Sight & Sound’s 2012 Greatest Films of All Time

From BBC News.

Critics’ Top Ten:

  1. Vertigo | Alfred Hitchcock, 1958
  2. Citizen Kane | Orson Welles, 1941
  3. Tokyo monogatari (Tokyo Story) | Ozu Yasujiro, 1953
  4. La Regle de jeu (The Rules of the Game) | Jean Renoir, 1939
  5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans | F. W. Murnau, 1927
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey | Stanley Kubrick, 1968
  7. The Searchers | John Ford, 1956
  8. Chelovek s kino-apparotom (Man with a Movie Camera) | Dziga Vertov, 1929
  9. La passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc) | C. T. Dreyer, 1927
  10. 8 1/2 | Federico Fellini, 1963

Directors’ Top Ten:

  1. Tokyo monogatari (Tokyo Story) | Ozu Yasujiro, 1953
  2. (tie) 2001: A Space Odyssey | Stanley Kubrick, 1968
  3. (tie) Citizen Kane | Orson Welles, 1941
  4. 8 1/2 | Federico Fellini, 1963
  5. Taxi Driver | Martin Scorsese, 1976
  6. Apocalypse Now | Francis Ford Coppola, 1979
  7. (tie) The Godfather | Francis Ford Coppola, 1972
  8. (tie) Vertigo | Alfred Hitchcock, 1958
  9. Zerkalo (The Mirror) | Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975
  10. Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves) | Vittorio de Sica, 1948

The BFI’s intro to the updated list on the S&S site. The dates I’m most looking forward to are the 15th and 22nd, at which times S&S will reveal the ballots of all the critics and directors, respectively. Stay tuned.☕


About tardishobbit

Reads. Writes. Watches movies. Occasionally stirs from chair. Holds an advanced degree in heuristic indolence. View all posts by tardishobbit

9 responses to “Sight & Sound’s 2012 Greatest Films of All Time

  • Alex M

    It’s just a touch predictable isn’t it? I feel like Vertigo got the sympathy vote because everyone is a little tired of voting for Citizen Kane, but didn’t want to get too crazy.

    Still, it remains a strong list …

    • mjschneider

      It is definitely a strong list. I dunno if Vertigo is a sympathy vote, per se (isn’t it one of your top three, coincidentally?), but I do feel like people were sick of voting for Kane. Still… at least restricting each ballot slot to one-film-only split the vote between parts one and two of The Godfather, knocking them out! (At least in the critics poll.)

      Three disappointments leap immediately to mind. 1. There are, once again, no animated features. 2. There are no films from the last 54 years on the critics list, and none from the last 33 years on the directors list. 3. No comedies in this one.

      It’s awesome, though, to see Tokyo Story’s place solidified.

  • David

    Years ago I decided it is pointless (certainly for me) to rate the “best” movies in succession. Can I say Citizen Kane is greater than The Godfather (maybe – I certainly like it more – but I’d go dizzy trying to make an argument for either one’s sole supremacy)? It makes more sense to rate them in tiers: top tier, second tier, third tier, etcetera. I’ve only seen a few of the movies on these lists. I’ve never cared much for 2001, mainly due to its evolutionary opening (which strikes me as equally ludicrous and offensive) and the surreal/borderline-nonsensical ending (deliberate though it may be, from what I hear); the center story with HAL, though, is exceptional. I’ve yet to see The Searchers, Vertigo, and Sunrise, though they are high on my list.

    • mjschneider

      All the movies in those two lists are, in my opinion, very much worth seeing. I’m not a particular fan of 2001, because I think it’s pretentious, though it is beautiful to look at. Whatever ideas the film introduces I don’t think are dealt with in a meaningful way. Man has a longstanding relationship with his tools! Man is aggressive! Man turns into a star baby! This is deep stuff, man! (I’m in the vast minority on that one, as you can gather.) But I’m glad that I’ve taken the time to watch (and rewatch) it.

      As far as rating or ranking movies goes… well, it’s sort of pointless, but sort of not. Is it ever definitive? No. Is it worthwhile attempting to establish criteria for what constitutes “greatness”? I think so. The S&S poll is consensus driven, so the method is pretty straightforward and fairly democratic… once you get past the fact that you have to be invited to participate, which is very elitist. :)

  • Adam Kuntavanish

    Yeah, but what would *your* ballot look like?

    • mjschneider

      I plan to compose a few alternate versions for an upcoming post. I’ve been fascinated to see how people made their selections, especially Ignatiy Vishnavetsky. I thought it would be fun to play with the variables and see the differences and similarities in how my ballots turn out.

      Obviously, in each version, the #1 slot goes to The Spirit.

  • Alex M

    I don’t think that there’s any way this list could be produced and I’d be satisfied or not complaining about something. “Greatest films of all time” yeah, sure, whatever… however I think it’s interesting to chew on the movies that are universally admired and to chew on the reasons *why* they are so admired and continue to be so decade after decade. I’ve always thought that both Vertigo and Citizen Kane are *that* good though it feels arbitrary to say that they’re better than Lars von Trier’s current masterpieces (or Wong Kar Wai, or whatever one happens to have seen from the last 15 yrs cinema) Yes, Vertigo was without hesitation my favourite movie for a very long time. It’s possibly been pipped by Three Colours: Blue but I dunno, it’s probably irrelevant isn’t it? :D

    • mjschneider

      I don’t think it’s irrelevant. Part of the fun of these lists is that they spawn disagreement and reason-chewing. One of the things I find to be most compelling about the S&S poll in particular is that so many respondents seem to have an eye on creating a canon. I’m sure that everyone who puts Kane on his list genuinely loves it, but I’m also sure that a big reason why they choose that movie they love over other movies they love is that it has so many factors that feed into the fascination besides the aesthetics or how emotionally powerful it is. For one, it has been tremendously influential, so it’s canonical in that respect. For another, it’s a key illustration of a true auteur working within the American studio system to produce something that represents his singular vision. Then there’s the auteurist aspect by itself: a lot of people simply find Welles to be fascinating, and that he must be represented; since Kane is his only full-realized work, it makes sense to make that “the Welles selection.” In addition, there’s the political hullabaloo surrounding its release and its process of critical (and popular) recovery. So it’s a historically significant film as well as a good one, and I doubt that those factors don’t play into why people keep putting it in there. And that’s fine. Those criteria seem pretty valid to me. But you’re right: what other criteria might matter more (or less, or the same)?

      I’m going to do a series of posts on this, and hopefully we can hash out some of these things in discussing that analysis.

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