All the President's Men (1976)
Alan J. Pakula's adaptation of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward's Watergate best seller isn't just a sentimental journey for Nixon-hatersit's also the best newspaper picture ever made, a great detective story, and a taut thriller that's no less suspenseful for the fact that we know how it ends. Director Pakula and screenwriter William Goldman recast the Washington Post reporters' straightforward recounting as a grand conspiracy thriller (a la Pakula's other great '70s film, The Parallax View), parceling out the information and ratcheting up the tension as Woodward (Robert Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) unravel what really lay behind the infamous "third-rate burglary" of June 17, 1972. Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook, and Jane Alexander offer brilliant supporting turns, and the superstar leads convincingly inhabit a couple of skilled but career-stalled scribes who grab on to the Watergate story and work it relentlesslyat first because it represents professional salvation, but ultimately because they recognize the gravity of what they're uncovering. The film's lasting triumph is that it never lets you lose sight of what was riding on their success or failure.