Posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 by Germain Lussier
We’re reached a point in the evolution of film criticism where a shift is occurring. Critics who’ve been in the game for decades and decades are slowly beginning to give way to a younger, more vocal audience, many of whom are online. The beautiful thing about that is, though they all share a love of cinema, everyone has their own opinions of how and why we got there. And the best way to show that is with a top ten list.
The online contingent prides themselves upon being the new guard and, to that end, our friends at Film School Rejects polled 37 online critics and four young filmmakers for their lists of the ten greatest films of all time. They then gave those lists a point value and came up with a top ten that’s simultaneously familiar and controversial as it certainly caters to a younger demographic. Check it out and leave your thoughts below.
Here’s the list from Film School Rejects. We’ll discuss its inception and much more below. The number to the right is how many points each got.
- Citizen Kane (73 points)
- Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (61)
- The Godfather (57)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (53)
- Casablanca (48)
- 8 1/2 (44)
- Back to the Future (44)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (43)
- Bicycle Thieves (41)
- Vertigo (40)
Before we jump into any specifics, if you head to FSR there’s a detailed description of how the term “greatest” was purposely left vague in order for each critic to give a more personal list, notes on the point system, as well as a full list of each person polled, their individual top tens and the descriptions behind it. Those are on a separate page, which you can see here.
As for the list itself, a few things stand out immediately. Only two films aren’t from the United States: 8 1/2 and Bicycle Thieves, two inarguably influential and amazing films. That shows a devotion to domestic fare. Then there are several movies on the list – Citizen Kane, Godfather, Vertigo, Casablanca – which are deservedly predictable choices that show up on many similar lists for a reason. (Whether that reason is that they belong, or that they have been established as list essentials is open to argument.)
But the real meat is in the other four films: The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Kubrick’s film kind of tows the line between obvious and not-so-much, so we’ll call it a wash. Empire, Raiders and Back to the Future, however, show a clear, generational, almost obvious love of the new blockbuster era of cinema. It’s something many older filmgoers enjoy, but don’t feel holds much weight. It also questions the meaning of “greatest.” Does it mean “personal favorite,” ”technically competent,” “most influential” or something more? I love those three films more than almost every other movie of all time, but does that mean they’re the “greatest?” It depends.
Personally, I think the term “greatest” is different from “best.” If this list was of the “ten best” those three films probably couldn’t be on there. But, for a generation who grew up on those films, calling them the “greatest” is different from “best.” “Greatest” implies a personal adoration. Maybe you disagree.
Over in the Film School Rejects article, too, they also give the next 12 runner ups and that’s a whole different can of worms: Aliens and Fight Club are listed with Lawrence of Arabia and The Passion of Joan of Arc, among others. Let the battles begin.
So, now it’s your turn. What do you think of this list? Do you think its validity is equally as important as the one its based on, the Sight and Sound Top Ten? Do you find yourself agreeing these films are the greatest ever, or just your favorites?