‘Tis the season for “10-Best” lists, as virtually every critic and pundit in the country has assembled an annual honor roll of film releases from 2022. But the “top-ten” list that has captured the imagination of the international film community this particular year is one that appears only once a decade, assembled by Sight and Sound, the venerable periodical of film criticism published by the British Film Institute.
In 1952 Sight and Sound published their first poll of film critics, and these polls have continued every ten years since. Each invited participant submits a personal top-ten list of “The Greatest Films of All Time,” and over the years the list of participants has expanded dramatically. Each list can stand as a bellwether of trends and fashions in criticism. This short series highlights the number one film polled from every decade: Bicycle Thieves, Citizen Kane (multiple years), Vertigo, Jeanne Dielman.
Visit the BFI website to see the ranking of 250 films in the latest poll.
While it’s difficult to say what these results may ultimately prove, the ranking of film classics can present an irresistible exercise for cinephiles. If nothing else, film lists provide meaty topics for discussion and debate.