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  • Writer's pictureEllen Cheshire

2022 Sight and Sound Greatest Films of All Time poll

Updated: May 5, 2023

Since 1952, the British Film Institute through its magazine, Sight and Sound, has conducted a poll of film critics every decade to find out what are the Greatest Films of All Time. When the latest poll was published in December 2022 it sent #FilmTwitter into a tailspin. There seemed to be some surprise that a film few had seen and was directed by a woman had now taken that top spot.

The BFI made real efforts to reach a wider and more diverse group than ever before and incorporates the top 10 lists of over 1,600 film critics from all corners of the globe who voted for more than 4,000 films overall. The very nature of such a wide pool will affect such a poll when their aggregated results may mean that if a number of people voted for different films by a director then this would split the vote, causing it to drop out of the top 100. Despite real efforts for diversity there were some notable omissions, for instance no films from South America made it into the top 100.

Over the past decade there have been a number of campaigns and initiatives to raise the profille of women directors, and this seems to have paid off in soem quarters, and the top 100 now feature 11 films directed by women including the number 1 film Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975).

Working backwards they include:

67. The Gleaners and I (2000, Agnès Varda)

60. Daughters of the Dust (1991, Julie Dash)

52. News from Home (1976, Chantal Akerman)

50. The Piano (1992, Jane Campion)

48. Wanda (1970, Barbara Loden)

30. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Céline Sciamma)

28. Daisies (1966, Věra Chytilová)

16. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, Maya Deren/Alexander Hackenschmied)

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

7. Beau travail (1998, Claire Denis)

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

It's worth noting, that it was up to each participant to define that they meant by ‘greatest’. With that in mind, here's my list!

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

All About Eve (1950, Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

Singin' in the Rain (1952, Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen)

Salaam Bombay! (1988, Mira Nair)

Before Sunrise [trilogy] (1995, Richard Linklater)

The Big Lebowski (1998, Joel and Ethan Coen)

In the Mood for Love (2000, Wong Kar-wai)

In the Cut (2003, Jane Campion)

This Is Not a Film (2011, Jafar Panahi/Mojtaba Mirtahmasb)

Stories We Tell (2012, Sarah Polley)

But, of course, this is just today's list. A few more films, a re-watch or a re-appraisal may bring about another set of films.


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