BFI’s list of greatest films leaves internet reeling: “Shame on you”

Sixty years ago, Britain’s Sight and Sound magazine thought it wise to name the greatest films of all time.

The tradition has carried for six decades, with an updated list of the 100 best films ever, published every 10 years.

But where applause—and criticism—for such lists started out as scrawled praise and word-of-mouth complaints, social media has changed the game completely.

In 2012, British Film Institute critics named Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 movie “Vertigo” the greatest film of all time. Other classics, including “Citizen Kane,” “Tokyo Story” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” also appeared within the 2012 top 10.

Ten years later, a relative newcomer has topped the list.

“Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,” a 1975 picture directed by Chantal Akerman, is the greatest film of all time, according to the 2022 Sight & Sound poll.

But according to multiple Twitter users, the film’s No. 1 ranking comes as a complete surprise.

“I’ll let people click though and find the number one themselves, but isn’t this a massive shocker?” @3000Elsinore questioned. “Did anyone see it coming?”

“I sure as hell didn’t,” @GrandKeizer responded.

“It was 37th place back in 2012. It leap frogged over 37 spots,” they lamented. “Compare that to Vertigo, which only made the top 10 in 1982, and had to claw its way up every decade until 2012.”

“I remember watching the number one film at uni. There was a handful of us left by the end of the screening,” @nathanjcarr interjected. “I recognise its historical importance and strong themes but ‘a greatest film of all time’ surely needs to captivate an audience of film students.”

Twitter user @djxcqtion, however, offered the opposite opinion.

“Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles NO 1….,” they tweeted. “LETS GOOOOOOOOOOOO.”

An old movie theater sees a packed house. Britain’s Sight & Sound magazine updated its picks for the 100 greatest films of all time, riling up movie buffs on the internet.
Archive Holdings Inc./iStock / Getty Images Plus

While much of the online discussion surrounding Sight & Sound’s latest rankings remained focused on “Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,” other films included throughout the list caused stirs of their own.

Spike Lee’s 1989 picture “Do The Right Thing,” which was previously unranked, catapulted to the 24th greatest film of all time in 2022, much to the appreciation of Twitter user @kmstx78.

“The huge rise from DO THE RIGHT THING is awesome and well-deserved,” they tweeted.

“Love do the right thing getting it’s dues!,” @JDGonzales2 echoed.

“Get Out,” a 2017 film written and directed by Jordan Peele, was named the 95th greatest film of all time—an honor some Twitter users said was bestowed too soon.

“Get Out, errrrrr wtf?” @EdgeOfThePark tweeted.

“Ok film but wouldn’t even be in my top 1000 let alone 100,” @jeffreyarnold76 agreed.

“I feel like if a movie came out within the last 15 years, critical assessment hasn’t matured enough to throw it on a greatest of all time list,” @Mrtrick80 wrote. “Just saying.”

Despite the natural inclination to debate particulars of Sight & Sound’s most recent film rankings, other Twitter users took issue with larger themes associated with the list, commenting on the glaring lack of certain genres and cultures.

“My plea to the critics who vote in this poll: please watch some animated films. They’re really good,” @DisneyMusings23 begged. “Only [two] making the list is criminal.”

“Not a single Balkan film made it,” @__adn tweeted. “You absolute philistines.”

“Not a single Latin American movie,” @NicolsPrivider1 lamented. “Shame on you.”

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