Wednesday, December 9, 2015



The 1970s

Continuing my series of posts on the subject of what I think are the best films of each year, we now tackle the 1970s.  The movies of the 1970s changed from previous decades.  Gone were the big-budget biographic epics (except for one notable exception in 1970, but more on that in a bit) and the big-budget musicals (except for another notable exception in 1971, but more on that in a bit and the last of the great musicals Grease in 1978).  Taking their place were grittier, more realistic movies dealing with flawed and often violent anti-heroes (this trend climaxing in the Martin Scorsese movie Taxi Driver in 1980).  But also we see the beginning of sci-fi and adventure movies that would populate the movie cinemas in the late 70s and early 80s.

But, for now let's examine the best movies of each year for the 70s.
So, without further ado...

In the tradition of Spartacus and Lawrence of Arabia comes this biographic epic of the famous WWII general played brilliantly by George C. Scott.  It is without doubt, one of the greatest male performances of all time, along with Peter O'Toole in Lawrence and Ben Kingsley in Gandhi of 1982 (but more on Ghandhi in a later post), housed within an almost perfect movie.

Fiddler on the Roof
The last of the great musical movies, Fiddler is sometimes a forgotten classic with a towering performance by Topol as the milkman Tevye, but it is every bit as good as any musical ever made.

The Godfather
Could there be any other choice?
Really nuff said.

The Exorcist
Possibly the most disturbing movie of all time.  It is not easy to watch and not easy to go to sleep after watching.  But beyond the shock-factor of the subject matter, this is a very well-crafted movie and although he's only in the movie for a bit, Max Von Sydow gives an absolutely riveting performance as Father Merrin.

Murder on the Orient Express
This could be the greatest ensemble cast ever assembled for a movie of this Agatha Christie classic mystery but the real star of this movie is Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot in a spot-on performance that is amazing to watch.  Watch it first to solve the mystery, watch it multiple times for that Finney performance.

Easy choice.
Spielberg's best movie and the first true summer blockbuster movie.

All the President's Men
A personal choice for this year (most people would probably go with Rocky in this year) but considering the times (post-Watergate), this movie was as timely and important as a movie can get.  And it is a quality movie as well.  If you haven't watched this one in a while, go back and pay attention to the way this movie is shot and directed.

Star Wars
No other choice.
My personal favorite movie of all time.
The movie that changed my life by firing my imagination.
It also changed the movie business forever and was the sleeper hit of all time.
No other choice.

A comic book icon comes to the big screen in this magnificent adaption with an iconic performance by Christopher Reeves.  Just Super!!!

Apocalypse Now
A difficult year to pick the best picture.  It came down to Alien or Apocalypse and I have to go with the latter.  Apocalypse Now is an amazing movie (there are scenes in this movie that I wonder at how they were filmed).  Apocalypse Now is a disturbing movie (the scene at the bridge is about as weird as you will ever see in a war film).  Apocalypse Now is a timely movie.  The country was still reeling a bit out of control in 1979 and was not fully healed from the times of the Vietnam War and here comes this movie that illustrated the chaotic nature of that war probably better than any other movie on the subject matter and can be painful to watch even in all its disturbing greatness.

1970s done.
Onward to the crazy 1980s.


Every year from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I like to exclusively listen to Christmas music.  It gets me in the Christmas spirit and I just like Christmas music overall.  I also try to, each and every year, buy at least one new Christmas album so you can imagine that through the years I've managed to collect quite a few Christmas CDs.  In this post I would like to highlight one of the best Christmas albums that I've ever heard.
It is Michael W. Smith's Christmas from 1989 (the best year of my life and one of the best years of the century).  If you don't know the name, Michael W. Smith is one of the most successful and talented Christian music artists of all time.  In his nearly 30 year career he has released 23 studio albums that represent the best of Christian music.  He is my favorite Christian singer and I have all of his albums on CD.  Around the time of the release of Christmas in 1989, Smitty (as he is known) was at his peak.  In 1988 he had released  i 2 (EYE), his best and most successful album up to that time (and IMO still his best) and followed it up with 1990's Go West Young Man followed by the monster album Change Your World in 1992 which had huge crossover appeal with the hit "Place in this World".  And lodged in between these releases was Christmas in 1989.  As a Christmas album, Christmas offers up the expected carols such as "O Come All Ye Faithful", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Silent Night" but in unexpected arrangements such as piano solos (all the keyboards on the album are played by Smitty) or accompanied by orchestra and choir.  Some tracks don't even feature Smitty singing at all and are just choral works with orchestral accompaniment.  The album also features some original songs such as "All is Well" and the highlight of the album, a song called "No Eye Had Seen" which is a duet with fellow Christian singer Amy Grant.  But this duet is not like a common duet as each singer (Smitty and Grant) sing different words at the same time crescendoing to an almost euphoric climax of sound.  The conclusion of the album is a song called "Gloria" which incorporates "Angels We Have Heard on High" with Smitty singing and on piano accompanied by full orchestra and a full choir.  It is a tour de force which can be heard below.
If you have never heard of this album, do yourself a favor and pick it up.  It is a true Christmas delight.