Another great year in 1979.
10. Kramer Vs. Kramer – Divorce is bad. The kids are the real victims. Yeah yeah yeah. Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep are great, as always.
9. The Black Stallion – I haven’t seen this since I was a kid, but I really loved it then. I don’t remember any of the dialogue, just sequences of amazing images and vibrant colors. I need to see it again to see if it’s as great looking as I remember.
8. Being There – A clever movie, but not as smart as people seem to think it is. Peter Sellers is great. It’s one joke gets a little tiresome after awhile.
7. The Great Train Robbery – Very energetic, entertaining Sean Connery film written and directed by Michael Crichton.
6. The China Syndrome – One of the great “social problem” films of all-time. Stars Jack Lemmon as a whistle-blower at a nuclear power plant. Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas play the journalists to whom he blows the whistle. By the director of the Paper Chase.
5. The Jerk – Just as classic as Animal House, but it slows down too much in the second half and wasn’t nearly as influential. Still one of the funniest movies of all-time, the first half hour or so can’t be topped.
4. Alien – Ridley Scott’s best movie. Possibly the best horror movie of all-time. Great performance by Sigourney Weaver as one of the all-time great badass women. Enormously influential, yet it’s lost none of it’s effectiveness over time.
3. The Life Of Brian – My personal favorite of the Monty Python movies. It’s the combination of absurdist comedy and actual historical-political critique that makes it so much more resonant than The Holy Grail or Meaning Of Life. Unfortunately, it’s only become more relevant over the last 26 years. I’m not the Messiah, really I’m not!
2. Apocalypse Now – Wow, was this a tough call for #1. I really do love this movie, every bit of it. I know it doesn’t make any sense, and that Coppola had no real idea what he was doing, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. the chaos and bizarre primitive lunacy of this totally unrealistic film does a far better job of explaining Vietnam than any realistic treatment could hope to. it’s reality that’s screwed up, not the film. Someday, this war’s gonna end.
1. Manhattan – Has held the default position of My Favorite Movie for over a decade now. Not Best, Favorite. A important distinction, I guess. Just as funny as Annie Hall, but less fantastical. It’s a Woody Allen movie that scathingly critiques the type of people who watch, and the characters who appear in, Woody Allen movies. As depressing and critical as it is though, it still manages to have a totally effective and believable happy ending. The best looking of Allen’s films (it really isn’t close). Tremendous integration of an all-Gershwin score. Allen’s best acting, Diane Keaton is excellent as an anti-Annie Hall, Mariel Hemingway brings a lot of humanity to an essentially symbolic role. You have to have a little faith in people.
A lot of Unseen Movies from this year as well:
Escape from Alcatraz
The Muppet Movie
North Dallas Forty
The Castle Of Cagliostro
Nosferatu The Vampyre
All That Jazz
The Tin Drum
. . .And Justice for All