Sunday 25 December 2022


So…where to start. A big year for lists and leading the way is the decennial Sight&Sound Poll of the now up to 100 greatest films ever made. And for extra added value the list compiled from the contributions of the world's great film directors


Sight&Sound has also taken to putting out an annual list of the Best fifty films of the year. In 2021 the only Australian film to make it was James Vaughan’s Friends and Strangers.


In 2022 there are two films. David Esteal’s The Plains comes in at #25 and Baz Luhrman’s Elvis comes in at #17. Two of the 93 critics polled, Neil Young and Guy Lodge, included both Australian films in their top ten.


93 critics voted in the poll and not all were the usual suspects. I wont go in to whom I noted were missing. All up some 328 films were nominated by those 93 and the only thing I can say is maybe I need to get out more…or…maybe the explosion in world-wide production to dizzying levels largely accompanied by a similar explosion in exhibition via a multitude of platforms just makes it impossible. So of the 328 I saw exactly 33 including just last night Adrian Lyne’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Deep Water which got a single vote from Brad Stevens. As Highsmith adaptations go it’s not a bad effort and captures the Highsmithian trope of what Graham Greene called “the effect of guilt on her characters’. (I hope I have that right.) 


Some of those I have missed or maybe have yet to see included more than a couple of handfuls that I could have seen at the local Ritz and there may have been even more at the Sydney Film Festival and, less likely, the myriad of other festivals, film weeks, special screenings and outputs on streaming services big, small, broad and specialist. Somebody may still keep lists of everything that passes by somewhere but doubtful if they can be completely accurate.


And as I started to write this my attention was drawn to the trade journal Variety announcing that it too had assembled a poll of the hundred greatest films ever made. Variety polled thirty two of its contributors, presumably all of whom would also have been invited to participate in the Sight&Sound poll.

Elvis (Baz Luhrmann)


This is rather different to the BFI’s list. It has Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge at #60. George Miiler’s The Road Warrior (that is Mad Max 2) at #54, Jane Campion’sThe Piano at #48. And just as the S&S poll had a surprise winner so does the Variety poll, among many surprises. Here if you are interested. Maybe the Variety list is simply a product mostly  from the magazine's American-centric box office obsessed mindset but odd indeed that it should decide to insert itself into the space currently overwhelmingly occupied, very fleetingly, once a decade by the Sight&Sound poll.


One early judgement from a friend on The Variety poll “Nothing from Eastern Europe, nothing from Germany and no mention of The Third Man”. Still at least it didn’t find a place for When Harry Met Sally.


Mad Max 2, aka The Road Warrior

One feature of the Variety poll is that it indicates where you can find the film on a streaming platform. A huge percentage of the 100 feature on HBO Max and if I had a devout wish for 2023 it would be that HBO abandon its relationship with the evil Murdoch Foxtel and start up its own streaming service here...and of course bring us all the films that it screens in the US...

Shortly Sight&Sound will publishing, presumably online only, all the individual lists submitted by curators, critics, festival directors and others. When  that happens I’ll extract those submitted by Film Alert 101’s loyal band of contributors and give them an extra place in the sun. Stay tuned.

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