The 11 Greatest Years In American Cinema History

6. 1984


For those of us in our 30’s and 40’s, this is a monumental year, a year that clearly defined the decade of excess and escapist fare. The biggest titles released were Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Terminator, The Karate Kid, and Gremlins. John Hughes also made his directorial debut with the teen classic Sixteen Candles, Freddy showed his claws for the first time in Nightmare on Elm Street, and two brothers from Minnesota who borrowed money from friends and family released their first film Blood Simple (Coen Brothers).

A “few” other notable films include, Romancing the Stone, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Natural, This is Spinal Tap, Footloose, Splash, Police Academy, Revenge of the Nerds, Purple Rain, Red Dawn, Paris, Texas, and the cult hit Repo Man.


5. 1994


This year took the box office by storm with two unlikely films Forrest Gump and The Lion King. Tarantino cemented his brand of filmmaking with Pulp Fiction and a film based on a Stephen King novella that now sits on top of IMDB’s top 250 films of all time, The Shawshank Redemption, was released.

It was also the year of Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber), Gen X defining films, (Reality Bites and Clerks), and action blockbusters that defined the era (True Lies, Speed, and Clear and Present Danger).


4. 1967


Widely considered one of the most ground-breaking years in film by helping usher in the “New Hollywood” era marked mostly by the releases of the taboo shattering and generationally defining films Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate. Sidney Poitier became a box office star with three films (all dealing with race relations), To Sir, With Love, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and best picture winner In the Heat of the Night.

We also saw a blind Audrey Hepburn hold her own in the influential home invasion thriller Wait Until Dark, were introduced to Green Beret Billy Jack in Born Losers, and first heard “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate…” in Cool Hand Luke.


3. 1971

alex clockwork orange

In the decade that produced many classic films, the year that introduced us to Popeye Doyle (The French Connection), Alex Delarge (A Clockwork Orange), Dirty Harry, Shaft, and Harold and Maude, certainly produced the most classics. We also got the golden ticket to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, witnessed the coming of age classic The Last Picture Show, were shaken to the core by Straw Dogs, and mesmerized by Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland in Klute.

Other notable films include Altman’s anti-western McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Fiddler on the Roof, and two of the most beloved car films of all time Vanishing Point and Two Lane Blacktop.


2. 1999


Time may prove the final year of the millennium to be the greatest year in history for it’s hard to deny that its impact still wafts over many of the films Hollywood produces. We first saw bullet time with The Matrix, weeped over a floating plastic bag in the critical darling American Beauty, saw dead people in The Sixth Sense, learned how to make soap in Fight Club, and freaked out over some found footage in The Blair Witch Project.

We also got Kubrick’s final masterpiece Eyes Wide Shut, went inside the head of a semi famous actor in Being John Malkovich, witnessed a plague of frogs in Magnolia, and got the memo in Office Space. Other notables from that year include Election, Green Mile, Toy Story 2, Cider House Rules, Talented Mr. Ripley, October Sky, Galaxy Quest, and American Pie.


1. 1939

gone with the wind

The still undisputed champ is the year that brought us two of the most iconic films ever made, Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Jimmy Stewart made his mark in the quintessential whistleblower film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Laurence Olivier starred in the enduring classic Wuthering Heights.

Often lauded as the most influential film ever made, Stagecoach, was also released, as was Gulliver’s Travels, and one of the most beloved adventure films of all time Gunga Din. Other classics include Destry Rides Again, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Midnight, Ninotchka, The Women, Of Mice and Men, Young Mr. Lincoln, and Jesse James.

Author Bio: Alex Moore is a filmmaker living in Los Angeles with his B.A. in Drama and Comparative Literature from the University of Washington and a degree in film production from Vancouver Film School in Canada. He will definitely promote something when he has something to promote.