Sight and Sound has released its “Greatest Films of All Time” critics’ poll for 2022, and for the first time in the once-a-decade list’s 70 years, a film by a female writer and director has been declared No. 1. Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles by Chantal Akerman unseated the 2012 list topper, Vertigo. On that previous list, Jeanne Dielman was in a four-way tie for 35th place. The British Film Institute–backed periodical has conducted its critics’ poll since 1952. The poll runs once a decade and is sent to film critics, academics, and other experts around the world in an impossible but admirable exercise to whittle all of film history down to the 100 “Best” movies. This year, 1,639 participants submitted ballots — nearly double the number of participants from 2012 — resulting in some major shifts since the previous list in terms of representation.
The 2012 list only had two films from female directors, and none in the Top 20, while this year’s has 11 overall: Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman and News from Home (52), Claire Denis’s Beau Travail (7), Agnès Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7 (14) and The Gleaners and I (67), Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (16), Vera Chytilová’s Daisies (28), Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire (30), Barbara Loden’s Wanda (48), Jane Campion’s The Piano (50), and Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (60). Sciamma’s entry is one of the two most recent films on the list, along with Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite (90) both from 2019.
There are seven films by Black filmmakers on this year’s list; 2012’s had just one. They are Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (24), Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (43), Dash’s Daughters of the Dust and Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight (tied for 60), Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (66), and Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl (tied for 95).
Here is the complete Top 10:
1. Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (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 Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
9. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
10. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1951)
As always, the Sight and Sound voting body appears to have never heard of or seen very many comedies.