Scott Jordan Harris
|Daughters of the Dust
|Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
|Portrait of a Lady on Fire
|Spring in a Small Town
Films age at different rates; their stock rises and falls. Citizen Kane’s is rising again: events in American politics from 2016 to 2022 have proved its prescience and demonstrated that it’s now an even better and more relevant film than it was when it topped previous editions of the decennial Sight and Sound poll.
Daughters of the Dust
Daughters of the Dust did not receive a single vote in the 2012 poll. I expect — and I hope — that will change in 2022 but, even if it doesn’t, I will remain convinced that Daughters is one of the world’s ten best films.
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
It’s been a pleasure in recent years to see Jeanne Dielman move closer and closer to being universally recognised as what it is: one of the great European works of art of the last 50 years.
There is no other film like Limite. It’s as inventive and ambitious as Battleship Potemkin and Un Chien Andalou, and it’s fascinating to imagine what movies might be like in the alternate timeline where it also became as influential.
The Night of Counting the Years is the perfect period drama. It’s both the best film ever made in the Arab world and the best film ever made in an African country.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
I don’t know how Portrait of a Lady on Fire will age, or if it will become the kind of classic that the other films in my selection have. And I don’t think it matters. To vote for the best films in the world right now, it isn’t necessary to predict what might be the best films in the world in ten or 20 years. The Sight and Sound voters of 2032 and 2042 will determine that. We’re being asked solely to identify the ten best films in the world today, in 2022, and I have little doubt that Portrait of a Lady on Fire is one of them.
As Roger Ebert wrote, Shoah “is not a documentary, not journalism, not propaganda, not political. It is an act of witness.” There was no draft of this list that did not include it.
Sholay is the apex of popular entertainment. Leaving it out of my top ten would feel as false as omitting Citizen Kane.
Spring in a Small Town
Spring in a Small Town is one of East Asia’s great gifts to cinema and one of cinema’s great gifts to the world.
Tale of Tales is the greatest animated film and, I think, the only one equal to the best paintings of the 20th century.
One of the joys of participating in this poll is having such a good reason to revisit so many great films. I feared I would suffer from recency bias – that I’d favour films I had seen in the past several years over those I last saw longer ago – so I rewatched as many of the contenders for my list as time allowed. And now I find I favour the films I watched this week over those I watched last week and the week before. I fought against this instinct as I forced myself to settle on these ten choices.
My apologies to Captains Kirk and Spock; to Marty McFly and Doc Brown; to Philo Beddoe and Clyde; and to John Rambo and Rocky Balboa. I hope they would forgive me for not including them on this ballot. I know my younger self would not.