Watch CBS News

Surprises abound in Sight and Sound critics' poll of greatest films ever made

A film directed by a woman has broken the glass ceiling of the Sight and Sound poll of greatest films ever made, a once-every-10-year survey of critics who this year have placed Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman's 1975 "Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Brussels," the story of a woman whose daily routine includes working as a prostitute, at No. 1.

For the past 60 years, the poll, conducted by the British Film Institute, has been topped either by Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" or, more recently, Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo." Those films slipped to No. 3 and No. 2, respectively. (The very first poll, in 1952, featured Vittorio De Sica's neo-realist drama "Bicycle Thieves" at No. 1.)  

Akerman, whose "News from Home" also made the list, is one of several female directors whose work gained ground in this year's poll, along with films by Jane Campion ("The Piano"), Vera Chytilová ("Daisies"), Julie Dash ("Daughters of the Dust"), Claire Denis ("Beau travail"), Maya Deren (co-director of "Meshes of the Afternoon"), Barbara Loden ("Wanda"), Céline Sciamma ("Portrait of a Lady on Fire"), and Agnès Varda ("Cléo from 5 to 7," "The Gleaners and I").

Delphine Seyrig as a woman whose daily routine includes work as a prostitute in Chantal Akerman's "Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Brussels." Criterion Collection

There has also been an increase in representation of work by Black filmmakers, with seven titles in the Top 100 — up from one in the last poll. They include Charles Burnett's "Killer of Sheep," Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight," Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," Jordan Peele's "Get Out," Djibril Diop Mambéty's "Touki Bouki," Ousmane Sembène's "Black Girl," and Julie Dash's "Daughters of the Dust."

Alex Hibbert and Mahershala Ali in "Moonlight." A24

The critics' poll features some of the most memorable work of such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Jean Renoir, Jean Luc Godard, Ingmar Bergman, David Lynch, Yasujiro Ozu, John Ford and Akira Kurosawa. More than 1,600 critics from around the world contributed their Top 10 film lists, voting for more than 4,000 films overall.  

New titles on the list this year include Kubrick's "The Shining," Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite," and two films by Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki: "Spirited Away" and "My Neighbor Totoro." 

With many additions to the latest poll results, several classics have this time been bumped out of the Top 100, including Renoir's "Grand Illusion," Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Touch of Evil," David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia," Werner Herzog's "Aguirre, Wrath of God," Roman Polanski's "Chinatown," Coppola's "The Godfather Part II," Robert Altman's "Nashville," and Scorsese's "Raging Bull." There are no films by Terence Malick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Eric Rohmer, Luis Bunuel or Howard Hawks.

But a parallel Sight and Sound poll of directors revealed a somewhat different lineup of greatest films, with Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" taking the No. 1 position. In addition to retaining some of the films that the critics had rejected — including "Grand Illusion," "The Magnificent Ambersons," "Touch of Evil," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Chinatown," "The Godfather Part II," and "Raging Bull" — the directors surveyed also saw fit to include Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove," Lynch's "Eraserhead," and Steven Spielberg's "Jaws."

Keir Dullea in "2001: A Space Odyssey." Warner Brothers

Critics' Greatest Films of All Time (Top 20)

  1. "Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles" (Chantal Akerman, 1975)

2. "Vertigo" (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

3. "Citizen Kane" (Orson Welles, 1941)

4. "Tokyo Story" (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

5. "In the Mood for Love" (Wong Kar-wai, 2001)

6. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

7. "Beau travail" (Claire Denis, 1998)

8. "Mulholland Dr." (David Lynch, 2001)

9. "Man with a Movie Camera" (Dziga Vertov,1929)

10. "Singin' in the Rain" (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1951)

11. "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" (F.W. Murnau, 1927)

12. "The Godfather" (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

13. "La Règle du jeu" (Jean Renoir, 1939)

14. "Cléo from 5 to 7" (Agnès Varda, 1962)

15. "The Searchers" (John Ford, 1956) 

16. "Meshes of the Afternoon" (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)

17. "Close-Up" (Abbas Kiarostami, 1989)

18. "Persona" (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)

19. "Apocalypse Now" (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

20. "Seven Samurai" (Akira Kurosawa, 1954) 

For the full critics' list go to Sight and Sound.

Directors' Greatest Films of All Time (Top 20)

  1. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Stanley Kubrick 1968)

2. "Citizen Kane" (Orson Welles, 1941)

3. "The Godfather" (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

4 . "Tokyo Story" (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

4 (tie). "Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles" (Chantal Akerman, 1975)

6. "Vertigo" (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

6 (tie). "8½" (Federico Fellini, 1963)

8. "Mirror" (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975)

9. "Persona" (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)

9 (tie). "In the Mood for Love" (Hong Kar Wai, 2000)

9 (tie). "Close Up" (Abbas Kiarostami, 1989)

12. "Taxi Driver"(Martin Scorsese, 1976)

12 (tie). "Barry Lyndon" (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)

14. "Beau travail" (Claire Denis, 1998)

14 (tie). "Seven Samurai" (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

14 (tie). "A bout de souffle (Breathless)" (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

14 (tie). "Stalker" (Andrei Tarkosvsky, 1979)

18. "Apocalypse Now" (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

19. "A Woman Under the Influence" (John Cassavetes, 1974)

20. "Rashomon" (Akira Kurosawa, 1950).

For the full directors' list go to Sight and Sound.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.