When the Motion Picture Academy looked back at 1977, it gave its Best Picture award to the Woody Allen comedy Annie Hall. Once in a blue moon, the Academy gets it right:
1. Annie Hall Directed by Woody Allen Written by Allen and Marshall Brickman
"Why don't you get William F. Buckley to kill the spider?"
2. Equus Directed by Sidney Lumet Written by Peter Shaffer, from his play
Sex, faith, madness, and horses.
3. Martin Written and directed by George Romero
The Equus of vampire movies.
4. The Last Wave Directed by Peter Weir Written by Weir, Tony Morphett, and Petru Popescu
One of Weir's early apocalyptic tales, as dreamlike as Picnic at Hanging Rock or Fearless but contained -- barely -- by a pulpy science-fiction plot.
5. Three Women Written and directed by Robert Altman
An American Persona.
6. That Obscure Object of Desire Directed by Luis Buñuel Written by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière, from a novel by Pierre Louys
Buñuel's final film returns to some of his favorite themes: obsession, humiliation, and the strange power one person can hold over another.
7. Slap Shot Directed by George Roy Hill Written by Nancy Dowd
Something strange must have been bubbling beneath the surface of the mid-'70s. Just look at this list: It starts with a respectable, sophisticated story about relationships, and then a horde of dreams and demons bursts loose. Even this fun little hockey movie -- the standard by which all sports comedies should be judged -- has violent chaos at its core.
8. God Told Me To Written and directed by Larry Cohen
Cohen is one of the great B-movie writer-directors, and this Phildickian detective story might be his best film. (It's either this or Bone.) It's filled with low-budget glitches, but they only add to its eerie charm.
9. Take the 5:10 to Dreamland Directed by Bruce Conner
The Joseph Cornell of the Beat generation.
10. Perfumed Nightmare Written and directed by Kidlat Tahimik
As a boy in the Philippines, the protagonist wants to westernize himself; when he actually comes to the West, he tries to return to his premodern roots. The movie is often called a critique of globalization, but it's too clearly a product of globalization to be taken on that level alone. Both when he attempts to be American in the east and when he tries to be Philippine in the west, the protagonist is really a hybrid -- just like this elusive, semi-improvised yarn.