Which decade in the history of filmmaking — a history dating back more than a century — produced the most great movies?
Last year, the BBC made a case for the 1920s, the decade that saw the introduction of synchronized sound (including dialogue) to the silver screen and produced such venerated masterpieces as “Metropolis,” “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” “The Battleship Potemkin,” and several classic comedies by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. (These are the 100 best movies of the last 100 years, according to critics.)
Others might propose the 1940s, which saw the premieres of legendary movies that people still watch today, like “Casablanca,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “Citizen Kane.”
But in terms of sheer creativity, diversity, and narrative power, it’s hard to beat the 1970s. This was the decade that gave us such cinematic and cultural landmarks — films we still talk about and quote from — as “The Godfather” (parts I and II), the first “Star Wars,” “All the President’s Men,” “Network,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Annie Hall,” “Love Story,” “The Exorcist,” “Rocky,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Taxi Driver,” “Chinatown,” and the original summertime blockbuster, “Jaws.”
It was also the decade in which many of the greatest actors of our age were either first emerging as major talents or cementing their reputations with some of their most iconic roles — the likes of Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Warren Beatty, Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway, Jodie Foster, Harrison Ford, and Sigourney Weaver. See who made our list of the top box office stars, every year since 1945.
To identify the best movies you’ll remember from the 1970’s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the 157 movies from that decade that had at least 25,000 reviews on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. IMDb is an online movie database owned by Amazon. Rotten Tomatoes is an online movie and TV review aggregator. For the movies in this group, we developed an index of each movie’s IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score, and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. All ratings were weighted equally. Supplemental data on domestic box office was obtained from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services. Data was collected in April 2021. Information on each movie’s stars and director(s) also came from IMDb.
Based on scores on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes — and on that all-important measure of popularity, domestic box office grosses — 24/7 Tempo has assembled a roster of the highest-rated movies of the 1970s. If you were growing up then, chances are you haven’t forgotten them.