The 100 Best Movies of All Time According to 1,639 Film Critics & 480 Directors: See the Poll Results and Votes for a Decade
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The 100 Best Movies of All Time According to 1,639 Film Critics & 480 Directors: See the Poll Results and Votes for a Decade

Chantal Akerman Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is a three and a half hour movie where nothing happens. That, however, will be the description offered by the many who will be seeing it for the first time in the coming months. Their curiosity will be piqued by his victory in the results that have just been released Sight and Sound magazine critics poll to determine the greatest film of all time. Performed only once per decade since 1952, it saw only two other top glitches at that time: when Kane people displaced Bike Thief in 1962, and when vertigo displaced Kane people half a century later.

Top ten this year Sight and Sound the critic’s poll is as follows:

  1. Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
  2. vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  3. Kane people (Orson Welles, 1941)
  4. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
  5. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar Wai, 2000)
  6. 2001: Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
  7. Have a good fight (Claire Denis, 1998)
  8. Mulholland dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
  9. Man with Film Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
  10. Singing in the Rain (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952)

Since 1992, the magazine has also held a separate poll soliciting votes not from critics but film directors, which this year placed 2001 at number one. His top ten also includes picks like Federico Fellini’s belongs to Andrei Tarkovsky Mirrorand Abbas Kiarostami Close up.

Director rating Jeanne Dielman at the honorable number four, tied with Tokyo Story. “On the content side, the film charts the breakdown of a bourgeois Belgian housewife, mother and part-time prostitute over three days,” wrote film theorist Laura Mulvey in Sight and Sound‘s page for the movie.

“On the form side, it meticulously records her household routine over long periods and from fixed camera positions.” As you might already imagine, these elements — as well as the fact that the main character is played by a movie star just as great as Delphine Seyrig — make for a unique viewing experience.

The title is not without a certain amount of irony, considering how much of the film Akerman devotes to his straight-forward depiction of a middle-aged woman doing the household chores – taking us away from the domain of, say, Jerry Bruckheimer. “Shooted in static, long duration, the pace and tone of the film may seem slow or boring at first,” wrote Adam Cook in the IndieWire video essay “Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman Is A True Action Movie”, but “in observing these household chores free from the margins, they do their own dramaturgy”. Only with time and repetition “the nuances in Delphine Seyrig’s expressions convey very different connotations” and “the smallest details take on narrative power and significance.”

“His life was arranged so that there were no gaps in the daylight,” Akerman told television talk show viewers in 1975, when Jeanne Dielman just came out. But “the highly structured universe is beginning to unravel,” and “his subconscious expresses itself through a series of tiny mistakes.” In a 2009 interview for the Criterion Collection, Akerman drew a connection between his character’s regiment and the strict Jewish rituals he himself observed as a child: “Knowing each moment of each day, what he should do in the next moment, brings a kind of peace.” When the routine is disrupted, “the tension builds, because I think deep down, we know that something is going to happen.” On this emotional level, Jeanne Dielman more conventional than it looks. And for those who can immerse themselves in it, it feels like one of the only films where anything could happen.

Look Sight and Sound poll results here.

Related content:

100 Overlooked Movies Directed by Women: View Selections from Sight & Sound New List of Magazines

103 Important Films By Female Filmmakers: I don’t know anything, Lost in translation, istar and others

The Top Ten Films of All Time According to 358 Filmmakers

The Ten Greatest Films of All Time According to 846 Film Critics

The 100 Best Films of the 21st Century (So Far) Named by 177 Film Critics

The Top 100 American Films of All Time, According to 62 International Film Critics

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcastst about the city, language and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter book about cities, book The City Without a State: A Journey through 21st Century Los Angeles and video series City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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