When the Motion Picture Academy looked back at 1967, it gave its Best Picture award to In the Heat of the Night, a police procedural with a civil rights message. It's an enjoyable movie, but it didn't make my list:
1. The President's Analyst
Written and directed by Theodore J. Flicker
For fans of Richard Condon and Robert Anton Wilson, and for anyone who has ever cast a suspicious eye at his phone.
2. The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade
Directed by Peter Brook
Written by Adrian Mitchell, from a play by Peter Weiss
"Marat, these cells of the inner self are worse than the deepest stone dungeon, and as long as they are locked all your revolution remains only a prison mutiny to be put down by corrupted fellow prisoners."
3. Play Time
Directed by Jacques Tati
Written by Tati and Jacques Lagrange, with additional English dialogue by Art Buchwald
Tati takes on high modernism.
Directed by Stanley Donen
Written by Peter Cook, from a story by Cook and Dudley Moore
No, not the awful remake with Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley. This one stars Cook and Moore, and it feels like a medieval folktale dropped into the Swinging Sixties.
5. Le Samouraï
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Melville and Georges Pellegrin, from a novel by Joan McLeod
The best film noir of the '60s. Probably. Top three, anyway.
6. The Firemen's Ball
Directed by Miloš Forman
Written by Forman, Ivan Passer, and Jaroslav Papoušek
A caustic satire of life under a corrupt regime. But even if you don't pick up on the politics, it's still pretty funny.
7. Titicut Follies
Directed by Frederick Wiseman with John Marshall
A grotesque glimpse inside a total institution.
8. In Cold Blood
Directed by Richard Brooks
Written by Brooks, from a book by Truman Capote
"I thought Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman. I thought so right up to the time I cut his throat."
9. Bonnie and Clyde
Directed by Arthur Penn
Written by David Newman and Robert Benton
Half a century later, it's hard to tell what all the fuss was about. But it's still a kinetic, engaging picture, even if you're not quite sure why this was the movie that turned Hollywood on its head.
10. Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator
Directed by Dušan Makavejev
Written by Makavejev and Branko Vučićević
"It's still unclear who will rule the Earth in 100 years: people or rats."
11. Report (Bruce Conner)
12. La Femme 100 Têtes (Eric Duvivier)
13. Belle de Jour (Luis Buñuel)
14. Point Blank (John Boorman)
15. Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg)
16. Spider Baby (Jack Hill)
17. Dont Look Back (D.A. Pennebaker)
18. Quatermass and the Pit (Roy Ward Baker)
19. The Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich)
20. La Collectionneuse (Eric Rohmer)
And a shoutout to the "Love Power" and "Springtime for Hitler" numbers in The Producers. The full film is uneven—too uneven to make my list—but those scenes are two of the funniest movie moments of the '60s.
Of the films of 1967 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in The Stolen Airship and China is Near.