Geoff Andrew

Geoff Andrew

Critic; head of film programme, BFI Southbank
UK
Voted in the critics poll

Voted for:

Atalante, L' 1934 Jean Vigo
Citizen Kane 1941 Orson Welles
General, The 1926 Buster Keaton
His Girl Friday 1939 Howard Hawks
Morte Rouge, La 2006 Víctor Erice
My Night with Maud 1969 Eric Rohmer
Ordet 1955 Carl Theodor Dreyer
Persona 1966 Ingmar Bergman
Ten 2002 Abbas Kiarostami
Tokyo Story 1953 Ozu Yasujirô

Comments

A top ten might have sufficed in 1952, but 60 years on we need a top 20. I know it’s always been difficult to narrow one’s list down, but we have so many more great films to choose from now. While it’s crucial to acknowledge work of the most recent decades, wouldn’t it be absurd to remove, say, His Girl Friday (the greatest talkie comedy made in black and white?) in order to make space for The Big Lebowski (the greatest talkie comedy made in colour?), or to replace Tokyo Story with A One and a Two, L’Atalante with Beau Travail, Ordet with The White Ribbon. Those were some of the impossible choices I was faced with; as it was, I had to leave out altogether (the agony!) Stroheim, Lang, Renoir, Hitchcock, Mizoguchi, Ophuls, Demy, Altman and Malick, while face-offs like those between Au hazard Balthazar and The Son, Journey to Italy and The Travelling Players, Listen to Britain and Land of Silence and Darkness, Once upon a Time in America and Once upon a Time in Anatolia never really got a look-in. I compromised. That said, I stand by my final ten (today, at least), and there’s one point I want to make: though I’ve always voted for Welles in such polls, this is the first time I’ve opted for Citizen Kane. I used to be a bit perverse about it, preferring the warmth of The Magnificent Ambersons, the B-movie bravura of Touch of Evil, the mischievous magic of F for Fake. But in the last decade, even more than before, I’ve watched this first feature many times, and each time, it reveals new treasures. Clearly, no single film is the greatest ever made. But if there were one, for me Kane would now be the strongest contender, bar none.