Vertigo tops British Film Institute’s best films of all time list

vertigo tops british film institutes best films of all time list

Every decade since 1952 Sight And Sound magazine (a publication of the British Film Institute) polls hundreds of directors, film critics, academics and distribution companies in an effort to compile the definitive list of the best films of all time. The magazine has just released its latest findings and the results — especially in the top two spots — are surprisingly controversial.

For the first time since 1962 the number one spot on the list is not occupied by Orson Welles’ unequivocal masterpiece Citizen Kane. You may know this film as the inspiration behind every “Rosebud” gag ever created, or by your film geek friends’ insistence that it is utterly perfect in every way. If you haven’t seen it, you really should, if only so you can gripe about how creatively bankrupt Hollywood has become since 1941.

Taking Kane’s spot is Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, a 1958 thriller starring Jimmy Stewart as a detective who falls for a friend’s wife while investigating her shady past. Needless to say, things don’t go very well for anyone involved. Like Kane this is another film you must watch at some point in your life. Hitchcock is unmatched when it comes to creating palpable on-screen tension, and those of you who only know Jimmy Stewart as the down-on-his-luck family man he portrayed in It’s A Wonderful Life will be utterly baffled by the darkness he channels for this character. He’s the hero, certainly, but Hitchcock is incapable of building worlds of sunshine and roses. We don’t want to spoil it, so let’s just say that Stewart’s character goes through some horrible things in Vertigo — which is an impressive feat by itself, given that censors in 1958 wouldn’t let Hitchcock use any of the cliche gore effects that populate the horror films of the modern eras.

While the Sight And Sound list covers the top 50 films in history, the thing is far, far too long to politely copy/paste here. We recommend you all visit the BFI website to read up on this thing in its entirety — it’s quite long, but very well thought-out and passionately written — but at the same time we understand that many of you have little to no attention span. Thus, have a look at the top 10 films as voted on by the 846 experts tapped by the Institute:

1. Vertigo

2. Citizen Kane

3. Tokyo Story

4. La Règle Du Jeu

5. Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey

7. The Searchers

8. Man With A Movie Camera

9. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc

10. 

Happy? They’re all excellent films, no doubt, but these lists always seem to inspire massive amounts of discussion, so feel free to drop into the comments below and tell us how you think the list should be altered. Unless you claim that the top spot should be occupied by one of those “sparkly vampire woos mopey girl in ham-fisted allegory for Morman sexual repression” movies we promise to be respectful and kind when offering up a solid counter-argument of how you are so very, very wrong.

Oh, and as an aside, here’s a fun game to play with friends: Look a that top ten list and count off the number of films on it that you’ve watched from beginning to end. Absorbing a film’s plot through cultural osmosis doesn’t count. Alright, got your number? If it’s four or less, Leonard Maltin actively hates you. Five to seven means you’re a perfectly normal, well-cultured person. Eight or more means that at this very moment you are almost certainly wearing thick-rimmed glasses, an ironic shirt and rampant neck stubble.

Scoff all you’d like: We’re right, aren’t we?

Movies & TV

Bear Grylls goes interactive with Netflix’s Bandersnatch-esque You vs. Wild

Think you have what it takes to survive in the wilderness, Bear Grylls-style? You vs. Wild, an eight-episode interactive Netflix series that takes cues from Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, will let you prove it.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

These are the best movies on Hulu right now (March 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Netflix confirms it won’t be a part of Apple’s new video-streaming service

Netflix has confirmed that subscribers to Apple's new video streaming service won't have the option to view Netflix content on it. Apple is set to unveil its new TV service next week.
Movies & TV

Disney completes its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox

Now that Walt Disney Company has closed its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's movie and television assets, what does this future hold for franchises like X-Men, the Fantastic Four, The Simpsons, and the rest?
Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 teaser proclaims it's almost feeding time in Hawkins

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season, premiering in July 2019.
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what movies and shows are leaving in April 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for April 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Movies & TV

In the new Hellboy clip, a giant problem leaves our favorite demon unimpressed

Hellboy is returning to the big screen in April 2019, with Stranger Things actor David Harbour taking on the title role. Here's everything we know so far about the reboot of the franchise.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Movies & TV

Study up for season 8 with the best Game of Thrones theories

Season 8 of Game of Thrones is still on the horizon, meaning there's still time to brush up on the best theories about the show. Whether you're one of the last adherents of the Cleganebowl or a King Aerys truther, here are our top theories.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 trailer goes full ’80s with a monstrous finale

The first trailer for Stranger Things season 3 has been released by Netflix, and it offers a peek at what the kids -- and adults -- of Hawkins, Indiana, have been up to since the otherworldly events of the second season.