Geoff Andrew

Critic; head of film programme, BFI Southbank


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Atalante, L'


Jean Vigo

Citizen Kane


Orson Welles

General, The


Buster Keaton

His Girl Friday


Howard Hawks

Morte Rouge, La


Víctor Erice

My Night with Maud


Eric Rohmer



Carl Theodor Dreyer



Ingmar Bergman



Abbas Kiarostami

Tokyo Story


Ozu Yasujirô


A top ten might have sufficed in 1952, but 60 years on we need a top 20. I know it’s always been difficult to narrow one’s list down, but we have so many more great films to choose from now. While it’s crucial to acknowledge work of the most recent decades, wouldn’t it be absurd to remove, say, His Girl Friday (the greatest talkie comedy made in black and white?) in order to make space for The Big Lebowski (the greatest talkie comedy made in colour?), or to replace Tokyo Story with A One and a Two, L’Atalante with Beau Travail, Ordet with The White Ribbon. Those were some of the impossible choices I was faced with; as it was, I had to leave out altogether (the agony!) Stroheim, Lang, Renoir, Hitchcock, Mizoguchi, Ophuls, Demy, Altman and Malick, while face-offs like those between Au hazard Balthazar and The Son, Journey to Italy and The Travelling Players, Listen to Britain and Land of Silence and Darkness, Once upon a Time in America and Once upon a Time in Anatolia never really got a look-in. I compromised. That said, I stand by my final ten (today, at least), and there’s one point I want to make: though I’ve always voted for Welles in such polls, this is the first time I’ve opted for Citizen Kane. I used to be a bit perverse about it, preferring the warmth of The Magnificent Ambersons, the B-movie bravura of Touch of Evil, the mischievous magic of F for Fake. But in the last decade, even more than before, I’ve watched this first feature many times, and each time, it reveals new treasures. Clearly, no single film is the greatest ever made. But if there were one, for me Kane would now be the strongest contender, bar none.

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top