British Film Institute releases latest top 100 film list of all time, but why should you care?

Home Arts British Film Institute releases latest top 100 film list of all time, but why should you care?
British Film Institute releases latest top 100 film list of all time, but why should you care?

Every 10 years, the British Film Institute (BFI) gathers together a collection of film directors and critics and asks them to name the greatest film of all time.

The resulting list is known as the Sight & Sound poll, and is considered one of the more prestigious lists from the multitude that proclaim to tell us the best film ever made.

Its prestige comes from the number of critic contributors (more than 1,600 this year), the calibre of its voters — this year’s directors’ poll includes Martin Scorsese, Barry Jenkins, Sofia Coppola, and Bong Joon Ho — and the fact it happens once a decade.

This year’s critics poll appointed the experimental slice-of-life drama entitled, Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, as the greatest film of all time, while the directors selected influential sci-fi film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

A man in a yellow space suit walks down a white and black corridor
A group of directors named Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) the greatest film of all time.(Supplied)

So who’s right, and why should we care?

What would you think if I told you I’d figured out a way to answer the question, “What’s the greatest film of all time?”, once and for all?

Lights, camera, action

When the Sight & Sound poll began in 1952, it was a critics-only affair that judged Vittorio de Sica’s Italian drama The Bicycle Thieves the greatest film.

In the five decades that followed (1962-2002), the critics voted Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane as number one, before dubbing Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo the greatest in 2012.

The Sight & Sound director’s poll, which began in 1992, chose Citizen Kane that year and in 2002, before dubbing Yasujiro Ozu’s family drama Tokyo Story the winner in 2012.

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane.
In some circles, Citizen Kane is still regarded as the best film ever made.(Supplied: IMDB)

A snapshot of changing views

Each of these polls — indeed any such list of the greatest films of all time — can tell us a lot about how cinema is viewed and valued at a particular point in time by a particular group of people.

For example, The Bicycle Thieves was praised for its realism at a time when cinema was very focused on spectacle and theatricality, while Citizen Kane’s selection came as part of a re-evaluation of Welles’ masterpiece and the belated realisation of its monumental influence on film-making in the years since its 1941 release.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.