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The Greatest Films of All Time, 2012
August 1, 2012 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Sight & Sound's prestigious Greatest Films of All Time poll is conducted only once per decade. The latest edition polled 846 film critics (up from 144 in the 2002 edition) and 358 directors. The results were revealed earlier today and, for the first time since 1962, Citizen Kane has not topped either the critics' or the directors' poll. It has been unseated as the Greatest Film of All Time by Vertigo and Tokyo Story. The magazine has also revealed the Critics' Top 50.

Citizen Kane topped both the directors' and critics' polls in 2002. The last poll not topped by Kane was the first one, which polled 63 critics in 1952 and was topped by Bicycle Thieves. In anticipation of the new poll, Sight & Sound posted some of the ballots submitted to their 1962 poll, including ones sent in my Eric Rohmer and Andrew Sarris. The results of the 1972, 1982, and 1992 polls are all online as well. There is also a browseable list of all films voted for in the 2002 poll, as well as the individual critics' and directors' ballots.
posted by alexoscar (109 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
A worthy champion. Nothing against Citizen Kane, but that's just how changing demographics and voting goes. Vertigo has many very apt pupils! Very apt pupils!
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:07 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Vertigo moves to the top of the list, eh? Better not look down...
posted by yoink at 11:12 AM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I read Tokyo Story as Toy Story and suffered momentary jawdrop whiplash.
posted by chavenet at 11:13 AM on August 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is good, but Tokyo Story is vastly superior to Vertigo – and I say that as an unabashed fan of the sublime art that is Hitchcock's greatest film. Yasujiro Ozu has no equal.
posted by koeselitz at 11:14 AM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was hoping for Faster, Pussycat, but I will settle for Tokyo Storry
posted by PinkMoose at 11:14 AM on August 1, 2012


I misread that as "Vertigo and Toy Story", and thought to myself, "Man, those Disney-Pixar guys must be so stoked! I always thought that the first one was the best...."

Then I actually read the article...oh well, I guess I'll go and see what this Tokyo Story is all about...
posted by KillaSeal at 11:15 AM on August 1, 2012


Vertigo?!

Madness.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 11:15 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I'll go and see what this Tokyo Story is all about...

You're in for a treat.

This is good, but Tokyo Story is vastly superior to Vertigo – and I say that as an unabashed fan of the sublime art that is Hitchcock's greatest film. Yasujiro Ozu has no equal.

Meh. They're both at that rarefied level of excellence where comparisons are pointless. They're so radically different that there's really no useful basis on which to rank them. It's like trying to decide if Pollock or Chardin is a better painter. I mean, sure, they both use pigments and oils on a two dimensional support, but beyond that what are you usefully going to say beyond "I prefer this style of painting to that style of painting" when it comes to assessing who is "better"?
posted by yoink at 11:28 AM on August 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


They're so radically different that there's really no useful basis on which to rank them.

Agreed, although I'd say Vertigo is distinctly more accessible for most audiences with its glorious technicolor and scenic locales than the highly ordered mise-en-scene and abstruse relational dynamics of Ozu's masterpiece. But since this is a critic's list, that may not be taken much into consideration.
posted by SomaSoda at 11:32 AM on August 1, 2012




But since this is a critic's list, that may not be taken much into consideration.

Yeah, except Tokyo Story topped the directors' list. Vertigo is the one that topped the critics.
posted by alexoscar at 11:38 AM on August 1, 2012


Since the BFI site appears to be down, I thought I would repost the two top 10s here:

The Critics’ List
1. Vertigo
2. Citizen Kane
3. Tokyo Story
4. Rules Of The Game
5. Sunrise
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. The Searchers
8. Man With A Movie Camera
9. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
10. 8 1/2

The Directors’ List
1. Tokyo Story
2. (tie) 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. (tie) Citizen Kane
4. 8 1/ 2
5. Taxi Driver
6. Apocalypse Now
7. (tie) The Godfather
8. (tie) Vertigo
9. Mirror
10. Bicycle Thieves

As some blogger-types have noted, a lot of surprises. The Godfather has dropped pretty seriously on the directors' poll since 2002, and I think nobody expected The Mirror to show up there, since the directors' list tends to skew more populist.
posted by alexoscar at 11:46 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, thanks for the correction. I still doubt accessibility was taken into account in either case. On a personal note, I will say that while I enjoyed Tokyo Story, I've never felt the need to rewatch it. Vertigo, however, I'll see at every possible opportunity.
posted by SomaSoda at 11:49 AM on August 1, 2012


fuck yeah Ozu!! i def. don't consider vertigo the greatest film of all time (but it is mighty fine in so many ways, granted), but tokyo story being up there at no. 1 on one of the lists just sends my heart all aflutter. late spring is better even, but man. the only person floating around the same level to me is Dreyer, and then a smattering of single-films-from-directors, stuff like the rules of the game, la dolce vita, and a woman under the influence.
posted by ifjuly at 12:01 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never quite gotten the big love for The Searchers. I mean, it's an ok western, and deals with some sensitive issues, and there's some beautiful locations, but it's just not a top-10-all-time film for me.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:09 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thorzdad: “I've never quite gotten the big love for The Searchers. I mean, it's an ok western, and deals with some sensitive issues, and there's some beautiful locations, but it's just not a top-10-all-time film for me.”

The secret backstory is kind of a big part of the movie, I think. There's a huge amount going on in that film that is never stated, and deserves a close watching. It's mostly about a man coming to terms with the fact that his son is not like him.
posted by koeselitz at 12:19 PM on August 1, 2012


Interesting, Thorzdad. I would have first described The Searchers as emotionally powerful and second as pure in cinematic language.
That said, Dr. Strangelove should have been on the list. 2001 had a lot of perfection, boldness and showmanship, but Dr. Strangelove defined an era and gave career performances to such greats as Sellers and Scott. I would have picked Sunset Boulevard as Wilder's best. Play Time is not the best Tati and didn't deserve to kick off a dozen other comedies. I think a lot of such lists don't give the French their due. This one seems to be too Franco-centric.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:23 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


The reason for The Godfather's drop:
one important rule change compared to 2002 was that The Godfather and The Godfather Part II would no longer be accepted as a single choice, since they were made as two separate films.
Thus, vote-splitting.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:29 PM on August 1, 2012


SomaSoda: “Agreed, although I'd say Vertigo is distinctly more accessible for most audiences with its glorious technicolor and scenic locales than the highly ordered mise-en-scene and abstruse relational dynamics of Ozu's masterpiece. But since this is a critic's list, that may not be taken much into consideration.”

That seems kind of like a gross mischaracterization of Ozu's style – it wasn't really abstruse or highly ordered at all, just quiet and beautiful. People don't really like quiet movies, though, so I understand that it isn't as accessible.
posted by koeselitz at 12:29 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never heard of Tokyo Story.

I'm torn about this.

Am I excited, because as a jaded movie buff, suddenly some lesser-known film is now The Best, which is exciting because it'll open up a whole new avenue of stuff for me to discover?

Or am I pissed, because oh, come, ON, how could some random Japanese movie that isn't even by Kurosawa or about gigantic sci fi monsters be the best movie in the world?

(Leaning towards the former, for sure. Actually, I'm excited to see such a huge number of movies I haven't seen on these lists.)
posted by Sara C. at 12:37 PM on August 1, 2012


Sara C. - Kurosawa split the vote with Godzilla handing the prize over to Tokyo Story.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:43 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Other general commentary --

By Sunrise do they mean the 1927 F. W. Murnau film? If so, wow. That's a really offbeat choice. I thought I knew most of the "Hey Here Are The Silent Films You're Going To Want To See" type films (The Great Train Robbery, Birth Of A Nation, Metropolis, It, Nosferatu, lots of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton). Interesting to see this little known ~90 year old movie at the top of a list like this.

I guess this means I finally have to see Man With A Movie Camera, which I thought most people only "liked" because the poster is a popular dorm room choice among film majors.

Interesting that the directors rank 2001 so much higher than the critics. That is such a director's movie. It's so big.

Oh, the Tarkovsky of it all.
posted by Sara C. at 12:46 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, the Tarkovsky of it all.
Indeed, why Andrei Rublev is not 1 and Solaris 2, I do not understand.
posted by TheRaven at 12:50 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Vertigo is great and all but cammmaaaaaannnn... It was Citizen Kane! Citizen Kane! Citizen Kane!
posted by Theta States at 12:52 PM on August 1, 2012


Also, I was disgusted that Ebert chose Tree of Life for his top 10 list, over Synechdoche NY.
posted by Theta States at 12:53 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Number of the two top tens that are on Netflix: 3
Number of the two top tens that are on Netflix and I haven't seen: 0

Just about sums up my Netflix experience, unfortunately.
posted by iotic at 1:00 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]




I'd say Vertigo is distinctly more accessible for most audiences with its glorious technicolor and scenic locales

Well, 'accessible' in a very strange way. We are talking about a movie where a guy uses his current girlfriend to recreate his dead one. It shouldn't be the easiest storyline to like, and should be downright repulsive -- which is where Hitch's genius comes in. He gets the viewer to take one step at a time with Jimmy Stewart, one reasonable step following another, and we don't even notice that we're now in downtown Crazytown with Jimmy, who, by any objective standard, should be creeping us the fuck out by now. But it's Jimmy Stewart. We cannot not like Jimmy. Kim Novak cannot like Jimmy, even if she's a bit wary, because she knows where this is going. Even at its most obvious creepiness, when Jimmy says to Kim that how she has her hair 'shouldn't matter to her', our response is just a laugh. Oh, Jimmy.

The techincolour and glorious locales are all part of Hitch's sleight of hand. We're only too happy to go along, and so don't pay much attention to just where it is we're going.

Key to all of that is the jolt of the second act, with the death at the mission, and we're facing an official inquiry. It's at that moment where Hitch has cut us off from all our regular expactations of plot. Well, where do we go NOW? We are suddenly adrift, which makes the decision to follow nice-guy Jimmy all the easier.

So yes, it's 'accessible'. Because it's a trap.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:01 PM on August 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


Rear Window is better than Vertigo.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:07 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just don't get the love for Vertigo. It's hammy, and not very interesting. On a par with Marnie but no Psycho or Rear Window. Am I alone in this? I've seen it two or three times and have just found nothing in it. Please tell me what I'm missing.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:26 PM on August 1, 2012


Once you get past Vertigo, Kane and the Searchers, it's incredible to me how much these lists are dominated by art films that so few people know. Nothing against art films and the ones I've seen are all good movies, but there are many equally good or better movies that were also mainstream box-office hits. If I was one of these critics, I'd look at this list and think "How have we gotten so completely out of touch with our audience?"
posted by pete_22 at 1:29 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I just don't get the love for Vertigo. It's hammy, and not very interesting. On a par with Marnie but no Psycho or Rear Window. Am I alone in this? I've seen it two or three times and have just found nothing in it. Please tell me what I'm missing.

There are subtle things about it that make it endearing with repeated viewings. Everything in Midge's place, the views of the bridge and industry, the way it's a love letter to the Bay Area. Along with the pile o' layers-upon-layers of psychosexual crap people write books/dissertations on.
posted by ifjuly at 1:30 PM on August 1, 2012


Meant to say "the ones on this list that I've seen are all good movies." I've certainly seen some terrible art films too...
posted by pete_22 at 1:31 PM on August 1, 2012


I am disgusted that anyone chose Tree of Life as anything, despite my great love for Badlands and Days of Heaven.

I find the love for Vertigo highly perplexing. I mean, just on a personal level. I love film, I have plenty of favorites that range from plodding and meditative to cocaine-fueled blow-your-head-off, and I've just never really clicked with Vertigo in a meaningful way. Or any of Hitchcock's films, actually. I like thrillers, I love watching a mastermind at work, I like classics (and maybe most meaningful, I love psychoanalysis), but I just find them so... trifling for some reason? Ye gods, help me appreciate Hitchcock!

Sara C., I promise you, Ozu will not disappoint! Though I'm a great fan of Kurosawa too.

Just FYI/morbid curiosity,

Johnathan Rosenbaum

1. Les Vampires (Feuillade)
2. M (Lang)
3. The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums (Mizoguchi)
4. Ivan the Terrible (Eisenstein)
5. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks)
6. Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais)
7. The House Is Black (Farokhzad)
8. Gertrud (Dreyer)
9. Playtime (Tati)
10. When It Rains (Burnett)

Comments: "I've included a serial, an unfinished trilogy and two shorts, but assume it's no longer necessary to mention Chaplin, Godard, Hitchcock, Ozu, Renoir or Welles."

Slavoj Zizek
1. Vertigo (Hitchcock)
2. Psycho (Hitchcock)
3. Dune (Lynch)
4. Ivan the Terrible (Eisenstein)
5. The Fountainhead (Vidor)
6. 3:10 to Yuma (Daves)
7. Opfergang (Harlan)
8. The Sound of Music (Wise)
9. Short Cuts (Altman)
10. Limelight (Chaplin)

Camille Paglia
1. Citizen Kane (Welles)
2. La dolce vita (Fellini)
3. Gone with the Wind (Fleming)
4. Lawrence of Arabia (Lean)
5. North by Northwest (Hitchcock)
6. Orphée (Cocteau)
7. Persona (Bergman)
8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
9. The Ten Commandments (DeMille)
10. Vertigo (Hitchcock)
posted by stoneandstar at 1:31 PM on August 1, 2012


Also, it makes me laugh, the people in the thread saying these choices are too obscure because you've never heard of them. That's a shame. Ozu, Dreyer, Tarkovsky, Renoir, Melville, etc. all deserve a lot of love, along with their more obscure detractors even (say, Oshima)--it's too bad they're not more well known these days. But the notion people love those movies just to say they do, or to be obscure, always wrinkles my nose. What is it with people thinking other people do that (with any format--books, music, movies, whatever)? I just don't get it. Some people sought out and found something they found beautiful, deal with it. /crankypants
posted by ifjuly at 1:32 PM on August 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


There are subtle things about it that make it endearing with repeated viewings. ... Along with the pile o' layers-upon-layers of psychosexual crap people write books/dissertations on.

Also true of Strangers on a Train, which would have been my Hitchcock pick. But Vertigo is also a great movie.
posted by pete_22 at 1:34 PM on August 1, 2012


I've given Rules of the Game three chances and it still does not speak to me. My loss, I guess.

Lawrence of Arabia FTW.
posted by Egg Shen at 1:35 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really? There have been no great movies made for, what, 40 years?

I'd love to see something like Pulp Fiction or Do the Right Thing or There Will Be Blood burst through the doors of these fossilized lists.

I do realize that we're talking about only 10 (or 20) movies and there would be a bunch of modern stuff in a top 100 list, but it's still frustrating to see that critics and directors don't think there's been anything amazing produced in literally decades.
posted by Phreesh at 1:36 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the thing with Vertigo is, it loves the places it's filming more than most movies. I think that's part of what gets critics/viewers.
posted by ifjuly at 1:36 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


the notion people love those movies just to say they do, or to be obscure, always wrinkles my nose. What is it with people thinking other people do that (with any format--books, music, movies, whatever)? I just don't get it. Some people sought out and found something they found beautiful, deal with it.

I half agree with you. I wouldn't make that criticism of anyone in this thread. But it's surprising to me that professional movie critics would have taste that's so different from the public's. Directors maybe less so.

I wonder how much less the divergence would be if you polled TV critics. I feel like their top 10 or 50 sitcoms, for example, would be pretty popular shows, even if they'd scorn a few of the MOST popular. They certainly wouldn't pick, like, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, which is the equivalent of what they've done here.
posted by pete_22 at 1:44 PM on August 1, 2012


Couple comments:

I've never thought Sunrise or Tokyo Story were particularly obscure, at least to film buffs/critics. I've seen both in the theater. Depends on your definition of obscure of course, since 99% of the world's population has probably never heard of either.

I agree that Rear Window is better than Vertigo. There is something so cohesive about the set, I just love it. Probably feeds into some latent Aristotlean unities or something along those lines. However, I understand why the ciritcal consensus is that Vertigo is Hitchcock's best, even though I think Rear Window is better.

As you might be able to tell from my name, I hold Dreyer, and especially The Passion of Joan of Arc, in very high esteem (my usename is the last name of the actress who played Joan of Arc in the film). Joan of Arc is my favorite movie of all time and I am glad it makes an appearance on this list.

Its futile to argue with these type of lists, but I will say I wish something by Bresson would make the list. I love Balthazar the Donkey, but at least two more of his films I could see in the top 10 easily, depending on my mood.

The films are generally older films on Sight and Sound's list because if you are going to try to be honest about a best of all time list, you need to acknowledge that critical longevity is a factor. I think in time, There Will Be Blood might have a chance to make the list. (And in a perfect world, I would want Ratcatcher by Lynn Ramsey to eventually make the list, but it won't).
posted by Falconetti at 1:44 PM on August 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Phreesh: “I do realize that we're talking about only 10 (or 20) movies and there would be a bunch of modern stuff in a top 100 list, but it's still frustrating to see that critics and directors don't think there's been anything amazing produced in literally decades.”

But they're right.
posted by koeselitz at 1:50 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


pete_22: “Nothing against art films and the ones I've seen are all good movies, but there are many equally good or better movies that were also mainstream box-office hits.”

Name them.
posted by koeselitz at 1:53 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, hold on. Most of these aren't "art films." Most of them were mainstream box-office hits. So what exactly are we talking about here?
posted by koeselitz at 1:56 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just don't get the love for Vertigo. It's hammy, and not very interesting. On a par with Marnie but no Psycho or Rear Window.

It's all the same bag of tricks, really. In Rear Window, Jimmy should be creeping us out, too, but he's just such a nice guy and his girlfriend so beautiful that we overlook that he's a stalker. In Psycho, Hitch cuts us away from the established plot even more forcefully than in Vertigo by killing off the headline actress very early in the movie -- the money plot which had been driving everything to that point doesn't even figure into it anymore.

I think that Vertigo matches those elements much better (although there's a LOT more going on than just these parts). Jimmy is the nice guy we can't help but like, but all the more so because he has this problem, this understandable can't-do-anything-about problem, and we just want to help him out, just as Kim Novak does. Jimmy gets angry at the suit fitting? Not a problem. Which is the problem.

It's all leading you down the path, right to that zig-zag deke out of an ending, where there simply is only horror, and nothing left to say. It's that ending, where everything is concentrated, that makes it. Vertigo is where Hitch uses all of his tools -- falling motifs, dream sequences, plot substitution, gorgeous distractions of scenery, the ice blondes, visual jokes, protagonist self-identification -- to the best effect. I think, anyway. He gets us to explore this horror not by showing it to us, but by putting us in the protagonist's place, to a degree he does in no other movie.

Personally, I see Psycho has the hammy movie, the one with the big 'gotcha'. That ending, with the big reveal, and then that interminable speech about the nature of psychosis... Even as just a movie about the randomness of evil, it doesn't compare to even The Birds, where the horror defies all rational explanation whatsoever.

I really do think that Vertigo is his best. He's really in full flight in that one. There are many contenders for my favourite Hitch movie, though. Today it's Vertigo. Tomorrow, just as easily, it could be Lifeboat. There's just so much there in any of them.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:04 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never thought Sunrise or Tokyo Story were particularly obscure, at least to film buffs/critics. I've seen both in the theater. Depends on your definition of obscure of course, since 99% of the world's population has probably never heard of either.

Yeah, but you're clearly hardcore into art film.

Meanwhile, I make movies for a living, spent time at film school (though didn't end up majoring in that), have seen a majority of the Big Deal Classics people tend to talk about, and, well, I've heard of Tokyo Story but wouldn't have registered it in all time greatest territory.

I had to look up Sunrise and was still vaguely unsure that my searches were turning up the right movie, or maybe that there was a typo or some kind of translation problem in the list. And I'm someone who goes to repertory screenings at art houses and thinks most of the movies that win Oscars are too commercial.

Those are both obscure movies. Even though you happen to be familiar with them. Pretending they're not is a bit disingenuous. Not to mention pretentious as fuck.
posted by Sara C. at 2:16 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


pete_22: “Nothing against art films and the ones I've seen are all good movies, but there are many equally good or better movies that were also mainstream box-office hits.”

Name them.


I'm talking about movies that show up further down these lists or on the AFI "genre" lists, but seem to be almost getting penalized for having mass appeal. Just to pick a few older ones to avoid the last-four-decades debate: A Place in the Sun. The Best Years of Our Lives. Sunset Boulevard. Born Yesterday. The Killers. Out of the Past. The Third Man. My Man Godfrey, The Philadelphia Story or any number of other screwball comedies. These are all just as good or better as anything I've seen by the auteur directors on this list, and it's not taking anything away from them to say that.

Most of these aren't "art films." Most of them were mainstream box-office hits.

Really? I admit I haven't looked them all up, but Breathless, for example, was #25 in the French box office that year. The 400 Blows was #11 the year before. Better than I would have thought, but I'm sure in terms of global ticket sales they were dwarfed by any of the above.

Again, I'm not saying these movies aren't worthy of recognition or even that they shouldn't be on these lists -- I'm just always surprised at how many great and popular movies critics rank them above.
posted by pete_22 at 2:20 PM on August 1, 2012


I'd love to see something like Pulp Fiction or Do the Right Thing or There Will Be Blood burst through the doors of these fossilized lists.


I caught a showing not too long ago. It really holds up. Also, something I did not really get when I saw it in a theater upon its initial release. There's not really a plot. I mean, a story drawn along. Instead, it's a series of vignettes. It is a tone poem. With a remarkable soundtrack. And brilliant color and camera work. Yeah, I might put it on a list.
posted by old_growler at 2:23 PM on August 1, 2012


Those are both obscure movies. Even though you happen to be familiar with them. Pretending they're not is a bit disingenuous. Not to mention pretentious as fuck.

I don't know what you mean by "obscure," because they're quite commonly discussed by film critics, film buffs, and film academics. I don't study film (just read about it in my spare time), and I've heard of both on multiple occasions. Also, that was very rude.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:26 PM on August 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


pete_22: “I'm talking about movies that show up further down these lists or on the AFI "genre" lists, but seem to be almost getting penalized for having mass appeal. Just to pick a few older ones to avoid the last-four-decades debate: A Place in the Sun. The Best Years of Our Lives. Sunset Boulevard. Born Yesterday. The Killers. Out of the Past. The Third Man. My Man Godfrey, The Philadelphia Story or any number of other screwball comedies. These are all just as good or better as anything I've seen by the auteur directors on this list, and it's not taking anything away from them to say that.”

I feel almost certain that every single one of those movies was in the running for this list; and moreover I really don't feel like there's much difference between this list as it is and your list. I mean, the two top movies certainly did well in the box office where they were released. I really don't feel like box office standing had an inverse proportion to the ranking of movies.

Phreesh: “I'd love to see something like Pulp Fiction or Do the Right Thing or There Will Be Blood burst through the doors of these fossilized lists.

old_growler: “I caught a showing not too long ago. It really holds up. Also, something I did not really get when I saw it in a theater upon its initial release. There's not really a plot. I mean, a story drawn along. Instead, it's a series of vignettes. It is a tone poem. With a remarkable soundtrack. And brilliant color and camera work. Yeah, I might put it on a list.”

I can't really tell which of the three movies Phreesh named that you're talking about, so I'm just going to assume that you mean you saw a showing of Pulp Fiction, Do The Right Thing and There Will Be Blood cut together into one huge, epic nonsensical mash.

Which would be pretty awesome, actually.
posted by koeselitz at 2:26 PM on August 1, 2012


@koeslitz Oops, my bad. It was Do the Right Thing, but I like your idea much more.
posted by old_growler at 2:28 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


tigrefacile: “I just don't get the love for Vertigo. It's hammy, and not very interesting. On a par with Marnie but no Psycho or Rear Window. Am I alone in this? I've seen it two or three times and have just found nothing in it. Please tell me what I'm missing.”

A few days ago, Chris Marker died; he was, in my mind, one of the greatest directors that's ever lived. He used to like to say that Vertigo was one of his favorite films, and waxed poetic about it in several of his movies. It's probably worth watching this short clip from Sans Soleil in which he described fairly cogently what Hitchcock's film about "impossible memory, insane memory" means to him.
posted by koeselitz at 2:29 PM on August 1, 2012


I've heard of both on multiple occasions

Yeah, but that still keeps both in "obscure" territory.

For example, I've heard of the band The Small Faces on multiple occasions. If a list came out of the best bands of all time, and The Small Faces beat out The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Clash, U2, etc, I would be pretty surprised that such an obscure band was voted The Best. It wouldn't be "wrong" or anything, but it would definitely be surprising that such an obscure band is considered so important among rock critics and professional musicians.

That's all I'm saying, here. Jeez.
posted by Sara C. at 2:33 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do The Right Thing totally has a plot. What?
posted by Sara C. at 2:34 PM on August 1, 2012


Popularity does not indicate excellence. And real excellence is often challenging in a way that will not interest and may alienate a mainstream audience.

These critics are not out of touch with mainstream audiences. It's that "what film is great" is not the same question as "what film is beloved."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:36 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


There might be some confusion about what the point of this list is, to the people who participate in it. From Jonathon Rosenbaum's entry, quoted above-

Comments: "I've included a serial, an unfinished trilogy and two shorts, but assume it's no longer necessary to mention Chaplin, Godard, Hitchcock, Ozu, Renoir or Welles."

He seems to regard it as a chance to expose people to stuff they're not already familiar with (although clearly his imagined audience does already know who Ozu was).

Alternatively, it might just be for starting fights on the internet about who's being willfully obscure, and who should just shut up and admit that The Dark Knight Rulez! No, wait, pretty sure that's a different list.
posted by hap_hazard at 2:42 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: “That's all I'm saying, here. Jeez.”

Yeah, but I think it's even more complicated than that – rock and roll is pretty insular, so everybody who knows rock has heard of the Beatles, even though (seriously) there are plenty of non-rockish people who haven't.

I mean – very few of the people I know have actually heard of Citizen Kane, much less seen it. Yes, a lot of the people I know don't know a lot about old movies. That's nothing against them. But does that mean Citizen Kane is an obscure art film? It was pretty famous in its time and place. So was Tokyo Story.
posted by koeselitz at 2:45 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Slant Magazine's The House Next Door is currently doing a 'If I had a Sight & Sound ballot' here: (1) (2) (3), with surely more to come.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, I make movies for a living, spent time at film school (though didn't end up majoring in that), have seen a majority of the Big Deal Classics people tend to talk about, and, well, I've heard of Tokyo Story but wouldn't have registered it in all time greatest territory.

Personally, I wouldn't consider any film you can walk into a Barnes & Noble and buy to be obscure so that includes the entire Criterion Collection, which has released multiple Ozu films including Tokyo Story.

Where on earth did you go to film school?! Sunrise is Film School 101. By no means is it obscure as far as silent film goes. It would be the first silent film I would recommend to anyone seeking a recommendation. It's no more obscure than Greed, Intolerance, or The Passion of Joan of Arc.
posted by dobbs at 2:52 PM on August 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


No film critic, academic or otherwise, would consider any of the movies on these lists "obscure." They read like the syllabus of an introductory film class. Each of the movies has an entire literature behind it. If anything, the lists are too obvious: that the Vertov ranked so high on the critics list makes it clear that a significant number of the critics cribbed their personal lists from introductory film class syllabuses, since no-one has ever in the history of the world watched Man With a Movie Camera outside of an introductory film class. Maybe the critics list, at least, can be thought of as a kind of ranking of "disciplines." The high ranking of Vertigo, for instance, might speak most to the continued dominance of the particular school of film criticism to whose pet critical tropes Vertigo particularly lends itself.
posted by flechsig at 2:53 PM on August 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think the post you were originally responding to clarified,

I've never thought Sunrise or Tokyo Story were particularly obscure, at least to film buffs/critics

so I don't think it was at all pretentious to point that out. It was a bit confusing because you claimed that from a film school perspective, these movies were obscure. Ozu and Sunrise are quite popular with critics.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:55 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I watched Tokyo Story in the very first undergrad film class I took.

As for the 'some mainstream blockbusters are just as good as these' debate, I can only take that to mean that you haven't seen Tokyo Story.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:58 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I think my last post was a little harsh-sounding and insulting. It was merely shock/surprise.
posted by dobbs at 3:05 PM on August 1, 2012


Dirty Dancing 2 - Havana Nights and Garfield, The Movie have obviously been slighted in this list.
posted by Chuffy at 3:07 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am surprised to see Mirror on the directors' list. It's probably Tarkovsky's most personal-feeling film but I don't think it's comparable to Andrei Rublev or Stalker. Time for a rewatch.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:09 PM on August 1, 2012


Mirror took a while to sink in for me--at first I was totally like "pffft, this ain't no Andrei Rublev, but then what is"--but once it did it really haunted me. It's great and yes, very personal. I think it's a triumph of showing being personal CAN work and transcend your own quirky memory/life, which is one of the major things I think make art one of the most powerful forces out there.
posted by ifjuly at 3:15 PM on August 1, 2012


Vertigo is hardly the best film ever made and not even the best Hitchcock (though it's up there). Rear Window is nowhere close to Vertigo.
posted by dobbs at 3:16 PM on August 1, 2012


I've been thinking about this for a bit and I think what sets Vertigo apart from most of Hitchcock's best (Notorious, Rear Window, etc.) is that it lacks the tight interlocking gears of plotting, the way that Vertigo sort of sprawls all over the place, forgetting major characters halfway through, hinging the villain's plot on psychological assumptions about Scotty, etc. It's messy as hell in a way that Hitchcock hardly ever is, in a way that reflects the madness and obsession that is the film. It's a messiness that allows Kim Novak to point to the crosssection of a redwood and say 'here's where I died' and for it to be chilling rather than strange. It's messy in the way a novel is always messy, that a short story never is. So I guess it depends on your definition of 'best.'
posted by shakespeherian at 3:45 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those are both obscure movies. Even though you happen to be familiar with them. Pretending they're not is a bit disingenuous. Not to mention pretentious as fuck.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I truly wasn't trying to be pretentious or disingenuous, nor was I attempting to criticize you in any way. Don't automatically assume the worst in people, especially over something so trivial.
posted by Falconetti at 3:55 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


And "pretentious" is a response that is so meaningless as to be vapor. Just because somebody knows something you don't doesn't mean they are taking airs. You probably know something they don't that is worth knowing. Doesn't make you pretentious either.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:01 PM on August 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Word, UB. I dunno, I don't get why the response when you see something at the top of a list like this and people get excited isn't "ooh, something I don't know about but clearly people love, it's cool to have new stuff to check out" but often instead "I don't know what this is so it must not be that great, and people insisting it is are probably pretentious." And I don't mean you in particular, SC, just, this is a common reaction and I think I'm going to do my damnedest to actively fight it if I ever have it as my kneejerk first response.
posted by ifjuly at 4:07 PM on August 1, 2012


Sunrise actually won an Oscar the first year they were presented, funnily enough.

koselitz: That seems kind of like a gross mischaracterization of Ozu's style

Sorry it came across that way. Mainly my point was in reference to its accessibility for a wide audience. Obviously you're an intelligent individual, and I'd wager to say that you're familiar with Japanese cinema in general (please correct me if I'm wrong), which gives you a unique perspective to appreciate its subtle beauty. Hell, the Japanese themselves thought Ozu's films too Japanese for foreign distribution, and Kurosawa thought of them as having dignified severity. Of course, the Japanese thought Kurosawa was too Western, but that's another post.

I suppose my point being, of the two, I feel Vertigo would have a better chance appealing to a viewer in a contextual vacuum. But it's just an opinion. If it introduces more people to Ozu, all the better for it.
posted by SomaSoda at 4:22 PM on August 1, 2012


Really? I admit I haven't looked them all up, but Breathless, for example, was #25 in the French box office that year.

I read somewhere that the budget of Breathless, adjusted for inflation, was something like $50,000 in modern money. According to that list, it was seen by 2.2 million people in France alone the year it was released. This was at a time when France's population was 45 million. That means one out of every twenty people saw this punkish, shoestring-budget crime movie in the theater.
posted by alexoscar at 4:35 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was overreacting a bit there, SomaSoda.

In general, this is just my own belief: more movies should be like Tokyo Story. The fact that movies aren't slow, and don't show the viewer the action, is down to outright dishonesty, which I think has really harmed the way people tend to consume art and even the way they live their lives.

I know a lot of Japanese critics have said that about Ozu – that he's "too Japanese" for foreigners to get it – but respectfully I disagree with them. There's nothing in Tokyo Story or in most of his films that any person in almost any society within the past hundred years wouldn't instantly recognize. Ozu's movies are about families, and they draw characters in a very simple but powerful way. The Japanese, I think, tend to see this as a "Japanese" way of making films – but that's only because people have a tendency to see things that touch them personal as being purely personal, as being a little incomprehensible to those outside of their circle. In truth, though, the family issues which Ozu films touch on are common in many cultures, in fact most post-industrial cultures of the past century.

In short: yeah, I know maybe this is my bias talking, but I genuinely believe that most people could watch and understand instantly what happens in Tokyo Story and many of Ozu's other movies. It takes slightly more willingness to sit, and to relax, and let the film wash over you as you watch it, but that's all – no higher-order cognitive aerobatics or in-depth critical examinations required. Just a quiet, slow-moving film about parents and children.
posted by koeselitz at 4:40 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


koeselitz,

I remember hearing a critic (think it was Jonathan Rosenbaum) doing a talk a few years ago, and he talked about the Japanese reaction to Ozu vs. the "Western" one, and brought up an example about seeing a Douglas Sirk retrospective in Tokyo. He said that what struck him was how in the US, people who like Sirk usually appreciate him as a stylist and think that his films are subversive and campy and that the dialogue and acting are funny. It's taken for granted that people are going to laugh at a Douglas Sirk movie. But when he watched the Sirks with a Japanese audience, who didn't have the same familiarity with how English speech is supposed to sound, they didn't pick up on the "forced" or weird stuff about Sirk and tended to get wrapped up in the plots. To them they were great melodramas, not ironic commentaries on melodrama.

I don't know if there is a Japanese poster here who can comment on this, but he said that the same thing happens with Ozu in the West. Supposedly, Ozu's dialogue and the acting in his films is very strange to a Japanese audience. People talk very slowly and clearly in his films (he also mentioned the example of Aki Kaurasmaki, whose dialogue sounds very old-fashioned and literary in Finnish). For some contemporary Japanese viewers, it's a big turn-off, but Westerners who don't speak Japanese don't notice it, and instead get wrapped up in the formal qualities. It should be remembered that both Sirk and Ozu were big box-office draws in their respective countries, and neither was considered an "art" filmmaker. Sirk directed some of the highest grossing films of the 1950s, and Ozu cranked out those supposedly "difficult, slow" films because he was under contract to a studio and audiences liked them.
posted by alexoscar at 4:57 PM on August 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Additionally, as SomaSoda pointed out, Sunrise won an Oscar at the first ceremony. Actually, it won three Oscars (the most of any film at that ceremony), including Best Unique and Artistic Production -- the category that was later merged with Outstanding Picture, Production to form the award now known as Best Picture.
posted by alexoscar at 5:15 PM on August 1, 2012


Sunrise and Man with the Movie Camera are two the the best movies I've ever seen. Murnau was a genius and Sunrise just a beautiful, hauntingly beautiful movie.

As for Vertigo - a worthy successor to Citizen Kane in the critics' poll. I get shivers still when the intro scene plays and the classic Saul Bass stat titles and Hermann score kick in. Chills.

Was lucky enough to visit San Francisco a few years back (from Australia) and just marvelled at the Mission Dolores and other sites featured in the film. The Mission has this strange, otherworldly light that Hitchcock captured beautifully.

Great to see plenty of discussion and debate on this. Though I can't believe Strangelove didn't make the Top 10 - utterly genius film.
posted by chris88 at 5:50 PM on August 1, 2012


I do realize that we're talking about only 10 (or 20) movies and there would be a bunch of modern stuff in a top 100 list, but it's still frustrating to see that critics and directors don't think there's been anything amazing produced in literally decades.

There are lots of more recent films proposed by the individual rankers--it's just that the terrain of recent film hasn't yet come into focus, so there's not the same level of agreement as with older film. It's not that each individual critic is thinking "older films are better than newer films, what older films can I nominate?"; they're thinking "what are the films that deserve to be in this list?" and when they cast their minds back to the earlier parts of the century they're looking at a landscape where the "Classics" stand out clearly (because they've featured on lists like these a thousand times before and because they've developed a critical literature etc. etc.), whereas when they look at more recent film that process of winnowing hasn't happened. By definition there will be a relatively shallow critical literature on recent film and it will be less redundant in the attention it pays to the films that will become the "classics" of tomorrow.
posted by yoink at 6:32 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Interesting, I wonder if it's a US Film Studies thing? Sunrise is certainly regarded both here (Australia), and in the UK has a seminal silent film - I saw it in a first year film studies class, and it's had just tonnes written about it. I mean, I would put it in terms of fame and influence up there with The General, Metropolis, Birth of a Nation, etc.
posted by smoke at 6:47 PM on August 1, 2012


The whole "X is on this list AAARGH" and "Y isn't on this list AAAARGH!" thing is always fun, of course (or, at least, I assume it must be fun because every single list post ever elicits that response), but it seems to me that the actually interesting response to a list like this is to speculate about what it is in contemporary film criticism and practice that makes these films rise to the top now. And what is it that makes other films that used to be regulars on these lists drop away?

I mean, it's not as if you're any more right or wrong to love film X and hate film Y because of what this list says about them. I'm no less convinced that William Wyler and Howard Hawks are among the truly great filmmakers just because they don't feature on this list (even in the top 50) and I'm no less convinced that The Searchers is pretty thin gruel (if spectacularly beautiful scenery) just because it makes the top 10. But I'm interested to think about what it is that makes Vertigo (which I love) seem more compelling now than Citizen Kane, and why it is that Bergman, say, or Antonioni, or De Sica seem to be somewhat on the wane. What makes critics coalesce around In the Mood for Love (another film I loved) but not around any of Kieslowski's films? I think those are really more promising lines of discussion than "how could they not agree with my personal ranking???" After all, they don't agree with the personal ranking of any of the people who made the list, either--it's an aggregate, not a collectively expressed judgment.
posted by yoink at 6:56 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Interesting, I wonder if it's a US Film Studies thing? Sunrise is certainly regarded both here (Australia), and in the UK has a seminal silent film

No, it's hugely famous in the US, too. We all have our weird little gaps in our education. I'd never heard of Satantango when I looked through the list. Don't know if I'll be rushing out to watch it, though.

Interesting that Greed didn't make it anywhere on the list. That would once have been a standard inclusion.
posted by yoink at 6:59 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]




Each of the movies has an entire literature behind it. If anything, the lists are too obvious: that the Vertov ranked so high on the critics list makes it clear that a significant number of the critics cribbed their personal lists from introductory film class syllabuses, since no-one has ever in the history of the world watched Man With a Movie Camera outside of an introductory film class.

Yes, exactly. I'd guess it's partly an effect of the tally, which was an approval vote ignoring personal rankings. Commonly taught films don't have to rock your world to sneak onto your top ten list in honor of the important lessons the film was used to teach you, but with this voting mechanism, they'll count just as much as the films that truly did rock your world. The result seems to be mostly a list of older films that are pretty good to teach with, because there's so much we know to say about them, but in several cases, I doubt they were very affecting to the voters in a non-didactic sense.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:19 PM on August 1, 2012


I own Man With A Movie Camera on DVD, and it is an amazing piece of work. I bought it after I saw the Alloy Orchestra perform a live soundtrack to it at the Indie Memphis Film Festival with a sold-out crowd. So if you think "no one in the history of the world" watched it without being forced to, you are completely wrong.
posted by vibrotronica at 7:56 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Going thru this again--even if we look at American Movies released in 1941, Citizen Kane might be 5th or 6th for me:

1) Sullivan's Travels
2) Dumbo
3) The Maltese Falcon
4) The Lady Eve.
5) Ball of Fire
6) The Little Foxes


I fundamentally don't understand the love of Citizen Kane.

(Also, Vertigo is not nearly as good as Stranger on a Train, Pyscho, Rope, NorthxNorthwest, Dial M for Murder, The Birds, Spellbound, Nortorious or the first 10 minutes of Lifeboat.)
posted by PinkMoose at 9:35 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love me some Spellbound but I don't think there's any comparison to Vertigo.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:54 PM on August 1, 2012


I fundamentally don't understand the love of Citizen Kane.


The film was quite ground breaking for the time, things such as deep focus, over lapping dialogue, etc. So much of what was new about it became standard in Hollywood decades ago so it's hard to see sometimes how cutting edge it was. A big part was played by cinematographer Gregg Toland who collaborated with Welles extensively on the shooting of the film.

Personally I prefer 'Touch of Evil' when it comes to Welles, I think overall it's just a better film, but, it's not as radical as Kane was in it's impact on film language.

And, another shout out for 'Tokyo Story'. I am surprised that no one has mentioned how heartrending the film is yet.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:05 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Vertigo was when Hitchcock convinced himself he was making art, as opposed to his best work, when he made art despite of himself.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:06 PM on August 1, 2012


5) Ball of Fire

Ball of Fire is tops, which brings up a serious issue with the list -- 50 movies and no Hawks?
posted by alexoscar at 10:06 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Vertigo was when Hitchcock convinced himself he was making art, as opposed to his best work, when he made art despite of himself.

Replace "Hitchcock" with "Jules Dassin" and "Vertigo" with "Rififi."
posted by alexoscar at 10:08 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll have to try Tokyo Story again. When I tried to watch it before I couldn't get past the first ~20 minutes. I loved Ohayo, though.
posted by luvcraft at 10:25 PM on August 1, 2012


Maybe it's just me but the opening minute of The Searchers with a view of worthless arid scrub land through a door and the camera swinging around to focus on a pioneer woman standing on the porch of her wood frame house when there ain't a tree for miles around in her pretty white dress and bright blue apron with carefully coiffed hair and lipstick annoys the hell out of me.

But, I like big exterior shots with lots of clouds so there's that.

The Searchers wouldn't be in my top 100.
posted by wrapper at 10:27 PM on August 1, 2012


Vertigo was when Hitchcock convinced himself he was making art, as opposed to his best work, when he made art despite of himself.

Poppycock.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:38 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hyperbole and aesthetic opinions aside, in 2002, Man With A Movie Camera placed 27th out of 60 on the critics' list. But out of 145 critics, only 7 voted for it (~5%), ranking it 6th, 6th, 3rd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 3rd. Out of 108 directors, zero voted for it. In 2012, 68 out of 846 voted for it (8%), and that put it in 8th place overall.

I had thought the tally method would make a significant difference in how this list came out, but I've revised my opinion. The most interesting thing about the data is how little overlap there is among ballots. It only took a consensus among 3-5% of those polled for a film to get onto any of these lists. Social factors that tend to condense attention onto particular films, e.g. schooling, are probably of enormous significance for the 'top' films.

But with confidence values this low, you could probably show sunspots or a stiff wind influencing the outcomes.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:43 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have seen these movies, several times for some of them, and I do appreciate them, but I still find that calling them "Greatest films of All time" no longer make any sort of sense. The IMDb lists 76,000 feature movies (more than 85 min long) produced worldwide since 1969 and not a single one of them is worth making the list? It should at least be broken down by decade. I know that quantity <> quality but today a top-10 list is basically a self-perpetuating container for movies of historical significance, just like a perfect automobile museum will contain a Ford Model T, a Volkwagen Beetle and a Bugatti Type 57 Yes, car analogies sucks, I know.
posted by elgilito at 12:36 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, I make movies for a living, spent time at film school
Funnily enough, a lot of those who chose the Directors List did too.
posted by fullerine at 3:31 AM on August 2, 2012


Wow, Citizen Kane has been number one on both the directors and critics lists for 50 years (starting in 1962). It's weird how critical preferences can suddenly shift around for movies that have been around forever.

Critical tastes change dramatically over time. Alfred Hitchcock barely ever got academy award nominations for his movies. Vertigo wasn't nominated for best picture in 1958. The awful musical Gigi won the Oscar that year.

Too many critical tastes seem engineered to distinguish the critic from the boring masses. Top 50 movies like L’avventura, Jeanne Dielman, and Satantango feel more like endurance tests than art or entertainment. As popular movies become louder and dumber, the upward movement of Tokyo Story might reflect a rebellious critical shift towards minimalism.

I suspect the climate is ripe for the cinematic equivalent of the Sokal hoax. Some cheeky director might be able to film sad people playing frisbee for three hours and pull off a 80%+ on Rotten Tomatoes.
posted by dgaicun at 3:38 AM on August 2, 2012


Tokyo Story has been in the list since at least 1992, so I don't see how its inclusion is such a revelation.

I also found the inclusion of Man with a Movie Camera strange, since I thought they only voted for narrative films and not documentaries.

Its a very weird list. No Eisenstein, Chaplin, Kurosawa or Buñuel? Taxi Driver instead of the deeper more artful Raging Bull? The glorious mess that is Apocalypse Now but not the fully formed tightly constructed Godfather II?
posted by Omon Ra at 5:05 AM on August 2, 2012


Really? There have been no great movies made for, what, 40 years?

I'd love to see something like Pulp Fiction or Do the Right Thing or There Will Be Blood burst through the doors of these fossilized lists.

Conversely, these lists are a breath of fresh air in light of the IMDB top 250 which smells overwhelmingly of an economics major's frat house.


My favourite are when critics list their top 10 for each decade. (i.e. 80s, 90s)
There are many great movies, and listing 10 a decade gives more stylistic breathing room. Reading Ebert's discussion of his decisions for the "top 10 of all time" was an exercise in claustrophia.
posted by Theta States at 6:32 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


At imdb, some of the films that rate higher than Kurosawa's Seven Samurai:
#8 The Dark Knight (2008)
#9 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
#10 Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
#11 Fight Club (1999)
#13 The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
#14 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
#15 Inception (2010)
#16 Goodfellas (1990)
#17 Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

and then, finally:
#18. Seven Samurai (1954)

which barely edges out...
#19. The Matrix (1999)


13-year-old me loves this list! 18-year-old me is all WTF. 32-year-old me is all "oh, internet."
posted by Theta States at 6:37 AM on August 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm getting sort of exhausted by the argument that people who like certain pieces of art or culture must not really like it and are in fact just saying they like it so that they look cool.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:49 AM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mulholland Drive....yea! Lynch cannot be ignored. It would be in my top 10.
posted by judson at 7:56 AM on August 2, 2012


Mulholland Drive....yea! Lynch cannot be ignored. It would be in my top 10.

Yes, I rewatched it recently and it did really hold up well. I suspect it will steadily climb these kinds of lists for a while; it will become one of those "well, obviously we have to include *that*" films.

When I think about trying to make a list like this myself I just end up throwing my hands up. There are too many great films out there and too many radically different kinds of greatness. The one film I know for sure would be in my top two or three no matter which way I sliced it would be Les Enfants du Paradis, and that didn't even make the top 50 of this list. I wonder if it suffered from the "films that come in two or three parts must be voted on as separate films" problem (see "Godfather, The") or if it has just dropped out of favor? Another film that would definitely make it into my top five or so would be Bertolucci's The Conformist--and that, too, is nowhere to be seen in their top 50.

And, another shout out for 'Tokyo Story'. I am surprised that no one has mentioned how heartrending the film is yet.

Indeed--utterly, utterly heartrending. But what, I think, makes it so extraordinarily powerful is that it is a film without any rancor towards anyone. Everyone's position is understandable. No one is doing anything "wrong." It is simply the human condition. This is where the coolness of Ozu's style (the fixed camera, the longish takes etc.) really comes into its own: there's no feeling that we are being manipulated or chivvied into taking a particular stance towards these people and their situation; we are simply asked to experience it and to accept that, yes, this is how life is. It is an achingly beautiful and profound work. As, indeed, so much of Ozu's work is.
posted by yoink at 9:32 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess these are the greatest. I feel I no longer am on the 'best of all time' wave length. There are so many good movies it's tough to parse.

A few things strike me about the list.

No Bunuel! What kind of top 52 films doesn't include a Bunuel?

No Hawks, No Lubitsch.

There are 3 films from the 1930's, 3 films from the 1940's and 3 films from the 1990's.

There are 4 films by Godard. I like Godard. But 4 films in the top 52?

Apocalypse Now is passed The Godfather. I didn't see that coming.

Also this: The Searchers wouldn't be in my top 100. That I can agree with. Other than some of the cinematography I've never been able to figure out the appeal of this film. John Ford made many better films.
posted by Rashomon at 1:20 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


No Lubitsch.

This is the real crime here.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:59 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Rashomon: “There are 4 films by Godard. I like Godard. But 4 films in the top 52?”

Not sure where you're getting 52 - there are a lot more than 52 movies on there, with lots of tied spots - but I agree. Pierrot le Fou is the only one that should be on there, although Weekend might be slightly better (although I'm not sure).

“Apocalypse Now is passed The Godfather. I didn't see that coming.”

As others have said, there was a rule change that made that inevitable. I think Apocalypse Now is not as good as The Godfather II, but clearly better than The Godfather. Now that the movies are counted separately, rather than together as one film, the vote had to be split.

“Also this: The Searchers wouldn't be in my top 100. That I can agree with. Other than some of the cinematography I've never been able to figure out the appeal of this film. John Ford made many better films.”

Many? Which ones? I've seen many of his films, and to my eye none was as good as The Searchers. At the very least, The Searchers is John Wayne's best acting job, and it's the only movie I know of where he really convincingly played a father. And there are so many well-timed scenes in that movie, scenes that have absolutely no equal – the Comanche attack scene, for one.
posted by koeselitz at 2:20 PM on August 2, 2012


Hooray! I'd never seen Sunrise, and thanks to this thread I'm watching it now. It's SO AMAZING.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:40 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Many? Which ones?

Films of John Ford's that I would rank above The Searchers:

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (This would get into my personal top 10 or 20).

The Quiet Man

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

Fort Apache

My Darling Clementine

The Grapes of Wrath

Stagecoach

So, yeah, for me, too, it's "many." YMM, and obviously does, V. Neither of us is "right" about that, it's just a matter of what happens to work or not work for each of us.

I think part of my problem with The Searchers is that before I first saw it I had read a lot about it and in particular about what a great turning point it supposedly marked in terms of Ford's (and the Western genre in general's) attitude towards the Indians. Much is said about the supposedly enormous change in perspective that Wayne's character undergoes in the film. And then I watch the film and it basically retreads every imaginable cliche about the "savage" Indians and Wayne's characters great psychodrama amounts to just deciding not to kill the white girl who has been "tainted" by her contact with the Injuns. It's definitely a film that gets badly over-read by critics.
posted by yoink at 9:20 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never really got The Searchers until I read Lethem's essay on it in the Disappointment Artist, which is sort of a meta essay on how taste works as we grow both older and exposed to other people. I still don't like Ford, but it was useful to work thru
posted by PinkMoose at 11:39 PM on August 3, 2012


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