Geoff Andrew

Critic; head of film programme, BFI Southbank

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Atalante, L'

1934

Jean Vigo

Citizen Kane

1941

Orson Welles

General, The

1926

Buster Keaton

His Girl Friday

1939

Howard Hawks

Morte Rouge, La

2006

Víctor Erice

My Night with Maud

1969

Eric Rohmer

Ordet

1955

Carl Theodor Dreyer

Persona

1966

Ingmar Bergman

Ten

2002

Abbas Kiarostami

Tokyo Story

1953

Ozu Yasujirô

Comments

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.

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