The 140 Essential 1970s Movies

#100

Slap Shot (1977)
83%88%

#100
Adjusted Score: 85273%
Critics Consensus: Raunchy, violent, and very funny, Slap Shot is ultimately set apart by a wonderful comic performance by Paul Newman.
Synopsis: In the small New England town of Charlestown, the local mill is about to lay off 10,000 workers. The town's... [More]
Directed By: George Roy Hill

#99

Grease (1978)
76%87%

#99
Adjusted Score: 82083%
Critics Consensus: Grease is a pleasing, energetic musical with infectiously catchy songs and an ode to young love that never gets old.
Synopsis: Experience the friendships, romances and adventures of a group of high school kids in the 1950s. Welcome to the singing... [More]
Directed By: Randal Kleiser

#98

Mad Max (1979)
91%70%

#98
Adjusted Score: 95248%
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: In a not-too-distant dystopian future, when man's most precious resource -- oil -- has been depleted and the world plunged... [More]
Directed By: George Miller

#97

Enter the Dragon (1973)
95%91%

#97
Adjusted Score: 98676%
Critics Consensus: Badass to the max, Enter the Dragon is the ultimate kung-fu movie and fitting (if untimely) Bruce Lee swan song.
Synopsis: Bruce Lee plays a martial-arts expert determined to help capture the narcotics dealer whose gang was responsible for the death... [More]
Directed By: Robert Clouse

#96

Hearts and Minds (1974)
90%90%

#96
Adjusted Score: 92715%
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: Many times during his presidency, Lyndon B. Johnson said that ultimate victory in the Vietnam War depended upon the U.S.... [More]
Directed By: Peter Davis

#95

House (1977)
90%79%

#95
Adjusted Score: 90688%
Critics Consensus: House is a gleefully demented collage of grand guginol guffaws and bizarre sequences.
Synopsis: In an effort to avoid spending time with her father and his creepy new lover, young Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) resolves... [More]
Directed By: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi

#94
#94
Adjusted Score: 61886%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Unable to see eye to eye with his father, completely broke and with nowhere else to turn, young Wong Fei-Hung... [More]
Directed By: Yuen Woo-Ping

#93

Coffy (1973)
78%75%

#93
Adjusted Score: 78956%
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: As a nurse, Coffy (Pam Grier) has seen the ill effects of drugs up close, but it isn't until her... [More]
Directed By: Jack Hill

#92

Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976)
100%92%

#92
Adjusted Score: 100835%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this documentary about labor tension in the coal-mining industry, director Barbara Kopple films a strike in rural Kentucky. After... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Barbara Kopple

#91

The Warriors (1979)
88%88%

#91
Adjusted Score: 90905%
Critics Consensus: As violent as it is stylish, The Warriors is a thrilling piece of pulp filmmaking.
Synopsis: A turf battle between New York City street gangs that rages from Coney Island to the Bronx. The Warriors are... [More]
Directed By: Walter Hill

#90
Adjusted Score: 96995%
Critics Consensus: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles offers a lingering, unvarnished, and ultimately mesmerizing look at one woman's existence.
Synopsis: Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig), the widowed mother of a teenage son, Sylvain (Jan Decorte), ekes out a drab, repetitive existence... [More]
Directed By: Chantal Akerman

#89

Wake in Fright (1971)
97%83%

#89
Adjusted Score: 102060%
Critics Consensus: A disquieting classic of Australian cinema, Wake in Fright surveys a landscape both sun-drenched and ruthlessly dark.
Synopsis: After finishing up the school term in a remote outback town, teacher John Grant (Gary Bond) looks forward to spending... [More]
Directed By: Ted Kotcheff

#88

American Graffiti (1973)
96%84%

#88
Adjusted Score: 99487%
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: On the last day of summer vacation in 1962, friends Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), Steve (Ronny Howard), Terry (Charles Martin Smith)... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#87

Deep Red (1975)
93%86%

#87
Adjusted Score: 94565%
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: A psychic medium (Macha Méril) is brutally murdered, and musician Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) feels a need to solve the... [More]
Directed By: Dario Argento

#86
#86
Adjusted Score: 91248%
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: On a seemingly ordinary day, Joe Turner (Robert Redford), a quiet CIA codebreaker, walks into his workplace and finds that... [More]
Directed By: Sydney Pollack

#85
#85
Adjusted Score: 91871%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Johan (Erland Josephson) and Marianne (Liv Ullmann) are married and seem to have it all. Their happiness, however, is a... [More]
Directed By: Ingmar Bergman

#84
#84
Adjusted Score: 87523%
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: Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) is an alien who has come to Earth in search of water to save his... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Roeg

#83

Superman: The Movie (1978)
93%86%

#83
Adjusted Score: 98988%
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: Just before the destruction of the planet Krypton, scientist Jor-El (Marlon Brando) sends his infant son Kal-El on a spaceship... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#82
Adjusted Score: 95605%
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: The last of five coveted "golden tickets" falls into the hands of a sweet but very poor boy. He and... [More]
Directed By: Mel Stuart

#81

Dirty Harry (1971)
89%90%

#81
Adjusted Score: 93404%
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: Cop Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) attempts to track down a psychopathic rooftop killer before a kidnapped girl dies. When he... [More]
Directed By: Don Siegel

#80
#80
Adjusted Score: 96844%
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: This remake of the classic horror film is set in San Francisco. Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) assumes that when a... [More]
Directed By: Philip Kaufman

#79

Solaris (1972)
92%89%

#79
Adjusted Score: 97462%
Critics Consensus: Solaris is a haunting, meditative film that uses sci-fi to raise complex questions about humanity and existence.
Synopsis: A psychologist is sent to a space station orbiting a planet called Solaris to investigate the death of a doctor... [More]
Directed By: Andrei Tarkovsky

#78
#78
Adjusted Score: 98701%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When Celine (Juliet Berto) goes traipsing across a Parisian park, unwittingly dropping first a scarf, then other objects, Julie (Dominique... [More]
Directed By: Jacques Rivette

#77

The Red Circle (1970)
95%92%

#77
Adjusted Score: 100531%
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: When French criminal Corey (Alain Delon) gets released from prison, he resolves to never return. He is quickly pulled back... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Pierre Melville

#76

Saturday Night Fever (1977)
83%71%

#76
Adjusted Score: 86727%
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: Tony Manero (John Travolta) doesn't have much going for him during the weekdays. He still lives at home and works... [More]
Directed By: John Badham

#75

Love and Death (1975)
100%90%

#75
Adjusted Score: 85093%
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: In Woody Allen's comic take on 19th-century Russian philosophical novels and the Soviet-era epic films made from them, Boris (Woody... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#74

Days of Heaven (1978)
93%89%

#74
Adjusted Score: 97485%
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: A screen poem about life in America at the turn of the century. A story of love and murder told... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#73
#73
Adjusted Score: 91951%
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: In the early 1900s, Miranda (Anne Lambert) attends a girls boarding school in Australia. One Valentine's Day, the school's typically... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#72

Cabaret (1972)
92%87%

#72
Adjusted Score: 95748%
Critics Consensus: Great performances and evocative musical numbers help Cabaret secure its status as a stylish, socially conscious classic.
Synopsis: In Berlin in 1931, American cabaret singer Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) meets British academic Brian Roberts (Michael York), who is... [More]
Directed By: Bob Fosse

#71

The Last Detail (1973)
89%87%

#71
Adjusted Score: 91061%
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: When sailor Larry Meadows (Randy Quaid) is sentenced to eight years in a New Hampshire prison, Navy lifers Billy Buddusky... [More]
Directed By: Hal Ashby

#70

M*A*S*H (1970)
84%83%

#70
Adjusted Score: 88828%
Critics Consensus: Bold, timely, subversive, and above all funny, M*A*S*H remains a high point in Robert Altman's distinguished filmography.
Synopsis: Based on the novel by Richard Hooker, "M*A*S*H" follows a group of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital officers at they perform... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#69

The Mirror (1975)
100%91%

#69
Adjusted Score: 101034%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Using a nonlinear structure interlaced with dreams and flashbacks, director Andrei Tarkovsky creates a stream-of-consciousness meditation on war, memory and... [More]
Directed By: Andrei Tarkovsky

#68

Walkabout (1971)
85%86%

#68
Adjusted Score: 86194%
Critics Consensus: With its harrowingly beautiful depiction of the Australian Outback and spare narrative of culture clash, Walkabout is a peculiar survival epic.
Synopsis: Under the pretense of having a picnic, a geologist (John Meillon) takes his teenage daughter (Jenny Agutter) and 6-year-old son... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Roeg

#67

Suspiria (1977)
94%83%

#67
Adjusted Score: 98680%
Critics Consensus: The blood pours freely in Argento's classic Suspiria, a giallo horror as grandiose and glossy as it is gory.
Synopsis: Suzy (Jessica Harper) travels to Germany to attend ballet school. When she arrives, late on a stormy night, no one... [More]
Directed By: Dario Argento

#66

Shaft (1971)
87%68%

#66
Adjusted Score: 90827%
Critics Consensus: This is the man that would risk his neck for his brother, man. Can you dig it?
Synopsis: John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) is the ultimate in suave black detectives. He first finds himself up against Bumpy (Moses Gunn),... [More]
Directed By: Gordon Parks

#65

The Sting (1973)
92%95%

#65
Adjusted Score: 99757%
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: Following the murder of a mutual friend, aspiring con man Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) teams up with old pro Henry... [More]
Directed By: George Roy Hill

#64

Norma Rae (1979)
90%79%

#64
Adjusted Score: 91472%
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: Like a lot of her family before her, Norma Rae (Sally Field) works at the local textile mill, where the... [More]
Directed By: Martin Ritt

#63

The Last Picture Show (1971)
100%89%

#63
Adjusted Score: 105205%
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: High school seniors and best friends, Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane (Jeff Bridges), live in a dying Texas town. The... [More]
Directed By: Peter Bogdanovich

#62

Straw Dogs (1971)
81%82%

#62
Adjusted Score: 84304%
Critics Consensus: A violent, provocative meditation on manhood, Straw Dogs is viscerally impactful -- and decidedly not for the squeamish.
Synopsis: David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman), a mild-mannered academic from the United States, marries Amy (Susan George), an Englishwoman. In order to... [More]
Directed By: Sam Peckinpah

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 94250%
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: Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) watches helplessly as his wife and child are murdered, by Union men led by Capt. Terrill... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#60

Amarcord (1973)
87%90%

#60
Adjusted Score: 90132%
Critics Consensus: Ribald, sweet, and sentimental, Amarcord is a larger-than-life journey through a seaside village and its colorful citizens.
Synopsis: In an Italian seaside town, young Titta (Bruno Zanin) gets into trouble with his friends and watches various local eccentrics... [More]
Directed By: Federico Fellini

#59

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
89%89%

#59
Adjusted Score: 95895%
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: On the same day Manhattan advertising executive Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) lands the biggest account of his career, he learns... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#58

Paper Moon (1973)
93%94%

#58
Adjusted Score: 95764%
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: Real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal team up as slick con-artists Moses Pray and Addie Loggins in 1930s... [More]
Directed By: Peter Bogdanovich

#57
#57
Adjusted Score: 102413%
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: Emmi Kurowski (Brigitte Mira), a cleaning lady, is lonely in her old age. Her husband died years ago, and her... [More]

#56

Marathon Man (1976)
81%81%

#56
Adjusted Score: 83854%
Critics Consensus: Marathon Man runs the gamut from patient mystery to pulse-pounding thriller, aided by Laurence Oliver's coldly terrifying performance and a brainy script by William Goldman.
Synopsis: Thomas "Babe" Levy (Dustin Hoffman) is a Columbia graduate student and long-distance runner who is oblivious to the fact that... [More]
Directed By: John Schlesinger

#55
Adjusted Score: 102740%
Critics Consensus: An intoxicating dose of the director's signature surrealist style, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie represents Buñuel at his most accessible.
Synopsis: The ambassador of the Latin American republic of Miranda (Fernando Rey), M. Thevenot (Paul Frankeur), his wife Simone (Delphine Seyrig)... [More]
Directed By: Luis Buñuel

#54
Adjusted Score: 100507%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A highly regarded Italian police inspector (Gian Maria Volonte) murders his mistress, only to become part of the homicide investigation... [More]
Directed By: Elio Petri

#53

Carrie (1976)
93%77%

#53
Adjusted Score: 98570%
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: In this chilling adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel, withdrawn and sensitive teen Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) faces taunting from... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#52

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
84%86%

#52
Adjusted Score: 88705%
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: Charismatic gambler John McCabe (Warren Beatty) arrives in a mining community and decides to open a brothel. The local residents... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#51

Patton (1970)
90%93%

#51
Adjusted Score: 94225%
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: Biography of controversial World War II hero General George S. Patton. The film covers his wartime activities and accomplishments, beginning... [More]
Directed By: Franklin J. Schaffner

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