As it must to all men, death came to Charles Foster Kane. Citizen Kane, the default greatest film of all time, has been dethroned by Sight and Sound’s critics, who for the last five decades has listed it as their number one film. It’s now in second place, behind Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Here’s the top ten Critic’s list:

  1. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
  2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
  3. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
  4. La Regle du jeu (aka Rules of the Game, Renoir, 1939)
  5. Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
  7. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
  8. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
  9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)
  10. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)

And here’s the filmmaker’s list:

  1. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
  3. (tied at 2) Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
  4. 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)
  5. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1980)
  6. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)
  7. The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)
  8. (tied at 7) Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
  9. Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1974)
  10. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)

Though there are people who get upset over a film’s Tomato-meter score, or its IMDb rankings, there are fewer dogs in these fights, partly because – let’s face it – most regular filmgoers haven’t seen most of these movies. Sure, Twitter reveals that some people may be upset at the low rankings of – say Bicycles Thieves, but it’s less hyperbolic.

As for the change of Kane no longer being first, there are a couple of ways of looking at it. Kane has been lauded for over half a century as the greatest film ever made, which has turned its status (especially in an era of contrarianism) into something that made it vulnerable. How vulnerable a film that goes from #1 to #2 is is beyond me, but this was going to happen. Kane‘s value was also as a rallying cry against the studio system that (as the narrative goes) eventually broke Orson Welles. Welles had final cut on Kane, and it was his first film, and it’s a masterpiece, so it’s a complete F you to the system to rank it so highly. Whereas Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo was a commercial failure upon release, though the work of a populist. In both cases they were wounded birds at one time or another, only to have their reputations made after the fact.

At the end of the day,  there are too many people involved to consider this a conscious decision. And looking at these lists, it’s not like they’re making bad decisions. I would have ranked Rules of the Game higher, but that’s just me. Every single one of these films is worth seeing and appreciating. Sight and Sound’s site has been overwhelmed, so here’s a link to them, but digging in is currently difficult.

How many films on this list have you seen?