Friday, 3 August 2012

The "Greatest Films Ever Made"?

Last week film critics and bloggers got themselves worked up into a frenzy following the publication of Sight And Sound's latest Greatest Films Ever Made list.
It began in 1952 and compiled every ten years from a poll of film critics who submit their own personal top ten, it had previously always produced the same result - Citizen Kane being proclaimed "The Greatest Of All Time"... until this year when Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo grabbed the top spot.
This then sparked off a mass debate on Twitter with everyone putting in their two cents worth on why this result was correct/incorrect/a conspiracy due to the fact the BFI are currently running a Hitchcock retrospective*. * - Delete as applicable.
The main things that everyone could agree on is that lists of this nature are incredibly subjective, "greatest" or "best" can mean "favourite" in this context but above all else, the lists are very effective at prompting hours of arguments down the pub.
In response to the Sight And Sound Critics Top 50 list, which can come across as a list of film's that you should have seen, Adam Lowes of Hey U Guys blog set about putting together an Alternative Top Ten compiled by online bloggers.
As you can see below, the results are rather varied with only Citizen Kane and 2001 appearing on both lists.

Sight & Sound Top Ten

1. Vertigo
2. Citizen Kane
3. Tokyo Story
4. La Regle Du Jeu
5. Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. The Searchers
8. Man With A Movie Camera
9. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
10. 8&1/2

Hey U Guys Alternative Top Ten

1. Jaws
2. Back To The Future
3= The Dark Knight
3= Blade Runner
5= 2001: A Space Odyssey
5= There Will Be Blood
5= Psycho
5= Citizen Kane
9. Pulp Fiction
10= The Thing
10= Alien

So what can we read into the alternative top ten? Lots I'm sure.
Initially it does appear more mainstream.The Dark Knight is at number 3, but franchises like Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings are conspicuous by their absence.
One interesting aspect of both polls which isn't known, but I'm sure influences the films that are picked, is the average age of the critics and bloggers voting.
With the alternative top ten featuring a number of film's from the late seventies and eighties, I would assume that most of the bloggers are in their late twenties/thirties and films like Jaws and Back To The Future played a huge part of their childhood and what led them to fall in love with cinema in the first place.
That's probably enough analysis from me. You can read the whole list here and exclaim "I'm glad that is there"/"I can't believe that is missing" to your heart's content.

"But Dallas...", I don't hear you cry, "what were your top ten films?".

Well of course I'm going to tell you, but first I will explain that in selecting my top ten, my decisions were based on the impact that these films have had on my moviegoing life. And of course it goes without saying that I rate each film very highly.
So what follows is my own personal top ten in chronological order.

Citizen Kane
A pivotal moment for me. I saw this film in a Film Studies class at University and it was the first time I really understood about the language of film. Over seventy years on after it's release it really does remain one of the greatest films ever made.

My favourite film of all time. I wholeheartedly agree with Robert McKee that Casablanca has the "greatest screenplay ever written". Harry Burns is right to claim that "Louis, I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" is the best last line of a movie ever. So many classic quotable lines and in Claude Rains, the greatest supporting performance of all time.

Contains the most famous death scene of all time. My pick for Hitchcock's best film (sorry Vertigo) and one of those films that you can never see it for the first time again. There is the shock and awe of the first viewing as the twists an turns are revealed, followed by a completely different experience second time round. Pure genius.

Star Wars
I do prefer Empire Strikes Back but in terms of influence, nothing beats Star Wars: A New Hope for introducing me to film and completely blowing my tiny little mind as a kid seeing the star destroyer coming over the screen and being transported to a galaxy far, far away. A life changing experience and the film I would watch every weekend between the ages of 6-13.

If Star Wars was the sci-fi of my childhood, Alien is the science fiction film for my grown up life. It has slowly creeped up my list as I appreciate it more and more with each viewing. Hell, I'm even named after the captain of the Nostromo... well that is my reason anyway!

Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Back To The Future
Both films are perennial favourites from my childhood, classics of their genres and very rare examples of what I believe are perfect films, in that I would not alter a single frame of them.

When Harry Met Sally
The best romantic comedy of all time thanks to one of the sharpest, wittiest scripts ever written, it succeeds at being equally romantic and funny when most rom-coms fail to find that delicate balance. It also acted as a gateway film into Casablanca, then Play It Again Sam and finally a deep love and appreciation for Woody Allen with the likes of Annie Hall and Manhattan. Both of those film's were close to making the list but they wouldn't have been on my radar if not for that fake orgasm.

In The Mood For Love
One of the first foreign language films that I watched, and it still remains one of the best. The acting superb, the story heartbreaking and the score is sublime. It proved to me that film is universal and you can tell a great story regardless of whether it needs subtitles or not. Also it was one of the first films that I saw at The Belmont Picturehouse where I ended up working for eight years.

Black Swan
Upon it's release I described it as "if Polanski had directed a hybrid of The Red Shoes and Suspiria", and it was the first film to move me to the brink of tears thanks to an emotional sucker punch to the gut. Like a prima ballerina, it was flawless in it's execution, plus it is the only film on the list to feature a love scene between Queen Amidala and Meg from Family Guy!

So do you agree or disagree with my list? Feel free to let me know where I have gone right/wrong...

1 comment:

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