For a long time I've had a goal: to watch all the films (all 877) on the Sight & Sound Top Ten. The Sight & Sound list is a poll of critics and (in recent decades) directors that the magazine holds once a decade. The list is a compelling one, in no little part because unlike many other oddball polls, it has been allowed to evolve over time.
I am not a film expert. I'm a fan who loves good movies, a one-time theatre reviewer, but no expert in cinema by any degree. What I hope to do, over the next fifty-one weeks, is to tackle as many films as I can from this list.
As a reviewer, I am going to be interested in progressive representation and depictions of non-white males. Homoerotic subtext and strong women--that's what I like to talk about most.
I won't waste a lot of time reviewing films I've already seen. But I do hope, as I go, to explore each of these films, to try and understand why they're considered the greatest.
I also probably won't review every film I watch. I may not review any. We'll see how this goes.
My trusty spreadsheet informs me that as of today's date, 1/10/11,I've watched 177 films of the total 877 (I combined the Godfather, Apu, and Three Colors trilogies and counted them as one film). I've made sadly very little progress on the list since I first started talking about watching all the films a few years ago. Of the Top 20 as of 2002, the films I have already seen are bolded below:
Citizen Kane - 88 votes total (from all voters, critics and directors)
The Godfather Trilogy - 80 votes total
Vertigo - 54 votes total
La Règle du jeu - 42 votes
8 & 1/2 - 37 votes
2001: A Space Odyssey - 32 votes
Tokyo Story - 31 votes
Seven Samurai - 27 votes
Rashomon - 26 votes
Battleship Potemkin - 25 votes
Singin' in the Rain - 25 votes
Sunrise - 24 votes
The Searchers - 22 votes
Lawrence of Arabia - 21 votes
Bicycle Thieves - 18 votes
The Passion of Joan of Arc - 18 votes
À bout de souffle - 17 votes
L'avventura - 17 votes
Touch of Evil - 17 votes
Dr. Strangelove - 16 votes
Jules et Jim - 16 votes
Raging Bull - 16 votes
I am proud of the fact that of the ones I've seen, I had already seen all but 4 before I started this goal. I'm definitely not proud of the fact that I still have yet to see Fellini's 8 1/2. Three of my very favorite films are on this top 20: Vertigo. Seven Samurai, and The Searchers. Hardly unsurprising; but when you are as unversed in film as I am, it means a lot to know your natural taste is more or less sanctioned by the establishment.
Not that the establishment really knows what it likes.
In the 2002 poll, 109 directors and 145 directors chose their top 10 films. A few people flailed a lot and went with non-representative lists instead, which is, in my opinion, awesome. But it shows the difficulty of coming to a consensus. Even though we are told time and again that Citizen Kane is "the best," out of the 253 voters, only 88 of them chose it for their top 10--less than a third altogether. And that number towers over all the other movies. It's just too much of a challenge.
What I eagerly look forward to in the 2012 list is seeing how the advent of internet culture has allowed more people to access more information and subsequently more non-European film. I predict that the explosion especially of Asian culture into the mainstream will shift the list away from the stalwart Eurocentric film classics and give way for the first time to a more balanced international representation.
But that's a year away. And I have a lot of film-watching to do first!