SCOTTIE, DO YOU BELIEVE THAT SOMEONE OUT OF THE PAST - SOMEONE DEAD - CAN ENTER AND TAKE POSSESSION OF A LIVING BEING? I assume many here already saw yesterday's unveiling of the decennial Sight and Sound critics survey of the Greatest Films of All Time. Greatest? The instructions stated: “We leave that open to your interpretation. You might choose the ten films you feel are most important to film history, or the ten that represent the aesthetic pinnacles of achievement, or indeed the ten films that have had the biggest impact on your own view of cinema.” (Each critic submitted ten films, unranked.)
And for the first time since 1952, a film other than Citizen Kane topped the list, as Vertigo completed its steady rise up the canon, with the pair followed by Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953); La Règle du jeu (Renoir, 1939); Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927); 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968); The Searchers (Ford, 1956); Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929); The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927); and 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963). Gone from the 2002 list? Battleship Potemkin, Singin’ In The Rain (I'm sorry: did "Make 'Em Laugh" stop making 'em laugh in the past decade?), and The Godfather/The Godfather Part II, the last of which because of a ruling that they had to be voted on separately.
What can one say about this list? When you have criteria which bend towards Important, this is what you get, and as Ebert argues this is even more so when there's one film per-director which seems to have already been agreed up as canon. (Francis Ford Coppola, in particular, gets screwed because of a three-way divide as to his most Important film, instead placing three between 14-31.) These are great films, though, and in particular I'd recommend The Searchers and Man with a Movie Camera to those who haven't seen them.
But as Mark Harris and Linda Holmes each tweeted last night, I'm less interested in this list than I am in each critic's list of films #11-20, the quirkier, more idiosyncratic list of personal favorites. Of films that are fun. Show me the list that appreciates Raiders of the Lost Ark and has an "also receiving votes" mention of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and I'll have much more to say.