Special Feature: ‘Vertigo’ tops Sight & Sound poll

This week, the BFI’s newly re-launched Sight & Sound magazine crowned Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo as the new king of its ‘Greatest Films of All Time’ poll, ending the 50-year reign of Orson Welles’ magnificent Citizen Kane. 846 film critics, academics, distributors, writers and programmers were invited to put forward their own personal favourites, a notable rise from the 144 asked a decade ago. This is only the 7th time that Sight & Sound have published the renowned poll in its 80 year history, with the full results to be published in the September issue, on sale from 4 August.

However, it wasn’t just film critics that were invited to laud their favourite cinematic artefacts. In a separate poll, 358 film directors including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Mike Leigh, voted Yasujirō Ozu’s Tokyo Story the Greatest Film of All Time, again knocking Citizen Kane off the top spot – perhaps it’s time for a rerelease.

The Critics’ Top Ten Greatest Films of All Time are:

  1. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
  2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
  3. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
  4. La Règle du Jeu (Renoir, 1939)
  5. Sunrise (Murnau, 1927)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
  7. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
  8. Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929)
  9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)
  10. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)

The Directors’ Top Ten Greatest Films of All Time are:

  1. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
  3. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
  4. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)
  5. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976)
  6. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)
  7. The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)
  8. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
  9. Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1974)
  10. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)

This time around, three silent films managed to sneak into the Top 10 in the form of Man with a Movie Camera, Sunrise and The Passion of Joan of Arc. The most recent films to make the Top 100 is Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) and David Lynch’s hypnotic Mulholland Dr. (2001), whilst disappointingly, only two female directors were featured – Chantal Akerman for Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (35th) and Claire Denis for Beau Travail (78th).

For more info and full results for Sight & Sound’s Greatest Films of All Time poll, visit bfi.org.uk/sightsoundpoll2012.

Daniel Green