For decades, critics and cineastes of all stripes have been secure in the knowledge that Orson Welles's CITIZEN KANE is The Greatest Film of All Time. Today, Sight & Sound released the results of its critics poll, and now everyone has to get used to a new consensus number one.
According to 846 critics, academics, programers and distributors, Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO is a more masterful cinematic achievement than Welles's 1941 classic. It's not exactly a shocking reversal: VERTIGO ranked second on the 2002 list. But only 144 critics participated in that poll, so this is a broader consensus, and, seemingly, more definitive. Here's the critics' top ten:
1. VERTIGO (d. Alfred Hitchcock)
2. CITIZEN KANE (d. Orson Welles)
3. TOKYO STORY (d. Yasujiro Ozu)
4. THE RULES OF THE GAME (d. Jean Renoir)
5. SUNRISE: A SONG OF TWO HUMANS (d. F.W. Murnau)
6. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (d. Stanley Kubrick)
7. THE SEARCHERS (d. John Ford)
8. MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (d. Dziga Vertov)
9. THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (d. Carl Theodor Dreyer)
10. 8 1/2 (d. Federico Fellini)
All indisputably great films, and not a single one made before 1968. I'm surprised THE GODFATHER fell out of the top ten, and figured RAGING BULL, often heralded as the greatest movie of the 1980s, had a good shot at cracking the list. SINGING IN THE RAIN and BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN are the other two dropped from the 2002 list. If you're looking for more current titles, Sight & Sound also polled 358 filmmakers for their favorites. The 1970s are well represented here:
1. TOKYO STORY
2. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
3. CITIZEN KANE
4. 8 1/2
5. TAXI DRIVER (d. Martin Scorsese)
6. APOCALYPSE NOW (d. Francis Ford Coppola)
7. (tie) THE GODFATHER and VERTIGO
9. MIRROR (d. Andrei Tarkovsky)
10. BICYCLE THIEVES (d. Vittorio de Sica)
The full lists are available at the BFI's site, which isn't handling the flood of traffic all that well at the moment, so you might have to hunt around for the top fifty. The only pleasant surprise to me is Wong Kar-Wai's IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE landing at twenty-four. David Lynch's MULHOLLAND DR. is a bit of a shocker at twenty-eight; I guess it's finally overtaken BLUE VELVET as the filmmaker's official masterpiece (I would argue passionately that TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME is his greatest, which is but one reason S&S didn't solicit my opinion). It's also a largely humorless top fifty: there are only five films I'd classify as comedies.
So go check out the lists, and unleash your own top tens!