consensus: Employing gritty camerawork and evocative sound effects, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a powerful remake that expands upon themes and ideas only lightly explored in the original.
Synopsis: In this elaborate remake of the 1956 horror classic, health inspector Donald Sutherland is dispatched to investigate the curious behavior... [More]
Directed By: Philip Kaufman

#79

Solaris (1976)
95%

#79
Adjusted Score: 101.44%
Critics Consensus: Solaris is a haunting, meditative film that uses sci-fi to raise complex questions about humanity and existence.
Synopsis: Based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem, Solaris centers on widowed psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donata Banionis), who is sent to... [More]
Directed By: Andrei Tarkovsky

#78
Adjusted Score: 98.374%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A story about story-telling, Jacques Rivette's self-referential classic centers on the fanciful world of two women literally lost in the... [More]
Directed By: Jacques Rivette

#77

Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
95%

#77
Adjusted Score: 102.68%
Critics Consensus: Melville is at the top of his game, giving us his next-to-last entry into the world of deception, crime, and extreme suspense that made him a maestro of the French heist genre.
Synopsis: Corey (Alain Delon) is the young gun in the French underworld who has just been released from prison. Escaped convict... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Pierre Melville

#76
#76
Adjusted Score: 87.505%
Critics Consensus: Boasting a smart, poignant story, a classic soundtrack, and a starmaking performance from John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever ranks among the finest dramas of the 1970s.
Synopsis: John Travolta graduated from minor celebrity to superstar with Saturday Night Fever. Travolta plays Tony Manero, a Brooklyn paint-store clerk... [More]

#75

Love and Death (1975)
100%

#75
Adjusted Score: 101.641%
Critics Consensus: Woody Allen plunks his neurotic persona into a Tolstoy pastiche and yields one of his funniest films, brimming with slapstick ingenuity and a literary inquiry into subjects as momentous as Love and Death.
Synopsis: Woody Allen's Love and Death is purportedly a satire of all things Russian, from Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky novels... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#74

Days of Heaven (1978)
92%

#74
Adjusted Score: 97.319%
Critics Consensus: Illuminated by magic hour glow and wistful performances, Days of Heaven is a visual masterpiece that finds eloquent poetry in its spare scenario.
Synopsis: Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven, the long-awaited follow-up to his 1973 debut Badlands, confirmed his reputation as a visual poet... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#73
#73
Adjusted Score: 98.653%
Critics Consensus: Visually mesmerizing, Picnic at Hanging Rock is moody, unsettling, and enigmatic -- a masterpiece of Australian cinema and a major early triumph for director Peter Weir.
Synopsis: Peter Weir's breakthrough Australian drama about three girls and a teacher who disappear during a school outing.... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#72

Cabaret (1972)
95%

#72
Adjusted Score: 99.735%
Critics Consensus: Great performances and evocative musical numbers help Cabaret secure its status as a stylish, socially conscious classic.
Synopsis: Adapted from the Broadway show, this hard-hitting musical drama is set in decadent 1930s Berlin during Hitler's rise to power.... [More]
Directed By: Bob Fosse

#71

The Last Detail (1973)
91%

#71
Adjusted Score: 94.026%
Critics Consensus: Very profane, very funny, very '70s: Director Hal Ashby lets Jack Nicholson and the cast run loose, creating a unique dramedy that's far out to sea.
Synopsis: Two Navy men are ordered to bring a young offender to prison but decide to show him one last good... [More]
Directed By: Hal Ashby

#70

M*A*S*H (1970)
86%

#70
Adjusted Score: 92.209%
Critics Consensus: Bold, timely, subversive, and above all funny, M*A*S*H remains a high point in Robert Altman's distinguished filmography.
Synopsis: Although he was not the first choice to direct it, the hit black comedy MASH established Robert Altman as one... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#69

The Mirror (1975)
100%

#69
Adjusted Score: 101.012%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Juxtaposing scenes of daily life with pivotal moments in Soviet history, the film cross-cuts between color and black-and-white photography to... [More]
Directed By: Andrei Tarkovsky

#68

Walkabout (1971)
84%

#68
Adjusted Score: 87.126%
Critics Consensus: With its harrowingly beautiful depiction of the Australian Outback and spare narrative of culture clash, Walkabout is a peculiar survival epic.
Synopsis: Two young white children (Jenny Agutter and Roeg's son Lucien) stumble upon an adolescent Aborigine (David Gulpilil), who is performing... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Roeg

#67

Suspiria (1977)
93%

#67
Adjusted Score: 98.537%
Critics Consensus: The blood pours freely in Argento's classic Suspiria, a giallo horror as grandiose and glossy as it is gory.
Synopsis: An innocent American ballet dancer's excitement at being accepted to a prestigious European dance school turns to terror when she... [More]
Directed By: Dario Argento

#66

Shaft (1971)
88%

#66
Adjusted Score: 92.158%
Critics Consensus: This is the man that would risk his neck for his brother, man. Can you dig it?
Synopsis: Shaft, a highly successful film, spawned an industry of sequels and imitations. The daughter (Sherri Brewer) of Bumpy Jones (Moses... [More]
Directed By: Gordon Parks

#65

The Sting (1973)
93%

#65
Adjusted Score: 99.223%
Critics Consensus: 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.
Synopsis: Four years after setting box offices ablaze in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and director... [More]
Directed By: George Roy Hill

#64

Norma Rae (1979)
88%

#64
Adjusted Score: 89.738%
Critics Consensus: Spearheaded by a galvanizing Sally Field, Norma Rae is a heartening and politically powerful drama about an ordinary woman taking an extraordinary stand.
Synopsis: Norma Rae, a young Southern woman working at a cotton mill, encounters a union organizer and decides to join the... [More]
Directed By: Martin Ritt

#63
#63
Adjusted Score: 106.092%
Critics Consensus: Making excellent use of its period and setting, Peter Bogdanovich's small town coming-of-age story is a sad but moving classic filled with impressive performances.
Synopsis: Produced by Hollywood iconoclast BBS Productions, film critic-turned-director Peter Bogdanovich's 1971 film pays homage to Hollywood's classical age as it... [More]
Directed By: Peter Bogdanovich

#62

Straw Dogs (1971)
85%

#62
Adjusted Score: 89.029%
Critics Consensus: A violent, provocative meditation on manhood with some of the most controversial scenes ever shot for a mainstream movie.
Synopsis: Sam Peckinpah examines the instinctual capacity for violence in his controversial 1971 film, loosely based on the novel The Siege... [More]
Directed By: Sam Peckinpah

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 94.044%
Critics Consensus: Recreating the essence of his iconic Man With No Name in a post-Civil War Western, director Clint Eastwood delivered the first of his great revisionist works of the genre.
Synopsis: Clint Eastwood's fifth film as a director and eighth Western as a star (ninth if you count Paint Your Wagon),... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#60

Amarcord (1974)
91%

#60
Adjusted Score: 95.71%
Critics Consensus: Ribald, sweet, and sentimental, Amarcord is a larger-than-life journey through a seaside village and its colorful citizens.
Synopsis: Federico Fellini's warmly nostalgic memory piece examines daily life in the Italian village of Rimini during the reign of Mussolini,... [More]
Directed By: Federico Fellini

#59
#59
Adjusted Score: 94.055%
Critics Consensus: The divorce subject isn't as shocking, but the film is still a thoughtful, well-acted drama that resists the urge to take sides or give easy answers.
Synopsis: Joanna Kramer (Meryl Streep) walks out on her advertising-art-director husband Michael (Dustin Hoffman). Though he is obviously insensitive to everyone's... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#58

Paper Moon (1973)
92%

#58
Adjusted Score: 95.381%
Critics Consensus: Expertly balancing tones, Paper Moon is a deft blend of film nostalgia and finely tuned performances -- especially from Tatum O'Neal, who won an Oscar for her debut.
Synopsis: A bible salesman teams up with an orphan girl to form a money-making con team in Depression-era Kansas.... [More]
Directed By: Peter Bogdanovich

#57
Adjusted Score: 103.542%
Critics Consensus: Regarded as one of the high-water marks in German New Wave cinema of the 1970s, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is at once an intense portrayal of a relationship and a tribute to one of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film heroes, Douglas Sirk.
Synopsis: Rainer Werner Fassbinder not only directed Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf), but also scripted the film,... [More]

#56

Marathon Man (1976)
80%

#56
Adjusted Score: 84.044%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: William Goldman adapted his own novel for this thriller of a US agent who unwittingly draws his brother, the marathon... [More]
Directed By: John Schlesinger

#55
Adjusted Score: 104.697%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In typical Luis Buñuel fashion, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie surrealistically skewers the conventions of society. Buñuel applies his... [More]
Directed By: Luis Buñuel

#54
Adjusted Score: 100.913%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a time of internal political disturbance, Roman police inspector Gian Maria Volontè (the bad guy in A Fistful of... [More]
Directed By: Elio Petri

#53

Carrie (1976)
92%

#53
Adjusted Score: 99.323%
Critics Consensus: 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.
Synopsis: This classic horror movie based on Stephen King's first novel stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a shy, diffident teenager... [More]
Directed By: Brian DePalma

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 93.576%
Critics Consensus: McCabe & Mrs. Miller offers revisionist Western fans a landmark early addition to the genre while marking an early apogee for director Robert Altman.
Synopsis: In a small American frontier village, a stranger named McCabe builds a brothel with the help of experienced madame Mrs.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#51

Patton (1970)
94%

#51
Adjusted Score: 100.062%
Critics Consensus: 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.
Synopsis: In 1943 North Africa, George Patton (George C. Scott) assumes command of (and instills some much-needed discipline in) the American... [More]
Directed By: Franklin J. Schaffner

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