Now that Sight and Sound has set up a searchable database of all the ballots cast in their poll for the greatest film ever made, not only can we see what films have reached the pinnacle of critical consensus, but we can take a look at which films are shrinking in stature, and in which direction consensus is migrating.
It is worth remembering that all the voters make highly personal choices. There is not a single hive mind that deems certain films unworthy. I confess that nothing listed below would make my own top ten. So keeping that in mind, on the 846 ballots returned these acclaimed films could not find support from a single critic:
12 Masterpieces That Received
Zero Votes in Sight and Sound's Poll
1. Network (1976)
Of all the titles overlooked by Sight & Sound voters this is the most shocking. Has Chayefsky's justly famous screenplay blinded voters to the subtle visual style Lumet employed? And even then, was there not one voter willing to champion one of the most brilliant, prophetic, scripts ever produced? Baffling exclusion.
2. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Either Elia Kazan's controversial life has rendered him entirely taboo or his films are now seen as stilted and melodramatic. How else to explain getting exactly no votes for a film that revolutionized screen acting? His A Face in the Crowd was likewise ignored and On the Waterfront scraped by with just a single vote.
3. Schindler's List (1993)
4. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Even with a big name like Michael Curtiz co-directing, the gold standard of classic Hollywood action/adventure couldn't find any support among the critical elite. Any product of the studio system has a tough time on this auteur-driven poll. Curtiz's Casablanca, which normally tops polls like this, could barely hang onto a spot in the top 100.
5. Boogie Nights (1997)
Paul Thomas Anderson is clearly one of the way up among cinematic scholars, yet even as his last three movies found support - There Will Be Blood in particular - there was none to be found for his breakout hit. I expect that will change when the 2022 poll rolls around.
6. Rififi (1955)
Jules Dassin basically invented the heist movie as we know it with this brilliant French thriller but I suppose it got lost among the giants of the French New Wave
Spike's first two masterpieces, Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X got healthy vote totals. I thought consensus had already coalesced that this was his third, but it appears that will take a few more years.
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Being one of the most influential films of the last quarter century didn't get this landmark of the horror genre anywhere with voters.
9. LA Confidential (1997)
I can only assume that this couldn't find it's way onto a single ballot because Curtis Hanson doesn't pull any weight as an auteur. If a "name" had made the same film I'm betting it would have received a substantial tally. Why else can Scorsese can grab votes for Hugo but Hanson is overlooked for one of the great films of the 90's?
I respect those voters who placed quality over historical significance by giving their votes to Pinocchio and Fantasia over Snow White, but it is nonetheless surprising to find that this revolutionary film did not appear on a single ballot.
11. Tootsie (1982)
If you want evidence that the community of film scholars needs to lighten up and take comedy into account when evaluating a film's place in the canon, look no further than the snubbing of what is widely considered to be one of the funniest films ever made. See also the total absence of votes for Airplane, Blazing Saddles and A Fish Called Wanda.
12. Various Steven Soderbergh Films
I expected I would find votes spreads over multiple Soderbergh titles, but, no, there was not a one. I find this one particularly inexplicable not because his films are all such unimpeachable masterpieces but because Soderbergh's exploring, distinctive body of work would seem to align perfectly with the tastes of the average auteur-worshipping Sight & Sound voter.
Also, come on, The Limey is amazing.
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