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‘Vertigo’ Replaces ‘Citizen Kane’ On Top of Sight & Sound List & Some Analysis

'Vertigo' Replaces 'Citizen Kane' On Top of Sight & Sound List & Some Analysis

Critics everywhere have been anxiously waiting for this year’s ‘Sight & Sound’ list to finally drop. The list that’s made up of 846 critics, programmers, academics, and distributors is arguably the most important list of them all. And for the first time in 50 years, Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” is not listed as number one. Cinephiles across the board feel cheated, lost, and confused, but it’s certainly not a complete shock as speculation that “Kane” could be replaced as “The Best Film of All Time” has been rumored for quite some time now.

Since S&S have upped the anti from the 145 voters in 2002, it seemed likely the new list would cause some disturbance in the Criticsphere, and it certainly has. Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” which is now labeled as “The Greatest Film of All Time”, wasn’t even considered a critical hit during it’s 1958 release. Nevertheless, that has clearly changed as it is now thought upon as one of Hitchcock’s greatest and most influential films ever.

But what I find most interesting about this list is it’s lack of modernity. The most “recent” film on the list is Kubrick’s epic “2001: A Space Odyssey” which was released in 1968. Which begs the question, have the filmmakers of this generation failed to create something worthy of such a list? Well, Roger Ebert tends to disagree, as he placed Malick’s “Tree of Life” (2011) & Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” (1980) on his own S&S list. So perhaps the message here is that for film’s to be considered “Great”, some time needs to past, almost parralling the critical history of what is now considered “The Greatest Film of All Time”, “Vertigo”.

Other notable changes to this year’s list include:

-The absence of “The Godfather”, “The Godfather II”,  and “Singing in the Rain” which were all on the 2002 list. 

-The return of “The Passion of Joan of Arc” which was missing from the 2002 list.

-“Tokyo Story” being the comeback player of the year moving from the #5 spot to the #3, while also landing #1 in the S&S Director’s list, which was also released today

-New to the list: “The Searchers” and classic documentary “Man With a Movie Camera.”

-“Battleship Potemkin” being bumped from the top-ten list to the #11 spot in the “Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time” list (care of The Playlist).

Sight & Sound The Critics’ Top 10 Greatest Films of All Time

10. “8 1/2” (Federico Fellini)

9. “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (Carl Theodor Dreyer)

8. “Man with a Movie Camera” (Dziga Vetov) – Documentary 

7. “The Searchers” (John Ford)

6. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Stanley Kubrick)

5. “Sunrise” (F.W. Murnau)

4. “La Règle du jeu” (Jean Renoir)

3. “Tokyo Story” (Yasujiro Ozu)

2. “Citizen Kane” (Orson Welles)

1. “Vertigo” (Alfred Hitchcock)

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There Will Be Blood – no other actor/director combo could ever pull that film off.

Forrest Cardamenis

Massive change isn't going to happen all in one poll. There's a lot more that suggests taking to newer films than there initially appears to be, and there's also a lot that suggests the new generation of critics is re-evaluating canon. I just did a post about it, check it out:


"Vertigo" is one of the 20th Century's premiere works of art in any medium.

So it's well and truly worthy of the top slot on this list. Just as "Citizen Kane" has been and several others would be.


every time I try to watch 81/2 I PASS THE FUCK OUT!!!

Traci R.

I knew 8 1/2 would be somewhere on there. I still don't get why. :/ Maybe that blasphemous to say in the eyes of many cinephiles but that movie bored me to tears.

I still don't get the point or value of trying to enumerate what in the end is still is just a matter of taste.


Any list would be lame. However, expecting them to make a list with contemporary movies would also be lame. There is nothing in 25 years that has the clout yet to make a best-of list. That much is obvious. This is just a starting point anyway. Anyone feeling cheated, lost or confused is not too bright. This poll has been around for decades and there is absolutely nothing about it that is confusing.


pretty lame. these voters have not seen a movie in 45 years. I think this is the chick-fil-A list….

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