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Vertigo is new ‘greatest film of all time’

By Forrest Wickman
Slate

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  • About the poll

    The Sight & Sound poll was compiled from the Top 10 lists of 846 critics, programmers, academics and other movie lovers, who nominated more than 2,000 films.

    Sight & Sound determines no criteria for “greatest,” suggesting, “You might choose the 10 films you feel are most important to film history, or the 10 that represent the aesthetic pinnacles of achievement, or indeed the 10 films that have had the biggest impact on your own view of cinema.”



Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” has overthrown “Citizen Kane” as the greatest film of all time, according to British magazine Sight & Sound.

“Citizen Kane” had won the top spot in each decade since 1962. (“Bicycle Thieves” won the first Sight & Sound poll in 1952.) “Vertigo’s” rise was not unheralded, however: It has risen in the poll’s estimation each decade since 1982, and came close to unseating “Citizen Kane” in 2002.

The only two new entries to the Top 10 are Dziga Vertov’s experimental documentary “Man with a Movie Camera” (1929), making its first appearance at No. 8, and “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1927), which also appeared in the 1952, 1972 and 1992 polls. Both films are silent, making for an unusual (but not unprecedented) three silent films on the list. The other silent film is “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” (1927), which appeared for the first time in 2002, and rises to No. 5.

Critics’ Top 10 Films of All Time

10. 81/2

9. The Passion of Joan of Arc

8. Man with a Movie Camera

7. The Searchers

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey

5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

4. La Regle du jeu

3. Tokyo Story

2. Citizen Kane

1. Vertigo

Sight & Sound also revealed an extended list of its top 50 films of all time. On this list, “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” dropped to Nos. 21 and 31. The two appeared together in the No. 4 spot last time, but this year, Sight & Sound counted their votes separately. Notably, only a handful of comedies made the list, and only one film was directed by a woman: Chantal Akerman’s “Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.”

The most recent film to place in the top 50 was “Mulholland Dr.” (2002), coming in at No. 28, and the only other film from the 2000s was Wong Kar-wai’s “In the Mood for Love” (2000), which ranked 24th. The most recent film to make the Top 10 was “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), which premiered more than 40 years ago.

As has been the tradition since 1992, Sight & Sound also asked a number of directors to nominate their picks for the greatest films. Their list contains several more recent films, including two movies from Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now”), as well as one from Martin Scorsese (“Taxi Driver”). The top spot in the directors’ poll went to “Tokyo Story” (1953), a quiet family drama from Japanese master Yasujir Ozu, while “Vertigo” appeared in a tie at No. 7.

The poll is considered to be the most respected and the best barometer of changes to the canon over time. Chicago Sun Times movie critic Roger Ebert wrote in 2002 that the poll “is by far the most respected of the countless polls of great movies – the only one most serious movie people take seriously.”

Directors’ Top 10 Films of All Time

1. Tokyo Story

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey

2. Citizen Kane

4. 81/2

5. Taxi Driver

6. Apocalypse Now

7. The Godfather

7. Vertigo

9. Mirror

10. Bicycle Thieves

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