Analysis of the Sight and Sound 2012 list
This post was originally published on August 2, 2012 on my old blog at keithcalder.com
Sight and Sound Magazine have finished compiling their decennial list of the greatest films of all time. You can view the critics' top 50 here (actually 52 because of three-way tie at the 50th slot), and I assume the complete lists will be available after Sight and Sound publish their September issue. To give the list some context, Sight and Sound have been compiling a poll of film critics every ten years since 1952 to determine the greatest films of all time. In 1992, they also started compiling a separate list polling directors.
I find it fascinating to observe the shifting critical opinions around great films over the years. Some of the films (such as Vertigo, Sunrise, and 2001) have steadily increased in reputation over the last few decades. Some are slowly diminishing. But mostly I'm fascinated by the films that seem to bounce around from decade to decade. For example, look at the chaotic ranking changes of The Passion of Joan of Arc, which seems to oscillate in reputation every twenty years.
Being a narcissistic soul, my initial thought was to see how the Sight and Sound lists compared to my personal Top 10 Films Of All Time list. Answer? Not well. None of my top 10 picks show up anywhere on the top 50 of the Sight and Sound critic list.
Even more embarrassingly, I've only seen 17 of their top 50 films. I guess I have a lot more movie-watching to do.