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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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