1979 Movies

Plex's 1979 movie database is your gateway to a year noted for its cinematic releases. The best films from 1979 have been cataloged here, offering an all-encompassing view of the year's movie output. Navigate and explore at your leisure, appreciating the remarkable breadth in this key year in film.
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The Best Movies of 1979


Alien firmly established its place in science fiction and horror cinema. This film introduced an enduring franchise, but its initial outing remains noteworthy as a distinct narrative. The plot is straightforward: a team of people are stranded on a spaceship, and they're not alone. An extraterrestrial creature is on the loose, intent on eliminating them one by one.

While the following sequels might lessen the intensity of the finale, it's not hard to appreciate the nerve-racking suspense that audiences felt when they first saw it in 1979. The elements of the film work harmoniously, solidifying its status as a masterpiece.

Nosferatu the Vampyre

Nosferatu the Vampyre offers a unique exploration into the horrors of aging. This film reframes its title character from a purely horrific creature to a tragic figure yearning for human connection and a meaningful existence. However, he is doomed to live in isolation and darkness.

This film, one of Werner Herzog's finest, impressively reimagines the silent film classic Nosferatu, updating it respectfully. It's an effective blend of storytelling and atmosphere, qualifying it as an ideal choice for a horror movie.

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is a testament to the determination of filmmakers. Despite one of the most problematic productions in the history of cinema, the result is widely recognized as one of the most vital war films ever created.

The story follows a man assigned to eliminate a colonel who has gone mad and secluded himself deep in the jungle. This journey takes viewers not only into the hazardous jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia but also into the psyche of the protagonist. More than four decades after its release, the film continues to leave audiences aghast with its striking visuals and sounds.

Kramer vs. Kramer

While 1979's Best Picture winner at the Oscars, Kramer vs. Kramer, may not be universally hailed as the standout film of the year today, it has enduring appeal. The film narrates the bitter realities of divorce proceedings, with the key focus being on the custody battle over a young boy.

Boasting impressive performances from Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, the film skillfully navigates through high emotional stakes, rendering it a classic in the legal drama category.

All That Jazz

All That Jazz is a film that subverts the typical cheeriness associated with musicals. This semi-autobiographical narrative unfolds the life of a man working himself into the ground, ignoring health warnings and family concerns.

Characterized by frantic editing and flamboyant style, the film builds towards an unforgettable finale, becoming an intensely psychological musical about confronting personal flaws and mortality. With All That Jazz, director Bob Fosse surpassed his own creative limits, crafting the most significant film of his career.


Directed by the legendary Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker is a gem in Sci-Fi. It is anything but your typical action-packed movie; rather, it focuses more on the introspective journey of the human spirit. The story revolves around three men who risk their lives in pursuit of an anomaly that allegedly grants wishes.

The film's slow-paced narrative allows for a comprehensive exploration of human desires and fears, offering a profound look into the human condition. Stalker is the kind of movie that leaves an indelible mark, compelling viewers to introspect long after the credits roll.

The Warriors

From the quiet depths of introspection, we transition to the high-octane world of The Warriors, a cult classic action-thriller. The plot takes place in New York City and follows the members of a gang falsely accused of murder. The journey to their survival against an army of rival gangs forms the crux of the story.

Despite a straightforward plot, The Warriors has an inherent charm and energy that sustains viewer engagement from start to finish. Its distinctive style and expert pacing have greatly influenced the action genre.

Being There

Switching genres again, Being There is a dramedy featuring the late Peter Sellers in a remarkable performance. The plot follows a simple-minded man who serendipitously rises in politics and becomes an advisor to a powerful figure.

Though not as famous as Seller's Pink Panther series, Being There is a testament to Seller's range as an actor, displaying his capability beyond slapstick comedy. This movie's unique blend of humor and subtlety makes it a standout among the films of 1979.

Life of Brian

From the creative minds of the Monty Python comedy group comes Life of Brian, possibly their best work. The film is a humorous take on biblical narratives and offers a satirical commentary on organized religion.

The story follows the life of the unfortunate Brian, who is mistaken for the Messiah, leading to a series of comical events. The film has something profound to say about the misuse of religious authority and the pitfalls of blind faith. All of this is wrapped in Monty Python's unique brand of humor, making Life of Brian a truly memorable film.

Escape from Alcatraz

And finally, we have Escape from Alcatraz, an underrated thriller starring Clint Eastwood. The film is a riveting tale of a prison escape from Alcatraz, one of the 20th century's most notorious prisons.

Based on real events from the 1960s, the movie was filmed on location, enhancing its authenticity. Eastwood's portrayal of the lead character adds a captivating edge to the narrative. If you appreciate straightforward, gripping prison escape films, Escape from Alcatraz is a must-watch.

1979 Movies & Industry Highlights

Exploring the Significance of 1979 in Film

The significance of 1979 in the film industry is undeniable. This year produced an array of movies that would go on to receive critical acclaim and financial success, securing their places in cinema history. These films spanned a variety of genres, exhibiting the diversity and ingenuity of the film industry during this era.

Moreover, some notable films that didn't make the top ten list but deserve honorable mentions include "Going in Style," "The Wanderers," "Time After Time," "Quadrophenia," and "The In-Laws." Each of these films has left a lasting impact and contributed to making 1979 an exceptional year for cinema.

Highlighting the Top Ten Films of 1979

Now, let's explore the top ten highest-grossing films of 1979 in the United States and Canada. The success of these films is indicative of the tastes and trends of cinema audiences during this period.

  • "Kramer vs. Kramer," released by Columbia Pictures, was the highest-grossing film, bringing in $106.2M. This film's success solidified its place in cinema history.

  • "The Amityville Horror", distributed by American International Pictures, held the second spot with $86.M in box office gross.

  • "Rocky II," from United Artists, secured the third spot on this list with $85.1M in earnings.

  • The fourth spot was occupied by "Apocalypse Now," which accumulated a total of $83.4M in gross earnings.

  • Fifth in line was "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" from Paramount Pictures, bringing in $82.2M.

  • The science fiction film "Alien" by Fox made the sixth spot with a gross income of $80.9M.

  • Seventh on the list was the romantic comedy "10" by Warner Bros., which earned $74.8M.

  • "The Jerk" from Universal Pictures secured the eighth spot, with earnings of $73.6M.

  • "Moonraker," another United Artists film, took ninth place with a gross of $70.3M.

  • Rounding out the top ten list was "The Muppet Movie," distributed by Associated Film Distribution, which pulled in $65.2M.