Sight & Sound magazine has released a list of the "50 Greatest Films of All-Time" (via ABCNews), and they've named Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece "Vertigo" as the best. While the journalists at Sight & Sound are certainly entitled to their opinion, in this case, they're wrong. "Citizen Kane" remains the finest example of film ever to be created. "Vertigo" isn't even Hitchcock's best movie ("Lifeboat" or "Rope", anyone?), so, the concept of it being the "greatest of all-time" makes no sense.
Even though the poll is backed by legendary critic Roger Ebert, claiming "the most respected of the countless polls of great movies", the top ten is littered with such stuffy films as "81/2" and "Tokyo Story", directed by filmmakers Federico Fellini & Yasujiro Ozu, respectively. While, as a film enthusiast, I acknowledge my adoration for Orson Welles every day, not including "The Magnificent Ambersons" in the top ten seems absurd. The true tragedy is the overthrowing of "Citizen Kane" from the number one spot. Hitchock's film, as great as it is, doesn't have the brilliant backstory or controversy of "Citizen Kane".
The fact of the matter is that a film like "Citizen Kane" shouldn't even exist. Powerful political figures like William Randolph Hearst (who the titular "Kane" is purportedly based on) made attempts at halting the production of the film. "Vertigo" is just another Hitchcock film, granted, front-loaded with terrific performances by Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, it's still just another Hollywood picture. A great one, easily top ten, but not number one.
Other films that are somehow not included in the top ten (though do, in fact, make the top fifty cut) include Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather", Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon", Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" (not even his finest, either) and Fritz Lang's "Metropolis". Surprisingly, the list is missing two William Friedkin movies that practically define the 1970's, "The French Connection" (which took home Best Picture at the Oscars in 1971) and "The Exorcist" (nominated for an Oscar in 1973). "Taxi Driver", which was nominated for an Oscar in 1976, was beaten by "Rocky", which is also missing from the top fifty.
Understandably, this is the British Film Institute's list, so, though the Oscars are surely important for a film's track record in denoting whether or not it's one of the finest films of a generation, the UK has the British Academy Of Film And Television Arts (BAFTA). "Vertigo" didn't win any BAFTA awards, it wasn't even nominated. View the entire list here, watch these movies, and then join the rest of the sane world in acknowledging that "Citizen Kane" is, indeed, the finest film ever crafted.
The brilliance of film has always been the manner in which it inspires debate. One person finds a particular redeeming quality in a film that is generally disregarded by the general public. Another might find that another's favorite movie is absolute garbage. This is the spirit of film, to think and discuss. Like me, you may not agree with Sight & Sound's list, but as long as it gets people talking and opens up new avenues for film consumption, then so be it.