Always interesting to look at the top ten lists on the Senses of Cinema website. These are submitted by film buffs/students/amateur filmmakers and provide insights into shifting trends in movie-viewing and criticism over the years. Unlike the Sight and Sound list published once every 10 years, this is updated with every issue and the site has a vote tally system; while Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Welles’ Citizen Kane have occupied positions one and two for at least three or four years now, I noticed on my last visit to the site that Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey has now moved into second place. Among other things, what this suggests is that people have stopped treating Kane as a sacred cow. (Though both Vertigo and 2001> are in danger of being over-sanctified now.)
It’s a spectacularly futile exercise preparing such lists, but it’s also such great fun. If I ever got around to it, I could never restrict myself to 10, and anyway the list might be wholly different from one day to the next (or from one minute to the next) So here’s my top 10 list as of November 8, 2004. Completely free-flowing, off the top of my head, with just one clause: no director included more than once (there would be at least four Hitchcocks otherwise).
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
Sholay (Ramesh Sippy)
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog)
Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa)
The Empire Strikes Back (Irving Kershner/George Lucas)
Le Mepris/Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard)
My Darling Clementine (John Ford)
Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone)
Dr Strangelove: or, How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick)
Carlito’s Way (Brian DePalma)
P.S. This is only the 9.55 AM list. Contact me again at 9.57.
P.P.S. I might try this more seriously sometime - maybe a top 100, with foreign-language/silent films in a separate category (because I believe they demand a completely different approach from the viewer). Let’s see.