1978 Ten Best Movies

A year in which an unusual film by the late Eric Rohmer takes the top spot. I have gone on a bit about Rohmer in previous posts, including this personal timeline, but Perceval is a singular offering by a director whose work so frequently consisted of modern people sitting around rooms talking. This one is the tale of a knight (Fabrice Luchini, early in his wonderful career) who rides through visibly artificial sets on a soundstage, and it’s not quite like any other movie you’ve seen.

But there were other movies in 1978, many of which are pretty interesting. To encounter Halloween and Days of Heaven as  a young person when they were first out was to feel the excitement of something happening, although it was possible to feel like something was happening even with less exalted titles, such as The Driver or The Fury. Hell, even Animal House was different. And so it’s easy enough to find the ten best movies of 1978:

1. Perceval le Gallois (Eric Rohmer)

2. The Tree of Wooden Clogs (Ermanno Olmi)

3. Halloween (John Carpenter)

4. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick)

5. The Green Room (Francois Truffaut)

6. The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino)

7. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman)

8. An Unmarried Woman (Paul Mazursky)

9. The Buddy Holly Story (Steve Rash)

10. Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Bertrand Blier)

There was also the explosion of Youssef Chahine’s Alexandria…Why?, and the clean humor and cheer of Superman. And not only did Woody Allen do a credible Ingmar Bergman movie (Interiors), but Ingmar Bergman did a credible Ingmar Bergman movie (Autumn Sonata), although neither was top-rank. Kaufman’s Body Snatchers seems underrated today, especially for the way it catches a prevailing mood of the time, and The Buddy Holly Story should be considered more of a rock ‘n roll classic today, especially for Gary Busey’s nervy performance. But maybe 30 years of mischief will dim an actor’s greatest moment on film.


One Response

  1. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the great, idiosyncratic Perceval topping a list like this. Such an utterly strange movie, in the best possible ways. And such a rich movie, triggering all sorts of inquiries about the hero, redemption, spirituality, principles, and of course the process of literary adaptation itself, which is central to the film at virtually every moment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: