Every decade since 1952, the prestigious magazine Sight and Sound asks critics to vote for the 10 greatest films of all time. So, in 2012 will come another edition of this much awaited poll.
As the many followers of Roger Ebert may be aware, he already published his list on his blog, the selection of the ten, yes only ten, greatest films of all time is something quite a task.
Here we will be talking only about the choices of the Critics’ list, because in 2002 a panel of directors were asked the same duty and many films were the same while some differed from both lists, there have been a few articles about this topic and some critics even made their choices available on their own blogs. However, it is interesting to try to predict how the vote will go this time. Since every decade saw new films entering and others go out, the last edition was probably the most academic. Almost only classic films were cited.
As you would have expected, Citizen Kane placed first. It has been the case since 1962 while back in 1952 it didn’t even make the top ten. In second place was Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, often regarded as the legendary director’s masterpiece but since new lectures placed Psycho and Rear Window in better positions by the contemporary Hitchcockians. Number three was Renoir’s La règle du jeu aka The Rules of the Game. After that, the rest of the top 10 was as follow:
4. The Godfather and The Godfather part II,
5. Yasujiro Ozu’s masterpiece Tokyo Story,
6. Sci-Fi perfection 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. Textbook editing Battleship Potemkin (no link with the new release Battleship)
7. Murnau’s culmination of Silent Film mastery Sunrise (tie)
9. 8 ½
9. Singin’ In the Rain (tie)
Many critics were asked if they had to remove one film off the list and add another one in its place, what would those be. Many critics seemed to want to exclude Vertigo because it is not the best Hitchcock film, some answered the same way with 8 ½ and Federico Fellini’s corpus, while others wanted to oust The Godfather movies because they count for two entries. Nonetheless, it is Singin’ In the Rain that has been shown the door the most.
The most common answer as the replacement of those films would be to add Jacques Tati’s play on modernity Playtime. Others would add popular classics like Kurosawa’s Rashomon or Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. A critic even mentioned Jurassic Park. If you ask me, it is a bold and audacious pick but it demonstrates how difficult it is to get a consensus on the greatest films of all time. A list of ten choices is a very hard task to accomplish because the average movie enthusiast sees +/- 100 films per year. Think about for a moment and a critic must see around three or four times as many films per year. Multiply this by ten, fifteen, twenty years you have a whole lot of films. So choosing only ten can be a head scratcher.
It will be interesting to see what critics will come up with as the greatest films of all time in 2012. Let’s hope for more international titles, more contemporary Cinema, and why not more mainstream entries. Personally, when I made my picks I kept in mind the movies that made the films of today. But also the movies that made the History of Cinema and that have been able to pass the test of time.
If you were asked to take one film out and add one film into the list above, what would those be? What do you think of the 2002 edition? Which films do you expect to be on the new edition?