The new American cinema began in 1967 with four films which would change the fabric of cinema in the United States with their courage and their artistry. ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, ‘Cool Hand Luke’, ‘The Graduate’ and ‘In Cold Blood’ challenged audiences and critics in a way few films in the decade had, asking them to go on a journey with them, to experience something new. The door to explore which had been previously taboo was opened and the artists stormed in. Suddenly people on screen talked realistically, swearing peppered their language, sexuality was explored, nudity was commonplace, and films began to explore drug use, mental illness, divorce, cultural unrest, urban alienation, Watergate and Viet Nam. To quote Bob Dylan “the times were changin” and change they did. The studio system fell, young directors suddenly gained control of Hollywood, and exciting new artists emerged each year.
By the end of the decade the seventies had been declared the most important ten year period in cinema history, the films out of America hailed around the globe. Through the sixties universities and colleges were now offering courses in film, and many of the major directors to emerge in the seventies had gone through school, while others cut their teeth in TV. Coppola, Scorsese, De Palma, Lucas, Spielberg, Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet, ALan J. Pakula, Sydney Pollack, William Friedkin, Peter Bogdonavich, and Hal Ashby gave us stunning films through the decade, though many of them would also experience a major box office failure, as the studios allowed these new directors whatever they needed for their films. Many directors from Europe tried their hand at movie making in America, some with great success, Roman Polanski and Milos Forman, others, such Ingmar Bergman, not so well.
And with Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda leading the way there was a second renaissance in method acting, which saw an explosion of major acting talent. No longer did actors and actresses have to possess model good looks, realism was the new order of the day. Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Ellen Burstyn, Jill Clayburgh, Sally Field, Robert de Niro, Louise Fletcher, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand, Robert Duvall, Bruce Dern and Diane Keaton were among the finest actors of the decade, bringing realism and grittiness to their characterizations. Here’s the list of top 70s films. You might be able to sinf some of these 70s movies on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
20. WOODSTOCK (1970)
One of the greatest documentaries ever made, this study of the great rock concert in upstate New York on Yasgars farm is a stunning document of history. What was meant to be for perhaps twenty thousand became for more than half a million kids, descending on the small town to watch the greatest collection of rock and roll artists ever play their music in a peaceful demonstration against the war. The cameras catch the acts, but go so much further than that, heading into the crowds to talk to the people who came there to find out why, to the townsfolk who loved the kids and went out of their way to feed the multitudes, to the organizers who could not believe what had happened to their little event. A soaring work of art, capturing the time in history that will never be forgotten.
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