What is the best year in film?

I recently did some research on my 50 favorite films, realizing how many didn’t win awards due to other movies that came out the same year. A la There will be Blood only winning 2 Academy Awards because No Country for Old Men picked up 4 in big categories; or Chinatown only winning one because it was with films like The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Murder on the Orient Express, Young Frankenstein, and Blazing Saddles. This got me thinking…what was the best year for films released in theaters? Which year had just an abundance of riches when it came to classic movies? I went through a few years myself and found that, for me, it’s a pretty close contention between three years:

1974 – Young Frankenstein, The Godfather Part II, Chinatown, The Towering Inferno, Blazing Saddles, Murder on the Orient Express, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Conversation, Death Wish, Gone in Sixty Seconds, The Longest Yard, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Parallax View, It’s Alive, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Lenny, and The Yakuza

2000 – Gladiator, Unbreakable, American Psycho, Memento, Requiem for a Dream, Remember the Titans, Snatch, X-Men, Almost Famous, The Patriot, Cast Away, Scary Movie, Bring it On, Chocolat, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Mission: Impossible II (I’m a fan), Battle Royale, In the Mood for Love, Shanghai Noon, Pitch Black, What Lies Beneath, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Billy Elliot, Sexy Beast, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Chicken Run, Frequency, Boiler Room, High Fidelity, Meet the Parents, Amores Perros, Thirteen Days, The Whole Nine Yards, Best in Show, You Can Count on Me, Space Cowboys, U-571, The Yards, Shadow of the Vampire, Finding Forrester, Wonder Boys, Chopper, The Way of the Gun, Pollock, The Dish, Keeping the Faith, The Contender, Gangster No. 1, and State & Main

2007 – Zodiac, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Hot Fuzz, Superbad, Transformers, Into the Wild, Shooter, Gone Baby Gone, Hairspray, Stardust, Grindhouse, Atonement, Ratatouille, Sunshine, Sweeney Todd, Enchanted, The Mist, Juno, I Am Legend, American Gangster, Fracture, Knocked Up, The Bourne Ultimatum, Ocean’s 13, 28 Weeks Later, Live Free or Die Hard, Blades of Glory, 30 Days of Night, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Eastern Promises, 3:10 to Yuma, 1408, The Orphanage, Death at a Funeral, Michael Clayton, The Darjeeling Limited, I’m Not There, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Simpsons Movie, Hot Rod, Rogue, Shoot ’em Up, Walk Hard, Once, La Vie en Rose, Paranormal Activity, Waitress, Trick ‘r Treat, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Lars & the Real Girl, Timecrimes, Breach, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Control, The Savages, The Lookout, Shotgun Stories, and The Hammer

Now looking at those lists, it seems obvious that it would be between 2000 and 2007, but I would say that a bulk of their films include many “good” films that have more-or-less been forgotten by now (i.e. Breach, Hairspray, Keeping the Faith, What Lies Beneath). As for 1974, I would say that 85% of those films are bona fide classics. Of course this is all subjective and, through my research, found many notable years (especially in the 70s and 90s) that are well worth a look. Like who realized that Toy Story, Se7en, Braveheart, The Usual Suspects, and Heat all came out the same year?

So what do you think? What is the best year for film?

1 reply »

  1. As great as 2007 was for cinema, you can’t go wrong with 1939. So many game-changing films came out that year, with the big ones being “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone With the Wind” and “Stagecoach,” which Orson Welles said was his biggest and only inspiration when making “Citizen Kane,” while also raising the western genre from B-movies to a staple of American filmmaking.

    On top of that, we also go “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” the film that truly began Jimmy Stewart’s career, “The Rules of the Game,” which introduced the world to the wonders of French cinema, “Dark Victory,” the definitive movie version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Gunga Din,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” “Love Affair,” the definitive version of “Of Mice and Men,” “Ninotchka,” “The Women,” “Only Angels Have Wings” and the definitive version of “Wuthering Heights.” All of which are classics.

    1939 was the year that set all the bars for films to follow. Most movies that are released today owes a lot to at least one of those films. To me, that makes it the best year for films.

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