When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1972, it gave its Best Picture award to The Godfather. As for me...
1. The Godfather
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Written by Coppola and Mario Puzo, from a novel by Puzo
Every so often, the Academy gets it right.
2. The Ruling Class
Directed by Peter Medak
Written by Peter Barnes, from his play
The rap on this movie is that it isn't as profound as it thinks it is. My response: Yes, but it's funny.
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Altman and Susannah York
This isn't usually classified as a horror movie, but it's one of the few films that genuinely scared me as I watched it.
4. The Candidate
Directed by Michael Ritchie
Written by Jeremy Larner
Every time I flip by this on TV, I wind up watching it to the end.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Anthony Shaffer, from a novel by Arthur La Bern
Hitch's most modern movie is actually rather traditional, once you look past the nudity and the graphic violence: a straightforward thriller about one of the director's most familiar characters, the innocent man wrongly accused.
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Written by Anthony Shaffer, from his play
"The shortest way to a man's heart is through humiliation."
7. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Directed by Luis Buñuel
Written by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière
At this point in his career, Buñuel is horsing around. He's earned the right.
8. The King of Marvin Gardens
Directed by Bob Rafelson
Written by Rafelson and Jacob Brackman
"Do you think that you're the only one who's entitled to be selfish?"
9. Cries and Whispers
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman
One of the most painful films I've ever seen. Part of me thinks it should be much higher in this list. Another part doesn't want to include it at all.
Written and directed by Larry Cohen
A strange and engrossing little art-film/blaxploitation hybrid, starring the always enjoyable Yaphet Kotto.
11. Tup-Tup (Nedeljko Dragić)
12. Play it Again, Sam (Herbert Ross)
13. The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May)
14. Fat City (John Huston)
15. Love in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer)
16. The Getaway (Sam Peckinpah)
17. Deliverance (John Boorman)
18. The Mechanic (Michael Winner)
19. Junior Bonner (Sam Peckinpah)
20. Ulzana's Raid (Robert Aldrich)
Best film about a near-future simian revolution: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.
If you compare this list to the version I posted a decade ago, you'll see that the only major difference is that I added some honorable mentions (and that a couple of movies that used to be in the top 10 got squeezed down into the teens).
Of the films of 1972 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in What's Up, Doc? And I suppose I ought to watch Cabaret someday.