Allen Stewart

Allen Stewart is the webmaster and statistical analyst of the Phi-Phenomenon (where he analyzes lists of great films and combines them in to a master list of the greatest films of all time.  He has idiosyncratic tastes in films.

I strongly question whether it is possible to get a sense of a person's taste in films using just a top-ten list like Sight & Sound uses.  Therefore I am glad that this poll is looking at top-100 lists.  Of course, no limit can ever be completely satisfying.  On a top-ten film ballot, I would have and eleventh choice that I desperately want to add.  On a top-100 film ballot, I would have a 101st choice that I want to add.  I just have to learn to live with limitations. 

The films in the list below are presented in clumps.  They are ranked within the clumps, including within the clump of films that I have not seen yet. 

The following seven films are the only films in Sight & Sound's top-100 films that overlap my top-100 films. 

1. Casablanca | Michael CURTIZ | 1942

2. The Godfather | Francis Ford COPPOLA | 1972

3. Seven Samurai | KUROSAWA Akira | 1954

4. Rashomon | KUROSAWA Akira | 1950

5. Sunset Blvd. | Billy WILDER | 1950

6. Citizen Kane | Orson WELLES | 1941 | Sight & Sound's choice of Vertigo over Citizen Kane does not match my opinion.  I have Citizen Kane near the top and Vertigo down the list-well down the list.

7. L'Atalante | Jean VIGO | 1934

The following films are not in my top 100, but they are close enough to my top 100 to be worthy picks.

8. Apocalypse Now | Francis Ford COPPOLA | 1979

9. Raging Bull | Martin SCORSESE | 1980

10. The Godfather: Part II | Francis Ford COPPOLA | 1974

11. The Battle of Algiers | Gillo PONTECORVO | 1966

12. Some Like It Hot | Billy WILDER | 1959

13. La Grande Illusion | Jean RENOIR | 1937

14. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans | F.W. MURNAU | 1927

I like the following films a lot, but they are clearly below my top 100.

15. Psycho | Alfred HITCHCOCK | 1960

16. Imitation of Life | Douglas SIRK | 1959 | I slightly prefer the 1934 version by John M. Stahl, but I like this version as well.

17. North by Northwest | Alfred HITCHCOCK | 1959 | For some reason, I prefer black and white Hitchcock films to Hitchcock films in color.  Two color films are exceptions.  This is one of them.

18. Les Enfants du Paradis | Marcel CARNÉ | 1945

19.Touch of Evil | Orson WELLES | 1958 | I prefer the restored version to the original version.

20. Metropolis | Fritz LANG | 1927

21. Rear Window | Alfred HITCHCOCK | 1954 | This is the other exception to my rule about preferring black and white Hitchcock films to color films.

22. Bicycle Thieves | Vittorio DE SICA | 1948 | I prefer Umberto D to this film, but both are very good.

The following films are clearly better than the typical film that I see, even though I rarely watch films that are not critically acclaimed.

23. Lawrence of Arabia | David LEAN | 1962

24. Wild Strawberries | Ingmar BERGMAN | 1957 | This film ranks high mostly because of Victor Sjöström's performance.

25. The Wild Bunch | Sam PECKINPAH | 1969

26. Sherlock Jr. | Buster KEATON | 1924

27. Chinatown | Roman POLANSKI | 1974

28. The Third Man | Carol REED | 1949

29. Play Time | Jacques TATI | 1967

30. Nashville | Robert ALTMAN | 1975

There are many good films available and my time is limited, so I try to watch only good films.  This means that I tend to have high standards for what I watch.  The following films comfortably meet those standards.

31. Aguirre, Wrath of God | Werner HERZOG | 1972

32. Blade Runner | Ridley SCOTT | 1982

33. Intolerance | D.W. GRIFFITH | 1916 | I like this film even though it spawned one of my least favorite genres, the collection of loosely short films edited together.  I have not seen either The Fall of Babylon (1919) or The Mother and the Law (1919) versions.  My guess is that The Fall of Babylon would probably fall about 12 to 15 slots higher on this list, and The Mother and the Law would fall about the same distance lower on this list.  The other two sequences were too incomplete for me to know how I would rate them if they were expanded to their own films.

34. Madame de… | Max OPHÜLS | 1953

35. Greed | Erich VON STROHEIM | 1924 | I have seen only the 140-minute version.  I know that the full eight-hour version is a holy grail among film enthusiasts.  I would be interested in seeing this version if it were ever found, but I do not know if I would like it.  Often, films are very long because the director got self-indulgent and included material that would have better been left on the cutting room floor.

36. The Searchers | John FORD | 1956

37. M | Fritz LANG | 1931

38. La Jetée | Chris MARKER | 1962

39. Ugetsu Monogatari | MIZOGUCHI Kenji | 1953

40. Once upon a Time in the West | Sergio LEONE | 1968

41. A Man Escaped | Robert BRESSON | 1956

42. The Night of the Hunter | Charles LAUGHTON | 1955

43. Modern Times | Charles CHAPLIN | 1936

44. Sansho Dayu | MIZOGUCHI Kenji | 1954

45. Rio Bravo | Howard HAWKS | 1959

46. Au Hasard Balthazar | Robert BRESSON | 1966

47. Mulholland Dr. | David LYNCH | 2001

49. A One and a Two | Edward YANG | 2000

50. The 400 Blows | François TRUFFAUT | 1959

51. Stalker | Andrei TARKOVSKY | 1979 | I consider Tarkovsky to be one of the most overrated directors of all time.  His films are often the epitome of the self-indulgence that I talked about above with Greed.  I understand that he includes slow sequences so that the audience can think about what is being presented.  I think that he needs to give the audience more credit.  If a film presents me with interesting things to think about, I will think about them on my way home from the theater and later that day.  I do not need to endure a pointless sequence during the film in order to think about something that took place earlier.  Still, I find Stalker to be Tarkovsky's best and most thought-provoking film.

52. Partie de Campagne | Jean RENOIR | 1936

The following films are better than most films available, but I can find ways to nitpick them.

53. Pather Panchali | Satyajit RAY | 1955

54. City Lights | Charles CHAPLIN | 1931

55. The General | Clyde BRUCKMAN & Buster KEATON | 1927 | I appreciate the parts of this film that other people like.  However, I cannot get past the fact that Keaton's character sided with those who were fighting to perpetuate a system of chattel slavery.  As a result, I rooted for the antagonists in this film.  Das Boot did a much better job at getting me to identify with people fighting for an evil cause.

56. Battleship Potemkin | Sergei EISENSTEIN | 1925 | At least with this film, all sides were evil.

57. The Seventh Seal | Ingmar BERGMAN | 1957

58. Man with a Movie Camera | Dziga VERTOV | 1929

59. L'Avventura | Michelangelo ANTONIONI | 1960 | My interest in this film when watching it was roughly equal to the interest the main characters had in finding their lost companion.  In other words, as their interest waned, so did mine.

60. Tokyo Story | OZU Yasujirō | 1953 | I prefer I Was Born, but. to the two Ozu films that Sight & Sound voters preferred.

61. The Passion of Joan of Arc | Carl Th. DREYER | 1928 | There are genres that lend themselves to silent film.  The courtroom drama is not one of them.

62. Persona | Ingmar BERGMAN | 1966

63. Sans Soleil | Chris MARKER | 1983

64. Late Spring | OZU Yasujirō | 1949 | My rating of this film was probably not helped by the fact that I saw this film and another Ozu film with almost exactly the same plot (An Autumn Afternoon) nearly back-to-back.

One issue in creating this list is what to do about films that I have not seen.  The obvious answer would be to skip them.  After all, how would I know where a film would rate if I have not seen it?  This would create two problems based on the scoring scheme used for this project.  First, it would mean that I would be giving more points to a film that I have seen and dislike than to a film that I have not seen but might like if I saw it.  Second, the overall rankings would measure how widely a film is seen as much as how much the film is liked by people who have seen it.  I decided to rank unseen films but rank them conservatively.  That is, I suspect that most of the films below would rank higher than they rank on this list if I were to see them.  Within the category below, I ranked the films based on how interested I am in seeing each of them.

65. Shoah | Claude LANZMANN | 1985 | Often, long films mean a lot of self-indulgent garbage.  However, this film covers such a broad topic that it may justify its length.

66. Histoire(s) du Cinéma | Jean-Luc GODARD | 1998 | This series sounds fascinating, but, as someone who consolidates lists of great films, I get annoyed every time I see this listed.  It is a series of made-for-television specials, not a film.

67. Beau Travail | Claire DENIS | 1999 | Unless I missed something, Claire Denis and Chantal Akerman are the only two female directors on the Sight & Sound list.   My first film in the Alternative-100 list has two female directors.  I just wish that there were more than two on rest of my list.

68. La Maman et la Putain | Jean EUSTACHE | 1973

69. Pierrot le Fou | Jean-Luc GODARD | 1965

70. Sátántangó | TARR Béla | 1994

71. Journey to Italy | Roberto ROSSELLINI | 1954

72. Touki-Bouki | Djibril DIOP MAMBÉTY | 1973

73. L'Eclisse | Michelangelo ANTONIONI | 1962

74. A Brighter Summer Day | Edward YANG | 1991

75. Close-Up | Abbas KIAROSTAMI | 1990

I found the following films to be disappointing.  As a result, I rank them below films that I have not even seen yet.

76. Ordet | Carl Th. DREYER | 1955
I would have been OK if the one brother was simply believed that he was Jesus.  However, the miracles at the end suggested that he might have been divine.  Regardless of whether one believes that the real Jesus was divine or simply a man, one has to recognize that Jesus must have been incredibly charismatic to attract the following that he had.  Jesus did not go around whining about people not respecting him the way that the brother did in this film.

77. A Matter of Life and Death | P&P | 1946 | A man dies during World War II and claims that he deserves a second chance because he just fell in love.  Tens of millions of people died during World War II.  Many of them fell in love before dying.  What makes the main character in this film so special?

78. Blue Velvet | David LYNCH | 1986

79. 2001: A Space Odyssey | Stanley KUBRICK | 1968 | I had to go down this far on Sight & Sound's list before listing my first Kubrick film.  Believe it or not, I actually consider Kubrick to be one of my favorite filmmakers.  Like with Hitchcock, I prefer Kubrick's black and white films to his color films with a couple of exceptions.  Unlike with Hitchcock, Sight & Sound chose not to include the two exceptions (A Clockwork Orange and The Shining) on it top-100 list and did not include any of Kubrick's black and white films.

80. The Magnificent Ambersons | Orson WELLES | 1942 | It is likely that the film that Welles intended to make would rank higher on this list.  I have to rank the film that I saw.

81. Breathless | Jean-Luc GODARD | 1960

82. Andrei Rublev | Andrei TARKOVSKY | 1966 | I do remember liking the bell-making segment of this film.  I do not have much to say about any other part of the film.

83. In the Mood for Love | WONG Kar-wai | 2000

84. La Dolce Vita | Federico FELLINI | 1960

85. Barry Lyndon | Stanley KUBRICK | 1975 | The fact that I could not care less about the main character drove this film well down the list.

86. Pickpocket | Robert BRESSON | 1959

87. Gertrud | Carl Th. DREYER | 1964

88. Vertigo | Alfred HITCHCOCK | 1958 | Sight & Sound's #1 film of all time is not my least favorite film on its top-100 list, but it is much closer to the bottom than to the top.  I noted earlier that I prefer black and white Hitchcock films to color Hitchcock films with two exceptions.  This is decidedly not one of them.  I spent most of the film wanting to shout at James Stewart to just get over his stupid obsession.

89. La Règle du Jeu | Jean RENOIR | 1939 | I found this film to be quite dated.  However, I could say the same for La Grande Illusion, but I liked that film a lot.  I have given up any attempt to find consistency in what I like in films and just accept that I have idiosyncratic tastes.

90. Un Chien Andalou | Luis BUÑUEL | 1929

91. | Federico FELLINI | 1963

92. The Leopard | Luchino VISCONTI | 1963

93. Taxi Driver | Martin SCORSESE | 1976

94. Singin' in the Rain | Stanley DONEN & Gene KELLY | 1952

95. Fanny & Alexander | Ingmar BERGMAN | 1982

96. Jeanne Dielman | Chantal AKERMAN | 1975

97. The Colour of Pomegranates | Sergei PARAJANOV | 1968 | There are various media that one can use to tell a story.  Each medium lends itself to different stories.  It quickly became clear to me that film was the wrong medium for what Parajanov was trying to do.  This should not have been a film.  This should have been a coffee-table book.

98. The Spirit of the Beehive | Víctor ERICE | 1973

99. Mirror | Andrei TARKOVSKY | 1975

100. Le Mépris | Jean-Luc GODARD | 1963

Alternative 100

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