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There's a new Sight & Sound "Best Movies Of All Time" poll to piss all your film nerd friends off

A new decade, a new critical poll of the 100 greatest films of all time

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Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Screenshot: YouTube

For 70 years running, the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound magazine has brought numerous voices in the film world together, once every 10 years, in a noble effort: To make every single movie nerd on the planet very angry by issuing a poll—tabulated from nearly a thousand critics and directors—supposedly listing the 100 greatest films of all time. Originating back in 1952, and arriving on every year ending in 2 since, the Sight & Sound Poll, while certainly not as definitive as its name might suggest, is an ever-fascinating document of where the critical consensus currently rests on the state of movie-making as a whole. And the 2022 poll, released today, is no exception.

Let’s start with the big upset: Chantal Akerman’s 1975 Belgian slice-of-life drama, Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles—which made big moves up to No. 35 on the 2012 list, after spending the preceding two decades sitting in the mid-70s—has just scored the top spot as Sight & Sound’s official current best film of all time. Praised as a landmark work in feminist moviemaking, Akerman’s film (which focuses on three days in the life of the titular single mother, played by Delphine Seyrig) beat out both Vertigo and Citizen Kane, which have been duking it out for the top slot on the list for 60 years now. Those two films instead arrived at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, fronting a Top 10 that went on to include, in order, 1953's Tokyo Story, 2000's In The Mood For Love, 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1998's Beau Travail, 2001's Mulholland Dr., 1929's Man With A Movie Camera, and 1951's Singin’ In The Rain. (That’s a big jump for Mulholland, too, which didn’t place at all in 2002, and which came in at No. 28 in 2012.)

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles Trailer

In terms of directors, at least, Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard still reign supreme at four entries apiece: Hitchcock scored for Vertigo, of course, but also Psycho, Rear Window, and North By Northwest, while Godard had his highest hit with 1960's Breathless. Stanley Kubrick, Billy Wilder, and Andrei Tarkovsky bring up the “rear” with three appearances apiece, while a number of directors—Martin Scorsese, Agnés Varda, Wong Kar Wai, Akira Kurosawa, Francis Ford Coppola, Hiyao Miyazaki, David Lynch, Charlie Chaplin, and at least a few others we probably missed—scored two entries per.

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Meanwhile, those looking for some intergenerational conflict may be interested to note that exactly four movies produced since the 2012 list was released have made this decade’s edition: Jordan Peele’s Get Out (in a multi-film tie for 95th place), Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite at 90th, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight at 60th, and Céline Sciamma’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, the highest of the lot at No. 30. In total, 8 of the movies on the list were made in the 21st century.

But that, of course, is the great thing about the Sight & Sound Poll: It crams an entire decade’s worth of film discourse into a single listing of 100 unambiguously great movies, then invites everybody on the planet to argue about it. We can’t wait to see what sorts of fights break out in 2032.