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Let’s yell about the so-called 100 greatest movies of all time

Let Sight & Sounds’ once-a-decade brawl begin

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane stands in front of a field of bundled newspapers Photo: Paramount Pictures

Sight & Sound has released its latest list of the 100 greatest films of all time. The list hits just once a decade and this time it was culled from the top 10 ballots of over 1,600 film critics, academics, programmers, curators, and archivists from around the world. And as you might imagine from a description of the exercise, it’s leaves plenty of room for both appreciation and disagreement.

As with every previous version of the list, Sight & Sounds 2022 top 100 is stacked front to back with great films, even if there are a few inclusions that seem a little baffling if we’re limiting ourselves to just 100 movies.

Perhaps the most notable change this time around is the introduction of a new number one movie: Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, Chantal Akerman’s masterful slice-of-life drama. The most recent six lists have had either Vertigo or Citizen Kane at the top of the rankings (Kane was the top dog for five consecutive decades), and those two movies don’t fall far this year, slotting in directly behind Jeanne Dielman. But like every year there are plenty of other shake ups and too many moves up or down the list to note all of them here.

Of course, ultimately the only real result of a list this comprehensive is to point out how many of the greatest movies ever aren’t included. No matter what, a list like this will have biases, faults, sticking points, and ridiculous inclusions or omissions. But that’s the fun of a list claiming such authority: it’s exceedingly fun to argue with!

So, in the spirit of list making and its inevitable and intended results, here’s the top 20 movie’s from Sight & Sounds 2022 list (you can find the rest of the top 100, along with the slightly better directors poll list, on the Sight and Sound website):

  1. Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, Chantal Akerman)
  2. Vertigo (1958, Alfred Hitchcock)
  3. Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
  4. Tokyo Story (1953, Yasujirō Ozu)
  5. In the Mood for Love (2000, Wong Kar Wai)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
  7. Beau travail (1998, Claire Denis)
  8. Mulholland Dr. (2001, David Lynch)
  9. Man with a Movie Camera (1929, Dziga Vertov)
  10. Singin’ in the Rain (1951, Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen)
  11. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927, F.W. Murnau)
  12. The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)
  13. La Règle du jeu (1939, Jean Renoir)
  14. Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962, Agnès Varda)
  15. The Searchers (1956, John Ford)
  16. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, Maya Deren Alexander Hackenschmied)
  17. Close-up (1989, Abbas Kiarostami)
  18. Persona (1966, Ingmar Bergman)
  19. Apocalypse Now (1979, Francis Ford Coppola)
  20. Seven Samurai (1954, Akira Kurosawa)

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