“My only hope,” former Voice film critic Andrew Sarris writes in his 1977 best-of list, reprinted below, “is that I will have all the ’80s in which to reconsider the ’70s.” With the help of forty years of hindsight, in this week’s cover story, current Voice film critic Melissa Anderson explores the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s retrospective of 33 films from 1977, a portentous year for American cinema — and a contradictory, paradoxical one for America in general.
Perhaps only in hindsight can we appreciate the impact of the year that gave us films ranging from Annie Hall to Star Wars, which, Anderson points out, “ushered in the era of franchised, industrial moviemaking — a mandate unlikely ever to end.”
“It was a great year for actresses,” Sarris writes, pointing to Diane Keaton in Looking for Mr. Goodbar and Shelley Duvall, whose portrayal of a geriatric-rehab-center employee in 3 Women earned her the Best Actress award at Cannes.
And while the documentary Pumping Iron — about a young Arnold Schwarzenegger’s quest for his sixth Mr. Olympia title, included in the FSLC series — fails to make Sarris’s list, it does warrant a mention as the joint winner of the “award for justifiable narcissism,” along with Muhammad Ali, also the subject of a 1977 doc. Read Andrew Sarris’s appraisal of the year in film, from the Voice’s Jan. 2, 1978, issue, below.