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Polls and surveys

About our polls

Michael Ritchie's 'Smile'The conducting of polls and the forming of canons has long been meat and drink to Sight & Sound. Throughout the world, wherever the magazine is known, it is often best known for the prestigious critics’ Top Ten Films poll (of all time) that the magazine conducts every ten years. This first took place in 1952, the only time the poll wasn't won by Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane – Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves took the honours that year – and was most recently done in 2002, when Kane beat Hitchcock’s Vertigo by two votes and I had the privilege myself of discussing the result on all the major UK television news programmes. From 1992 onwards we added an equally successful concurrent ten-year poll for film director’s choices of the Top Ten Films, and they too have selected Kane as their winner.

More recently, over the last six years or so, we have taken survey polls of a more relaxed kind on a range of subjects listed below and have asked each year a more restricted list than our major poll’s for their Film of the Year. Canon-forming of this kind is for us not a dusty matter of building statues to the dead but a living form of constant re-assessment that shows us how tastes in film evolve and change almost on a screening by screening basis.

Nick James, editor

The best-film polls

The best films of all timeThe greatest films of all time

Every ten years Sight & Sound has asked film critics, directors, writers and academics to compile a list of the greatest films of all time. Here you can see all our polls from 1952 to 2002

Annual round-upsAnnual round-ups

Browse our surveys of the best films, DVDs and online videos for every year since 2005

The 2000sSyndromes of a new century The 2000s

How did the first ten years of the 21st century change cinema? We assess the directors, countries, trends and technological changes shaping the new global cinema

PLUS: The 30 key films of the Noughties

End of a century: 1977-2002End of a century

Critical consensus tends to favour classics over newer films – so we conducted a mini-poll of UK critics’ best films and filmmakers of the late twentieth century

Other surveys

The best film booksForgotten pleasures of the multiplex
June 2011

Unloved, unlauded but no longer alone: 80 mainstream movies from the past 30 years that were either commercially or critically buried

The best film booksThe best film books June 2010

51 leading critics and writers nominate their top five films books. A clear-cut top five emerges – and film writing may have found its Citizen Kane

The best music in filmThe wild bunch: 50 mad, bad and dangerous directors September 2009

They make uncategorisable films in which cinematic language, taste and even reality itself are bent to their will. Mark Cousins hails 50 revolutionary auteurs from around the world whom we have dubbed the ‘Wild Bunch’

The best music in filmThe best music in film September 2004

Filmmakers and musicians from Martin Scorsese to Coldcut reflect on the relationship between cinema and music

Read more in Sight & Sound magazine

Back issues of many of our poll specials are still available. Or why not subscribe, save money on future issues and get a free DVD?

Last Updated: 08 Jun 2012