The British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine has named a new greatest movie of all time, with Chantal Akerman's 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles pushing Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo to second place.
Every 10 years, the British Film Institute conducts a poll of international critics who are asked to contribute to the list of 100 best movies ever made. In 2012, Vertigo held the top spot, with Orson Welles' Citizen Kane being named the best film ever made in the previous five polls, from 1962 to 2002.
Akerman's film also marks the first time a film directed by a woman has made it to the top of the Sight & Sound poll in its 70-year history. Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce is also the longest film to be named the best movie ever at 201 minutes long.
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles stars Delphine Seyrig as the title character, a widowed woman. The film documents her daily routine, over a three-day period. She cooks, does household chores, takes care of her teenage son and does sex work to make ends meet.
Historically, the film has been widely appreciated for its "slow cinema" technique and the categorically feminist view of the life of a single woman.
"Jeanne Dielman stood out as something completely new and unexpected," Laura Mulvey, a professor of film studies at Birkbeck, University of London wrote. "It was the film’s courage that was immediately most striking."
"Akerman’s unwavering and completely luminous adherence to a female perspective (not, that is, via the character, Jeanne Dielman, but embedded in the film itself and its director’s vision) combined with her uncompromising and completely coherent cinema to produce a film that was both feminist and cinematically radical. One might say that it felt as though there was a before and an after Jeanne Dielman, just as there had once been a before and after Citizen Kane."
Akerman, who passed away at the age of 65 in 2015, was just 25 when she made the film.
Hitchcock’s 1958 classic Vertigo sits in second place on the prestigious list, starring Kim Novak and James Stewart. The film is about a detective with a fear of heights who is tasked with following a friend's suicidal wife, developing an obsession with her after she dies. He then tries to, essentially, replicate her with another woman. Other Hitchcock films that made the list include North by Northwest and Rear Window.
The 1941 film Citizen Kane, directed by and starring Orson Welles, comes in at third place after 50 years at the top of the list. Welles' Kane is modelled after newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, which led to Hearst's campaign to shut down the film.
Rounding out the top five film's on Sight & Sound magazine's list is Yasujirô Ozu's 1953 film Tokyo Story and Kar-Wai Wong's 2000 movie In the Mood for Love.
Looking at some more recent films that made the list of the 100 best movies ever made, Céline Sciamma's 2019 movie Portrait of a Lady on Fire came in at number 30. Barry Jenkins' Moonlight, which was caught in the middle of the 2017 Oscars Best Picture chaos, is number 60 on the Sight & Sound list. Bong Joon-ho's 2019 movie Parasite came in at number 90 and Jordan Peele's Get Out sits at number 95.