Vertigo Topples Citizen Kane As Sight & Sound’s Greatest Film Of All Time

Every 10 years the British film magazine Sight & Sound draws up a list of the 50 Greatest Films Ever Made. It is a list that is held with very high regard in the industry as it compiles and compares lists from esteemed critics and filmmakers from around the world. Every time that the list has been compiled since 1962, Orson Welles’ perennial classic Citizen Kane has topped the poll. But now its reign as “the Greatest Film Ever Made” has been toppled by none other than Alfred Hitchcock.

The official list, drawn up by 846 academics/critics (including Roger Ebert), names Vertigo, the 1958 classic thriller from Alfred Hitchock, as the greatest film ever made with Citizen Kane in second. When the list was compiled in 2002, Vertigo missed out on the top spot by 5 votes, which marked a change in film tastes and the arrival of a new wave of film critics. In this poll, Vertigo won the top spot and earned 34 more votes than Citizen Kane.

The alternate list, which is made up from 358 filmmakers, tells an entirely different story. On their list, they give the top spot to Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story with Citizen Kane tied for second with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Vertigo doesn’t pop up until number 7 on here but the lists are very close, with no film on the filmmakers’ list not appearing on the critics’ list.

Of course, all lists like this will be debated but this is perhaps the most trustworthy list of all, as it does go some way to tell us where the industry is at now and what films are influencing the great filmmakers of our time.

It should also give you the impetus to catch some of these classic films. If you haven’t seen Vertigo or Citizen Kane then you really owe it to yourself to do so.

To be honest, the big list doesn’t really interest me as much as the films are usually the same, what is interesting is reading the individual top tens from the filmmakers and the critics. They will posted online next week but for now, you can check out the 50 Greatest Films of All Time from the critics and the 10 Greatest Films of All Time from the filmmakers below.

Critics’ Top 50

1. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
3. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
4. La Règle du jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939)
5. Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans (FW Murnau, 1927)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
7. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
8. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer, 1927)
10. 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)
11. Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
12. L’Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934)
13. Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
14. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
15. Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)
16. Au hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
17. Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
17. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
19. Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974)
19. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1951)
21. L’avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)
21. Le Mépris (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
21. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
24. Ordet (Carl Dreyer, 1955)
24. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)
26. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
26. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
28. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
29. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
29. Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985)
31. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
31. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
33. Bicycle Thieves (Vittoria De Sica, 1948)
34. The General (Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman, 1926)
35. Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)
35. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
35. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
35. Sátántangó (Béla Tarr, 1994)
39. The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)
39. La dolce vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
41. Journey to Italy (Roberto Rossellini, 1954)
42. Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
42. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
42. Gertrud (Carl Dreyer, 1964)
42. Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
42. Play Time (Jacques Tati, 1967)
42. Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
48. The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)
48. Histoire(s) du cinéma (Jean-Luc Godard, 1998)
50. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
50. Ugetsu monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)
50. La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962)

Directors’ Top 10

1. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
=2 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
=2 Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
4. 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)
5. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
6. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
=7 The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
=7 Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
9. Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974)
10. Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

Source: BFI

About the author


Will Chadwick

Will has written for the site since October 2010, he currently studies English Literature and American Studies at the University of Birmingham in the UK. His favourite films include Goodfellas, The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather and his favourite TV shows are Mad Men, Six Feet Under, The Simpsons and Breaking Bad.