Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Decades of Film-Part 3: Second Runner-Up

Well, it's time to get down into the shaky territories of the Best of the Best, the countdown to the Greatest Decade of Filmmaking of All-Time starts right here with the announcement of the Second Runner-Up to what I'm calling the Grand Prize. So what is the Third Best Decade of Filmmaking of All-Time (that sounds extremely silly, but anyways)? Well, here it goes... The 1970s.

The decade often considered by many film historians to be the best clocks in at number 3, and for a fair few reasons as to why. First and foremost, the decade was kind of the cause or the catalyst for the next few decades. It was the rise of the auteur and the rise of the blockbuster, but it was just the starting point, so it is for this same reason that keeps it from being numero uno. This decade was not the real deal itself, with many of these filmmakers going on to make better movies in subsequent decades, some not even fully delivering on their potential till the '90s or early New Millenium (Scorsese, I'm looking at you). Plus, I don't feel that the decade really got into full swing till about 1975, but hey, those last five years were so monumental, that is why the 1970s as a whole makes this list.

This was one of those few decades where foreign filmmaking took a full on backseat to the Americans. Seriously, no one really remembers any of the foreign flicks from this decade, it was all about the Red, White, and Blue, of course to think that the movies from this decade were patriotic you'd be quite wrong. The films of the '70s reflected the times unlike any other decade probably. This was the first decade where cinema really portrayed life without any frills or censors. Filmmakers did not shy away from language, nudity, or sexual content for the first time in mainstream cinema, and that is partly as to why the '70s blew up as it did, cause it came so close to channeling realism. The same being said for politics.

The '70s was a cynical time, where Americans felt they couldn't trust in their government, and that cynicism is portrayed throughout the '70s from films like: All The President's Men, Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, and even Star Wars. But it wasn't always cynicism, very often, as was the case with Star Wars, it was about empowering the people that they could make a difference, same being seen in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as well.

It's kind of funny, one looks at the '70s and the films can sort of be split right down the middle. The first half of the decade, the films were more pessimistic, more of a downer, with stuff like The Godfather, Earthquake, and The French Connection ruling the day, and I don't really care all that much for any of these films from these first five years, save for Amercian Graffiti, THX 1138, and The Godfather films.

Though, starting in about 1975, the films of the '70s became more optimistic, and this is where I truly start to love this decade. All thanks to the rise of the blockbuster, starting with Jaws, leading to a 1977 Best Picture win for Rocky, followed by Star Wars tearing apart the box office that same year, and Superman soaring his way to the movie screens in '78, then a new voyage to the final frontier with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in '79. For so long movies had all been downers, and they were now becoming fun again. This transition was so great it would eventually lead to the studio mess we now have, but back then it was all about top notch, big budget storytelling. A concept that would soon become perverted in the following years.

The Ten Best Films of the '70s:
10. The Godfather: Part II
9. Rocky
8. Sleuth
7. Young Frankenstein
6. Superman: The Movie
5. The Godfather
4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
3. American Graffiti
2. Jaws
1. Star Wars

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