Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Get ready for the Sight & Sound Top 10

This is not a silly season story. There are lists and there are lists. But the Sight and Sound poll of the greatest films of all time is one of the few worth heeding. Compiling selections from critics (and latterly …

Wed, Aug 1, 2012, 14:17

   

This is not a silly season story. There are lists and there are lists. But the Sight and Sound poll of the greatest films of all time is one of the few worth heeding. Compiling selections from critics (and latterly directors) throughout the planet, the chart has, since 1952, acted as a sort of unofficial document of the cinematic canon. Every 10 years we tune in to discover who’s up and who’s down. Michelangelo Antonioni is a contender, then suddenly he’s an also-ran. Here comes Singin’ in The Rain.  In the first poll, only four years after its release, Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves was named the best film. In 1962, Citizen Kane got the nod and it has remained at the top ever since.

Spoiler alert!

The rules changed in 1992 with a separate list being compiled from directors’ nominations. But nothing managed to shake the dominance of Citizen Kane. Orson Welles’s untouchable masterpiece also headed the directors’ chart in the last two editions.

Here are the results from 2002:

CRITICS

1. Citizen Kane

2. Vertigo

3. The Rules of the Game

4. The Godfather/The Godfather Part II

5. Tokyo Story

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey

7. Battleship Potemkin (tie)

7. Sunrise

9. 8 1/2

10. Singin’ in the Rain

DIRECTORS

1. Citizen Kane

2. The Godfather/The Godfather Part II

3. 8 1/2

4. Lawrence of Arabia

5. Dr Strangelove

6. Bicycle Thieves (tie)

6. Raging Bull (tie)

6. Vertigo (tie)

9. Rashomon (tie)

9. The Rules of the Game (tie)

9. The Seven Samurai (tie)

We have just learned that Sight and Sound, organ of the British Film Institute, will be announcing the results from 6.30 tonight. For the first time, both your current correspondent and Tara Brady have been asked to submit our top tens. We will reveal all when the poll is official. Bet you can’t wait.

A teaser from Sight and Sound has, however, already sent all contributors into a flutter. The tabulators have announced that, for the first time, the directors and the critics have different films in the number one spot. This also means — you’re way ahead of me — that, for the first time in half a century, something other than Citizen Kane will figure at the top of a Sight and Sound List. Ms Brady and I both reckon that the directors will stick with Kane. What in the name of heaven has got through. Tokyo Story? The Godfather?

Where are you putting your money? We’ll know all in a few hours.