Bloodthirsty Cineastes Tear Orson Welles from His Throne

Don't let the door hit you on your way out, Kane!Today Sight & Sound has released two lists purporting to anoint the greatest movies ever made, one based on a poll of critics and the other on a poll of directors. The magazine does this canon-creating exercise every 10 years, which, as I wrote a decade ago, gives its efforts a flavor of rarity and value even as the number of rival lists explodes.

The big news this time around is that Citizen Kane didn't finish first. Citizen Kane had been topping these surveys since 1962, a reign so long that it was starting to damage the movie's reputation: Once you've become the gatekeepers' consensus choice as The Greatest Movie Ever Made, it's hard to live up to first-time viewers' expectations. (Me, I think Kane is a fine film, but I wouldn't even call it the best movie made by Orson Welles, let alone everyone ever.) Now the critics have picked Vertigo as their favorite, relegating Kane to second place. The directors have given the top spot to Tokyo Story, leaving Kane tied for second with 2001.

The Sight & Sound surveys are notorious for snubbing recent releases, and in that regard they've moved backward. Ten years ago the newest movie in either top 10 was Raging Bull, released in 1980. Now it's Apocalypse Now, released in 1979. I happen to think Apocalypse Now is better than Raging Bull, so in a sense I'd call that progress -- but really, there must be some movie made in the last three decades that's worthy of the canon, no? In the critics' top 50 you have to go all the way down to #24 before a picture from that period -- Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love (2000) -- makes an appearance.

Then again, the "canon" being created is a bit of a mirage. When I wrote about the 2002 results, I noted that

Kane actually appeared on only 39 percent of the directors' lists and 32 percent of the critics', indicating that the final tally isn't a consensus so much as an assemblage of those pictures that are somewhat likely to pop up on a personal list of favorites. In the case of Kane -- an important film, yes, but how many people really believe it's the best of all time? -- its presence may have more to do with obligation than affection.

The one movie in the dueling top tens that I haven't seen is Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirror, and I'm not a big Tark fan so I don't think I'll be watching that one anytime soon. Mirror fans who want to tell me to try it are invited to make their case the comments.

Bonus link: A few years back, The Cinematheque included Reason's own Tim Cavanaugh and yours truly in a similar survey. You can see our picks here. Advance warning: Tim's list includes Planet of the Apes and mine includes Glen or Glenda. This may be why we didn't get invited to the Sight & Sound party.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize a "greatest films" list that doesn't include Road House.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Quotable movie but the plot was 80's dreck.

    But then one of my favorites is the 13th Warrior so I don't have a leg to stand on.

  • ||

    Now that I think about it, many of my favorite movies don't have much plot-wise (take The Big Lebowski, for example, which is just a shaggy dog story). As somebody who's way more into music than movies, I've never dissected my favorite movies the way I do my favorite albums, so I actually think it's pretty interesting now that I've been made aware of it.

    Also, it's my way or the highway.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    The Big Lebowski mostly follows the plot of the Raymond Chandler novel The Big Sleep. Part of the humor in the movie is that they took a noir plot, but replaced all the noir characters with stoners.

  • ||

    And The Big Sleep is also a shaggy dog story (which explains why somebody as brilliant as William Faulkner admitted he didn't quite understand the story when he wrote the screenplay).

  • Ted S.||

    I think Raymond Chandler didn't understand it, either.

  • Ted S.||

    He's talking about the Richard Widmark movie.

  • CE||

    Obviously, the greatest movie ever made is The Wizard of Oz. People only pretend otherwise because they want to be seen as sophisticated.

    And how about The Shawshank Redemption? It dominates on IMDB.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I find the IMDB Top #250 list a pretty good list of the best movies.

  • Ted S.||

    It's heavily biased toward more recent movies, since those are more likely to have more votes.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Not as much as you might think. The votes have a "decay rate", so while movies do end to jump up right after they come out, they don't stay on the list unless people keep voting for them. So after about two years, they don't really have an avantage over older movies.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    In fact I just looked, and in the current Top #50, there's only five movies less than 10 years old. By comparison there are 12 movies in the Top #50 that are more than 50 years old.

  • The Hammer||

    Where did Tombstone end up on the list?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Any list that doesn't include Armageddon is a full-on, unfunny joke. End of story.

  • CE||

    Yeah, that part where they ask for exemption from income taxes for life always brings down the house.

  • ||

    You are a monster. You're worse than a monster. You're almost worse than Michael Bay.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    AND Roland Emmerich.

  • ||

    Hey, let's not shortchange Uwe Boll.

  • T||

    Uwe Boll would like a word.

  • The Hammer||

    Did LOTR get 3 spots, or did they combine them into one spot?

  • Randian||

    Hopefully it didn't get any spots.

  • The Hammer||

    Blasphemy!

  • Proprietist||

    I'm really impressed directors would pick Ozu at the top. So why can't any of them make anything resembling that kind of quality?

  • Proprietist||

    I find classic Japanese movies hard to beat. Pretty much anything by Kurosawa, Ozu, Teshigahara and Ichikawa do it for me more than most of the classic American films. And Hirokazu Koreeda is the best modern director, imho.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What? No Kobiyashi? Shame.

  • Proprietist||

    I love Kobayashi too, especially "Kwaidan". Haven't braved "The Human Condition" yet.

  • BakedPenguin||

    HC isn't as viewer friendly as Harikiri, Kwaidan or Rebel Samurai, but I don't think you'll dislike the movies. If you can watch Ozu's lesser works, you shouldn't have any issues.

  • A Serious Man||

    Oh God, The Human Condition. I watched it for a film class I took once. I never knew a film could so effectively convey the utter despair of war. and living in a fascist system. I don't think I've ever seen a deeper or more harrowing movie.

  • The Hammer||

    Doesn't sound very funny.

  • Killazontherun||

    Seen the Battle of Algiers? If so, how do they stack up?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Human Condition is much more obviously a story. It doesn't have BoA's almost documentary feel. Also, it's centered around the story of one soldier.

  • Proprietist||

    Yeah, it's definitely on my list when I have 6 hours to burn. I'd be interested to see how it stacks up with Kon Ishikawa's "Burmese Harp" and "Fires on the Plain" which are both pretty harrowing anti-war movies as well.

  • ||

    Wait, the dude can eat like 500 hot dogs in a minute AND make critically-acclaimed movies. Take that, Welles.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There is but one perfect movie, completely flawless in concept and execution, and it goes by the name Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Case closed.

  • Killazontherun||

    The first time I saw it, the sound died at Spock's casket scene. I didn't know it was not intentional, and the glitch was a perfect little moment. Small minded jack asses grumbled about it, and wanted their money back.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Spock's casket scene"

    SPOILER ALERT

  • CE||

    But I saw Spock in several of the later movies. How is that possible?

  • Killazontherun||

    The Ultimate Star Trek Spoiler:

    Every TV show and movie after :Wrath of Khan was a prequel. The meta plot twist is encoded in the Star Trek: TNG episode 'All Good Things . . .'

  • ||

    Wait...

    I thought the JJ Abrams movie made all previous Star Trek movies and TV shows simply an alternate timeline that never happened.

  • Mickey Rat||

    With the right phlebotinum and an expert in technobabble, anything is possible.

  • ||

    Glen or Glenda? Jesse, you are such a scamp.

  • R C Dean||

    I think they are wise to avoid recent films (although they may be taking "recent" a bit too far). Nothing like a little perspective when anointing the greatest Of All Time [insert hypertext trademark symbol here].

  • Proprietist||

    There are a only few recent films that hands down deserve inclusion in my opinion: No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood and City of God, with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Dark Knight and Memento all worthy of consideration.

  • John||

    I would take The Lives of Others, Grand Torino, Unforgiven, Miller's Crossing, The Butterfly and the Diving Bell over any of those.

    I thought Momento was just weird and impossible to follow. No Country is pretty good, but not nearly as sophisticated or nuanced an examination of violence as Unforgiven or as deep as Miller's Crossing. I just can't take the comic book movies seriously. I can't suspend belief about a guy running around in black tights and a bat suit long enough to keep from laughing at the movie no matter how serious and gory it is, although the Dark Knight is by far the best of the genre.

  • ||

    The Lives of Others is incredible.

  • Proprietist||

    I've got that sitting at home from Netflix at this very moment. Will watch tonight.

  • Proprietist||

    Memento was supposed to be weird and hard to follow, because it was told from the perspective of an amnesiac trying to remember what happened.

    No Country has arguably the best villain in movie history. I can't get over how perfect Javier Bardem was in that movie.

    I hate comic book movies too, and I'd say The Dark Knight deserves consideration simply for being by far the best in a very popular genre.

  • ||

    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly? Seriously? The entire script is one guy batting his eyelid repeatedly in code.

  • Killazontherun||

    It's pretty safe to say what going to stand up for the eighties and nineties.

    Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Unforgiven, Rushmore, Blade Runner, Shallow Grave, Legend, Alien, Road to Perdition, Empire of the Sun, are all going to still be viewable the ninth and tenth time around when I eventually get there. Most top ten list you can tell by the content were made by people coming up with a commonality frame work of what should be up there instead of what got them moving and shaking.

  • Killazontherun||

    The only canon movie that works for me is the Graduate. Scenery, music score and action blend together like the best dream you ever had. Highly aesthetically satisfying.

  • ||

    You forgot Miller's Crossing.

  • ||

    Downfall and Black Swan spring to mind.

    Agree on City of God and Eternal Sunshine.

  • Jesse Walker||

    I agree about the value of perspective, but surely we have some perspective on the '80s and '90s by now.

  • ||

    Does Jaws, which is essentially a perfect movie, make the list? The link isn't opening for me.

  • John||

    I think Close Encounters is almost a perfect movie right up until the last five minutes. The ending is such a let down. Spielberg played it absolutely perfect but there was no way to end the movie. No way to make the aliens anything approaching cool enough to justify the rest of the movie. So the whole thing ends on a wildly dissatisfying dud.

  • ||

    Just take the last 10 min of AI and slice it onto the end of Close Encounters and you get a perfect movie.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Jesse, your list didn't have any films later than 1989.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Jesse, your list didn't have any films later than 1989.

    Untrue: It had Short Cuts, which was released in 1993.

  • BakedPenguin||

    My mistake; the list I saw only had Repo Man.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I was looking at the bonus link, not the 2002 one.

  • Ted S.||

    And yet they picked Vertigo, which in my opinion is one of the most overrated Hitchcock movies.

  • A Serious Man||

    Vertigo was a great film, but I'm not even sure if it was Hitchcock's finest. North by Northwest, Psycho, and Rear Window all are just as good IMO.

    And Citizen Kane deserves to be recognized for its technical and narrative innovation of movies, but it isn't nearly as profound as movies like Satyajit Ray's The World of Apu or 2001.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Citizen Kane isn't the best movie of all time, perhaps, but it's very likely the most ground-breaking and influential. It was an incredible achievement and still stands as an outstanding film.

  • SIV||

    Birth of a Nation beats it on "groundbreaking and influential".

  • Pro Libertate||

    What are you, a Nazi? I disagree, though, of course, it was a tremendously influential movie.

  • Ted S.||

    What about 42nd Street? Busby Berkeley revolutionized the musical with his use of camera angles.

  • ||

    North by Northwest was just super fantastic, and I really don't like "old" movies. Rear Window is way up there, too.

  • Randian||

    Rear Window is great but suffers, IMO, from a weak climax. I never really felt Stewart was in any danger.

  • thom||

    My first thought too. North by Northwest is a masterpiece.

  • JW||

    North by Northwest stands as my favorite Hitchcock film. It's staggering to watch on Blu-ray. Rear Window and The Man Who Knew Too Much are up there as well.

    Whether that makes it "great" or not, that's not for me to decide. Considering how subjective any "greatest" list could be, I would use them as a guide, but not as anything definitive.

  • JW||

    I didn't really care for Vertigo that much, but I've only watched it the one time.

  • Mongo||

    My Hitchcockphile pals give me funny looks when I tell them that I liked Frenzy.

  • JW||

    Harvey and Rope are under-appreciated, IMO.

    Everyone remembers The Birds, but that's down my list of favorite Hitchcock films. Jaws does it much better.

  • Ted S.||

    Harvey wasn't directed by Hitchcock.

    And there are more under-appreciated movies from the same year as Harvey (1950). Consider Caged, one of the great women's prison films of all time. Hope Emerson, brilliant as the sadistic matron, lost to Josephine Hull in the Oscar sweepstakes that year. And poor Eleanor Parker probably never had a chance against the ladies from All About Eve and Sunset Blvd. (and the surprise winner, Judy Holliday's performance in Born Yesterday).

    On the men's side, an overlooked film from 1950 is Crisis, in which Cary Grant shows he really could do drama, playing a doctor forced to operate on a Latin American dictator. (The movie got a DVD release on the MOD Warner Archive collection since the time I wrote that post.)

  • Pro Libertate||

    I can't decide which Hitchcock film is my favorite. Maybe it's North by Northwest, but I'm not really sure.

  • Ted S.||

    Saboteur is better than North by Northwest. They're both more or less the same story, but the story works better with an everyman (Bob Cummings) as the male lead than an uppercrust guy like Cary Grant. And Saboteur also doesn't have the government secretly helping the main guy the way North by Northwest does.

    Foreign Correspondent and Lifeboat are also seriously underrated.

  • CE||

    I have to agree with Tim: Any list of great movies that doesn't include Planet of the Apes is worth mocking. Also O Brother, Where Art Thou? has to be on there somewhere.

  • ||

    Miller's Crossing is a light-years better Cohen Bros. movie than O Brother. It's probably their finest, most layered work.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You giving O Brother the high hat? Figures.

  • ||

    Maybe that's why I like you, FoE. I've never met anyone who made being a son of a bitch such a point of pride.

  • SugarFree||

    "How'd you get the fat lip?"

    "Old war wound. Acts up around morons."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Fuck that shit. Raising Arizona.

  • ||

    What is this, the high hat?

  • Pro Libertate||

    They've got a name for people like you, Episiarch. That name is called "recidivism."

  • JW||

    His seed could find no purchase on the rocky shore.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Turn to the right!

  • JW||

    Epi, tell us why you feel "trapped" in a man's body?

  • ||

    They've got a name for people like you, Episiarch.

    A man with all the powers of hell at his command.
    He can turn day into night and lay to waste everything in his path.
    He is especially hard on the little things. The helpless and the gentle creatures. He left scorched earth in his wake befouling even the sweat desert air that wiped across his brow.

  • SugarFree||

    I missed Raising Arizona in the theater, so the first time I saw it was on video. I re-ran that opening bit about four times before I watched the rest of the movie. The compression and efficiency of storytelling and scene setting of those few minutes still amazes me.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I seriously consider it their best film. It's quite well done and funny as shit.

  • ||

    You mean the remake of Planet of the Apes right?

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's grounds for justifiable homicide, right there. They wouldn't even call in a jury.

  • ||

    If we're talking Coen Brothers, the beginning and end of the discussion is Bad Santa. That is all.

  • JW||

    I actually walked out on that.

  • Randian||

    Bad Santa is hilarious.

    The only movie I ever walked out on was Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. That movie was just godawful.

  • Killazontherun||

    That one really is terrible. I've been a fan since Bottle Rocket.

  • RBS||

    You're both wrong. Life Aquatic is great.

  • JW||

    Holy shit, you have no taste at all.

  • Randian||

    *yawn*

    Your uninformed opinion interests me not at all. Wes Anderson is another wildly overrated director.

  • JW||

    Wes Anderson is another wildly overrated director.

    On this, we agree.

    But, you still have no fucking taste at all.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Kurosawa *greater than* Ozu.
    Clouzot *greater than* Renoir
    Dreyer's Day of Wrath was better than his Joanne d'Arc
    Godard is overrated.

  • John||

    I would take Ran or Seven Samurai over Ozu any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  • Proprietist||

    I think Kurosawa Ozu comes down to taste. I feel like sometimes the acting in Kurosawa's films can get a bit stilted (as was the style at the time) and the actions sequences get over the top, whereas Ozu's films are absolute subtlety. I can't really say that I feel Tokyo Story is particularly any more amazing than many other Ozu movies because they're all kind of similar, but all pure class.

    And yes, Godard is very overrated.

  • Proprietist||

    There was a greater than sign in there that got lost to the squirrels.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Ozu brought a lot of traditional Japanese aesthetic values to cinema. However, conflict is not a traditional Japanese aesthetic value, and therefore his movies demand rigorous attention. Kurosawa is far less demanding, and yet he avoids treating his audience like idiots. The lack of traditional narrative makes it hard for me to sustain interest.

    Shorter: If I'm bored on a rainy day, I'd just rather watch Yojimbo or High and Low than Late Spring. (Also, I already have them on DVD).

  • BakedPenguin||

    "The lack of traditional narrative" - in Ozu films...

  • Proprietist||

    It's funny, because my favorite Kurosawa movie is "Ikiru", which was probably his slowest and closest to replicating what Ozu was doing. Also am in love with "Dreams" and "Scandal" which aren't action films either. The brilliance of Kurosawa was that he could do just about every genre perfectly, from mystery to war movies to subtle slice of life dramas.

  • Ted S.||

    Tokyo Story I found great until they left for home, at which point there's a pointless, talky, philosophical last 40 minutes tacked on.

  • Ted S.||

    Try watching the Kurosawa films without the action sequences.

    The Bad Sleep Well is a really good mystery, while One Wonderful Sunday is a nice story about a young couple in post-war Japan trying to enjoy a day out without any money.

  • Proprietist||

    As I said, my favorite Kurosawa is Ikiru, which is very much so not an action movie. It's like the Japanese "It's A Wonderful Life".

  • A Serious Man||

    Definitely agree about Kurosawa, I'd replace Tokyo Story with Rashamon, Ran, or Seven Samura in a heartbeat.

  • ||

    These lists are full-bore retarded. A vastly more interesting list would be unusual choices for personal top ten lists, and then a defense of the choice by the list-maker. So Jesse would get to defend his Glen or Glenda choice (as a big appreciator of Ed Wood, I understand including this, Jesse), and it would be very interesting seeing the various defenses of unusual choices, instead of just an obvious set of choices based on most frequently picked.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yeah? Why don't you defend your choice of Airtight Grannies 6, Epi.

  • ||

    It was Airtight Grannies 3, and here is my defense: it has air-tight grannies. Need I say more?

  • Jesse Walker||

    A vastly more interesting list would be unusual choices for personal top ten lists, and then a defense of the choice by the list-maker.

    The magazine is going to print the individual ballots, and in the past voters have been free to include some comments on their picks. Unfortunately these aren't on the Sight and Sound site yet.

    As for my defense of Glen or Glenda, click through the Cinematheque link and you'll find it.

  • ||

    Nice. I agree on all fronts, but on top of that it's a fascinating look into Wood's own mind.

  • Mike M.||

    Braveheart is still my personal Greatest Movie of all Time, and I suspect it probably will be until the day I die.

  • A Serious Man||

    I think you can only sensibly break down such a list by genre or decade, and then synthesize it into an all-time great list. For example, the best drama of ther past deccade was No Country for Old Men, the best comedy was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the best action thriller was The Dark Knight. You'd then compare it with other decades and see where that gets you.

  • The Hammer||

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind sucked as a comedy and a drama.

  • califernian||

    Think hard about the consequences when ranking "Eternal Sunshine" above "Being John Malkovich".

    It's madness, my friend. Madness.

  • ||

    If we're talking Kaufman, it's Synecdoche, New York.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Adaptation was really good too.

  • ||

    Synecdoche is a masterpiece fuck ... I sahould have put it on my list.

  • Randian||

    I concur on the genre breakdown. Questions like "which movie is better: Ghostbusters or Apocalypse Now?" are fundamentally stupid.

  • The Hammer||

    That is a fundamentally stupid question. Bill Murray wasn't even in Apocalypse Now! It thus goes without saying that Ghostbusters is better.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's not correct. He was one of the heads.

  • ||

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not a comedy. It is a dramatic romance.

  • Voros McCracken||

    Evil Dead II
    Repo Man
    Crank (and the sequel)
    I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
    The Good the Bad and the Ugly
    Stalag 17
    The Americanization of Emily
    Pulp Fiction
    The In Laws
    Full Metal Jacket

  • Pro Libertate||

    Repo Man--awesome.

  • John||

    The In Laws (the original) is a funny movie. But if you are going for well made late 70s early 80s comedies, it begins and ends with Airplane and Animal House. Those two wrote the book.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Sheldon! Serpentine!

  • Voros McCracken||

    To this day one line from that movie always cracks me up when accused of doing things for no reason:

    "Oh there's reasons. There's always reasons. I mean I just don't _do_ things."

  • Voros McCracken||

    Airplane is definitely up there, Animal house not so much. I thought Caddyshack was better.

  • John||

    Animal House is brilliant. Much better than Caddyshack. Watch it again sometime and just listen to the pace of the dialog. The dialog in that movie is just great.

  • $park¥||

    Animal House has one memorable line. Caddyshack is a classic to which Animal House doesn't even compare.

  • John||

    Animal House has about a hundred memorable lines. It is a brilliant script. Caddyshack is funny but doesn't compare.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I agree with John--it's the superior film.

  • JW||

    You're history's greatest monster.

    They're both terrific comedies in the own right, as is Stripes.

  • ||

    You can't leave all the plants will die.

  • T||

    "You fucked up. You trusted us."

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    No love for Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein?

  • JW||

    Lots of love herr doktor. Any list of comedies that omits Mel Brooks is a travesty.

  • SugarFree||

    I've always preferred Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles. Blazing Saddles gets too bogged down in racial politics to be the intelligent insanity that Young Frankenstein manages.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Young Frankenstein is seriously great. It's Brooks' best movie, in my opinion.

  • JW||

    To me, Saddles is just a frenzy of gags, sewn together with a plot and some excellent comic actors. Its over-the-topness is what makes it such an incredible comedy. Zany can be good, sometimes.

    Young Frankestein's hook is the story, script and esp the talent. It's the whole package and to be honest, you'd be hard pressed to know that their from the same director.

    I just picked up the Mel Brooks blu-ray collection, so I'm looking forward to getting re-acquainted with YF.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    I agree. Blazing Saddles won't age quite as well but for now it's on my list.

  • SugarFree||

    I think you might be a bit biased.

  • Voros McCracken||

    Very funny movies, but then the 70s don't have a monopoly on those. Kingpin and There's Something about Mary are both extremely funny movies (The Farrellys kind of went south from there).

    Young Frankenstein is pretty close, because it's both funny and visually impressive. The early silent visual masterpieces are also quite close (Metropolis, Potemkin, etc.) but honestly they can be somewhat difficult to sit through and be entertained throughout. I really liked the Seven Samurai, but I wasn't quite as entertained by it as others on the list.

    I tried to take a representative sample across several decades.

  • ||

    His Willy Wonka performance is better...but yeah they are better movies over all.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Comedies deserve more mention. Repo Man and Shaun of the Dead would both make my top ten.

  • The Hammer||

    I forgot about Shaun of the Dead in my list! Dammit!

  • JW||

    I have a soft spot for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    That's only because you learned that

    "That's what the internet is for. Slandering others anonymously"

  • RBS||

    I remember getting stoned and writing down all the other movies they referenced in that movie.

  • Pip||

    Without Pootie Tang, the list is shit.

  • The Hammer||

    1. The Fellowship of the Ring
    2. The Return of the King
    3. The Two Towers
    4. O Brother, Where art Thou?
    5. Tombstone
    6. Lucky Number Slevin
    7. The Shawshank Redemption
    8. Ghostbusters II
    9. Really, after those 8 there is just a tremendous dropoff before you get to the 9th greatest movie of all time, but for the sake of consistency: Dazed and Confused and
    10. Friday Night Lights

  • Randian||

    Get out of here with that LOTR fanboi-ness.

  • The Hammer||

    Get out of here with your anti-New-Zealander racism!

  • Randian||

    Seriously, you put all three of those long-ass movies into the top three slots? You have to get out more, yo.

    Do they have movie theaters in Auckland or is that too fancy?

  • The Hammer||

    They have them in Denver. Peter Jackson is the New Zealander that you so irrationally hate, not me. And really, I would've just put them in one slot, with the original Star Wars trilogy and Raising Arizona in the other two, but I was in a hurry. As you can tell, it's not the most exhaustively researched list.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm a huge fan of the books, but the movies were largely disappointing, though they had some really nice moments and technical achievements.

  • RBS||

    The first hour or so of Fellowship is my favorite part of the entire series. Other than that I'd rather read the book.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's about where I am.

  • John||

    At the time I was disappointed in Fellowship. But now whenever TNT goes on LOR weekend, I end up always watching Fellowship and neither of the other two.

  • RBS||

    It really is the only one with any sort of re-watch value.

  • The Hammer||

    What? The only flaws in any of the movies are when Legolas surfs down shit. Which is why I ranked Fellowship above the other two.

  • kinnath||

    I was thrilled with movies the first time I saw them, but I have never had a desire to watch them again. I skip over them when I run across them channel surfing, but I'll stop dead and watch the Fifth Element every time I come across it.

  • JW||

    I'll watch for the battle sequences, but not much else.

  • JW||

    Oh, and major props for Fifth Element.

  • Killazontherun||

    I came close to putting it on my list, but I get a bitter taste in my mouth when I recall SPOILER ALERT the fifth element is HERE IT COMES, SPOILER ALERT love.

  • ||

    4. O Brother, Where art Thou?

    I am more upset that he put that up there instead of Raising Arizona and Miller's Crossing.

    The Hammer is one of the drooling fan boys who thinks Ill communication is a better album then Paul's Boutique

  • The Hammer||

    Honorable mentions to Blazing Saddles and Shaun of the Dead.

  • RBS||

    Spaceballs

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    The Godfather (1)
    Young Frankenstein
    Matrix
    13th Warrior
    Princess Bride
    Blazing Saddles
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Rocky
    Star Wars
    Mamma Mia

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Honorable mentions:
    The man who shot Liberty Valence
    District 9
    Highlander
    Dr. No and
    the opening for Saving Private Ryan

  • John||

    Wings of Desire and Fitzcaraldo.

    Any list that doesn't have Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog isn't worth the paper it is printed on.

  • Voros McCracken||

    There's a lot of scenes in movies that I would rate as favorite scenes without necessarily naming it a favorite movie. Aguirre, the Wrath of God is one such instance. The end scene is truly disturbing, Klaus Kinski at his most deranged.

  • Pro Libertate||

    "I, the wrath of God, will marry my own daughter and with her I'll found the purest dynasty the earth has ever seen."

  • Proprietist||

    "Stroszek" would make my top ten.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    I'm torn between 'The Great Lebowski' and 'Aliens'.

    I've seen those fancy old classics and Japanese films and liked them for the most part. But I couldn't remember their plots and memorable lines and I'm not drawn to re-watch them (well maybe 'Yojimbo' again) anytime soon.

  • John||

    I would take the original Alien. That is a Hitchcock level thriller.

  • ||

    Agreed. I don't get people who think Aliens is better.

    I saw Alien in the theater when I was six (we snuck in) and had nightmares for weeks.

    That and The Shining left indelible impressions on my young mind.

  • JW||

    Aliens is a good film in its own right. It's acompletely different film than Alien in almost every way.

    I like them both, but would place Alien over Aliens.

  • Killazontherun||

    I absolutely hate Aliens. It's a listless movie, a heartless movie, as was his T2.

  • Randian||

    The Great Lebowski

    The what now?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Tara Reid's sequel.

  • Randian||

    I thought that was called The Big Boneowski

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    EVERY MOVIE JOHNNY DEPP AND TIM BURTON HAVE DONE TOGETHER. There's your top 10 list.

  • Randian||

    You are just the worst kind of person.

  • $park¥||

    Film snobs are the worst. Those are the people who should have their balls chopped off with a hatchet.

  • ||

    I agree. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton made one great film together: Edward Scissorhands.

    Then at some point in the last decade the studios came to the conclusion that the combo was guarenteed box office, and ever since then they have made the most horrible crap ever put to film.

    I don't even want to speak of the awfulness of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland. I want to scrub that stupidity from my brain with one of those memory erasure machines.

    Sweeney Todd was at best passable, and then only because of Helena Bonham Carter.

    Every time Tim Burton and Johnny Depp get together lately, it's like they've taken Gay Pills and every film turns into a big Drag Queen show.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Sweeney Todd was at best passable, and then only because of Helena Bonham Carter.

    The 1982 version with George Hearn and Angela Lansbury is way better.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Also, while it wasn't a great movie, I found Dark Shadows quite entertaining.

  • ||

    No Eraserhead?

  • ||

    I'd put The Elephant Man above Eraserhead. Unless you were joking, in which case FUCK YOU.

  • ||

    I'm super serial.

  • A Serious Man||

    World of Apu
    2001
    Blazing Saddles
    The Godfather part II
    Blood Simple
    Ran
    The Good the Bad and the Ugly
    Raging Bull
    Vertigo
    Barry Lyndon

  • CE||

    I saw Ran on my regular (not-Blue Ray) DVD player and Sony 200-pound (not HD) tube TV. It looked like it was filmed in 3D. The movie was good too.

  • The Hammer||

    On another note, I am now getting ads for a one-stop RC helicopter shop and the Center for Audit Quality. So, great job on the redesign, Gillespie.

  • $park¥||

    Anything that isn't in color shouldn't even get a mention. That would be a good start for paring down the list. Next, anything with subtitles should be tossed, we don't need that ferriner garbage round here. What is it with people getting hung up on old shit being the best?

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's about as bad as people thinking everything new is the best.

  • SugarFree||

    Best book/movie/play/album lists always seem suspect to me. You really can't take a subjective experience and objectively quantify it; all you really do it end up backward-justifying your largely irrational/emotional likes and dislikes.

    A better base for an argument is how important something is for understanding the medium or how it changed the medium.

    For example, is Jaws one of the greatest films ever made? Probably not. But it's hard to argue that it didn't fundamentally change movies.

  • John||

    A good question would be "could you write the history of cinema without taking about "insert movie title here"? If the answer is no, then it is probably a great film such as it is.

  • $park¥||

    So then, where on the list is "Nosferatu", "Metropolis" or any Charlie Chaplin movie?

  • John||

    They should be on any list of "great movies".

  • califernian||

    Modern Times. Amazing.

  • Voros McCracken||

    Charlie Chaplin "movies" are hard because the most influential stuff he did weren't actually movies, they were shorts. By the time he started doing full length movies, others were already mining the same area and in the case of Buster Keaton (in my opinion) doing it better.

  • Ted S.||

    Keaton and Harold Lloyd. But Chaplin was a socialist who wouldn't be let back into the USA, so the critics love him.

  • RBS||

    Jaws is awesome and one of my favorites. I live at the beach so every summer I walk around quoting it after shark attacks. Also, not a terrible book.

  • thom||

    The greatest film ever made is The Empire Strikes Back. It is on neither of these lists.

  • kinnath||

    No love for Babe, Pig in the City?

  • ||

    Did you know that that movie was directed by George Miller, who directed all the Mad Max movies?

  • kinnath||

    No I did not. The movie was a box-office failure, because they opened against some flick from the mouse, and because it was way too grown-up, dark, and surreal for the "target" audience.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    My list fluctuates on a day to day basis. Without any pretense of being able to defend my choices, here is my current Top 11 list.

    1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
    2. Zodiac
    3. The Dark Knight
    4. Goldfinger
    5. Dirty Harry
    6. Iron Man
    7. Unforgiven
    8. The Wizard of Oz
    9. Apocalypse Now
    10. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
    11. The Shawshank Redemption

    Special Recognition: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II, Blazing Saddles

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Oh, shoot. I went and forgot Jaws. See how hopeless it is to make such lists?

  • Paul.||

    Why Adam Sandler not representin'?

  • The Hammer||

    Because then it just becomes too hard to choose.

  • Randian||

    Zodiac??

    I am dying to hear your defense on that one.

  • Paul.||

    Apocalypse Now is a good movie, as long as it isn't the director's cut.

  • RBS||

    I agree, clearly those scenes were left out for a reason. Like when they come upon the Playboy Bunnies in their crashed helicopter.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's a great movie if it isn't Redux.

  • Randian||

    I say the same thing about 2001. Even better idea on 2001: skip the movie and read the book.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, please.

  • Randian||

    No, really. That way I don't have to watch a chick walk down a spinning hallway for ten minutes or watch a ship docking for 20 because Stanley Kubrick was in love with himself and his new toys.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I don't see the film as self-indulgent. He's trying to set an environment that's not intuitive to people walking around on Earth.

    It's a great movie.

  • Randian||

    I disagree. It's boring and overrated. And not well-acted to boot.

  • JW||

    It's a staggering film. I saw it in the theater, when I was 7 or 8 and didn't take much away from it other than the monkeys and the murder of Poole. And the light show at the end.

    The boy watched it with me (he's 12) and was blown away. This is a kid that can't sit still for The Dark Knight and sat through all 2 hours without complaint.

  • ||

    It's good, but he has a point about it needing some editing.

    Still, the opening and closing sequences, and the death of HAL9000 really need to be seen.

  • Ted S.||

    The whole last third of the movie, after HAL is deactivated, is self-indulgent.

  • Gray Ghost||

    I agree with this, but the book does help flesh out some of the vitally needed subtext.

    Regardless, in 1968, this is outstanding. Which is similar to how I judge Nosferatu or Metropolis.

    Thank god, someone finally mentioned Rashomon, my personal entry for one of the best films of all time. It changed the way I see the world.

    For just a great war movie, I nominate Das Boot, which I don't think has been mentioned yet.

    Looking forward to seeing The Human Condition, The Burmese Harp, and Fires on the Plain. I really liked Burnt by the Sun, but I'll say that the definitive Gulag movie hasn't been made yet. If it has, please direct me to it.

    Katyn was heartbreaking, and probably deserves a spot on this list.

  • JW||

    This is you being the contrarian turd, right?

  • Randian||

    Again, no. The book is superior to the film.

  • JW||

    You do know that the book was written for Kubrick, for the movie, correct?

  • Randian||

    Yes, and I stated why I would rather read it than watch it.

    Are you reading what I am writing or not?

  • JW||

    OK, you're just being the contrarian turd. Got it.

  • Randian||

    Yes, I have a different opinion from you, so therefore I am being *insert crude name here*.

    You must have a really boring life that a different opinion threatens you so.

  • JW||

    Threaten? That's fucking hilarious. Yeah, you have an opinion and it's shit.

  • Randian||

    Stunning rejoinder, JW. Sorry that I can't sit there in slack-jawed wonderment for 15 minutes as a ship docks. Ooooh, fascinating.

  • JW||

    I'm not a film snob by any stretch, but I can at least appreciate what 2001 meant as a film in 1968, both as a director's vision and as a product. It's not a perfect film, but it's impact on film-making and what a revolutionary film that it was for its time, can't be stressed enough.

    If you want to take it out of that context and all you want is a bang-bang shoot em up for a short attention span, then no, you're not going to like the film.

    I'm fine with people having a different opinion than mine; I detest certain films that seemingly everyone else adores and dotes on but if you don't want to be taken as a contrarian turd in all things you post here, then maybe some introspection is due on your part.

  • Randian||

    If you want to take it out of that context and all you want is a bang-bang shoot em up for a short attention span, then no, you're not going to like the film.

    This is the tool of Movie Apologists every time their backs are against the wall. "You obviously don't appreciate the sheer brilliance of this movie. You prove it by disagreeing with me"

    Zip it, homes.

  • JW||

    Yeah, I didn't think you would get it.

    Thanks for playing.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    If nothing else, the ending makes much better sense after reading the book.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    The book was written by Arthur C. Clarke as dual project with movie. I think both have their merits. The book at least explains some of the ideas that are only visually referenced in the film.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I certainly like the book, and it doesn't hurt to read it and watch the film. But the movie is excellent. Tastes differ, but I think it takes some real effort to not appreciate how good it is.

  • RBS||

    but I think it takes some real effort to not appreciate how good it is.

    We all know Randian will make that effort.

  • Randian||

    It's just a fucking opinion on a movie! You'd think I spit on someone's grandmother or some shit.

  • RBS||

    I'm just joking around and I pretty much agree with you about the movie. There are plenty of movies that I appreciate but would probably never sit through again, 2001 is one of them.

  • Randian||

    I can never tell when people are joking around. It's a pretty serious oversight on Nature's part.

  • ||

    I can never tell when people are joking around. It's a pretty serious oversight on Nature's part.

    That's because you're autistic.

  • Randian||

    NEEDZ MOAR BAD METAL BANDS

  • John||

    The problem is that some genres get short shrift. You have to judge movies for what they are. You can't compare screwball comedies to period dramas and so forth. So a movie like the Exorcist, which is probably the best horror movie ever made, needs to be on any "greatest ever" list. But it never is because horror movies get snubbed by critics.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    ^THIS! It's also why the Academy Awards are complete nonsense.

  • CE||

    And the Oscar for best comedy goes to....

    That would be awesome.

  • Mongo||

    The former bigshot publisher of the local alt-weekly bragged about never having seen a horror movie!

    That's like saying you never fucked a chick with her shoes on or something.

    He brags about it.

    That's mind-boggling....

  • SIV||

    Suspiria is the best horror movie.
    I'd put it in my top 10 list of all films.

  • Ted S.||

    Thrillers, for example, were considered beneath top actors back in the day. Alfred Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper for Foreign Correspondent but had to settle for Joel McCrea (who thankfully was well-cast for the role). I believe Hitchcock wanted Cooper again for Saboteur.

  • kinnath||

    There is no way I can come up with a list of 10 best movies. There are only "blocks" of movies that changed the way I looked at movies. And of all the brilliant movies that I have seen, I think Pixar and Aardman have really shown what I consider to be the best story-telling skills in the business.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Pixar, pre-Cars.

  • kinnath||

    You'd be missing Ratatouille, Up, and Toy Story 3.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Well, I'll give you Ratatouille and Toy Story 3.

    I haven't seen Up, but Wall*E was a good movie up until the humans arrived. After they became the focus of the story, instead of the cute anthropomorphic robots, the movie would never recover.

  • kinnath||

    Up is fucking brilliant. Wall*E was merely better than 90% of the dreck that is put out for kids.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Oh, for kids movies, basically all Pixar movies are better than anything else out there.

    But I would put the first half of Wall*E in the top half of the dozen or so Pixar flicks, and the second half, I would put in the bottom six Pixar movies. It's the Full Metal Jacket of Pixar films, I guess.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The Incredibles, Iron Giant, Ratatouille. . .yeah, Brad Bird can do some nice work.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    He also did Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. That's a great action flick.

  • kinnath||

    Iron Giant is a great movie, but it was before Bird went to Pixar.

    Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up are the top shelf.

    The three Toy Story flicks, are the second self.

    The two Car flicks are the bottom shelf.

    Arrange the rest as you see fit.

    And yes, chop Wall-E into two pieces and put them where they belong.

  • JW||

    What kinnath said. Up is one of their best.

    Wall*E was good for slapstick, but not much else, other than Fred Willard as the president. Too leaden with sanctimonious pretense to be even interesting.

  • Killazontherun||

    ^this. Really hate being preached to by screenwriters who don't have a fucking clue about life on the planet earth. That is my black beast.

  • $park¥||

    In no particular order:

    Blazing Saddles
    Young Frankenstein
    Event Horizon
    In the Mouth of Madness
    Gladiator
    The Watchmen
    V for Vendetta
    The Matrix
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    The Fifth Element

  • The Hammer||

    Event Horizon is only saved from being the most boring movie in history by the existence of Unbreakable.

  • BakedPenguin||

    You've obviously never seen any Jim Jarmusch movies.

  • ||

    He hasn't seen Valhalla Rising.

  • Ted S.||

    I liked Night on Earth.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I was able to get through Coffee and Cigarettes. Dead Man was execrable, as was the 15 minutes of Mystery Train I saw. After that, I realized life was too short to spend any time watching his films. I'm glad you weren't bored into a coma, though.

  • SIV||

    I can't see the critics Top 50 link but something is wrong when neither Gone With The Wind orCasablanca make the Top 10.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Casablanca is a shockingly good film, considering that it was just thrown together.

  • ||

    Casablana would make my top 10 list. Gone with the wind definitely not.

  • Ted S.||

    AFI's last Top 100 list (around 2009) didn't include From Here to Eternity.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Somehow, Dawn of the Dead (1978) hasn't been mentioned, so I'll go ahead and bring it up. The first shoestring epic?

  • Killazontherun||

    Before I ever saw it in the theaters, a friend of mine gave a scene by scene performance of the movie when a bunch of us camped out in my back yard. I almost envy his cellmates who get to see that talent on display today.

  • Gladstone||

    Citizen Kane had been topping these surveys since 1952

    You mean 1962. Kane didn't even make the 1952 Top Ten. Well what should I expect from a Glen or Glenda fan. Manos needs more love, yawn

  • Jesse Walker||

    You're right! Fixed it. Sorry about that.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Michael Bay's genius is again criminally overlooked.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Except by the movie goers who inexplicably gave Dark of the Moon a billion dollars at the box office.

  • rbenchley||

    In no particular order:

    Big Trouble in Little China
    Miller's Crossing
    Blade Runner
    Alien
    Chungking Express
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    Raising Arizona
    The Incredibles
    In the Mood for Love
    Pulp Fiction

  • ||

    This is not a bad list, except for The Incredibles, which was pure excrement.

  • JW||

    The child in you is dead, isn't it? You killed it with that thought.

  • ||

    And then it came back to life when I enjoyed Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.

  • JW||

    OK, but it's an fairly odd child.

    I've tried watching those with the she-spawn, she loves them, but I can't really get into Miyazaki.

  • ||

    It's all about the beautiful etherial artwork.

    Another great one is 'The Secret of Kells'. Kind of Samauri Jack meets Miyazaki.

  • JW||

    Where the fuck is Blade Runner? Why no love for it?

  • Voros McCracken||

    One of the other problems with "best movie" lists is that they often miss an essential part of movie watching. Not great movies can have truly great parts in them that shouldn't be missed.

    A good example is District B13. A two and a half star (at best) French action movie. David Belle can't really act, which is hardly surprising since he's not an actor. But in either the first or second scene (I forget which) the Director does an absolutely brilliant job of chronicling what David Belle could do circa 2004. And what Belle could (and would) do was mind blowing. It's the best stunt work I've ever seen, and the brilliance of it will make you hate modern CGI even more (Sam Raimi wanted Belle for the Spiderman films to cut down on the CGI and Belle declined). The rest of the movie doesn't accomplish nearly as much, but that scene (ending with a jump that simply would not be allowed in a U.S. production) must not be missed.

    Movies like They Live and Harold and Maude are the same way. Harold and Maude is about 10 minutes total of malevolent brilliance and pretty boring otherwise.

  • Voros McCracken||

    Along these same lines, there's a Tony Jaa scene that's done all in one cut that is just mesmerizing if obviously a bit implausible (the bad guys are kind of lined up like dominoes for him).

  • Proprietist||

    After Life (Wandafuru Raifu)
    Apocalypse Now
    Fall Guy
    Ikiru
    Persona
    Seven Samurai
    Stroszek
    Taxi Driver
    The Woman in the Dunes
    The Wild Bunch

  • ||

    Personally, I would rank 'The Godfather' as the greatest movie ever made.

    Not only does it have great cimeatography, writing, memorable quotes and memorable music, but since that point nobody else has ever really tried to top the "corruption/fall-from-grace" type story line. The Godfather pretty much nailed it perfectly, and nobody is ever going to beat it.

  • John||

    I agree

  • Pro Libertate||

    I wouldn't go that far, but it's definitely in my bucket of all-time greats. Better than the book, too.

  • ||

    but since that point nobody else has ever really tried to top the "corruption/fall-from-grace" type story line.

    George Lucas tried.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWaLxFIVX1s

    Failed does not even begin to describe it.

  • ||

    Yeah, you have to able to relate to the protagonist before you turn him evil.

  • Ted S.||

    but since that point nobody else has ever really tried to top the "corruption/fall-from-grace" type story line.

    Have you seen Network?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    The Seventh Seal is also really good, although most Americans haven't seen it on account of it being in Sweedish.

  • ||

    Caligula
    Quest for Fire
    Valhalla Rising
    Kite
    Betty Blue
    Sonatine
    Ravenous
    Wizards
    Brick
    Breaking the Waves

    This is a list of movies that may or may not mean anything but none the less need to be mentioned.

  • ||

    Valhalla Rising?

    Those were the most boring Vikings ever put to film.

  • ||

    I think it is just the structure of the movie. There is plenty of excitement and action...but it is in all the wrong places which I think is the point.

    Like an anti-thesis to your typical medieval adventure movie.

  • ||

    The Godfather
    Amadeus
    Downfall (Der Untergang)
    Casablanca
    High Noon
    Night of the Hunter
    All About Eve
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Braveheart
    Unforgiven

  • Seanrude||

    1. The Godfather
    2. La Dolce Vita
    3. Contempt
    4. Young Frankenstein
    5. Withnail I
    6. Breathless (the Richard Gere version, so much better than Godard's original)
    7. Monty Python's Holy Grail
    8. Non Redux version of Apocalypse Now
    9. Clockwork Orange
    10. Animal House

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    In the Heat of the Night should be on someone's list.

    "Oh boy. Man, you're just like the rest of us, ain't ya?"

  • ||

    300+ posts and nobody mentioned Oldboy?

  • ||

    I thought about it but then I remembered how idiotic the last 20 min of the movie was.

    "MY EVIL PLAN HAS COME TOGETHER CUZ I MADE YOU SCREW YOUR OWN DAUGHTER!!!

    MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

    /facepalm

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement