Really enjoying the current issue of the BFI's Sight & Sound magazine, with its 2012 poll of 'The Greatest Films of All Time'. I normally hate 'Top 100 lists' but this one is pretty interesting. There's actually two polls, the first of which involved "more than 1,000 critics, programmers, academics, distributors, writers and other cinephiles" submitting their ten favourites, from which the top 100 films were compiled according to number of votes; the other a top ten list polled by 350 directors. You can view the lists for both here, but what’s most of interest is seeing Citizen Kane not topping the list this time – a film that I only managed to get round to seeing recently, and which seems to be beyond reproach. While it’s a great enough film in of itself, somehow it doesn’t strike me as any more special than any of the other films on S&S's list.
As many of the contributors of the first list mentioned themselves, compiling a list of ten has meant just as much about what’s been left out as kept in. Being limited by only ten choices has meant an almost agonising process of leaving out almost equally important films for this writer. There's four key London-set films which really should be on there somewhere, given the name and nature of this blog (Blow-Up by Antonioni, The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa by Neil Jordan, and Performance by Cammell/Roeg); instead I ended up settling for Blade Runner, a film I've always loved since adolescence (as with the Coppola, Malle, Scorsese and Kubrick choices - so there's slightly selfish reasons for my list), and which is still as great a dystopian vision of a future city as it gets. There's also directors such as Kurosawa, Buñuel, Bergman, Vigo, Greenaway, French new wave cinema, Metropolis, Terry Gilliam's Brazil, Herzog's Nosferatu and Fitzcarraldo…not to mention more well-known classics such as Alien, This Is Spinal Tap, Taxi Driver, The Shining, The Blues Brothers and Apocalypse Now. All magnificent in their own way. Then there's more recent cinema, from which highlights include Darren Aronofsky's Pi and Requiem For A Dream, Todd Solondz, British productions such as Children of Men and Never Let Me Go, and films from as far afield as Iran to Australia. The more you think about it, the more you realise that limiting to just ten is a near impossible task.
My list (below) is in no particular order, with the exception of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is the one film that I’d take to a desert island. Why? Because it’s simply perfect, visually and thematically. No other film asks as bigger questions of humanity. Any suggestions for reader's own top tens?
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
2. Raging Bull (Scorsese)
3. Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky)
4. Stalker (Tarkovsky)
5. The Holy Mountain (Jodorowsky)
6. Three Colours Triology (Kieślowski) *
7. The Godfather Part II (Coppola)
8. Au Revoir Les Enfants (Malle)
9. Blade Runner (Scott)10. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Herzog)
* Actually three films, so technically cheating – but what the heck…