Once a decade, Sight & Sound Magazine polls “critics, programmers, academics and distributors” for the best movies of all time and for the first time in 50 years, Citizen Kane did not land in the top spot.

1. Vertigo – Alfred Hitchcock, 1958 (191 votes)
2. Citizen Kane – Orson Welles, 1941 (157 votes)
3. Tokyo Story – Ozu Yasujiro, 1953 (107 votes)
4. La Règle du jeu – Jean Renoir, 1939 (100 votes)
5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans – FW Murnau, 1927 (93 votes)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick, 1968 (90 votes)
7. The Searchers – John Ford, 1956 (78 votes)
8. Man with a Movie Camera – Dziga Vertov, 1939 (68 votes)
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc – Carl Dreyer, 1927 (65 votes)
10. 8½ – Federico Fellini, 1963 (64 votes)
11. Battleship Potemkin – Sergei Eisenstein, 1925 (63 votes)
12. L’Atalante – Jean Vigo, 1934 (58 votes)
13. Breathless – Jean-Luc Godard, 1960 (57 votes)
14. Apocalypse Now – Francis Ford Coppola, 1979 (53 votes)
15. Late Spring – Ozu Yasujiro, 1949 (50 votes)
16. Au hasard Balthazar – Robert Bresson, 1966 (49 votes)
17. Seven Samurai – Kurosawa Akira, 1954 (48 votes)
17. Persona – Ingmar Bergman, 1966 (48 votes)
19. Mirror – Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974 (47 votes)
20. Singin’ in the Rain – Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1951 (46 votes)
21. L’avventura – Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960 (43 votes)
21. Le Mépris – Jean-Luc Godard, 1963 (43 votes)
21. The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola, 1972 (43 votes)
24. Ordet – Carl Dreyer, 1955 (42 votes)
24. In the Mood for Love – Wong Kar-Wai, 2000 (42 votes)
26. Rashomon – Kurosawa Akira, 1950 (41 votes)
26. Andrei Rublev – Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966 (41 votes)
28. Mulholland Dr. – David Lynch, 2001 (40 votes)
29. Stalker – Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979 (39 votes)
29. Shoah – Claude Lanzmann, 1985 (39 votes)
31. The Godfather Part II – Francis Ford Coppola, 1974 (38 votes)
31. Taxi Driver – Martin Scorsese, 1976 (38 votes)
33. Bicycle Thieves – Vittoria De Sica, 1948 (37 votes)
34. The General – Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman, 1926 (35 votes)
35. Metropolis – Fritz Lang, 1927 (34 votes)
35. Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock, 1960 (34 votes)
35. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles – Chantal Akerman, 1975 (34 votes)
35. Sátántangó – Béla Tarr, 1994 (34 votes)
39. The 400 Blows – François Truffaut, 1959 (33 votes)
39. La dolce vita – Federico Fellini, 1960 (33 votes)
41. Journey to Italy – Roberto Rossellini, 1954 (32 votes)
42. Pather Panchali – Satyajit Ray, 1955 (31 votes)
42. Some Like It Hot – Billy Wilder, 1959 (31 votes)
42. Gertrud – Carl Dreyer, 1964 (31 votes)
42. Pierrot le fou – Jean-Luc Godard, 1965 (31 votes)
42. Play Time – Jacques Tati, 1967 (31 votes)
42. Close-Up – Abbas Kiarostami, 1990 (31 votes)
48. The Battle of Algiers – Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966 (30 votes)
48. Histoire(s) du cinéma – Jean-Luc Godard, 1998 (30 votes)
50. City Lights – Charlie Chaplin, 1931 (29 votes)
50. Ugetsu monogatari – Mizoguchi Kenji, 1953 (29 votes)
50. La Jetée – Chris Marker, 1962 (29 votes)

6 Responses to “Vertigo unseats Citizen Kane in Sight & Sound poll”

  1. interesting list. definitely not how I would rank them. but most of the films here are masterworks. I struggle to see how “Vertigo” is the best film of all time. top 50, for sure. #1? not over the best of Welles, Kurosawa, Bergman, Kubrick, Fellini or Chaplin, IMO.

  2. Hitchcock’s VERTIGO for me is one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of the cinema, and a valid and legitimate choice to take the top spot, even at the expense of CITIZEN KANE, a fellow (storied) masterpiece that has won for the past 50 years in this very polling.

    In any event, I adore TOKYO STORY and applaud the directors too for having it at #1. Nice to see BALTHAZAR, CITY LIGHTS, JOAN OF ARC, SATANTANGO, BICYCLE THIEVES, PATHER PANCHALI, THE GENERAL, PERSONA, 2001, SUNRISE, RUBLEV, LATE SPRING and KANE make the Top 50, especially.

  3. I think “Vertigo” is a fantastic film, and one of my favorites by Hitchcock, but I can’t see it as a deserving choice for #1. that’s me though. still, the list is full of great movies.

  4. Fair enough Ari, I’d be interested in hearing what some of the other LIC regulars think. If memory serves me right VERTIGO is a huge, huge favorite here. But there some out there who feel otherwise, with a few at my own place in utter contempt! Ha!

    It is admittedly very difficult to have an absolute list like this. One of the ways I validate it in my own mind would be along these lines……….Hitchcock ranks with Bergman, Ozu, Dreyer, Murnau, Bresson, Renoir, Fellini, Powell, Welles, Ford and Chaplin and Keaton as the greatest directors of all-time. VERTIGO is arguably Hitch’s greatest film ever, therefore it can very well be seen as the #1 choice on such a list. Alas though, there are a number of other ways to look at this.

  5. I’m totally fine with this list. I’m not sure if I could really pick one over the other, but I’m glad to see a shakeup at the top after 50 years. There’s something sleazy and creepy about Vertigo compared to the relatively squeaky clean Kane that I like.

    They apparently expanded the voting roster by quite a bit this year and I’m actually a little more surprised the list isn’t more different than it is. There’s a degree of received wisdom to these things were opinions about great films seem to self perpetuate. Once a movie makes it into the canon, it’s not easy to knock it back out again.

    Still, the list is pretty much a primer for movies everyone who says they like movies ought to see at least once.

  6. Interesting list. I would put of course 2001 in number one. Hitchcock was a master of cinema, Kubrick was the master of the universe! I am joking of course (or not?) but now that i have read or seen everything there is to be read or be seen about this movie, I would put it No.1. Naturally I am not a film critic, just a fan of movies, so that’s just an opinion.

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