All "best of" lists, even my own, are meaningless except as recommendations of films to be watched, books to be read, etc. and as representations of one person's (or group's) taste. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that. That said, I wish to dispute a few examples of the grouptaste represented by this decade's Sight and Sound Poll:
What, no Bergman?!? My own top ten list begins with a three-way tie for first place among Citizen Kane, Vertigo and Persona, so I'm rather shocked to see not a single title by Ingmar Bergman on either list. Persona, Cries and Whispers, Scenes From A Marriage, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal and Fanny and Alexander are all on a level with most of the films chosen this decade.
No Kieslowski?!? Maybe it's still too soon for K's work to enter the canon of canons, but I predict that future decades will see The Decalogue or Three Colors: Blue, White, Red in the top ten. (Provided that S&S revises the rules to permit series films to be counted as a single film.)
No Kurosawa?!? The great, moving Ikiru would have been my choice for a Kurosawa film in the top ten. It is surely among the greatest films ever made.
No Truffaut?!? No Godard?!? No Malle?!? This decade's poll exhibits a serious bias against the French New Wave. My purely hypothetical list would've included Truffaut's Quatre-cent coups (The 400 Blows), Godard's Vivre Sa Vie, and Malle's Murmur of the Heart.
No Bunuel...This is less surprising. Luis Bunuel has never received the respect he so clearly deserves as the director of Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel, Los Olvidados, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and The Phantom of Liberty. Most non-Bunuelites know him solely as the director of Un Chien Andalou and L'Age D'Or, brilliant Surrealist films but only a tiny fraction of his oeuvre. It's time to lift Bunuel out of the Rodney Dangerfield slot and give him a little respect.
I also disagree with the choice of Tokyo Story on both lists, finding its position at the top of the director's poll almost incomprehensible. Far from being one of the greatest films ever made, Tokyo Story isn't even Ozu's best film; it doesn't come close to the brilliant, beautiful Floating Weeds.
The critics need to re-screen Renoir's The Rules of the Game on a double bill with his Grand Illusion. They will discover, as I did a few years ago, that the latter is the greater film.
I didn't like Tarkovsky's Mirror at all the first time I saw it, but on the evidence of its strong showing here, I'll give it another look.
On the positive side, I wholly endorse the selection of Vertov's Man With a Movie Camera while simultaneously wondering "No Eisenstein?!?"
In the interest of full disclosure, here's something like what my purely hypothetical 'top dozen' list would look like:
1. Vertigo (Hitchcock)
1. Citizen Kane (Welles)
1. Persona (Bergman)
2. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Parajanov)
3. 8 1/2 (Fellini)
4. Murmur of the Heart (Malle)
5. The Godfather trilogy (Coppola)
6. The Decalogue (Kieslowski)
7. Short Cuts (Altman)
8. Ikiru (Kurosawa)
9. Belle de Jour (Bunuel)
10. Napoleon (Gance)
And looking over my own list, I ask "No Truffaut?!?" "No Eisenstein?!?" "No Godard?!?" Yes, listmaking is indeed absurd. So let's compound the absurdity:
11. Les Quatre-Cent Coups (Truffaut)
12. Vivre Sa Vie (Godard)
13. The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)
14. Sunset Boulevard (Wilder)
15. Koyaanisqatsi (Reggio)
16. Grand Illusion (Renoir)
17. City Lights (Chaplin)
18. An Angel at My Table (Campion)
19. The Last Laugh (Murnau)
20. Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (Fassbinder)
21. Playtime (Tati)
22. Pickpocket (Bresson)
23. Man With a Movie Camera (Vertov)
24. Peeping Tom (Powell)
25. Eraserhead (Lynch)
25. Goodfellas (Scorsese)
And since I've now lost all fear of absurdity, a prediction about a few recent films that might show up on future Sight and Sound lists:
The Tree of Life (Malick)
There Will Be Blood (Anderson)
Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)
The Matrix (Wachowski siblings--We can't call them brothers anymore because Larry is Lana now, and she's a pretty hot chick.)