When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1974, it gave its Best Picture award to The Godfather Part 2. In another year, that might have topped my list as well, but in 1974 it isn't even the year's best Coppola movie:
Directed by Roman Polanski
Written by Robert Towne
The bridge between the film noir of the '40s and the conspiracy thrillers of the '70s.
2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones
Written by Gilliam, Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin
Years of inept quotation by teenage geeks with bad English accents can't smother the comic genius of this movie.
3. The Conversation
Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola
'70s cinema in a nutshell: It's got paranoia, guilt, a lone wolf locked into an uneasy relationship with the system, and Gene Hackman.
Directed by Bob Fosse
Written by Julian Barry
Sometimes Dustin Hoffman does Lenny Bruce's routines better than Lenny Bruce did Lenny Bruce's routines.
5. California Split
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Joseph Walsh
Next time someone tries to tell you Hollywood always fucks things up, remind them that this one almost got made by Spielberg instead.
6. The Godfather Part 2
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Written by Coppola and Mario Puzo, from a novel by Puzo
A short history of America.
7. Swept Away...by an unusual destiny in the blue sea of August
Written and directed by Lina Wertmuller
A comedy about the complexities of love, lust, and power, and the difficulties in discerning who wields the third when the first two are in play.
8. A Woman Under the Influence
Written and directed by John Cassavetes
Every unhappy family, the man said, is unhappy in its own way. In this case, several ways.
9. Phantom of the Paradise
Written and directed by Brian De Palma
The Phantom of the Opera meets The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Faust meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
10. Young Frankenstein
Directed by Mel Brooks
Written by Brooks and Gene Wilder
"Wait! Where are you going? I was going to make espresso."
11. Thieves Likes Us (Robert Altman)
12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah)
13. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent)
14. Alice in the Cities (Wim Wenders)
15. Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks)
16. The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula)
17. Céline and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette)
18. Every Man for Himself and God Against All (Werner Herzog)
19. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper)
20. Space is the Place (John Coney)
Of the films of 1974 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Primate.