Sight and Sound 2012 - Top 50 Greatest Films

List created by

Every ten years, Sight and Sound (easily the UK's best film magazine) poll the world's leading film critics to compile a list of the greatest films of all time.

Their 2012 list has just been announced, complete with a well-deserved change at the #1 spot.

We've collated all seven Sight and Sound lists, from 1952 through to 2012. It is fascinating to see how some films maintain critical adoration over the decades while others come and go quickly. What's also notable is the lack of modern films - it seems that critics want a few decades distance before they can truly judge a film's worth.

To say that all the films contained come recommended is a massive understatement. If you haven't seen all of them, now is a great time to change that.



Alfred Hitchcock, 1958

Hitchcock's most richly complex, profound and critically admired masterpiece, Vertigo is a wonderfully mysterious and dream-like study of obsession, phobia, ... More

From £8.99 DVD DVD Blu-ray


Citizen Kane

Orson Welles, 1941

One of the truly great films, Welles' study of the nature of power in the person of Charles Foster Kane (based on newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst) h... More

£16.99 Blu-ray


Tokyo Story

Yasujiro Ozu, 1953

Voted one of the ten best films of all time, and widely regarded as Yasujiro Ozu's masterpiece, Tokyo Story is a poignant portrayal of the frailty of family ... More

£16.99 DVD+Blu-ray


La Regle du Jeu

Jean Renoir, 1939

Dismissed by both public and critics on its first release, re-cut by its producers and then banned by the French government as 'demoralising', La Règle du Je...



F.W. Murnau, 1927

A landmark of silent cinema and one of the finest films of any era. A woman from the city dazzles a married farmer in a small community and plots to rid him ...


2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick, 1968

"Hello, HAL do you read me, HAL?" "Affirmative, Dave, I read you." Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's's celebrated sci-fi treatise in which astronaut... More

£6.99 DVD


The Searchers

John Ford, 1956

The most majestic and greatest of all westerns. It's Ford's darkest, most complex work, with the Duke's performance as the haunted Ethan Edwards one of his f... More

From £6.99 DVD Blu-ray


Man with a Movie Camera

Dziga Vertov, 1929

One of the most extraordinary films in the history of cinema and as important and watchable now as when it was made. Filmed in Odessa and other cities in the... More

£16.66 DVD


The Passion of Joan of Arc

Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1927

Some films have their own mythology - none more so than Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, which charts the final days of Joan of Arc, from he...


8 1/2

Federico Fellini, 1963

Long regarded as one of Fellini's finest works, 8½ is also one of the great films about the moviemaking process. It stars his regular on-screen alter-ego Mar... More

From £11.99 DVD Blu-ray


The Soviet Influence: Battleship Potemkin / Drifters

John Grierson, Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1929

Comment: Critics chose The Battleship Potemkin - Consistently voted one of the greatest films of all time and certainly one of the most exciting, this fictionalised account of the events of the 1905 Russian Revolution contains the celebrated sequence of the massacre on the Odessa steps. It's hard to imagine the impact of the cutting in this account of a sailors' mutiny. To the original audiences, it must have seemed like witnessing the birth pangs of cinema itself.

£16.99 DVD+Blu-ray



Jean Vigo, 1934

Comment: Critics chose L'Atalante, simply one of the most iconic films in cinema - a poetic, surreal, earthy and erotic tale with an irrepressible performance from Michel Simon.

£16.99 DVD


Breathless (Godard, 1959)

Jean-Luc Godard, 1959

Godard's groundbreaking Breathless sees a dash of flair and subversive Gallic insouciance added to the language of American B-movies. Jean-Paul Belmondo play... More

From £16.99 DVD Blu-ray


Apocalypse Now

Francis Ford Coppola, 1979

Sheen hunts down a renegade Colonel in Coppola's legendary, drug-soaked, hallucinatory journey upriver. Apocalypse Now is the Vietnam war as mad napalm-scent... More

£13.99 DVD


Late Spring

Yasujiro Ozu, 1949

Ozu's classic Late Spring, the first in the famed Noriko trilogy, centres on a liberal father struggling to come to terms with the need to marry off his daug... More

£16.99 DVD+Blu-ray


Au Hasard Balthazar

Robert Bresson, 1966

Unadorned, unassuming, unsentimental, Bresson's masterpiece puts a donkey centre stage and through him we see all humanity. Au Hasard Balthazar tells the ... More

£13.99 DVD


Seven Samurai

Akira Kurosawa, 1954

One of the greatest films ever made, Kurosawa’s epic adventure Seven Samurai (1954) has influenced the work of directors from George Lucas to Steven Spielber... More

From £16.99 DVD DVD Blu-ray Blu-ray



Ingmar Bergman, 1966

Persona is for many Bergman's finest moment. In it, he explores the tense, competitive relationship between a nurse (Bibi Andersson) and her charge (Liv Ullm... More

£11.69 DVD


Andrei Tarkovsky Collection

Andrei Tarkovsky, 1962-86

Comment: Critics chose Mirror, which sees Tarkovsky draw on episodes from his own life in this story of a dying man reflecting on his relationships with his parents, wife and son. Seamlessly blending past and present, dreams and memory, art, levitation and a wider overview of 20th Century Russian history, Tarkovsky's enigmatic account of childhood (and simultaneous expression of faith) is one of cinema's unique personal statements.


Singin' in the Rain

Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, 1952

One of the best-loved motion pictures of all time, Singin' in the Rain offers a witty parody of the movie industry during the difficult period when it was ma... More

From £15.99 Blu-ray Blu-ray



Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960

The landmark first film in a loose trilogy which also comprises La Notte and L'Eclisse. A woman goes missing during a Mediterranean boating trip, and as her ... More

£13.99 DVD


Le Mepris

Jean-Luc Godard, 1963

Le Mepris is a stately, elegant and seductive tale of ideals and compromise. Fritz Lang wants to make a film of The Odyssey, his American producer wants nake... More

From £13.99 DVD Blu-ray


The Godfather Collection

Francis Ford Coppola, 1972-90

All three instalments of The Godfather Trilogy, directed and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola and based on the successful novel by Mario Puzo portraying th...



Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1954

Dreyer's film, which must be one of the most beautifully photographed films ever made, explores the gulf between religious orthodoxy and true faith. The simp... More

£16.66 DVD


In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar-Wai, 2000

You could get giddy on the heat of Wong Kar-Wai's seventh feature, as Maggie Cheung fans herself at a mah-jongg game or Tony Leung floats past her, face a gl...



Akira Kurosawa, 1950

A woodcutter witnesses an ambush, rape and murder in a forest. In the telling of the tale however, each of the four participants gives a different view of wh... More

From £17.99 DVD Blu-ray


Andrei Tarkovsky Collection

Andrei Tarkovsky, 1962-86

Comment: Critics chose Andrei Rublev, Tarkovsky's acclaimed epic about the life of the 15th century icon painter, charting his life through a turbulent period of Russian history.


Mulholland Drive

David Lynch, 2001

David Lynch's Mulholland Drive provides a memorably dark trip through the flipside of Hollywood. As ingenue Naomi Watts slowly makes sense of amnesiac mol... More

From £12.49 DVD Blu-ray Blu-ray


Andrei Tarkovsky Collection

Andrei Tarkovsky, 1962-86

Comment: Critics chose Stalker, a stunningly filmed allegorical fantasy in which a psychologically gifted man (Aleksandr Kaidanovsky) leads a Writer (Anatoli Solonitsyn) and a Professor (Nikolai Grinko) through an industrial wasteland called the Zone, in search of a room where ones wishes can be fulfilled. The battle between science, faith and art is played out in the Zone, a mysterious, forbidden wasteland where, as in Solaris, dreams become flesh.



Claude Lanzmann, 1985

Director Lanzmann dedicated ten years of his life to Shoah, compiling this nine-hour epic form over 350 hours of footage shot. This is a historically vital d...


The Godfather Collection

Francis Ford Coppola, 1972-90

All three instalments of The Godfather Trilogy, directed and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola and based on the successful novel by Mario Puzo portraying th...


Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese, 1976

As a groundbreaking drama of modern alienation, Taxi Driver was something of a sordid masterpiece of its time. Scorsese captures the after-hours neon underwo... More

From £8.99 DVD DVD Blu-ray Blu-ray


Bicycle Thieves

Vittorio De Sica, 1948

Heralded as the greatest film ever made on release, winning an Oscar in 1949 and topping the Sight & Sound film poll in 1952, De Sica’s seminal work of Itali... More

From £11.99 DVD DVD+Blu-ray


The Buster Keaton Chronicles

Buster Keaton, 1920-28

Comment: Critics selected The General. Keaton is on top form as the Confederate train driver rejected for civil war service, but who nevertheless fearlessly sets off in pursuit of his girlfriend and the eponymous engine, hijacked together by dastardly Unionist spies. Meticulously evoking the period, overflowing with the invention, serene timing and deadpan charm typical of its ever-resourceful hero, this is a veritable treat.



Fritz Lang, 1926

With its dizzying depiction of a futuristic cityscape and alluring female robot, Metropolis is among the most famous of all German films and the mother of sc...


Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock, 1960

One of Hitchcock's undisputed masterpieces, both hugely influential and filled with iconic scenes, Psycho saw the Master reach new heights of psychological t... More

From £13.99 DVD Blu-ray


Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Chantal Akerman, 1975

Examining a single mother's life over three days using long, static takes, this 1975 film was hailed as "the first masterpiece of the feminine in the history...



Bela Tarr, 1994

An epic, exceptional, unforgettable cinematic experience about the end of Communism in Eastern Europe and the dreams and betrayals of a failed farm collectiv... More

£23.99 DVD


La Dolce Vita

Federico Fellini, 1960

One of the most influential movies of all time, universally acclaimed by critics, filmmakers and the public alike. It's a spectacular and relevant morality p... More

From £14.99 DVD Blu-ray


The 400 Blows

François Truffaut, 1959

One of the defining films of the French New Wave, The 400 Blows - Francois Truffaut's semi-autobiographical first feature - stars Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoin... More

From £13.99 DVD Blu-ray


Journey to Italy

Roberto Rossellini, 1953

Widely regarded as Roberto Rossellini's greatest achievement, Journey to Italy was the culminating masterpiece of the Italian neo-realism and the film that i... More

From £16.99 DVD DVD


The Apu Trilogy

Satyajit Ray, 1955, 1956, 1959

Comment: Critics chose Pather Panchali, Ray's extraordinarily accomplished debut and the first film in the Apu trilogy. In Pather Panchali, Ray begins the story of Apu, a boy born into a poor but loving family in rural Bengal.

£42.99 DVD


Some Like It Hot

Billy Wilder, 1959

Billy Wilder's gender-bending comedy, Some Like It Hot blends madcap capers with some of the sharpest dialogue this side of a stiletto. Tony Curtis and Ja... More

From £8.99 DVD Blu-ray



Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1964

Dreyer's final masterpiece, this is the visually beautiful tale of a woman's search for a romantic ideal and her own freedom. Intense and stately, this is an... More

£16.66 DVD


Pierrot le Fou

Jean-Luc Godard, 1965

One of Jean-Luc Godard's most reknowned films, and a sort-of follow up to A bout de souffle, in which Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo) leaves his wife and chil... More

£15.99 DVD



Jacques Tati, 1967

‘Film Tati No.4’ – regarded by many as Jacques Tati’s masterpiece – takes place in the ruinously extravagant but brilliantly effective steel and glass set th... More

From £15.99 DVD Blu-ray


Close-Up (Close Up)

Abbas Kiarostami, 1990

Kiarostami's masterpiece, depicting in documentary fashion an unemployed man's attempt to impersonate the director Mohsen Makhmalbaf and the court proceeding...


The Battle of Algiers

Gillo Pontecorvo, 1965

A powerful, dispassionate account of the Algerian war of Independence which generated huge political and aesthetic ripples. With its gripping documentary-sty... More

From £16.99 DVD Blu-ray


Histoire(s) du Cinema

Jean-Luc Godard, 1998

Godard's epochal study of 20th century cinema is unlike any other. A collage of clips, stills and images of great paintings accompanied by passages of music ...


City Lights

Charlie Chaplin, 1931

One of the most famous of Chaplin's films, City Lights sees The Tramp fall in love with a beautiful, blind flower girl, whose family is in financial trouble....


Ugetsu Monogatari + Oyu-Sama (Masters of Cinema)

Kenji Mizoguchi, 1951; 1953

Comment: Critics chose Ugetsu Monogatari (Tales of the Rain and Moon), a masterwork of Japanese cinema. Based on a pair of 18th century ghost stories by Ueda Akinari, the film's release continued Mizoguchi's introduction to the West, where it was nominated for an Oscar (for Best Costume Design) and won the the Venice Film Festival Silver Lion award (for Best Direction).


La Jetee / Sans Soleil

Chris Marker, 1962; 1983

Two wonderful films from Chris Marker that have the workings of memory as their starting point - La Jetee (1962) and Sans Soleil (1983). The inspiration f... More

£13.99 DVD