THE YEAR I ENTERED KINDERGARTEN: In my last few posts I've ran
through my favorite movies of 2005
You can probably anticipate what comes next.
When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked
back at 1975, it gave its Best Picture award to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. That only made it to #3 on my
list, but there's no shame in that—any of my top seven here are better than my
#1 picks for '85 and '05.
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Joan Tewkesbury
Some of my friends dismiss Nashville as a smug left-coaster giving a raspberry to flyover
country. To them I point out that the least sympathetic characters in the whole
vast cast are the rocker from L.A. and the reporter from the U.K. Altman's
scorn is nothing if not universal.
Directed by Fredric Wiseman
The great epic of American bureaucracy.
3. One Flew Over the
Directed by Milos Forman
Written by Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben, from a novel by
Beneath this scathing attack on the nanny state you'll find
an invisible fissure in the counterculture. Imagine some young hipster watching
All in the Family one night in 1975
and then heading out for a late screening of this movie, never dreaming that
Rob Reiner would turn out to have more in common with Nurse Ratched than with
4. Monty Python and
the Holy Grail
Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones
Written by Gilliam, Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric
Idle, and Michael Palin
Years of inept quotation by teenage geeks with bad English
accents can't smother the comic genius of this movie.
5. Love and Death
Written and directed by Woody Allen
"Boris, you're a coward!" "Yes, but I'm a
6. Dog Day Afternoon
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Written by Frank Pierson
Best bank-robbery movie ever.
7. Night Moves
Directed by Arthur Penn
Written by Alan Sharp
"Do you ask these questions because you want to know
the answer or is it just something you think a detective should do?"
8. Picnic at Hanging
Directed by Peter Weir
Written by Cliff Green, from a novel by Joan Lindsay
To understand the mass media's fixation on disappearing
white girls, start here.
Directed by Thom Andersen
The prehistory of the movies.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb, from Benchley's
There's a handful of Spielberg movies that I like, but if
all his pictures were to disappear tomorrow this is the only one I'd miss.
11. Fox and His
Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
12. Grey Gardens
(Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer)
14. The Man Who Would
Be King (John Huston)
16. Posse (Kirk
17. Monsieur Pointu (André
Leduc, Bernard Longpré)
18. Three Days of the
Condor (Sydney Pollack)
19. The Magic Flute
20. Barry Lyndon
How good a year for movies was 1975? That top 10 list
features the best Wiseman film I've seen, the best Forman film I've seen, the
best Gilliam (as director, at least), the best Lumet, the best Penn, the best
Weir, the best Spielberg. And while I don't think that's Woody Allen's best movie, I do think it's his funniest.
(Regular readers may be feeling a bit of déjà vu, because Monty Python and the Holy Grail
in my 1974
too. Sorry: I was misinformed about when it had its premiere. If you
want to beef the '74 list back up to 20 movies, now that Holy Grail
has been taken away from it, you can add Ali: Fear Eat the Soul
to the honorable mentions.)
Of the films of 1975 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Dersu Uzala.