Monday, January 5, 2015

The Favorite Films Before My Lifetime: 1977

1977...something big came out that year, didn't it?  Yup its the Star Wars year!  The Academy Awards for this year for many a Star Wars geek and film going enthusiast seemed to have "gotten it wrong" when it came to best picture.  I was one of those for many years.  And then know...actually sat down and watched Annie Hall and realized, its no mistake.  Yes, it could have gone Star Wars way and it was a big, important film...but what many don't realize, is that Annie Hall was just that too.  And folks, don't blame Annie Hall for beating Star Wars (I have met so many damn Star Wars fans who refuse to watch the movie because it beat Star Wars)...that film had nothing to do with the people who voted it Best Picture.  I think a bigger crime is that Close Encounters didn't even get nominated.

Here goes Oscar 

WINNER - Annie Hall
The Goodbye Girl
Star Wars (Please note...not A New Hope, not Episode IV...STAR.WARS.)
The Turning Point

Here goes Brandon...really killing me that Suspiria and Eraserhead were clipped from this list last second...but that's how the cookie crumbles...

Annie Hall

After the first paragraph rants of Annie Hall, you get an encore right here.  But really, this is my favorite "romantic comedy" if you want to call it that...well...ever!  This movie is well thought out, a great character study and most of all, extremely funny.  Christopher Walken shows up for like 2 seconds in this movie and is a complete scene stealer.  Diane Keaton gives what my be my absolute favorite performances of all time and is just dorkily adorable in the movie.  The chemistry with her and Woody Allen skyrockets off the charts.  With how incredible perfect and well this movie works (it is indeed a masterpiece), its incredibly shocking that this ISN'T the film it was supposed to be.  It was crafted in the editing room.  Annie Hall and Alvy Singer's relationship was only pretty much going to amount to what he and Shelley Duvall's was in the final film.  Some of the material was later used in Manhattan Murder Mystery.  A few years back, Devin Faraci wrote a nice piece on the original film, Anhedonia which you can find HERE going over details.

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

Being on the list.  This means something.  Spielberg rocked it out having this and Jaws back to back.  As a kid, this movie spooked me pretty damn good.  Its a film that still works for me, but like Spielberg has said, its a film he could have only made at that time in his life.  But, still to this day, Close Encounters is an adventure like no other.  John Williams gives us one of two amazing scores from 1977.  Its beautiful and really of its own.  Also, look for Lance Henriksen in a brief appearance that proves he's worked with Spielberg.  The end of this movie is indeed perfection in the way of visual storytelling and a marvel to still watch to this day.  My preferred cut of the film is Steven's original theatrical ones, but the last cut they made is pretty good itself.  People forget, but this film had a special edition of its own a few years later where they added a sequence to the end that sort of had a mixed response from people which always leads to assumed hatred.

Saturday Night Fever

I think time and what pop culture kept from this movie have made people forget what a fantastic film it truly is.  If you ask people what they remember its John Travolta lookin' cool and waltzing around to The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive".  They also probably recall the soundtrack for the film, which is one of the best ever.  But there's so much more to the film than just that.  It was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor...but should have had a Best Director nod as well as SOMETHING for its soundtrack.  It was also the 5th highest grossing film of the year and was close to clearing $100 million.  Anyway, this is a great sort of coming of age story, and surprisingly to most who see it based off its pop culture influence...the film takes a really dark turn in its climax.  It technically isn't a musical, but I really think it should count and the songs blend perfectly with the dance and happenings of the film.  Revisit this film, its quite an experience and more than its pop culture legacy has given it credit for.


Probably the most overlooked film of 1977 and one I'm hoping was the film most rediscovered in 2014.  William Friedkin's remake of The Wages Of Fear was one of the more anticipated films of 1977 as it was his long anticipated follow up to The Exorcist.  The problem being, this film got caught in the midst of the Star Wars phenomena.  Nobody wanted to see this kind of movie when there was Star Wars around.  Time was not kind to the film as it got lost or its rights confused and it was never able to make a DVD release even.  Luckily in the last few years it was cleared up, beautifully restored and put on Blu-ray in 2014.  The structure and pacing of this film is indeed very 70s, but its fantastic in that regard.  This is an incredibly engaging and wonderfully suspenseful thriller.  It does a fantastic job of character work, adventure, action and drama...blending it into a fantastic cocktail.  If you're going to see it, grab yourself the Blu-ray...I understand its on Netflix (or was), but its a 4:3 cropped, poor quality VHS transfer.  This movie needs to be seen as intended as its got such a great scope and photography that I wish this movie could be in IMAX.

The Spy Who Loved Me

My personal favorite in the Roger Moore era of James Bond films.  I know the outlook or mentality of James Band has changed in the last decade.  But, growing up, this movie easily was one of the films in the canon that could be considered the "Ultimate Bond Movie".  Back in the 80s (even most of the 90s) Roger Moore was not despised and actually beloved.  Generations had Connery Vs. Moore arguments.  This film caters perfectly to his talents, and showcases plenty of massive sets and spy fantasy type of technology and action sequence.  It features what I consider the best Bond title song of all time "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon (which was also the exit song for my wife and I's wedding ceremony).  Iconic henchman Jaws gets introduced in this one and he's a big time menace and pretty damn spooky.  Yes, it features a disco infused score, but that's all the more awesome for me.  From the stuntwork to the adventure, to the "Bond-ness" of it all, you don't really get to have much more fun than The Spy Who Loved Me.  I love talking me some James Bond (One of my all time top franchises ever), and if you like reading my blabbings about Bond...hey...check to your right for a journey that led to this blog.

Star Wars

This is a magical film to not just my generation, but pretty much every one of them that witnessed it firsthand in 1977 onward.  George Lucas' space opera was a symphony of everything going right in making movies and going to the theater an incredible "experience".  Few films have reached the visual heights and wonder that Star Wars captured.  Even having nonstop played my VHS copies and THX Edition copies, when I first saw Star Wars: The Special Edition on the big screen for the first time it was still jaw dropping and incredible.  One of the best theater going experiences ever for me.  This film, even moreso this original trilogy is the origin point for my film fandom, my geekiness, my obsessing, my collecting, my cinematic sitting here and writing this blog today.  No, I'm by far not alone in loving Star Wars, its the biggest movie fandom there is.  But I'm apart of that, and happy there are so many to share that love with.  Its a shared experience and sense of wonderment with so many, it even can go beyond the movies.  Even more than the film, I think I may be most excited about The Force Awakens because of the prospect of taking my son (who will be almost 4 when it comes out) to a brand new Star Wars movie at the theater.  He's already a big Star Wars fan, but I hope he catches that sense of awe when he sees one on the big screen for the first time just like dad.  And that's what I'm talking about.

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