'Vertigo' ousts 'Citizen Kane' as best movie of all time in poll
Published Thursday, August 2, 2012 2:40PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 2, 2012 2:42PM EDT
The reign of “Citizen Kane” as the greatest movie of all time has ended -- and it’s all thanks to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.”
For 50 years, Orson Welles’ black-and-white masterpiece about a powerful and tragic newspaper magnate has held the number one ranking on Sight & Sound magazine’s list of the greatest movies ever made.
Now the prestigious monthly published by The British Film Institute has awarded that top honour to Hitchcock’s 1958 psychological thriller.
Since 1952, film experts from around the world have voted in this poll, held once each decade. Though many North Americans may not have heard of it, film critic Roger Ebert has described this best-of poll as “the only one most serious movie people take seriously.”
This latest entry is the first to be conducted since the Internet has become the main channel for discussion about movies, and was pulled together by 846 critics, programmers, academics and distributors.
Thanks to this year’s panelists, “Vertigo” trumped “Citizen Kane” by 34 votes, compared with the mere five the separated the two flicks a decade ago.
Hitchcock’s 1958 classic starring James Stewart and Kim Novak first cracked Sight & Sound’s top 10 list in 1982, two years after Hitchcock’s death from renal failure at the age of 80.
However, in the three decades that followed, critical praise for this movie and for Hitchcock’s genius as a filmmaker has steadily increased.
Since 1982, “Vertigo” has jumped from seventh place to fourth in 1992, second in 2002 and now first in theSight & Sound’s poll.
This new ranking, of course, has earned mixed reactions on Twitter.
“The Vertigo is better than Citizen Kane story is rubbish. Everyone knows that ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles’ is the best movie of all time,” tweeted @DownloadFest.
“‘Vertigo’ was not on my top ten, but I am not going to argue with its place at the top of the pops. It’s a hypnotic, amazing film,” tweeted “Shaun of the Dead” director Edgar Wright.
“Less Than Zero” author Bret Easton Ellis was particularly pleased with this new poll’s results.
"Vertigo: bored at 17, mildly interested at 28, beyond devastated at 37. From then on I've considered it the most beautiful film ever made …" Ellis said.
Whichever side moviegoers may take, the fact remains that many younger moviegoers may not even know of “Vertigo” or the other titles included in this year’s top-10 cut, which were all made more than 40 years ago.
Other top 10 picks included Ozu Yasujiro’s 1953 film “Tokyo Story” and Jean Renoir’s 1939 masterpiece, “La Règle du jeu,” a film hailed as the greatest of French films by the greatest of French directors.
The remaining top 10 spots went to “The Searchers,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” F.W. Murnau’s 1927 gem “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans,” “Man with a Movie Camera, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” and Federico Fellini’s 1963 great, “8 ½.”
Moviegoers used to tales of Bourne, Bond and other big-budget Hollywood sequels might find some of these picks somewhat surprising.
Even so, Sight & Sound’s latest poll of the decade imparts a message worth noting: If moviegoers don’t know these films on this list, they should. The world is bigger than Bourne and Bond.