The Directors Speak and Ozu Rules: The Other Sight & Sound Poll

Posted on Saturday, August 4, 2012 by fillups

Sight & Sound, the international film magazine, has conducted an esteemed polling of critics on the best films of all time since 1952.  Since 1992, they have also polled some of the top director's across the globe for their take on the best films of all time. These challenging, personal visions of cinema are all available at the SCCLD libraries.

Sight & Sound Director's Poll 2012
Tokyo story

1. Tokyo story

Director Yasujirō Ozu's magnificent 1953 film about aged parents visiting their grown children in post-war Tokyo is a universal statement about generational conflict.  It also summarizes everything that is great about Ozu's directing, his subtlety, unobtrusive technique and his generous humanity. 

2001 2001: a Space Odyssey

2. (tied) 2001

Stanley Kubrick's maddening, visually stunning 1968 film about the evolution of humanity, space travel and a homicidal computer.  The film drew both praise and scorn from critics on its release but continues to fascinate audiences with its stately spectacle and its illusive plot structure.


Citizen Kane

2. (tied) Citizen Kane

Orson Welles towering 1941 film pioneered so many film techniques so effectively that it has long been considered one of the best films of all time. Controversial upon its release because many felt it was an unflattering portrait of corporate giant William Randolph Hearst, it is now universally revered. Its greatness lies not just in the incredible technical flourishes but in the way it reveals, piece by piece, the soul of a "great" man who no one really knows.

8 1/2 8 1/28 1/2

4. 8 1/2

Federico Fellini's autobiographical 1963 film almost reinvented the form of film.  Instead of a straightforward look at a director struggling for inspiration to make a film, the film moves back and forth from the past to the present, from fantasy to reality and back again creating a very personal view of the world and how a director might see it. The film was a revelation when it was released and few films have surpassed its vision.

Taxi Driver Taxi Driver

5. Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese's searing 1976 film about urban isolation, violence and madness is a landmark of seventies film making.  Robert DeNiro is in almost every frame of the film pulling us into the world of a lonely taxi driver falling into paranoia.  The film is famous for Scorsese's emergence as a major filmmaker and the "You talking to me?" speech that DeNiro gives to a mirror. This is the first time Taxi Driver has appeared on a Sight & Sound poll.

Apocalypse Now Apocalypse Now, the Complete Dossier

6. Apocalypse Now, the Complete Dossier

Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam War epic based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.  The film follows Martin Sheen's trip down a river on a mission to kill a renegade and insane Special Forces Colonel.  It was praised on its release for its depiction of the madness of war and the darkness of the soul as well as its epic visual style. This is the first appearance for this film on a Sight & Sound poll.

The Godfather

7. The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola is the only director honored twice on the list.  The Godfather created a popular sensation on its release in 1972 with audiences talking about the violence, the music and Marlon Brando's performance as Don Corleone.  The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture (the only film on this list to do so) and was followed by two acclaimed sequels.  The film which is about a powerful mafia family dealing with the treachery of changing times remains a timeless classic.


8. Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 release is a moody meditation on obsession and fear.  The film stars Kim Novak and James Stewart in the main acting roles but the real star is the city of San Francisco, which seems like an endless, haunted maze drawing Stewart's character ever deeper into his own obsessions.  A dark, tour de force from the master of suspense.


9. Zerkalo or Mirror (English title)

Russian master director Andrei Tarkovsky directed this 1975 autobiographical film about a dying man contemplating his life.  The film uses newsreels, childhood memories, contemporary scenes and Tarkovsky's father's poetry intercut in a rhythmic manner to illustrate Tarkovsky's life.  The result is difficult and poetic.  This is the first time this film has been recognized by a Sight & Sound Poll.


10. Ladri di biciclette or Bicycle Thieves (English title)

Vittorio De Sica's 1948 film about a poor man wandering the streets of Rome with his son looking for a stolen bicycle that is his means of transportation.  The film was named the best film of all time in the 1952 Sight & Sound poll. The movie was filmed on location with non-professional actors, a revelation in 1948 and for audiences in 2012, a moving document of a different time.

Discover more great music and movies by checking out the SCCLD Music and Movies blog.


Tagged: Alfred Hitchcock, Andrei Tarkovsky, Federico Fellini, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, Vittorio De Sica, Yasujirō Ozu, Movies, Critics, Movies, Top Ten


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