The 100 Greatest Films of All Time, According to Critics

Introduction In the world of cinema, the debate over the greatest films of all time is never-ending. However, according to a recent poll conducted by British magazine Sight and Sound, the 100 greatest films have...


In the world of cinema, the debate over the greatest films of all time is never-ending. However, according to a recent poll conducted by British magazine Sight and Sound, the 100 greatest films have been decided. These films have been selected by over 1,600 film critics, academics, writers, and industry professionals, making this list highly authoritative and trustworthy. Let's dive into the top film on this prestigious list and explore some of the other noteworthy selections.

Jeanne Dielman: A Landmark Feminist Film

A still from Jeanne Dielman Jeanne Dielman is the first film directed by a woman to rank in the number one spot in the Sight and Sound poll (source: Janus Films).

Topping the list is "Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles," a 1975 film directed by Chantal Akerman. This groundbreaking film follows the monotonous daily life of Jeanne Dielman, a middle-aged widow and mother, as her seemingly ordinary existence begins to unravel. Clocking in at over three hours, the film is intentionally slow-paced, emphasizing the mundane nature of Jeanne's life.

“For much of its runtime, it’s extremely boring,” writes film critic Alissa Wilkinson in Vox. "That is, precisely, the point—and if you’re ready to lean into patience, you’ll be rewarded." The film's portrayal of a woman's ordinary life and the subtle exploration of gender dynamics have cemented its status as a landmark feminist film.

Jeanne Dielman poster Poster for Jeanne Dielman (source: LMPC via Getty Images).

Mike Williams, editor in chief of Sight and Sound, describes "Jeanne Dielman" as an undervalued masterpiece, representing a broader world of under-seen and under-appreciated gems waiting to be discovered. This recognition serves as a reminder that great films transcend stereotypes and conventions.

Expanding Horizons: Diversifying the Canon

A still from Jeanne Dielman Clocking in at over three hours, Jeanne Dielman follows a middle-aged woman's mundane daily tasks (source: Janus Films).

The 2022 Sight and Sound poll showcases a significant shift in the film landscape. In contrast to the 2012 list, which included only two films directed by women, this year's list features eleven films helmed by female directors. Notably, Céline Sciamma's "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" ranks at number 30, Agnès Varda's "Cléo From 5 to 7" takes the 14th spot, and Claire Denis' "Beau Travail" moves up to number 7.

Additionally, seven films directed by Black directors gained recognition on the 2022 list, compared to only one in 2012. Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" comes in at number 24, and Djibril Diop Mambéty's "Touki Bouki" climbs to the 66th spot. This diversification is a positive development, highlighting the richness and contributions of voices that were previously overlooked.

Embracing Diversity and Challenging Canons

For the first time in Sight and Sound's history, animated films have made their way onto the list. Hayao Miyazaki, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, directed two of these animated masterpieces: "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Spirited Away."

The inclusion of new films means some classics have been replaced. Notable exclusions from the previous top 100 include D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance," David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia," Roman Polanski's "Chinatown," Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather Part II," and Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull." The ever-changing nature of these lists challenges established canons and encourages fresh perspectives on film history.

Jason Wood, executive director of public programs and audiences at the British Film Institute, acknowledges the radical sense of diversity and inclusion in this year's Sight and Sound list. He expresses satisfaction with the list's ability to shake a fist at the established order and reframing film history for a more inclusive future.

In conclusion, the 100 greatest films of all time, as determined by 1,600 critics, offer a comprehensive panorama of cinematic excellence. From groundbreaking feminist works to diverse contributions from underrepresented voices, cinema continues to evolve, challenging our perspectives and enriching our lives.