Sight & Sound, the UK film magazine, together with the British Film Institute, conducts a poll every 10 years of critics, distributors and professors to come up with what some see as the definitive list of greatest films of all time. For the past 50 years, the #1 spot has gone to Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.
Kane’s reign has ended this year and there’s a new #1 all time greatest film. Any guesses?
Yep, the new champ is Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Vertigo had been coming up in the rankings and in 2002 lost out to Kane by just 5 votes. This time it was 34 votes ahead of Kane.
Here’s the new top ten:
- Citizen Kane
- Tokyo Story
- La Regle du Jeu (The Rules of the Game)
- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- The Searchers
- Man With a Movie Camera
- The Passion of Joan of Arc
I’ve only seen 9 out of the 10; I’ve never seen Man With a Movie Camera. Overall, I’ve seen 33 of the 50.
You can see the list of the top 50 here.
I find it interesting, that Apocalypse Now comes in at #14 and Godfather is #21. Apocalypse Now, brilliant as it is, is so flawed, and I consider Godfather to be flawless. (Godfather 2 is #31, giving Coppola 3 films in the top 50.)
Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is in the top 50, Raging Bull isn’t.
Hong Kong’s only appearance in the top 50 is Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood For Love, which is one of only two films on the list from the 21st century (the other being David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive – which is brilliant and has that great lesbian love scene but I prefer Blue Velvet).
I’m disappointed that neither Grand Illusion nor Wild Strawberries are in the top 50 – both had major impacts on me on first viewing and I think stand up well to repeat viewings. I’m thrilled that Buster Keaton is higher up on the list than Charlie Chaplin. (Not that I don’t love Chaplin, just that I’ve always considered Keaton to be under-rated.)
I find these lists interesting as guides to films I haven’t seen that I should check out rather than as definitive in any sense of the word. Some days I’d pick 2001 as my all-time favorite film but if push comes to shove, how could I rank it against the magnificent Passion of Joan of Arc or 8-1/2? Well, we can debate this list till the next one comes out in 2022!