Best movie list gives behind-the-scenes entertainment
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 22:09
Throughout August, the British movie magazine “Sight & Sound” unveiled its list of the greatest movies of all time. This list is put together every 10 years and is the result of a poll that includes 846 film critics or academics and 358 directors. This poll is not just the opinion of a single person, nor is it the result of rash decisions made by the public. In theory, this is as close to definitive as a list can get. It takes the pulse of the entire film landscape and reports the results.
However, the actual list of best films is the least fascinating part of the entire process. The tops of the critics’ and directors’ lists are mostly made up of the usual, and thoroughly deserving, suspects. Movies like “Vertigo,” “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Citizen Kane” topping the list is not necessarily news, though it is slightly interesting to see how the films move around.
The real fun lies at the bottom of the list, where one can find the films that received only one vote. Some of the choices are interesting, to say the least.
“Sight & Sound” has teamed up with the British Film Institute to place all of the individual lists on the Internet. This gives interested fans an opportunity to see how their favorite critics and filmmakers voted and to see just how crazy some people are. Yes, a film’s quality is entirely up to one’s opinion, but sometimes that opinion is just plain weird.
Nowhere else can movie fans get such a revealing look at the tastes of high-profile movie figures. Without this poll, no one would ever know that Matthew Vaughn, director of “Kick-Ass” and “X-Men: First Class,” believes “Rocky III” is one of cinema’s greatest accomplishments. Other weird picks include “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” voted by critic Mark Sinker, “Showgirls,” chosen by filmmaker David Panos, and the 2007 Timothy Olyphant vehicle “Hitman,” a movie based on a series of action video games, selected by critic Slavoj Zizek.
Listing the greatest movies of all time is a silly task, but the “Sight & Sound” poll is the best example of what an undertaking like this can be. Instead of simply focusing on the agreed-upon classics, it also acknowledges that some people like films that are off the beaten path. As ridiculous as choices like the aforementioned are, the idea that they wound up on the same list as “Citizen Kane” — no matter how far down they are — is something to celebrate. It’s great to live in a world where Ben Stiller’s “Zoolander” can get the same number of votes as Abbas Kiarostami’s critically-lauded drama “Certified Copy.”
“Sight & Sound” has not just created a best-of list; it has created a state of cinema address that is a constantly evolving organism. When the magazine’s staff chose to tackle this massive undertaking every decade, they knew they were creating something that would grab the attention of the entire world. It’s tremendous fun to think about how the list will continue to evolve in the next several decades. Perhaps the same masterpieces will keep getting all the respect, or perhaps some new blood will start to creep in.
And maybe Zizek is just waiting for the rest of the world to understand the true brilliance of “Hitman.”