When the Motion Picture Academy looked back at 1971, it gave its Best Picture award to The French Connection, a thriller that I enjoyed but whose exalted reputation mystifies me. I like these better:
1. The Last Picture Show
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Written by Bogdanovich and Larry McMurtry, from a novel by McMurtry
I'm not sure if this counts as a "modern western," but if it does, it's my favorite modern western.
2. A Clockwork Orange
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Kubrick, from a novel by Anthony Burgess
And for those people who would reduce every story to a simple political message, a quick reminder: A film can present two ugly alternatives without advocating either one.
3. Mon Oncle Antoine
Directed by Claude Jutra
Written by Jutra and Clément Perron
One of the darkest Christmas movies this side of Pandora's Box, but with some fleeting moments of genuine joy too.
4. McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Altman and Brian McKay, from a novel by Edmund Naughton
Altman does to the western what he did a year earlier to the war movie and would do over the following few years to the private eye film, the gangster picture, and the musical.
5. They Might Be Giants
Directed by Anthony Harvey
Written by James Goldman, from his play
My favorite Sherlock Holmes movie, though strictly speaking Sherlock Holmes isn't in it.
Directed by Nicholas Roeg
Written by Edward Bond
An enigmatic film about desire, communication breakdown, and the beautiful, treacherous Australian landscape.
Directed by Jacques Tati
Written by Tati, Jacques Lagrange, and Bert Haanstra
It's a worthy follow-up to Play Time, and if it isn't quite as good...well, not every movie needs to be a masterpiece.
Directed by Woody Allen
Written by Allen and Mickey Rose
"All children under 16 years old are now: 16 years old."
Directed by Roman Polanski
Written by Polanski and Kenneth Tynan, from a play by William Shakespeare
Welles did Macbeth as a film noir. Kurosawa did it as a samurai picture. And Polanski did it as a Hammer horror movie.
10. Dirty Harry
Directed by Don Siegel
Written by Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink, Dean Riesner, John Milius, Terrence Malick, and Jo Heims
A peeping-tom cop is driven to sadism by the horrors of street crime and his department's inability to contain it. In the sequels he becomes an almost cuddly character, but here Harry Callahan is easy to empathize with but hard to like: an antihero in a movie with more nuances than many critics will admit.
11. The Hired Hand (Peter Fonda)
12. W.R.—Mysteries of the Organism (Dušan Makavejev)
13. Duck, You Sucker (Sergio Leone)
14. Two-Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman)
15. Klute (Alan J. Pakula)
16. The Hospital (Arthur Hiller)
17. A New Leaf (Elaine May)
18. Jabberwocky (Jan Švankmajer)
19. Basic Training (Frederic Wiseman)
20. Play Misty for Me (Clint Eastwood)
Best monologue: Elliott Gould on writing letters to the spy who reads his mail, in Little Murders.
Of the films of 1971 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Out 1 and The Working Class Goes to Heaven.