Now that we’ve reached the present, it’s time to go back to the past and countdown the Movies Of The Year for all the years before I was born. These lists should, of course, be much smaller and easier to make. We’ll start with 1975 and work all the way back to 1895 or whatever.
9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show – I despise this movie and all of its annoying fans. One of the great joys of my career was the two years I got to spend harassing those freaks on a weekly basis.
8. Barry Lyndon – A great, fantastic looking film, as Kubrick relied only on natural and candlelight for every shot to light some very beautiful scenes. The problem is that the story’s dreadfully dull. And while the cinematography’s really cool looking, Kubrick repeats the same long zoom shots over and over again, long after we’ve gotten the point. Easily my least favorite Kubrick movie.
7. Shampoo – Warren Beatty plays a hairdresser that Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn and Lee Grant are all after as he’s trying to raise money to open his own shop on election night. It’s a fun little movie on it’s own terms, but probably pretty dated nowadays. Directed by Hal Askby (Bound For Glory, #7, 1976; Coming Home, #13, 1978; Being There, #8, 1979), and written by Beatty and Robert Towne, the guy who wrote Chinatown, Days Of Thunder (#49, 1990) and Mission: Impossible (#13, 1996).
6. Love And Death – Perhaps the most underrated of Woody Allen’s comedies is this pastiche of Russian novels and films. Allen plays, well, the Woody Allen character, this time as a Russian peasant who unwillingly “fights” in the war, tries to win the love of his cousin Sonia (Diane Keaton), and eventually tries to assassinate Napoleon. Along the way, Allen and Keaton digress into pseudodeep philosophical speculations and fascinating discussions of wheat. It was his last true comedy, unless you count his lame efforts in the late 90s, which I don’t.
5. Nashville – Another one of those movies that I need to see again. It’s a Robert Altman cast of thousands film about a political rally/concert. Some of the cast: Henry Gibson, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Karen Black, Jeff Goldblum, Scott Glenn, Shelly Duvall, and Lily Tomlin. Screenwriter Joan tewkesbury hasn;t done much else, though she did direct two episodes of “Felicity”.
4. Dog Day Afternoon – My favorite Al Pacino performance is in this based on a true story film about a totally inept bank robbery that turns into a hostage crises/farce. The great John Cazale costars, along with Chris Sarandon, Lance Henriskson, Carol Kane and Charles Durning. Directed by Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, The Verdict (#1, 1982) and Night Falls On Manhattan (#33, 1997).
3. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – Milos Forman’s classic adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel about life in a mental institution as a metaphor for, well, something or other. Jack Nicholson, at his peak, stars as the guy who fakes craziness to avoid a real jail, Louise Fltecher plays the evil bureaucrat Nurse Ratched. Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito and Scatman Crothers also star. One of only three films to win Oscars for Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay, it’s always seemed a little overrated to me.
1. Jaws – Steven Spielberg’s adventure film is often credited with inventing the blockbuster and killing the last golden age of American art movies. Of course, neither of those things are true. It’s been so influential, it’s easy to forget how great it really is. A perfect action movie.
Some interesting Unseen movies from this year, but nothing I’m in too big a hurry to see.
The Man Who Would Be King
Picnic At Hanging Rock
Master Of The Flying Guillotine
Farewell, My Lovely
The Day Of The Locust
The Story Of Adele H.
The Great Waldo Pepper
The Wind And The Lion
The Stepford Wives
Three Days Of The Condor
Death Race 2000