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'Sight & Sound' Top 50: Editor Nick James Talks Changes in List and Voters

Thompson on Hollywood By David Gritten | Thompson on Hollywood August 1, 2012 at 4:07PM

Finally, the citadel has been stormed. Orson Welles’s masterpiece "Citizen Kane" is no longer “The Greatest Film of All Time,” according to the latest poll from "Sight & Sound." The magazine has conducted these polls every 10 years since 1962, and "Citizen Kane" emerged at number one five times. Finally it has been dethroned...
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"Vertigo" received 191 votes to Kane’s 157 – a clear victory. Hitchcock’s film was a felicitous choice for the BFI (British Film Institute), which publishes the magazine: Hitchcock has been the subject of a huge retrospective at the BFI’s London theatres this summer.

But if this marks a changing of the guard, it’s a somewhat gradual one. The poll’s voting population may be younger and more wide-ranging, but the most recent film in the Top 10 is Kubrick’s "2001" – now 44 years old. Three of the top 10 films were from the silent era. As James noted, the highest-ranking film from this century was Wong Kar-Wai’s "In the Mood for Love," which tied for 24th place.

A separate poll of some 350 directors placed "Tokyo Story" top, followed by "2001" and "Citizen Kane."

The top 10 films in the main poll will be screened in a special month-long season at BFI Southbank, starting September 3.

The poll results coincide with a revamp of "Sight & Sound," which is celebrating 80 years as a film magazine. (It was formerly known as the Monthly Film Bulletin.) It will have 32 extra pages, a digital edition of the magazine is in process, and a digital archive of the magazine’s every issue has been compiled.

There had been fears that "Sight & Sound"’s editorial stance might be compromised by its publisher the British Film Institute’s broader powers, granted them by the UK government last year. But all signs point to S&S maintaining its reputation for spiky independence and incisive film criticism.

This article is related to: Media, Critics' Poll, Critics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.