Now that the September issue of Sight & Sound has hit news stands and had a chance to sell out the complete print run, the magazine has generously published far more comprehensive results of its 2012 Critics and Directors Polls in an exhaustive interactive site with hundreds of branching links to every individual critics Top 10 list and other fascinating rabbit holes. So call in sick after lunch and dive down deep.

Those of us gnashing our teeth when we realized North by Northwest, Raging Bull, Rear Window, M, The Leopard, A Touch of Evil, Sherlock Jr. and Barry Lyndon were missing from the Top 50 will find some consolation in hearing they all made it into the Top 60.

Quite cool to see four Terrence Malick films earn a spot among the poll’s 250 greatest of all time. Tree of Life #102, Days of Heaven #117, Thin Red Line #183, and Badlands #202.  That’s 80% of Malick’s entire filmography.

We’ll come back to this expanded survey after we’ve had time to absorb and process whatever it might have to say about the methodology and outcome. But for now just wanted to let you know the site is up and running, ready to be explored.

Sample? Here’s Manohla Dargis.
Critic, New York Times, US, Voted in the critics poll

  • Au Hasard Balthazar, 1966, Robert Bresson
  • Barry Lyndon, 1975, Stanley Kubrick
  • Flowers of Shanghai, 1998, Hsiao-hsien Hou
  • The Flowers of St Francis, 1950, Roberto Rossellini
  • The Godfather: Part II, 1974, Francis Ford Coppola
  • Little Stabs at Happiness, 1963, Ken Jacobs
  • Masculin Féminin, 1966, Jean-Luc Godard
  • There Will Be Blood, 2007, Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Touch of Evil, 1958, Orson Welles
  • The Wizard of Oz, 1939, Victor Fleming
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  • rufussondheim

    Sorry I have no time to explore this treasure trove. I am furiously writing to all of the online dictionaries pointing out their failures.

    Seriously, I think this is great. I have to leave for work shortly or I would have doven in by now.

  • rufussondheim

    Happy inclusions I didn’t expect to see

    #93) yi yi – I guess the Chinese name wasn’t good enough for them.

    #127) Tropical Malady – I haven’t seen it, but for a 2004 movie, this is a great placement for a movie that’s this unknown

    #183) Paris, Texas – I guess this could be expected, but I’m still happy it made it.

    #183) Texas Chainsaw Massacre – It’s creepy.

    #202 Russian Ark – !

    #235 Melancholia – !

  • Dan

    Well, the Deren film I mentioned made it, but The Ascent didn’t, which is disappointing.

  • drake

    i find the tree of life placement as malick’s top film already very interesting… i think its probably the correct placement- it’s just surprising. i was bitching a few weeks ago about how slow these guys are to include more contemporary films in the top 10… that obviously isn’t the case with Malick’s filmography. i’m wondering if that means that one day it will be closer to the top 20-25 of all-time… or if because its so new (and was the easy #1 on the consensus top 10’s for year-end 2011 lists) and fresh that it will end up falling back over time.

  • Robert A.

    It’s fascinating to read over the Top 250 list to see what was included and what didn’t make it in. For example, in a Top 250 list, you might expect to see such usual suspects as All About Eve, Double Indemnity, The Philadelphia Story, It’s a Wonderful Life and so on. But they’re all MIA. (Maybe I’m not the only crabby person on earth who isn’t that into It’s a Wonderful Life?) On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised to see two of my favorite movies from last year–The Tree of Life and Melancholia–break into the Top 250. Tree of Life just barely missed out on the Top 100. Obviously Roger Ebert was not the only critic that put the movie in his Top 10. In fact, Tree of Life finished higher than any other Malick film. We’ll see if The Tree of Life can sustain that high ranking over time.

    By the way, both my favorite Lars von Trier movies–Breaking the Waves and Melancholia–made it in! I’m satisfied.

    I know I’m evil, but I got a perverse pleasure out of seeing a movie like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre make it in, while an “important” film like Schindler’s List didn’t. (Just for the record, I like Schindler’s List quite a bit, I just don’t find it quite the monumental achievement that some people do). I’ve already forgotten now, but how many Spielberg movies made the list? I know E.T. was on there (although identified as a 2002 film). I’m going to have to go back and check.

    Interesting that Taxi Driver has surpassed Raging Bull as Scorcese’s highest rated. Since I worship at the altar of Taxi Driver, I approve. I’m less thrilled that Mean Streets wasn’t on the Top 250, since it’s my second favorite Scorcese. I’m a bit of a Mean Streets nut as well.

    I could babble on and on but probably shouldn’t. I’m just going to go back and look at the list for the 4th time!

  • julian the emperor

    What an interesting read, going through the top 250!

    Like Robert A. I am pleasantly surprised by such late additions as Melancholia and Tree of Life (they both put the recent Academy choices to shame).

    As a Dane, I am proud that Denmark contributes with 6 of the bunch (2 by Von Trier and 4 by Dreyer, even though I would have liked to see Festen by Vinterberg in there as well).

    So many Bresson movies! Wow. It seems like every single film he made is in there!

    And to finish off apropos a current debate on this site: I mentioned yesterday that Varda and Campion, to me, could be included on the great list. Well, here they are. They are indeed the two women in the top 250 (excluding Akerman, whom we already knew was in the top 50). They deserve their spots. But, of course, three out of 250 is not a major improvement on 1 out of 50, you might say.

    Realistically, though, it gives a pretty fair estimation of the lack of truly renowned female directors (compared to the cultural significance of female writers or musicians).

    Film and philosophy. The two most male-dominated forms of “cultural expression”?

  • brace

    No, this is not possible. All these films and so many more should be seen by every civilized person on earth, and the whole rating idea is anti-artistic, anti-film culture, just absurdly reductive.

    Peter Bogdanovich

  • TB

    No Schindler’s List? All About Eve? It’s a Wonderful Life? Saving Private Ryan? This is sooo funny. I haven’t seen all of the films in the list, but i did see quite a few of them that I wouldn’t put in my top 500. Jaws didn’t make the list?

  • Mattoc


    Where the fluck is Airplane?
    I think 7/10 on my top ten are listed ( excluding Airplane, Evil Dead & Decalogue) which makes me a sheep. I feel sick.

  • Ryan Adams

    Film and philosophy. The two most male-dominated forms of “cultural expression”?

    You forgot war and porn.

  • Dan

    Julian, Maya Deren was a woman.

  • Manuel

    Its weird that none of Darren Aronofsky or David Fincher´s movie did not make the list

  • Matt D.

    That little Malick fact is terrific. It appears, however, that The New World may end up being his ‘forgotten’ masterpiece, if you will. Some days I consider it my favorite of his.

  • I went through many of the individual critic lists, and not the top 250 itself; that’ll be my next go round. Most of the ones who left comments had the same theme – why can’t there be a top 20 instead of a top 10, and so on. And most of the ones who left comments were pretty congenial; leave it to Ray Carney to be the one who never lets facts get in the way of a good argument:

    I am offering an exclusively American list to counterbalance the “no man (or woman) can be a prophet in their own country” syndrome. And a list where the oldest work was created less than 50 years ago to counteract the “all the masterpieces are in museums” syndrome. The list is also meant to react against all the artistic cults worshipping at the altars of visual gorgeousness, acoustic virtuosity, and narrative gigantism.

    Let’s see now; considering the fact there’s a sizable group of moviegoers (and, unfortunately, critics) who seem to think only “elitists” like either foreign movies or classic movies (just read the posts at Hollywood Elsewhere or go to some of the discussions at the IMdB – though, to be fair, the latter does contain a number of good discussions about foreign films anyway), Carney’s first two points seem spurious at best, and as for his last point, to say KILLER OF SHEEP, OLD JOY and/or SAFE (three of the films on his list; I like OLD JOY a lot, and love the other two) don’t contain “visual gorgeousness” or “acoustic virtuosity” is completely simple-minded (I’ll give him “narrative gigantism”, even though my idea of that is completely different from his).

    Unfortunately, I don’t remember who put “Duck Amuck” in their top 10 (it’s one of the few films without a link to who voted for it); if I met them, I’d shake their hand, as it would be in my top 20, at any rate.

  • julian the emperor

    I completely missed Maya Deren when going over the list! Is she really in there? Great. Another bold choice. So bold, that I readily admit never to have watched any of her works…;)

    “You forgot war and porn”.

    Very true, Ryan.

  • Keil Shults

    Where can I see what each director voted for?

  • Ryan Adams

    Keil, they could be saving the breakdown of the Directors’ votes for the next issue of Sight & Sound, and therefore holding off on giving all that away for free on the internet.

    The directors’ votes have been made public for past decades, so we have every reason to expect those lists are forthcoming.

    Unless somebody else has found it. I’ve looked, but gave up.

  • WALL-E made the list, so I am satisfied.

  • Ruth

    Pleased to see my Top 10 fair quite well, including 7 in the 100.

    14. Apocalypse Now
    19. Mirror
    =31. The Godfather Part II
    =59. Barry Lyndon
    69. Bladerunner
    78. Chinatown
    =78. Once Upon a Time in the West
    =154. Brief Encounter

    Alien and the no-chance Runaway Train failed to make it from my 10

    Also enjoyed seeing;
    -Three Colours Blue finishing far higher than Red
    -A Clockwork Orange a fair way down the Kubrick list
    -Videodrome and Manhattan make it
    -Once Upon a Time in the West No.1 for Leone and leagues ahead of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
    -Close Up being recognised as the No.1 Iranian film by a long shot

    The Searchers at No.7 still irritates me though

  • tony

    Wow…critics really are pretentious. Mulholland Drive and Tree of Life are good films, but…these people placed those above other great and much better films from the last decade? It’s painfully obvious the only reason they’re that high on the list is due to how esoteric and “groundbreaking” they are in their ability to confuse audiences, which leads me to believe the same attitude can be applied to a majority of the list.

  • Manuel

    Directors with the most films om the list:

    7 Robert Bresson
    6 Jean Luc Godard
    6 Howard Hawks
    6 Michael Powell,Emeric Pressburger
    6 Luis Bunuel
    5 Alfred Hitchcok
    5 Stanley Kubrick
    5 Carl T Dreyer
    5 Ingmar Bergman
    5 Michelangelo Antonioni
    4 Terrence Malick
    4 Roberto Rossellini
    4 Charles Chaplin
    4 Francis Ford Coppola
    4 Federico Fellini
    4 John Ford
    4 Orson Welles
    4 F. W. Murnau
    4 Akira Kurosawa
    4 Andrey Tarkovsky

  • Manuel

    Actors with the most films on the list:

    5 Orson Welles
    5 Robert De Niro
    4 Harrison Ford
    4 Diane Keaton
    3 James Stewart
    3 John Wayne
    3 Ingrid Bergman
    3 Cary Grant
    3 Henry Fonda
    3 John Cazale
    3 Gena Rowlands
    3 Humphrey Bogart
    3 Joe Pesci

  • Manuel

    I made the lists very quickly so I may have skipped someone and for sure these French and Japanes actors may be on the list as well. I dont know if Dreyer or Bresson used the same actors in their movies…dunno

  • Ryan Adams

    Impressive, Manuel ! Thanks so much for sorting that out.

  • OC0300

    Why wasn’t Avatar part of the list

  • Mattoc

    Thanks Manuel – nice work! Appreciate the gesture.

  • Marc R

    Blade Runner at 69 is just toooo high. Is there any other film that gets rated so high based off production values and “ideas” alone. Also, very interesting how Lyndon is the highest rated kubrick after space odyssey. Strangelove plummeted. Cool to see WALLE and there will be blood make it. do the right thing is a lot lower than i thought it would be. Shame. Very glad to see three colors blue and red make it. i still find raging bull scorsese’s best, but taxi driver gets more watches from me so no real complaints there. Don’t get melancholia love. the film just sat on the screen for me. something like antichrist is better to me. And I still just don’t get the praise the searchers yet. It’s not even the best western on the list, and unforgiven didn’t even make it. Overall…so many films i still need to see

  • Robert A.

    “Why wasn’t Avatar part of the list?”

    Umm, because nobody voted for it? (Actually, I think it popped up on one or two individual lists, but not enough to score in the Top 250.)

    I also noticed that both Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan aren’t listed as movies that received even a single vote from a critic for his/her personal Top 10. I expect that at least Schindler’s List will fare a bit better on the Director’s List, but the absence of Schindler’s on even a single critical Top 10 list surprised me a bit. Not that I’m a huge fan of either film, but still…I also saw that Silence of the Lambs didn’t score a single vote either. (I flove Silence!) Meanwhile, movies like Rain Man did get a vote. Hm.

  • @Ryan:

    Thanks for indenting the quote; I realized after I typed it up I forgot to put quote marks around what Carney wrote.


    Chuck Jones also had 4 – Beep Beep, Duck Amuck, The Ducksters (I like it, but not that much) and What’s Opera, Doc?


    Wow, that’s presumptuous. Some of us actually liked TREE OF LIFE (which was #8 on my top 10 of all time) and MULHOLLAND DRIVE (which wouldn’t have made my list, and isn’t even my favorite Lynch film – that would be BLUE VELVET – but which I like an awful lot), and not just because they’re “esoteric” or “groundbreaking” or whatever excuse you want to give. I loved TREE OF LIFE because it moved me like no other movie did last year. And MULHOLLAND DRIVE was a lot of fun. If that’s “pretentious” or “elitist”, well then, so be it.

  • rufussondheim

    I love all of David Lynch’s strangeness.

    But I love The Straight Story even more.

  • Nic V

    There are undoubtedly a number of excellent films included in that list but as I read through the list it seemed more like “our favorite directors” than it did “best films”.

    And when I saw the 1959 version of “Imitation of Life” included in the top 100 the entire credibilty of the list dissappeared in my opinion. If they were going to select a version of that genre then they should have used the Claudette Colbert version. There were two many films that were better that weren’t included. I don’t recall seeing Kurosawa’s Ran on the list. Or De Sica’s Umbert D or Shoeshine. There was no Tin Drum or Autumn Sonata. But there were surely enough mediocre pieces that might be well received but certainly not “great”. But then that’s why their film critics and not film makers. I’m a big Italian film buff and Night of the Shooting Stars, Il Postino, The Starmaker, Christ Stopped at Eboli, To Forget Venice, Cinema Paradiso, Seven Beauties are all better than the Lana Turner Imitation of Life. The Postman Always Rings Twice is better than Imitation of Life.

  • Manuel

    Thanks guys! I just had to make the lists for myself!

    To me the list is such an eye opener and a fine introduction to directors and movies I have never heard of before. I did not know that Dreyer has such an influence in modern film making and who is F.W. Murnau, Wang Bing, Aleksandr Sokurov or Apichatpong Weerasetthakul?

    Another funny fact is how many of both old and new moviestars are in few or none of the movies listed. So my question is, do list like these change the view of some of the work of so called movie stars since almost none of their filmography is not listed here?

    Legendary Kathrine Hepburn has none, I think, and Meryl Streep has only one, Manhattan, and her role is small. But look at Diane Keaton! 4 movies

  • Robert A.

    “And when I saw the 1959 version of “Imitation of Life” included in the top 100 the entire credibilty of the list dissappeared in my opinion. If they were going to select a version of that genre then they should have used the Claudette Colbert version.”

    Actually, Imitation of Life has always been my favorite Sirk movie, even more than All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind, which are usually the ones cited on film lists. I was pleasantly surprised to see Imitation of Life on the list. Admittedly, I haven’t seen the Colbert version.

    “Legendary Kathrine Hepburn has none, I think, and Meryl Streep has only one, Manhattan, and her role is small. But look at Diane Keaton! 4 movies.”

    Katherine Hepburn has Bringing Up Baby.

  • Reform the Academy

    Malick must have payed them off cause there’s no way in hell 4 of his films belong in the Top 250 of all time, lol

  • Reform the Academy

    Also, is it just me or are there more oddly more foreign films on this list then American? There must be cause I’ve seen just about all the great American films and only seen a little over 50 of the titles on this list…

  • Reform the Academy

    When I have some time later today I’ll run through the list more thoroughly and tell you guys which films don’t belong and what should replace them :p

  • Tero Heikkinen

    “Also, is it just me or are there more oddly more foreign films on this list then American?”

    America Is Not the World by Morrissey. Great lyrics, too.

  • Ryan Adams

    Is it just me, or are there oddly 6.6 billion humans who aren’t American?

  • steve50

    “When I have some time later today I’ll run through the list more thoroughly and tell you guys which films don’t belong and what should replace them”

    Appreciate that.

    I’ll be doing something similar, but without that particular sentiment.

  • rufussondheim

    If I were so inclined and had the time and money, I would watch all of these films in chronological order. It would probably be hugely educational.

  • rufussondheim

    Ryan, you are looking at it wrong. There are 6.6 Billion people that want to be American. Oh well, they can’t have everything.

  • Reform the Academy

    Actually, to be honest I’m not all that happy as an American and our nation is crumbling, but Hollywood has put out some fantastic films over the years…

  • julian the emperor

    Autumn Sonata…I was looking in vain for that one as well (and numerous other Bergman titles). What’s happened with Bergman? Only 5 films in the top 250 (just as many as Dreyer, whom as a Dane, I never thought would gain the equal standing of Sweden’s proud son).
    Oh, Winter Light at least ought to be in there, I think, as well.

    The critics’ infatuation with Powell and Pressburger is refreshing, though. A positive surprise.

  • Matt D.

    Reform the Academy / August 17, 2012
    Malick must have payed them off cause there’s no way in hell 4 of his films belong in the Top 250 of all time, lol


    Yes, Malick, the same man that doesn’t even bother to show up at awards ceremonies or press conferences about his own films. This man cares enough to do that. I realize your comment was pure sarcasm, but just… no.

    And all five of his films should be there, not just the four 😉 I’m actually alarmed that none of them made the top 100.

  • Skylar

    How many movies have ever been made? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? Isn’t this whole deal kind of like ranking stars in the sky. Except, instead of ranking them by mass or luminosity, you’re ranking them by how pretty people believe them to be.

    Not to be a wet blanket. All Time lists are fun, it’s just good to keep things in perspective.

  • tombeet

    All in all, the list is more like “favorite films from beloved directors” more than best films itself. If the voters required to choose 10 films without consider what directors should be in, the list will be significantly different.

    -Also Many voters did not alter their list after decades. Roger Ebert kept every film except one from 2002’s list. I just don’t want to wait another 10 years for something almost the same.

    -Look at the top 250. actually I like the variety, Some animation films (Totoro, Wall-E, Tale of Tales, Spirited Away, and no Disney!!), some documentaries, ahorts (Un Chien Andalou, The Trip to the Moon, Meshes of the Afternoon, etc) and many silent films. Scifi, Horror, Action didn’t do too well actually (only ET, 2001, Star Wars and Blade Runner for sic-fi if i recall correctly; and The Texas Chain Massacre, The Shining, Don’t Look Now for horror). A bit sad that The Exorcist was out.

    -S&S clearly love French New Wave period. And quite a lot movies from the 00s made it (happy!)

    -yeah, I still think Bergman and Kurosawa’s films should be higher on the list

    -Only 1 film for Preston Sturges, Robert Altman, Roman Polanski, Michael Haneke, Abbas Kiarostami, Ken Loach. 0 film for Pedro Aldomovar, the Coen’s Brothers (I think Fargo or Barton Fink should be on the list, or did I skip them??), Zhang Yi Mou (I think his earlier films are quite strong), Ang Lee, Elia Kazan (not sure if I miss his films)

    -Luis Brunel didn’t have a film on top 50, but many low-ranking films. I think because of the split-vote.

    -The year sometimes messed up. What with Cries and Whispers (1957), ET (2002)???

    -Happy for Claire Denis and Jane Campion.

    -The Death of Mr Lazarescu!!! (yay!!)

  • Ryman

    Such an AWFUL list.

  • Watermelons

    bless Mark Sinker’s inclusion of Pirates of the Caribbean III: At World’s End

  • Mattoc

    Dekalog received 6 votes. A Short Film about Killing received 1 vote. Doesn’t that count as 7 votes?

    It’s like voting for Fassbender’s cock as your favourite film and excluding Shame.

    I demand it be included in the top 250.

  • steve50

    Just machete’d my way out of this for the day. What a great place to get lost.

    The longer and deeper you look into the main list and individual critics’ list, the more you realize how fluid order really is and that presence alone is the achievement.

    Yes, there are some patterns – many what appear to be boomer critics, judging from the content of their lists, like to have one silent film there as a badge of honor.

    I found as I went from list to list that each one made sense, despite the odd double-take, yet no two were identical (that I could find). Most looked thoughtful and many seemed to have a secondary agenda of keeping alive great films that could eventually be forgotten, like Berlin, Symphony of a City, or How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman – both of which I had seen, but forgotten.

    On the flipside – be warned all you BO blockbusters: enjoy the cash now because history will get you in the end. Using 1939 as an example, the biggie that year, GWTW, made it onto 7 lists. The Wizard of Oz, 12 lists (probably nostalgic boomers who will eventually die off). Mr Smith/Washington, Ninotchka and Wuthering Heights – 0 lists.

    Fifth that year in BO take was something called The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle. which I’m sure we all remember now. It didn’t make any lists, of course.

    The BIG winner from 1939, on 100 critics’ list after 73 years – Rules of the Game.

    So I was thrilled to see Hunger already present on one list and expect McQueen, PTA, Malick to set up a permanent home here, at least for the next few decades.

  • Mattoc

    Steve50 -congratulations on being the 50th comment. Nice timing.

    Despite the minor flaws in the site, no genre filtering and a few errors, it’s a lot of fun. Filtering the critics by country is interesting.

  • Nic V

    I have to echo the sentiments that there is a vast canvas of film from foreign sources that certainly would make most American Films pale. I was really pleased to see so many films from Asia. We have a tendency to think that if it’s American it’s always and unqestionably better than anything else. We certainly have an exciting film community but so does a great deal of the rest of the world.

  • steve50

    Yes, I’m surprised that a couple of the years are incorrect, but worth overlooking for the treasure inside.

    I was also impressed by the international scope of the critics. When you get down to it, film IS the universal language that uses, well, sight and sound!

  • Reform the Academy

    Ok, here’s the films that don’t belong…

    Taxi Driver – replace with Gangs of New York
    Barry Lyndon – replace with The Killing
    Sunset Blvd. – replace with Stalag 17
    Blade Runner- replace with Gladiator
    The Magnificent Ambersons- replace with nothing, Orson’s best are already listed
    The Seventh Seal- replace with nothing, Bergman’s best are already listed
    Tree of Life- a boring and pretentious mess
    Dr. Strangelove- replace with Eyes Wide Shut
    Notorious – replace with Shadow of a Doubt
    His Girl Friday – replace with Ball or Fire or Scarface (1932)
    Goodfellas- replace with The Departed
    The Conversation – replace with nothing, Coppola’s best are already listed
    Badlands – probably Malick’s best but that’s not saying much, lol
    There Will Be Blood- replace with nothing, PTA’s films are trash
    Shop Around the Corner- very meh film, though To Be or Not To Be is great

    Excellent Choices:

    Singin’ in the Rain
    Mulholland Dr.
    Some Like It Hot
    Rear Window
    Raging Bull
    Touch of Evil
    Wild Strawberries
    Modern Times
    The Lady Eve
    Bringing Up Baby
    The Apartment
    To Be Or Not To Be
    The Wizard of Oz
    Kind Hearts and Coronets
    The Big Sleep

    WTF Are They?

    A Streetcar Named Desire
    West Side Story
    It Happened One Night
    Arsenic and Old Lace
    Sergeant York
    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
    To Kill A Mockinbird
    The Graduate
    The Philadelphia Story
    Bonnie and Clyde
    Raiders of the Lost Art
    The Princess Bride
    Forrest Gump
    Jurrasic Park
    Saving Private Ryan
    Good Will Hunting
    The Lion King
    Basic Instinct
    The Insider
    Children of Men
    Donnie Darko
    American Beauty

    oh, and in commemoration of 25 years, a shout out to Dirty Dancing!

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Dirty Dancing?

    Way to take the last bit of credibility out. That’s one of the worst films I’ve EVER seen, and you give it a shout.

    Also, your list of omissions is disturbingly American – once again.

  • Matt D.

    I don’t really post much around here anymore, so forgive the (serious) question: Is this Reform the Academy person a known troll, or is he/she actually entirely serious with this shit?

  • Ruth

    Wow, Australia didnt fair too well (somewhat deservedly I guess)

    The Piano technically could be classified as an Australian film (it won Australian Film awards), however it is made by a New Zealand native and is based in New Zealand.

    So imo no single distinctly Australian film made the list. But when you think about it, what film really would have made the list? Mad Max? Babe? Gallipoli? Wake in Fright? Candy? Lantana? Priscilla, Queen in the Desert?
    Maybe Australia lacks a true timeless masterpiece. Lots of great films, but nothing that can compete on the world stage. Not to mention that our most well known auteurs like Peter Weir are more like storytellers than visualists (Baz Lurrman more a visualist). It would probably take a lot of ground support for an indigenous themed film like Ten Canoes or Walkabout for Australia to make the list any time soon.

    With our directing talent going overseas after initial success, I wonder when our first absolute masterpiece will arrive? Might as well cheer on Australian talent in directing, acting and screenwriting.

  • Ruth

    Reform the Academy must be a troll. I barely agree with a single thing that he said, although he does make a case for several films. But with the directors, he replaces almost all films with worse or lesser films.

  • steve50

    Ruth – Gallipoli, Lantana, Walkabout or Animal Kingdom would worthy, imo. Maybe a lack or representation in the voters (there was some obvious national pride in the voting). No Mon Oncle Antoine or Declin/Barbarian Invasions (Canada) either, but I see Dead Ringers and Sweet Hereafter made it, and the Aussie films listed are equally as good.

  • steve50

    MattD – rotfl

  • Ruth

    Andrei Tarkovsky faired very well, 3 in the Top 30 and Solaris in the 250. But adding to that, Nostalghia and Ivan’s Childhood just missed on 6 votes, and The Sacrifice had 3 votes. He’ll have a Top 10 film in 2022 I feel.

    Abbas Kiarostami also had a few not far off the mark, but it seems that Close Up has been earmarked as his major work.

  • Ruth

    Steve50 – I agree, some Australian films would make a Top 100 list for me. Those you mentioned are excellent, especially Gallipoli which is one of the more affecting War films. I need to give it a rewatch as I havent seen it in 5 years or so. Maybe Picnic at Hanging Rock as well? Given we have some okay directors, maybe Australian films would fair better in a directors poll.

    Sorry about Canada, I guess they are in the same boat as Australia. I love Dead Ringers and The Sweet Hereafter as well, but yes, Australia can compete with those films.

  • julian the emperor

    Peter Weir definitely deserves a spot. Picnic at Hanging Rock is a masterpiece, Gallipoli is close.
    Canada? Atom Egoyan: The Sweet Hereafter. GREAT film.

  • immature

    Nice to see Uncle Boonmee and Spirited Away on the list. Also, the Malick films.

  • Mattoc

    I’m not sure if I could think of any Australian films that would appeal collectively well enough to get into the top 250. There are certainly some great films… below are some I can think of that wouldn’t have surprised me if they were on the list.

    The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith
    My Brilliant Career

    P.S Scott is a crack whore.

  • Mattoc

    Yes, Barbarin Invasions should have made the list. Black Christmas and Exotica both personal Canadian favourites.

  • julian the emperor

    I personally detest The Barbarian Invasions. I find it unworthy of any acclaim whatsoever. There is something fundamentally dishonest about it. I can’t stomach the schematic way it addresses its audience. Almost like some stimulus-response version of art. Gross.

  • julian the emperor

    The Sweet Hereafter on the other hand is a tender, yet relentless meditation on life and death. I find it mesmerizing in its depictions of grief and loss. And so very true. Magnificent. A shame that Atom Egoyan hasn’t been able to scale the same heights (or rather, depths) since.

  • Reform the Academy

    “Matt D. / August 17, 2012
    I don’t really post much around here anymore, so forgive the (serious) question: Is this Reform the Academy person a known troll?”

    Nope, he’s simply someone who’s not afraid to give honest opinions.

  • Reform the Academy

    Tero Heikkinen / August 17, 2012
    Dirty Dancing?
    Way to take the last bit of credibility out. That’s one of the worst films I’ve EVER seen, and you give it a shout.

    Well, dancing is hobby so perhaps I’m biased, but for many it’s a beloved classic, like Top Gun and other great free-spirited 80’s films.

  • Keil Shults

    Kinda surprised that not a single person voted for Boogie Nights. I mean if Breakdown can get a vote…

    I bet it would makes a Directors’ Top 250.

  • Reform the Academy

    “Ruth / August 17, 2012
    But with the directors, he replaces almost all films with worse or lesser films.”

    That’s debatable. Myself and many others find the films I listed more enjoyable then their so called “best” films.

  • Mattoc

    I spoke too soon. Gran Tarino is mentioned, directed by the great Australian and United German Clint Eastwood.

  • julian the emperor

    Btw, I so heartily agree with Kris Tapley on Incontention: Sidney Lumet must be the most severely robbed of all! No Dog Day Afternoon, no 12 Angry Men, no Network (the last one didn’t even get one single vote!). Amazing (in a very bad way).

  • rufussondheim

    Missed that Sweet Hereafter was on the list. Great film but I like Exotica more, the plot of that film unfolded so ingeniously. It’s a film that has the structural ambition of someone like Christopher Nolan, but never forgot about its characters or tone. It’s not perfect, but every time I’ve seen it, I’m taken in by the mystery. Good stuff.

    An Egoyan film I love and swear I will never watch again because I don’t want the faults to overwhelm what works is Ararat. I love the passion, I love the history, I love the surprise connections, I love how the film was all over and messy and disorganized, kinda like life. When this film was clicking I was in a great place. It’s a shame that it falls apart at places.

    A film I wish had made it was (I know I am going to mess up the title) 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. I know the director got a different film in – one that I haven’t seen – but I still think this one is a gem that deserves to be more widely seen. It’s a heartwrenching tale that doesn’t go where you think it’s going to go, but it’s nonetheless an honest depiction of the subject matter.

    I would have assumed both Walkabout and Picnic at Hanging Rock would have made it. But my favorite Australian film is A Cry in the Dark (is it technically Australian?) I’ve just written elsewhere why I love it, so I won’t belabor the point.

    I hope Animal Kingdom gets more credit someday. I doubt it will. I’m always in the minority, it seems, on the films I love. Oh well, it doesn’t matter, I can love them even if no one else does.

  • Mattoc

    @rufus – you got the title correct. His new film Beyond the Hills was not up to that level, but still worth a look.

  • Mattoc

    I agree Lumet is robbed. I’d even think the people who voted would think the same.
    Cocteau, to me, is another strange omission. Why must he forever be treated like a second class citizen?


    Did you mean Clouzot?

  • Mattoc


  • Don’t you mean Clouseau?

  • Mattoc

    Yes. The great inspector,poet, painter and director.

  • Sight & Sound typo
    #42 = Pink Panther Panchali

  • Mattoc

    I didn’t see that. My mistake. but where is Thr Return of Orpheus, Orpheus Strikes again and Son of Orpheus?

  • Where’s War Horpheus?!


    No, if we are referring to the durector of Les Diaboliques (aka the greatest film Hitchcock didnt direct) then i mean Clouzot.

  • Mattoc

    Jacques Clouzot?

  • Mattoc

    Come to mention it, where is The Wages of Orphee?

  • OCO300

    The Great Debaters was one of my favorite, I wonder why it was snubbed out of the 80th Academy Awards?

  • steve50

    I’m tempted to start an endangered species list for those films/directors who were missed or received only a few votes, like Boogie Nights, anything by Weir (love Fearless), Lumet.

    It’s also obvious some older classics are dwindling as they aren’t seen as often anymore – Wages of Fear got one vote, for example.

  • kasper

    If you’re at all curious. I once tallied the directors whose films appear in the 2002 S&S poll a few years back, rather than individual films. The online version made that much easier than my method for the last issue. This ranking comes from the critics’ poll, not from the filmmaker’s poll.

    2012 Most Cited Directors
    1. Hitchcock
    2. Welles
    3. Godard
    4. Ozu
    5. Renoir
    6. Dreyer
    7. Ford
    8. Kubrick
    9. Tarkovsky
    10. Bresson
    11. Coppola
    12. Bergman
    13. Marnau
    14. Fellini
    15. Kurosawa
    16. Bunuel
    17. Antonioni
    18. Chaplin
    19. Scorsese
    20. Lynch
    21. Lang
    22. Hawks
    23. Powell/Pressburger (same if just Powell)
    24. Wilder
    25. Rossellini
    26. Keaton; 27. Vertov; 28. Wong; 29. Marker; 30. Kiarostami; 31. Vigo; 32. S. Ray
    33. Truffaut; 34. Visconti; 35. Cassavetes; 36. Resnais; Donen/Kelly; Malick;
    39. Lubitsch; 40. Tarr; 41. Ophuls; 42. Fassbinder; 43. Akerman; Lanzmann; Allen
    46. Griffith; Yang; Keislowski; 49; Lean; Hou

  • kasper

    oops… I accidentally omitted Mizoguchi above; he’s #23 above Powell/Pressburger, making Lean & Hou tied for 50th place.

  • That’s great, kaspar. Thanks!

    Can you explain what you mean when you say “rather than individual films.” ?

    I’m slow today. Not able to follow what that represents.

  • kasper

    And here are the results from the 2002 poll; I tallied these by hand with the magazine a few years ago and never went back to check the results:


    1. Hitchcock
    2. Welles
    3. Godard
    4. Renoir
    5. Kubrick
    7. Fellini
    8. Ford
    9. Eisenstein
    10. Coppola
    13. Bergman
    15. Dreyer
    16. Bresson
    19. Donen/Kelly
    23. Antonioni
    25. Kiarostami
    S. Ray
    29. Keaton; 30. Ophuls; 31. Powell/Pressburger; 32. Keislowski; Rossellini; 34. Griffith; Vigo; Visconti; 37. Altman; Carne; De Sica; Hou; 41. Lean; Vertov; 43. Angelopolous; Lubitsch; von Stroheim; 46. Cassavetes; Cuckor; Curtiz; Gance; Lanzmann; Leone; Torneur; Wong

  • kasper

    @Reform: Don’t worry, I’m sure the AFI list will revise soon enough and that should satisfy you.

  • kasper

    This is the ranking if the tally counted toward the director rather than the film. So any mention of Vertigo, Rear Window, etc. counts towards a vote for HItchcock.

  • Question Mark

    I’m disappointed that Armond White’s top 10 was pretty respectable. I was hoping for some real crazy-town selections from him — for example, his 2002 ballot included A.I.

  • Naruse


    Actually Kieslowski also has 4 films on the list: Dekalog, Blue, Red and Double life.

    I am surprised that Dekalog did not get more votes.

  • Naruse

    Hepburn probably deserved a few more. She has made a few truly classicis. It’s no surprise that Streep does not have a single film on the list where she stars. Strong characters and performances are nice but they ususally great make up as great classics.

  • naruse


    The two great Italian stars Marcelo and Claudia both have 3 films on the that made the list.

  • Mark Phillips

    BTW, John Cassavetes had 7 films included!

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