Every ten years, the world’s finest and most prestigious film critics vote in a poll for the ten greatest films ever made. The international film community waits with bated breath for the big reveal to see which films have moved up, disappeared or made a debut on the list. This year’s Sight & Sound poll was just released, and looks like this:
1. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
3. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
4. The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)
5. Sunrise: A Song for 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 Th. Dreyer, 1927)
10. 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)
After five consecutive decades atop the list, Citizen Kane has been dethroned be Vertigo.As you can see from the list, critics prioritize films that have stood the test of time, important films, and films that were revolutionary or advanced the medium in some fashion.
For the first time in 2012, Pop Culture Has AIDS cast a ballot in this esteemed competition.
Good effort, by and large, critics, but I don’t think you’re looking deeply enough. At Pop Culture Has AIDS, we like to think outside the box. We love Citizen Kane and 8 1/2, sure, but we also recognize that there are a lot of under-the-radar films that have been just as revolutionary and just as artistic. The ballot we submitted is as follows:
10. Junior (Ivan Reitman, 1994)
Pregnant! A man is pregnant! And a big, macho, muscular behemoth at that. There is certainly no more revolutionary idea than that contained in 2001 or The Passion of Joan of Arc. This film strikes a blow for gender equality and does it in a subtle, artful way. A forgotten gem.
9. Avatar (James Cameron, 2010)
The technical advances and the work in the third dimension go without saying, but what really put this film among the all-time greats is its way with words. The dialogue addresses complicated human-alien emotional relationships in ways that had never been attempted before, and goes an infinite number of layers deep into the wounded psyches that haunt us all when dealing with the ways of love.
8. Teen Wolf Too (Christopher Leitch, 1987)
The advances in lupine makeup and costumery were so significant between the first Teen Wolf film and this sequel that they demand recognition. Films are made by auteurs, directors, and writers, yes, but also by the good men and women responsible for individually gluing each wolf hair upon Jason Bateman’s handsome face.
7. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Kevin Smith, 2008)
Oh, the layers! This wonderful film is as meta as it gets, as the characters produce their own film within a film. To the layperson’s eyes, this may be a lazy comedy with a lot of dick jokes, but to the trained critic, it’s a commentary not just upon filmmaking but the very idea of art itself. A joy.
6. Radio (Michael Tollin, 2003)
Radio is groundbreaking in the way it handles the differently abled. It wasn’t that long ago the mentally challenged had to see themselves reflected in insulting portrayals by the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Juliette Lewis. But Cuba Gooding Jr. brought a quiet dignity to his role, and showed us all what’s truly possible if we just listen with out hearts. All this time, Radio’s been teaching us, indeed.
5. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (George Lucas, 1999)
The initial Star Wars trilogy was a trifle — an entertaining trifle, but inessential all the same. With The Phantom Menace, George Lucas showed us his new toolbox, and my oh my the things that man can do with a green screen. Who needs screenwriters when you have Industrial Light & Magic? The future began in 1999.
4. Reality Bites (Ben Stiller, 1994)
David Simon Cowell insisted we include this on our ballot. To be fair to DSC, Ethan Hawke gives one of the great, charismatic performances of our time.
3. Albert Nobbs (Rodrigo Garcia, 2011)
Speaking of great performances! This film’s inclusion on our ballot is a rebuke to the critics who only consider films from 50 years ago or more. Some films need to stand the test of time for us to realize their greatness. Others announce their worth right away and demand our attention. Albert Nobbs is such a film.
2. Coneheads (Steve Barron, 1993)
Just watch this clip and try to tell me that this masterpiece doesn’t belong in the canon.
1. Amazing Grace and Chuck (Mike Newell, 1987)
Some films merit inclusion because of advances in technology, art direction, performance style. Others because of big new ideas. Still others achieve greatness by showing us that all you need to end nuclear proliferation is a Little Leaguer with a dream and Alex English.