|The Top 10 Films of All Time - Again|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Friday, 10 August 2012 08:41|
You remember last week when we played Spot the Difference between the Sight & Sound Greatest Films of All Time poll and the IMDb All-Time Top 250? Well, things have changed a bit since then. Adam Lowes over at movie titan HeyUGuys hit on a bright idea: a top 10 poll for film bloggers (aka. the folk who aren't on Sight & Sound's list).
Would they put Vertigo on top? Would Citizen Kane see its ranking drop? And would this alternative list include any films made after 1968?
The result is a list that sits somewhere between the two extremes. Citizen Kane is in there, oh yes, but so is Internet Movie Database's perennial fan favourite The Dark Knight. The conclusion? That if you took a random IMDb user and a broadsheet film critic and made them have sex, a baby film blogger would pop out. And really like Batman.
And so we play, once again, Spot the Difference...
*checks against last week's post*
Yes, that's right. According to the online community of film lovers, Jaws is the greatest film of all time. And you know what? I can't really argue with that. I'm not so sure about Back to the Future coming next, nor The Dark Knight tying with Blade Runner in third, but it's great to see some Kubrick in there, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson's amazing There Will Be Blood, which over the last few weeks seems to have become the modern-day film to pick among critics. In the Mood for Love is the other recent flick regularly mentioned in the Sight & Sound debate - both rank highly in my Top 50 Films, but neither are in my Top 10. Scandalous.
What is interesting is just how American and mainstream the bloggers' Top 10 is. No The Third Man? No Powell and Pressburger? Not even Kes? Like Sight & Sound's list, there are no British films in there - although British directors working in the US are well represented. There's also a strong focus on sci-fi. As someone whose Top 10 has always included either Alien or Blade Runner (the two pinnacles of the genre), here we have both, alongside The Thing and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
And what of Hitchcock? Vertigo, officially the greatest film ever made (according to Sight & Sound), didn't even make the final cut. Instead, it's replaced by its terrific black-and-white cousin, Psycho. You could argue both ways that it's a more/less obvious choice - testament to just how flipping brilliant Hitchcock's contribution to cinema was.
But I'm mostly sad to see Woody Allen missed out. As a life-long Allen obsessive, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters and The Purple Rose of Cairo have all battled for places in my Top 10. Scorsese is another unexpected omission (Goodfellas apparently received 11 votes, below Taxi Driver's 12, which tied with The Big Lebowski, Vertigo, The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.) Terrence Malick, meanwhile, received only three votes for Badlands and just one apiece for Days of Heaven and The Tree of Life - neck and neck with Thor. And Bridget Jones' Diary.
The bottom line? As always, Top 10 lists are subjective. And, much like the Sight & Sound poll, the most fascinating things can be gleaned from each individual's personal choices (all bloggers' votes are listed here). For example, Andrew Collins, of the Radio Times, didn't mention Fellini's 8 1/2 in his list, instead choosing the Woody Allen film it inspired: Stardust Memories, a decision that has won my undying love for the rest of time. Andrew Jones (the ever-present @EthanRunt on the Twitters) has terrible film taste (you can tell him I said that) but is assured of my affection by including Dr. Strangelove in his Top 10. Meanwhile, Simon Kinnear (him off Kinnemaniac and Total Film) puts in Children of Men, which, alongside The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, confirms his general awesomeness.
As for me? You can read on for my Top 10 Films of All Time - complete with comments and explanations - and find out which Woody Allen film beat the rest.
1. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
What's left to say about Orson Welles' classic? It's the one everyone picks - simply because it has everything. Deep focussing lens shots, ambitious sets, towering performances, Bernard Herrmann's music. It's all note perfect, superbly pieced together by the maniacal helmer, and has influenced every single film made after it. To get the technical stuff right and still make a moving, heartfelt story? That's an achievement. But forget the ending. Just look at the opening, a post-modern narrative-within-a-narrative that sums up the plot while setting us up for one of cinema's great unanswered questions. Genius.
2. The Purple Rose of Cairo (Allen, 1985)
Before The Last Action Hero, there was this beautiful piece. Jeff Daniels (twice the man Arnie is) steps out from the cinema screen to woo Mia Farrow's timid audience member. What follows is a surprising, funny and downright sentimental love letter to film. Cinema Paradiso used to be a longstanding member of my Top 10 for its unabashed adoration of cinema, but Allen manages to conjure up the same affection - and more - in a film that many seem to overlook in place of his (equally brilliant) Annie Hall. As Daniels wanders through the auditorium, leaving customers demanding refunds, the rest of the black-and-white cast stand around on-screen, wondering what happens next. Pure movie magic.
3. Sunrise (Murnau 1927)
I love a bit of noir. Good old noir. Noiry noir noir. Maltese Falcon, and later Double Indemnity, was another stalwart of my Top 10. Then I saw this. Murnau's stunning silent about a country man convinced to murder his wife by a sexy city girl is one of the key precursors for the genre - another great demonstration of both technical accomplishment and gripping storytelling.
4. Rear Window (Hitchcock,1954)
Sometimes I forget how much of a genius Hitchcock is. Then I watch one of his films and I remember all over again. But while everyone gushes over the dreamy Vertigo, it's the bare-bones structure of Rear Window that truly wows me. The restricted sound design, carefully placed camera, cheekily withheld storytelling and everyday surroundings make this one of the most taut and thrilling films ever made - and its lean efficiency has never seen Hitch firing on more cylinders. Distilled greatness.
5. Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)
Between this and Alien, Ridley Scott has created the two greatest sci-fi movies ever made. Blade Runner pips it for sheer philosophical clout, while even now, as Scott releases Prometheus, the stunning effects and production design haven't dated at all. Proof of exactly what science fiction can do, this is one of the rare examples of a film adaptation that's better than the original book. As far as I'm concerned, Ridley can release as many flipping versions of this as he likes - they're all astounding.
6. Throne of Blood (Kurosawa, 1957)
Yes, yes, Seven Samurai, I know. But at a mere fraction of the runtime, Kurosawa's talents were showcased in this superb Shakespeare flick. Containing less Macbeth than any other film of the play, it's one of my favourite literary adapations - proof that you can depart from the text completely and still remain faithful. Bonus points go to the use of off-screen speech and the bonkers, violent finale.
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Donen, 1952)
Watch this and then try not to smile. It's physically impossible.
8. All About My Mother (Almodóvar, 1999)
One of my favourite directors out there today, Pedro Almodóvar is a lot like the Coen brothers and Woody Allen, superb at balancing mature melodrama with balls-out farce - a tone that he has honed over the years to flawless brilliance. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was his first masterpiece, but All About My Mother was my first taste.
9. The Usual Suspects (Singer, 1995)
For purely personal reasons, I find it hard to drop this from my Top 10. The very first five star film I saw (when I was 12), I had no idea cinema could be this good until Bryan Singer's crime thriller bended my mind. I've been in love with Kevin Spacey and Gabriel Byrne ever since.
10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg, 1989)
Other bloggers went for Jaws, but for me Spielberg's most enjoyable is his final Indy flick, an irresistable homage to matinee movies that captures the feel-good rush of adventure, the humourous tension of family bonds and the excitement of finely tuned action. Plus Harrison Ford totally punches a Nazi in the face.
What's your Top 10?