TOP TEN Finale (at least until some time in 2012)


To conclude my thoughts on Sight & Sound's Top Ten lists that appear each decade (in the year ending in 2), let me clarify a few points. There were 144 critics who took part in the Critics' Poll in 2002 and 108 directors who contributed to the Director's Poll. Taste is idiosyncratic. There were 631 films nominated by the critics, and 408 of them received exactly one vote apiece. One can see how personal the selection process is; some voters didn't even list Citizen Kane on their ballots! (Okay. Okay. Most voters didn't list Citizen Kane. But 42 voters of the 144 did, and so it remained the number one film, following the trend it began in 1962. So, what is the list going to look like in 2012? Will Citizen Kane still be number one? Will there be any contemporary film on the list? In 2002, Godfather II (1974) was the most recent of the entries to land on the Top Ten. Will the list be less American and Eurocentric in nature? All reasonable questions. I think one has to assume that Kane will still lead the list. I'll assume this until I see otherwise. If the votes were weighted, I'd imagine a number of films would outrank it, but I still think many, many voters will feel compelled to list it as one of their ten for historical reasons. I think Vertigo will be on the list, and while it could unseat Citizen Kane, my guess is that it will drop a few slots. Just too weirdly personal a film, however brilliant. It's not for everyone. I think Rules of the Game and 8 1/2 will remain on the list. My big question is "Will The Godfather and Godfather II still be considered a single entry?" If so, I can see it receiving more than 42 votes. I just think it's wrong to pair them. Using that logic, can I cast a vote for Krzysztof Kieslowski's glorious Trois Couleurs trilogy from the early 1990s? Or do I just cast a vote for Rouge and forget about Bleu and Bialy? Below the poster for Kieslowski's film trio and the one for Trois Couleurs: Red.

I love The Road Warrior (1981) and consider it one of the great films of the 1980s. Do I get to combine the entire Mad Max trilogy into one post-apocalyptic epic? Below, a tender moment between Max (Mel Gibson) and the Feral Kid (Emil Minty).

Well, I'm going to assume that Sight & Sound doesn't change what they've already established. I predict the Godfather films will move to the number two spot. Gun to my head, this is what I think will be the Critics' list for 2012: 1. Citizen Kane (Welles 1941) 2. The Godfather/Godfather II (Coppola 1972, 1974) 3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968) 4. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958) 5. 8 1/2 (Fellini, 1963) 6. Rules of the Game (Renoir, 1939) 7. Breathless (Godard, 1960) 8. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953) 9. Raging Bull (Scorsese, 1980) 10. Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925) A couple of notes here. Eight of the ten on this list were on in 2002. I think the critical regard for Godard will propel A bout de Souffle (Breathless) to the Top Ten. I think thirty years of critical respect is enough to secure a spot also for Raging Bull. I can't really see anything more recent than Raging Bull making the list. I'd leave out Potemkin, except it's always on the list and if I didn't include it, it would mean no silent films for the first time in history. But if Keaton's The General or Chaplin's The Gold Rush or Modern Times or City Lights made the list instead, I wouldn't be surprised. My sleeper film that could stun the readership would be Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979). I think this film has seen its reputation grow exponentially in recent years. At the very least, it will receive many votes. The poster below:

This has been fun to write about over the last six weeks. Time to move on to other topics, at least until the 2012 list is released. If I were given a vote, I'd select the following. These are not necessarily my favorite films (though most would make that list too). These are just the ten I would vote for as of October, 2011-in alphabetical order: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968) 8 1/2 (Fellini, 1963) Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941) Chinatown (Polanski, 1974) Godfather II (Coppola, 1974) Jules et Jim (Truffaut, 1962) Rules of the Game (Renoir, 1939) The Third Man (Reed, 1949) Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953) Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)


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