So the results are in and it is now official.
‘Citizen Kane’ is no longer the most admired movie of all time.
The Sight and Sound poll has been the film connoisseur’s poll of choice since 1952.
Leading directors and film critics have been asked every 10 years to come up with a list of their 10 favourite movies.
And every 10 years since 1962, Orson Welles’ wonderful movie has topped the polls.
As any film anorak will tell you, choosing 10 great movies is a very painful process – the cinematic equivalent of deciding which members of your family would you choose to evacuate from a volcanic island.
Do you count Francis Coppola’s ‘The Godfather’ trilogy as one seamless work or three separate films of varying quality? And what about Krzysztof Kiezlowski’s ‘Three Colours’ trilogy or Satyajit Ray’s ‘Apu’ trilogy?
This year, Sight and Sound, the British Film Institute’s magazine, decreed they must be treated as separate movies – only heightening the pain.
Since 1992, Sight and Sound has also separated the critics’ choice from the directors’ top 10.
The results of these polls over the years have shown changing tastes and are a good indicator of how trendy and influential certain filmmakers are.
In 1952, for example, Charlie Chaplin was in vogue, with ‘The Gold Rush’ and ‘City Lights’ sharing second place in the poll behind Vittorio de Sica’s neo-realist classic, ‘Bicycle Thieves’.
Both Chaplin’s films fell off the top 10 list a decade later and haven’t managed to reinstate themselves since (although ‘Modern Times’ made the filmmakers’ top 10 list in 1992).
De Sica’s delightful movie has managed to hold onto filmmakers’ affections and just about scraped into their top 10 this year.
Martin Scorsese’s stylish biopic of the boxer Jake La Motta ‘Raging Bull’ has featured prominently in the previous two directors’ top ten lists but is nowhere to be seen in this year’s list. However Scorsese’s equally influential ‘Taxi Driver’ is there.
Most cinemagoers will not have heard of the Japanese filmmaker Yazujiro Ozu but it is his tragic family drama, ‘Tokyo Story’, about elderly parents visiting their children in the Japanese capital, which directors have hailed as the most impressive.
Ozu was notorious for static, low camera shots – the antithesis of most modern filmmaking with its sweeping camera movements and fast editing – and that is what makes its choice so fascinating.
Stanley Kubrick’s sci fi epic ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ retains second place in the directors’ poll, alongside Welles’ masterful ‘Citizen Kane’.
Federico Fellini’s ’8 1/2′, which has been a regular fixture in the polls, is in fourth spot ahead of ‘Taxi Driver’ but what is also striking is the admiration for Francis Coppola’s movies when he was at the height of his powers.
Coppola’s daring Vietnam war epic, ‘Apocalypse Now’ has leapfrogged ‘The Godfather’ in directors’ affections, with both occupying sixth and seventh spots.
Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’, Andrei Tarkovsky’s bold 1975 movie, ‘The Mirror’ and ‘Bicycle Thieves’ make up the numbers.
There are some striking omissions from the directors’ top ten.
Where are Carl Theodor Dreyer’s ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’, David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ or Akira Kurosawa’s ‘The Seven Samurai’ or ‘Rashomon’ which have featured so prominently in previous lists?
Where are the films of Francois Truffaut or DW Griffith? Jean Luc Godard or Ingmar Bergman? Where is John Ford or Sergei Eisenstein?
As for the critics, Hitchcock has managed to usurp Welles with ‘Vertigo’ taking the top spot, pushing ‘Citizen Kane’ into second place. Ozu’s ‘Tokyo Story’ is third.
However old habits die hard for the critics and so Jean Renoir’s wonderful critique of the French upper classes ‘La Regle du Jeu’ and FW Murnau’s beautiful silent movie ‘Sunrise’ again feature in the top five.
Kubrick’s ’2001′ remains in the critics’ top ten but John Ford’s tough, moody Western ‘The Searchers’ has managed to reinstate itself after falling off the 2002 list.
And while Dreyer’s ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’ and Fellini’s ’8 1/2′ take ninth and tenth spots, the real surprise is that Dziga Vertov’s silent and stylistically daring 1929 Soviet documentary ‘Man With A Movie Camera’ finishes ahead of them.
Gene Kelly and Stanley Donnen’s ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ has dropped out of contention and again Godard, Truffaut, Bergman and Ray’s movies are conspicuous by their absence,
The Sight and Sound poll is, of course, a parlour game and a fun one at that.
But for many filmgoers ‘Star Wars’, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ or ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ are the movies that matter most to them often for personal reasons, even if highbrow critics or some directors feel their filmmaking style is too conventional.
If you were to ask me what my top ten movies are, my choice would probably change every few months and they would not all be chosen for esoteric reasons.
So as things stand, I would choose in no particular order:
:: Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’ (1975) for its relentless edge of your seat thrills, Robert Shaw’s powerful screen presence and making me fall in love with cinema.
:: Orson Welles’ ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941) for its narrative bravery, bravura acting, Welles’ magnetism and cinematographer Gregg Toland’s striking visuals.
:: Krzysztof Kiezlowski’s Three Colour Blue (1993) for Juliette Bincoche’s terrific performance and it’s stunning use of sight and sound for a meditation on grief.
:: Federico Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ (1960) for pushing the boundaries of narrative cinema, Marcello Mastroianni’s engaging performance and for shining a critical light on society’s obsession with celebrity.
:: Sergei Eisenstein’s Soviet silent propaganda film ‘Battleship Potemkin’ (1925) for the sheer brilliance of the Odessa steps sequence and inspiring Brian de Palma’s Chicago gangster classic ‘The Untouchables’.
:: Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ (1954) for its delightfully mischievous use of LB Jeffries’ voyeurism to reflect on cinema itself and for James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritterband Raymond Burr’s extraordinary performances.
:: Martin Scorsese’s ‘Good Fellas’ (1990) for being a wonderfully shot, brilliantly acted, stunningly edited and confidently directed movie which plays with our morality. I have to admit it was a tough call leaving behind a cannon of work that includes ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Raging Bull’, ‘The Age of Innocence’ and ‘The King of Comedy’.
:: Francois Truffaut’s ‘Les Quatres Cents Coups’ (1959) for its humanity and haunting final freeze frame of Jean Pierre Leaud’s Antoine.
:: FW Murnau’s ‘Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’ (1927) for its visual poetry, innovative cinematography and powerful lead performances.
:: Bill Forsyth’s ‘Gregory’s Girl’ (1981) for entirely personal reasons – a coming of age movie about Glaswegian teenagers with so much heart, so many laughs and so many quotable lines it never tires.
Ok. I’ve stuck my neck on the block. What’s your top 10?