My Best (and Favorite) Movies of All Time

These are my 10 “Best” movies of all time, along with my 10 “Favorite” movies ever.

Any critic voting in the Sight and Sound poll that was announced yesterday (my coverage here if you care to compare lists) will tell you how impossibly difficult it is to select 10 films as the best of all time. Occurring every 10 years since 1952, this is really the only list that matters. They have to select with their minds and their hearts, and the two don’t always coincide. If you’ve seen all the masterpieces, how do you choose between all that is perfect? And how would you like to be the critic who finally displaced “Citizen Kane” as the best movie of all time?

I don’t have nearly as much pressure on my head (not yet), but it hasn’t stopped some of my friends from asking what are my all time favorites.

I tend to dodge the question (often pretentiously, I might add). “Well, how do you rank works of art anyway?” “Oh, you probably haven’t heard of them.” “I’ve just seen so much that it’s so hard to choose.” And then I’ll say something about how I’ve seen the Harry Potter movies a lot because they’re always on HBO and I have a sister with no qualms of re-watching stuff, so maybe those could be called some of my “favorites.”

Often, I don’t even like the word “favorite.” “Best” and “favorite” usually go hand in hand. If I called “Drive” the best movie of 2011, it’s because it’s the one I most want to see again AND because it’s the most important/best made/critic-y jargon bullshit.

There’s also the possibility that I just haven’t seen enough films. In fact, I know I haven’t seen enough. One day decades from now when my Excel spreadsheet of classic films to watch is completely marked up with yellow highlights, when I’ve written and read all I can about them and am looking back on my entire life of watching movies as opposed to looking forward to what’s coming out this Friday, then maybe I’ll make a decent list.

So for all those reasons and more, I’ve never officially made public what are my all time picks for best movies ever. I’ve always had titles in mind, but they’ve never been put on paper like this. It’s damned hard to do.

But I’ll concede that in this instant, “best” does not mean “favorite.” I’m not going to lie and pretend that some obscure foreign movie I’ve seen once two years ago means more to me than something I’ve seen dozens of times since I was a kid. At the same time, that movie I know by heart is probably not even in the same conversation technically or historically as that obscure foreign film.

It’s why I’ve decided to provide TWO lists. One has the movies I would call the most powerful and most significant movies ever made. The other has the titles that I could never forget. They define me as a critic and a person. Continue reading “My Best (and Favorite) Movies of All Time”

2012 Sight and Sound Poll Announced

“Vertigo” has now been named the #1 film over “Citizen Kane” in the 2012 Sight and Sound Critics’ Poll.

For 50 years, “Citizen Kane” has sat alone as the greatest film of all time, much like its title character locked away in a giant palace, untouched.

Now, a giant has toppled.

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” has bested “Citizen Kane” as the number one film ever made in the Sight and Sound Poll, a list organized by Sight and Sound magazine and voted on by critics and writers from around the world.

Roger Ebert calls the list essentially the only film poll that matters, and it is such because it has been conducted every 10 years since 1952 and surveys the best of the best in film.

Citizen Kane has been number 1 since 1962 when it overcame Vittorio De Sica’s “Bicycle Thieves,” the reigning champ from 10 years prior. Since then, “Vertigo” has been on every list since 1972, climbing to as high as number 2 in 2002. This year, “Vertigo” received 191 votes from its 847 participants, dwarfing “Kane’s” 151.

This year’s full list is as follows.

  1. “Vertigo” – Alfred Hitchcock, 1958
  2. “Citizen Kane” – Orson Welles, 1941
  3. “Tokyo Story” – Yasujiro Ozu, 1953
  4. “The Rules of the Game” – Jean Renoir, 1939
  5. “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” – F.W. Murnau, 1927
  6. “2001: A Space Odyssey” – Stanley Kubrick, 1968
  7. “The Searchers” – John Ford, 1956
  8. “Man With a Movie Camera” – Dziga Vertov, 1929
  9. “The Passion of Joan of Arc” – Carl Theodore Dreyer, 1927
  10. “8 1/2” – Federico Fellini, 1963 Continue reading “2012 Sight and Sound Poll Announced”

Rapid Response: The Godfather

Of course I could’ve written a full Classics piece on “The Godfather.” I could write a book on “The Godfather.”

Except I can’t write a book on “The Godfather.” There’s too much I simply do not know, too many people who have seen the film more than I have and will serve as a better expert on one of the greatest films ever made. There are non-film critics who are more familiar with “The Godfather” than I am.

And yet it is impossible not to be familiar with Francis Ford Coppola’s film. No film this critically acclaimed (it sits at #2 on the AFI Top 100 and #4 on the Sight and Sound poll) is also this widely popular and beloved (it also sits at #2 on the IMDB Top 250). I had watched the film mere months ago, and there was not a moment of the sprawling three hour epic, not even just the iconic deaths and dramatic scenes that have been copied to death, that I could not visualize. Continue reading “Rapid Response: The Godfather”