My Thoughts on Sight & Sound’s 2022 Poll and My Top 10 Favorite Films of All Time

-My Thoughts on Sight & Sound’s 2022 Poll-

At last, Sight & Sound magazine has finally released their 10-year annual Greatest Films of All Time poll, in which various critics and filmmakers serve as participants. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the results is that the film that dethroned the number one choice of 2012 (Vertigo) was dethroned by a 1975 Belgian masterpiece directed by the late great Chantal Akerman entitled Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Vertigo, Citizen Kane and Bicycle Thieves (the critics previous number one choices) now rank at numbers 2, 3 and 41 respectively. Akira Kurosawa”s Rashomon technically ranks at 42, but the 41 number may suggest a tie vote. Refreshing to see two 21st century films within the top 10 – 2000’s In the Mood for Love ranked at number 5 and 2001’s Mulholland Drive ranks at number 8. According to the directors poll, director Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 groundbreaking science-fiction masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey is the number one greatest film ever made. Kane, Vertigo, Jeanne Dielman and Bicycle Thieves rank at numbers 2, 6, 21 and 5 respectively. Click here and here to view the results.While I did not rank Jeanne Dielman as my number one favorite film of all-time (I would place it between numbers 51 and 60 on my list), I do find it refreshing that it was not a traditional choice (i.e. The Godfather or The Third Man). As for 2001: A Space Odyssey as the number one favorite film among the directors who participated, I would actually place 1975’s Barry Lyndon (also directed by Kubrick) higher, though the former is my second favorite Kubrick film. Speaking of which, 2001 and Barry Lyndon rank at numbers 6 and 45 respectively on the critics list. Nevertheless, the rankings remain every bit as entertaining as usual. Though I did not participate in this list, this is the first time that I have ever put together a list of my top 10 favorite films of all time. I actually first started the list in June and finished it in early September. That being said, it will be interesting to see what the Sight & Sound poll and my list look like 10 years from now in 2032.


-My Top 10 Favorite Films of All Time-
(An Introduction)

Let’s face it, every top 10 list (mine included) is subjective. In other words, the films chosen by critics and directors for Sight & Sound’s poll will inevitably differ from that of more populist viewers. As a self-proclaimed cinephile, I would say that my taste in film knows no boundaries. Equally, albeit in different ways, I love Jean-Luc Godard’s films as much as The Expendables movies. While my top 10 favorite film list may not include examples of the latter, it is still significantly inclusive. For example, my list consists of five American/English-Language films and five Foreign films. My choices range from the Silent and Classical Hollywood era through the first two decades of the 21st century. Admittedly, I have an infinite number of favorite films, these following ten are just the ones that have impacted me the most as a viewer. I will also present the numbers in descending order (i.e. 10, 9, 8 etc.) Now, without further ado, I present to you all:


-My Top 10 Favorite Films of All-Time-
(The Results)

P.S. Please be kind to numbers 1 and 8 on here because they mean a lot to me 🙂

10) Satantango (1994)
(Dir: Bela Tarr)
(Country: Hungary/Germany/Switzerland)
Color: Black and White
Satantango is as much an inspired cinematic combination of form and content on the surface, as it is a deconstruction of said criteria in the center. As directed by Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr, Satantango is a black-and-white masterwork consisting of impressively composed long takes. At the same time, Tarr subtly graces his characteristically bleak existential drama with a considerable dose of deadpan humor throughout. Topped off by it’s close to seven-and-a-half hour running time, Satantango is occasionally implicitly cited (yet rightfully so) as the cinematic equivalent of an elaborate joke. Satantango is not the first great film to demonstrate that, but it arguably serves as the richest example yet of this aforementioned theory. In addition, Satantango ranks as my number one favorite film of the 1990’s.

Click here to view the film’s original trailer

Click here to view the film’s 4K Restoration trailer

9) Three Times (2005)
(Dir: Hou Hsiao-hsien)
(Country: Taiwan)
Color: Color

As of 2022, Three Times remains my number one favorite foreign film of the 21st century. On a whole, Three Times is the most beautifully realized anthology film ever helmed single-handedly. In the case of Three Times, that would be renowned Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien. Shot in a series of elegantly composed long takes, the result consists of three romantic stories set during the past and the then present. Ranging from poignant to inspired to ultimately insightful, Three Times explores the human condition in rich and poetic ways. Like all truly great directors, Hsiao-hsien uses atmosphere, color and music to shape the film’s drama. These aforementioned elements may have been combined flawlessly in films before and after it, but never more effortlessly than in Three Times.

Click here to view what may or may not be the film’s Taiwanese trailer

Click here to view what may or may not be another Taiwanese trailer for it

Click here to view the film’s US trailer

8) Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
(Dir: David Lynch)
(Country: United States)
(Cable/Television)
Color: Color
I may be debatably cheating with my inclusion of a television series on here, but there is no other way around it. As of 2022, Twin Peaks: The Return currently ranks (for me) as the crowning achievement of 21st century cinematic art. Unlike seasons 1 and 2 of Twin Peaks (1990-91), season 3 (consisting of 18 episodes) is helmed entirely by co-creator David Lynch and his vision remains as bold as his feature films and bolder than anything depicted in the previous two seasons. Airing on premium cable (Showtime in this case) as opposed to network television (ABC in the past), Twin Peaks: The Return allows Lynch the luxury of letting his dark and twisted imagination run wild. The result is Lynch at his most expressive (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive) and (in some ways) experimental (Eraserhead and Inland Empire). Chicago-based director/writer Michael Glover Smith summed it up as Lynch’s magnum opus and I am in complete agreement with him. On the surface, Twin Peaks: The Return may feel like television, but in the center, it resembles pure cinema.

Click here to view the intro to Twin Peaks: The Return/Season 3

Click here to view all of the teaser trailers for Twin Peaks: The Return

Click here to view an Amazon.com link for buying information on Twin Peaks: The Return/Season 3

If you live in the UK, click here to view an Amazon.co.uk link for buying information on Twin Peaks: The Return/Season 3

7) The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
(Dir: Orson Welles)
(Country: United States)

Color: Black and White
Even in it’s mutilated form, The Magnificent Ambersons still stands out as one of the finest American films ever made. For those who are unaware, RKO Pictures infamously cut the film’s intended 131-minute running time to 88 minutes and replaced it’s downbeat ending with a happier one that contradicts the overall tone of the picture. Despite all this, I personally feel that The Magnificent Ambersons is a greater masterwork than Citizen Kane, which was also directed by the legendary Orson Welles. Prior to the aforementioned studio’s meddling, Welles himself felt the same way. Based on Booth Tarkington’s Pulitzer Prize winning 1918 novel, The Magnificent Ambersons chronicles the rise and fall of a wealthy Midwestern family during the late 19th to early 20th century. No cinematic period drama made since the advent of sound has been as hauntingly beautiful or cast and acted to perfection other than The Magnificent Ambersons.

Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer

Click here to read an article about the current mission to find the 131-minute cut of Ambersons

Click here to view a short video about it

Click here to view a link to a 1993 book about Orson Welles original cut entitled The Magnificent Ambersons: A Reconstruction

Click here to view this excerpt from the 1982 documentary entitled The Orson Welles Story, in which Welles details how RKO sabotaged Ambersons

6) Spione (1928) (U.S. title: Spies)
(Dir: Fritz Lang)
(Country: Germany/Weimar Republic)
Color: Black and White

When it comes to foreign cinema, no other film is simultaneously more exciting and faster-paced than legendary German director Fritz Lang’s 1928 silent epic Spione. From it’s electrifying opening sequence to the revelatory denouement, Spione will keep you on the edge of your seat. In addition, Spione features two spectacular set pieces in the form of a train crash and a bank raid. Lang’s aforementioned achievements are all the more impressive considering that Spione was produced on a low-budget. As quite possibly the earliest non-serialized film to combine eroticism with action-packed suspense, Spione also set the standard for the classical and contemporary spy thriller. Influencing everything from certain Alfred Hitchcock thrillers to James Bond to Mission: Impossible and beyond, Spione has more than stood the test of time.

Click here to view the entire film

Click here to view what may be the film’s original theatrical trailer

5) Histoire(s) du Cinema (1988-1998)
(Dir: Jean-Luc Godard)
(Country: France/Switzerland)
Color: Color

Often cited among Jean-Luc Godard enthusiasts (myself included) as the aforementioned French New Wave veteran’s magnum opus, Histoire(s) du Cinema doubles as arguably the only cinematic work of art to actually defy categorization and convention in every single way imaginable. Shot on and off over a period of ten years between 1988 and 1998, Histoire(s) du Cinema is not so much a film, let alone a documentary, as it is a video essay project. Divided into four two-part chapters totaling 8 episodes, Histoire(s) du Cinema not only examines how we look at cinema, but also it’s relationship with the 20th century on a whole. In Histoire(s) du Cinema, Godard illustrates this theory through a dazzling montage of elements rooted in the visual, literary and performing arts. Simultaneously, Godard expresses his own sentiments as a contrarian to deconstruct cinema altogether. The result is a genuinely unique experience for the brain, ears and eyes. Viewed in it’s entirety 24 years later, Histoire(s) du Cinema remains every bit as radical and relevant now as it was then.

The DVD of Histoire(s) du Cinema was first released in the US by Olive Films back in 2011 – click here

Click here to watch a truncated version of episode 1

4) City Lights (1931)
(Dir: Charlie Chaplin)
(Country: United States)
Color: Black and White

Though frequently hailed (and deservedly so) as the quintessential Tramp entry, for me, City Lights reputation has always rested upon so much more than that. Whereas The Kid established iconic director/producer/star Charlie Chaplin’s trademark combination of humor and pathos, City Lights unquestionably polished it. From the first to last frame, City Lights can only be described as the most beautifully realized silent comedy ever made. In addition, City Lights features a justifiably celebrated ending that is as poignant as it is perfect. 91 years may have passed since it’s initial theatrical release in 1931, but City Lights still continues to impact audiences, critics and filmmakers alike as of 2022. As for myself, I define City Lights as the cinematic equivalent of poetry in motion.

Click here to view what may be the film’s original theatrical trailer or one of the re-released ones

Click here to view what is definitely a re-release trailer of the film

Click here to view the 2003 documentary Chaplin Today: City Lights

3) Journey to Italy (1954)
(Dir: Roberto Rossellini)
(Country: Italy/France)
Color: Black and White

Notwithstanding the fact that a majority of it’s dialogue is in English, Journey to Italy remains my number one favorite foreign film of all time. On the surface, it stems from master Italian director Roberto Rossellini’s neorealist visual style, courtesy of location shooting. In the center, it comes from Rossellini’s modernist approach to drama and storytelling. The answer lies in how it forever changed the face of European cinema. By combining these two aforementioned elements together, Rossellini laid the groundwork for the French New Wave movement and Michelangelo Antonioni’s existentialist dramas, which emerged simultaneously at the tail’s end of the 1950’s into 1960. During the past 9 years of the 21st century, Journey to Italy’s influence seems to have gradually expanded into the American cinema. For example, in director/writer Richard Linklater’s 2013 romance drama Before Midnight, (the third film in his Before Trilogy), Julie Delpy’s character references it. As a devotee of everything it influenced, maybe my enthusiasm for Journey to Italy is based on that? Either way, for me, watching Journey to Italy is like sipping a fine wine – the taste never ages.

Click here to view the entire film

Click here to view Janus Films 2013 restoration trailer of the film

Click here to view Roberto Rossellini’s intro to the film himself

Click here to view late Scottish novelist and film critic Gilbert Adair’s 1990 Film Club intro to the film

Click here to view master filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s 2014 video conversation on the films of Roberto Rossellini, which includes Journey to Italy

2) Greed (1924)
(Dir: Erich von Stroheim)
(Country: United States)
Color: Black and White

Even in it’s truncated form, Greed still ranks as my number one favorite silent film of all time. Like The Magnificent Ambersons after it, Greed is often cited among cinephiles as the textbook example of studio interference. In the case of Greed, MGM notoriously cut the film’s original eight-hour running time to that of two hours and ten minutes. Perhaps the longest version circulating in the public domain is Turner Entertainment’s 1999 reconstruction, which runs close to four hours – 239 minutes to be exact. Here, picture stills with title cards are displayed in place of the missing scenes. Regardless of which version I watch, the result amazingly remains the same. Out of all the ambitious Hollywood films of it’s era, sophisticated Austrian-American filmmaker Erich von Stroheim’s 1924 epic Greed stands out as quite possibly the most influential. For starters, Greed is noted for being the first American film to use deep-focus cinematography, location shooting and montage editing (think Soviet montage theory) all together as cinematic storytelling devices. Adapted from Frank Norris 1899 novel McTeague, Greed is a psychological drama about human nature at it’s ugliest. No other film offers a more uncompromising and vivid depiction of this aforementioned theme than Greed.

Click here to view what may be either the film’s trailer or short subject for lack of better word

Click here to view Turner Entertainment’s 1999 239-minute cut of the film. The Jonny Greenwood music score was not part of the 99 version though

Click here to view the 130 minute version of the film

Click here to view a very old introduction to the film by esteemed British film historian Kevin Brownlow

Click here to view a link to a 1972 book entitled The Complete Greed of Erich von Stroheim

1) Vertigo (1958)
(Dir: Alfred Hitchcock)
(Country: United States)
Color: Color

Former Chicago Reader film critic Dave Kehr eloquently praised Vertigo as One of the landmarks-not merely of the movies, but of 20th-century art. I am in total agreement with him. Coincidentally, Vertigo ranks as my number one favorite film of all time. For me, Vertigo not only stands out as the crowning achievement of Classical Hollywood cinema, but of filmmaking on a whole. No other cinematic masterwork has impacted me on so many levels than this 1958 American classic. Set to celebrated composer Bernard Herrmann’s unforgettable music score, Vertigo opens with a characteristically expressive title sequence designed by the legendary Saul Bass. After this, we are treated to one of the most atmospheric and visually stunning films ever made. In the center, Vertigo is two beautifully realized films for the price of one. What begins as a mystery, suddenly turns into a haunting drama of sexual obsession. The result is every bit as erotic as it is disturbing and ultimately tragic. As directed by the iconic Alfred Hitchcock (a.k.a. The Master of Suspense), Vertigo is a masterpiece of form and content. More than that, Vertigo serves as Hitchcock’s magnum opus. Though renowned (and justifiably so) as a showman, Hitchcock also deserves to be lauded as an artist. This latter trait has never been more evident than in Vertigo. In that same review, Kehr summed up Vertigo as the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema. Kehr is totally right on that. For everybody involved, Vertigo represents the pinnacle of their careers. What else left is there for me to say except that Vertigo is (for myself) the greatest film ever made.

Click here to read former Chicago Reader film critic Dave Kehr’s review of Vertigo

Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer

Click here to view the film’s 1996 Restoration trailer

Click here to view the film’s 60th anniversary 4K Restoration trailer

Click here to view legendary title designer Saul Bass masterful opening title sequence

Click here to view the film’s memorable psychedelic dream sequence

Click here to listen to Bernard Herrmann’s haunting music for the film

Click here to view the documentary on Vertigo’s 1996 Restoration from 1997 entitled Obsessed with Vertigo


-My Top 10 Favorite Films of All Time (In Alphabetical Order)-

City Lights (1931) (Dir: Charlie Chaplin)
Greed (1924) (Dir: Erich von Stroheim)
Histoire(s) du Cinema (1988-1998) (Dir: Jean-Luc Godard)
Journey to Italy (1954) (Dir: Roberto Rossellini)
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) (Dir: Orson Welles)
Satantango (1994) (Dir: Bela Tarr)
Spione (1928) (Dir: Fritz Lang)
Three Times (2005) (Dir: Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) (Dir: David Lynch)
Vertigo (1958) (Dir: Alfred Hitchcock)


-My Top 10 Favorite American/English-Language Films of All Time-
(An Introduction)

Back in 2015, the BBC conducted a poll for film critics regarding The 100 greatest American films. Once again, I was not involved in this, but limited to ten, these would be my following choices. Read below.


-My Top 10 Favorite American/English-Language Films of All Time-
(The Results)

P.S. Please be kind to numbers 1, 5 and 9 on here because they mean a lot to me.

  1. Vertigo (1958) (Dir: Alfred Hitchcock)
  2. Greed (1924) (Dir: Erich von Stroheim)
  3. City Lights (1931) (Dir: Charlie Chaplin)
  4. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) (Dir: Orson Welles)
  5. Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) (Dir: David Lynch)
  6. Sunrise (1927) (Dir: F.W. Murnau)
  7. Love Me Tonight (1932) (Dir: Rouben Mamoulian)
  8. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) (Dir: William Wyler)
  9. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) (Dir: Howard Hawks)
  10. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) (Dir: Steven Spielberg)

Since I have already gave links to numbers one to five, I will give the ones from six to ten below.

Click here to view the original theatrical trailer for Sunrise
Also, click here to view the entire film

Click here to view the original theatrical trailer for Love Me Tonight
Click here to view the entire film

Click here to view the original theatrical trailer for The Best Years of Our Lives

Click here to view the original theatrical trailer to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Click here to view the original theatrical trailer to A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Click here to view trailer #2 for A.I. Artificial Intelligence


-My Top 10 Favorite Foreign Films of All Time-
(An Introduction)

Though the BBC (at least based on my knowledge) did not have a poll regarding foreign films, here are my ten following choices regarding that below.


-My Top 10 Favorite Foreign Films of All Time-
(The Results)

  1. Journey to Italy (1954) (Dir: Roberto Rossellini) (Italy/France)
  2. Histoire(s) du Cinema (1988-1998) (Dir: Jean-Luc Godard) (France/Switzerland)
  3. Spione (1928) (Dir: Fritz Lang) (Germany/Weimar Republic)
  4. Three Times (2005) (Dir: Hou Hsiao-hsien) (Taiwan)
  5. Satantango (1994) (Dir: Bela Tarr) (Hungary/Germany/Switzerland)
  6. Gertrud (1964) (Dir: Carl Theodor Dreyer) (Denmark)
  7. Tih Minh (1918) (Dir: Louis Feuillade) (France)
  8. Playtime (1967) (Dir: Jacques Tati) (France/Italy)
  9. The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) (Dir: Jacques Demy) (France)
  10. The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) (Dir: Abbas Kiarostami) (Iran/France)

Since I already gave links to numbers one to five, I will give the ones from six to ten below

Click here to view a scene from Gertrud (I could not find a trailer)
Click here to view a trailer for a 2022 documentary about it Dreyer’s Gertrud

Click here to view the entire Tih Minh (it is a silent serial and I could not find it’s original theatrical trailer)
Also, while there are no English subtitles, I actually understood what was going on

Click here to view the original theatrical trailer for Playtime
Click here to view the film’s 2014 4K Restoration trailer

Click here to view the original theatrical trailer for The Young Girls of Rochefort
Click here to view what may or may not be a Restoration trailer

Click here to view the original theatrical trailer for The Wind Will Carry Us
Click here to view a Digitally Restored trailer for the film


-Closing Thoughts-

While it is possible that my list will change ten years from now, for the time being, I shall pride myself for a job well done. My final question to all of you readers is this:

1.) What are your Top 10 Favorite Films of All Time?

2.) What are your Top 10 Favorite American/English-Language Films of All Time?

3.) What are your Top 10 Favorite Foreign Films of All Time?


Feel free to answer the 3 questions above If you like. Also, I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of my dear readers for reading this special blog entry of mine 🙂

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