Best Picture, 1974
Chinatown, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II (winner), Lenny, The Towering Inferno
The first three films on this list weren't merely contenders for the best film of the year; they're on any reasonable list of the best films ever made. That two of them, The Conversation and The Godfather Part II, were both made by Francis Ford Coppola is a Beatles/Bowie/Wu-Tang miracle of genius-level productivity. Chinatown is, well ... it's Chinatown, Jake. And don't overlook Lenny, an uncompromising portrait of a the uncompromising comedian Lenny Bruce featuring memorable work from director Bob Fosse and star Dustin Hoffman. Only The Towering Inferno is left to demonstrate that even in one of Hollywood's most creatively fertile periods, nothing succeeds like excess.