‘Jeanne Dielman’ Tops Sight & Sound’s 2022 Poll of the Best Films of All Time

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Another decade, another Sight & Sound poll. On Thursday, the British magazine unveiled the 2022 edition of its long-running critics’ poll on the greatest films of all time, with “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” taking the top spot — the first film from a female director to achieve the honor since the poll began in 1952.

Directed by Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman and released in 1975, “Jeanne Dielman” is a three-hour, 20-minute film following the title character (Delphine Seyrig), a single mother and prostitute, as she carries out a monotonous daily routine that slowly breaks apart and collapses. Since its premiere, the film has been highly acclaimed as a landmark of feminist cinema. Previously, it ranked 36 on Sight & Sound’s 2012 edition of the poll, where it was one of only two films in the top 100 from a female filmmaker; the other, “Beau Travail” by Claire Denis, is now ranked at number seven.

In celebration of its crowning as the greatest film of all time, “Jeanne Dielman” will be available to stream on BFI Player starting Thursday, marking the first time the film has been available to stream in the United Kingdom.

“‘Jeanne Dielman’ challenged the status quo when it was released in 1975 and continues to do so today. It’s a landmark feminist film, and its position at the top of the list is emblematic of better representation in the top 100 for women filmmakers,” Sight & Sound editor-in-chief Mike Williams said in a statement.

Vertigo,” Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, ranked first in 2012, ending a five-decade streak of Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” taking the top spot. “Vertigo” is now ranked number two, while “Citizen Kane” slid further to number three. The first Sight & Sound poll in 1952 was topped by Italian neorealist classic “Bicycle Thieves,” which is ranked this year at 41, in a tie with Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon.”

The rest of the top 10 is rounded out by “Tokyo Story,” “In the Mood For Love,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Beau Travail,” “Mulholland Drive,” “Man With the Movie Camera,” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” “Tokyo Story,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “Man With the Movie Camera” all were in the top 10 of the 2012 list, though every film appeared in the overall top 100. The other films replace “La Règle du Jeu,” “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans,” “The Searchers,” “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” and “8 1/2.” “La Règle du Jeu,” a 1939 Jean Renoir satire, was formerly the only film to appear in the top 10 of every Sight & Sound poll; this year, it was knocked down to the number 13 spot.

In addition to Akerman’s film taking the top spot, this year’s overall list is far more modern and diverse than past editions — possibly due to the larger sample size of critics, with 1,600 participants contributing to the poll as opposed to 846 critics from 2012. 11 films from female filmmakers made the top 100, including Akerman’s “News From Home,” Agnes Varda’s “Cleo from 5 to 7” and “The Gleaners and I,” Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid’s “Meshes of the Afternoon,” Vera Chytilová’s “Daisies,” Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” Barbara Loden’s “Wanda,” Jane Campion’s “The Piano,” and Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust.”

Djibril Diop Mambéty’s “Touki Bouki” was the only film from a Black filmmaker to feature on the 2012 list. This year, it’s joined by six other films, including Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust” (the sole film from a Black woman to be featured on the list), Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep,” “Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” and Ousmane Sembène’s “Black Girl.”

The 2012 list featured “In the Mood for Love” and “Mulholland Drive” as the only two films from the 21st century — both were first released in 2001. This year, in addition to taking the top 10, they’re joined by “The Gleaners and I,” “Moonlight,” “Get Out,” “Spirited Away,” and “Tropical Malady.” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” both released in 2019, are the two most recent films to make the list. “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Spirited Away” by Hayao Miyazaki are the only animated films to make the list.

Sight & Sound conducts the greatest films of all time poll every decade, surveying a group of international film critics, who submit their personal top 10 lists. In addition, distinguished and renowned directors are invited to participate in a separate poll on their favorite films. This year, 480 filmmakers — including Martin Scorsese, Barry Jenkins, Sofia Coppola, Bong Joon Ho, Lynne Ramsay, and Mike Leigh — participated, with “2001: A Space Odyssey” being ranked as their top film. “Jeanne Dielman” ranked four on the director’s list.

First established in 1932, Sight & Sound is a monthly film magazine owned and operated by the U.K.’s British Film Institute. Aside from the poll, the magazine features reviews of all theatrically released films each month, along with interviews with directors. Williams serves as the editor of the publication, having taken over in 2019 after longtime editor-in-chief Nick James stepped down.

It’s fascinating to see how the list changes each decade and how those changes may reflect shifts in film culture. The French New Wave has softened a bit in this critical pool’s esteem: Varda’s “Cléo from 5 to 7” is the highest from the movement, at number 14. “Breathless,” the next highest New Wave classic, and usually near the Top 10 in the past, is now tied for number 38, though there are three other Godard titles on the list: “Le Mepris (Contempt)” tied at 54, and “Pierrot le fou” and “Histoire(s) du Cinema,” each tied at 84. The highest (and only) Truffaut is “The 400 Blows,” tied at 50. Gone is “Jules et Jim,” which appeared on previous editions of the list. Only one film by Jacques Rivette appears, “Celine and Julie Go Boating,” tied at 78. Chris Marker’s “La Jetée” tied for 67, and his later post-nouvelle vague “Sans Soleil” at 59. But there are no films by Resnais, Chabrol, or Malle, nor any from the New Wave-adjacent Jean-Pierre Melville.

Old masters who once appeared in the Top 10 are gone from the Top 100 altogether: Rene Clair, D.W. Griffith, Robert Flaherty, Erich von Stroheim, Marcel Carne, and David Lean. Luchino Visconti only appears once at 90 for “The Leopard.” Only two Kenji Mizoguchi films make this list, as do only two Kurosawa and two Ozu. No Pasolini, and only the two most obvious titles from Fellini, “8 1/2” and “La Dolce Vita,” are lower than ever. And the only film altogether from India is Satyajit Ray’s “Pather Panchali” at 35, which has appeared in the past in the Top 10.

Classic Hollywood also takes a hit: There are no other John Ford titles on the list other than “The Searchers,” which fell out of the Top 10 this year. And no entries at all for Howard Hawks. Nothing from Welles aside from “Citizen Kane,” even though “The Magnificent Ambersons” has previously appeared in the Top 10. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton each have two films on the list. Hitchcock still has four titles, though.

Read below for the rest of Sight & Sound’s top 100 list.

The Critics’ Top 100 Greatest Films of All Time

1. “Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxel” (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
2. “Vertigo” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
3. “Citizen Kane” (Orson Welles, 1941)
4. “Tokyo Story” (Ozu Yasujiro, 1953)
5. “In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-wai, 2001)
6. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
7. “Beau travail” (Claire Denis, 1998)
8. “Mulholland Dr.” (David Lynch, 2001)
9. “Man with a Movie Camera” (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
10. “Singin’ in the Rain” (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1951)
11. “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
12. “The Godfather” (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
13. “La Règle du Jeu” (Jean Renoir, 1939)
14. “Cléo from 5 to 7” (Agnès Varda, 1962)
15. “The Searchers” (John Ford, 1956)
16. “Meshes of the Afternoon” (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
17. “Close-Up” (Abbas Kiarostami, 1989)
18. “Persona” (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
19. “Apocalypse Now” (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
20. “Seven Samurai” (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
21. (TIE) “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1927)
21. (TIE) “Late Spring” (Ozu Yasujiro, 1949)
23. “Playtime” (Jacques Tati, 1967)
24. “Do the Right Thing” (Spike Lee, 1989)
25. (TIE) “Au Hasard Balthazar” (Robert Bresson, 1966)
25. (TIE) The Night of the Hunter” (Charles Laughton, 1955)
27. “Shoah” (Claude Lanzmann, 1985)
28. “Daisies” (Věra Chytilová, 1966)
29. “Taxi Driver” (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
30. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Céline Sciamma, 2019)
31. (TIE) “Mirror” (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975)
31. (TIE) “8½” (Federico Fellini, 1963)
31. (TIE) “Psycho” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
34. “L’Atalante” (Jean Vigo, 1934)
35. “Pather Panchali” (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
36. (TIE) “City Lights” (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
36. (TIE) “M” (Fritz Lang, 1931)
38. (TIE) “À bout de souffle” (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
38. (TIE) “Some Like It Hot” (Billy Wilder, 1959)
38. (TIE) “Rear Window” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
41. (TIE) “Bicycle Thieves” (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)
41. (TIE) “Rashomon” (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
43. (TIE) “Stalker” (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
43. (TIE) “Killer of Sheep” (Charles Burnett, 1977)
45. (TIE) “North by Northwest” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
45. (TIE) “The Battle of Algiers” (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)
45. (TIE) “Barry Lyndon” (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
48. (TIE) “Wanda” (Barbara Loden, 1970)
48. (TIE) “Ordet” (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955)
50. (TIE) “The 400 Blows” (François Truffaut, 1959)
50. (TIE) “The Piano” (Jane Campion, 1992)
52. (TIE) “News from Home” (Chantal Akerman, 1976)
52. (TIE) “Fear Eats the Soul” (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)
54. (TIE) “The Apartment” (Billy Wilder, 1960)
54. (TIE) “Battleship Potemkin” (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
54. (TIE) “Sherlock Jr.” (Buster Keaton, 1924)
54. (TIE) “Le Mépris” (Jean-Luc Godard 1963)
54. (TIE) “Blade Runner” (Ridley Scott 1982)
59. “Sans soleil” (Chris Marker 1982)
60. (TIE) “Daughters of the Dust” (Julie Dash 1991)
60. (TIE) “La dolce vita” (Federico Fellini 1960)
60. (TIE) “Moonlight” (Barry Jenkins 2016)
63. (TIE) “Casablanca” (Michael Curtiz 1942)
63. (TIE) “GoodFellas” (Martin Scorsese 1990)
63. (TIE) “The Third Man” (Carol Reed 1949)
66. “Touki Bouki (Djibril Diop Mambéty 1973)
67. (TIE) “The Gleaners and I” (Agnès Varda 2000)
67. (TIE) “Metropolis” (Fritz Lang 1927)
67. (TIE) “Andrei Rublev” (Andrei Tarkovsky 1966)
67. (TIE) “The Red Shoes” (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger 1948)
67. (TIE) “La Jetée” (Chris Marker 1962)
72. (TIE) “My Neighbour Totoro” (Miyazaki Hayao 1988)
72. (TIE) “Journey to Italy” (Roberto Rossellini 1954)
72. (TIE) “L’avventura” (Michelangelo Antonioni 1960)
75. (TIE) “Imitation of Life” (Douglas Sirk 1959)
75. (TIE) “Sansho the Bailiff” (Mizoguchi Kenji 1954)
75. (TIE) “Spirited Away” (Miyazaki Hayao 2001)
78. (TIE) “A Brighter Summer Day” (Edward Yang 1991)
78. (TIE) “Sátántangó” (Béla Tarr 1994)
78. (TIE) “Céline and Julie Go Boating” (Jacques Rivette 1974)
78. (TIE) “Modern Times “(Charlie Chaplin 1936)
78. (TIE) “Sunset Blvd.” (Billy Wilder 1950)
78. (TIE) “A Matter of Life and Death” (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger 1946)
84. (TIE) “Blue Velvet” (David Lynch 1986)
84. (TIE) “Pierrot le fou” (Jean-Luc Godard 1965)
84. (TIE) “Histoire(s) du cinéma” (Jean-Luc Godard 1988-1998)
84. (TIE) “The Spirit of the Beehive” (Victor Erice, 1973)
88. (TIE) “The Shining” (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
88. (TIE) “Chungking Express” (Wong Kar Wai, 1994)
90. (TIE) “Madame de…” (Max Ophüls, 1953)
90. (TIE) “The Leopard” (Luchino Visconti, 1962)
90. (TIE) “Ugetsu” (Mizoguchi Kenji, 1953)
90. (TIE) “Parasite” (Bong Joon Ho, 2019)
90. (TIE) “Yi Yi” (Edward Yang, 1999)
95. (TIE) “A Man Escaped” (Robert Bresson, 1956)
95. (TIE) “The General” (Buster Keaton, 1926)
95. (TIE) “Once upon a Time in the West” (Sergio Leone, 1968)
95. (TIE) “Get Out” (Jordan Peele, 2017)
95. (TIE) “Black Girl” (Ousmane Sembène, 1965)
95. (TIE) “Tropical Malady” (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)

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