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Vertigo tops Citizen Kane for the honor/crushing burden of being crowned the "Greatest Film Of All Time"

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For the first time in 50 years, Citizen Kane is no longer the greatest film of all time, according to the Sight & Sound Poll, which has released its Top 10 canon every 10 years since 1952. That honor now belongs to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which topped the poll in the nerdiest of nerdy unveilings this afternoon. For months, there has been speculation that Kane would be toppled by somethingVertigo got the best odds, but a populist choice like The Godfather would seem to benefit from consensus, too—because S&S opened up the voting to a much larger pool of participants this time (846, up from the 145 who voted in 2002). But heavy is the head that wears the crown: For half a century, Citizen Kane has intimidated viewers with the “greatest of all time” label and now it’s Vertigo’s turn to be the cinematic medicine everyone will have to take. (Though it should be noted that Kane and Vertigo both offer a heaping spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down—Kane with its bold tabloid flourishes, Vertigo with its vibrant, mysterious passions.) Other developments of note:

• Battleship Potemkin, Singin’ In The Rain, and The Godfather/The Godfather Part II are gone. In the latter case, participants were told that they couldn’t bundle the two films together, and the split vote clearly took its toll.

• Don’t call it a comeback: The Passion Of Joan Of Arc, bumped from the ’02 list, has made it back onto the 2012 list. It failed to make the 1982 list after making the 1972 list, too, so the trend will indicate that Carl Dreyer’s masterpiece will bow out again in a decade.


• Also new to the list: The Searchers and The Man With The Movie Camera. The latter is particularly exciting given its centrality to experimental cinema. (And its general, eternally mind-blowing excellence.)

• Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story made perhaps the biggest overall power play this year, climbing from #5 to #3 on the big list while topping the Director’s list, which was also released today.


• Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror debuts on the Director’s list. Who saw that coming?

The Critics’ List

1. Vertigo
2. Citizen Kane
3. Tokyo Story
4. Rules Of The Game
5. Sunrise
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

The Directors’ List

1. Tokyo Story
2. (tie) 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. (tie) Citizen Kane
4. 8 1/ 2
5. Taxi Driver
6. Apocalypse Now
7. (tie) The Godfather
8. (tie) Vertigo
9. Mirror
10. Bicycle Thieves