Carrie Rickey

Film critic; writer


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Belle et la Bete, La


Jean Cocteau

Cleo from 5 to 7


Agnès Varda

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon


Ang Lee



Steven Spielberg

Malcolm X


Spike Lee



Fritz Lang



Leni Riefenstahl

Sherlock Jr


Buster Keaton

Singin' in the Rain


Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly

Third Man, The


Carol Reed


Lists, lists, so many lists: best rookie features, greatest last films, most inspirational, scariest, funniest. On its 60th anniversary of compiling the greatest movies ever made, Sight & Sound magazine is soliciting nominations for the Ten Best movies ever. How would you approach the question? Citizen Kane will almost inevitably top the list. If you define ‘greatest’ as “most influential’, then yes, Citizen Kane. Its deep-focus cinematography and multi-perspective narrative are hugely influential. But just because Saw has influenced a generation of torture-porn films, I wouldn’t put it on my ballot. A best film ever needs something more than influence. It needs universality, staying power and freshness (by those criteria, yes, Citizen Kane). It needs to ravish the viewer visually, narratively and emotionally. With these criteria in mind, I meditated for five minutes. These are the first ten films that popped in my head: Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, which introduced the grammar (not to mention the hero worship) of the sports movie; Jean Cocteau’s La belle et la bete, a primal and lyrical telling of an enduring fairytale; Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, which employed four different filmmaking techniques to suggest symphony and coda of an extraordinary life; Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a timeless allegory of good, evil and urban planning; Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain – pure happiness; Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, where action is wedded to emotion; Carol Reed’s The Third Man, a breathtaking moral thriller; Agnès Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7, the portrait of a woman in real time; Steven Spielberg’s E.T., an ode to wonder and connectedness; Buster Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr., a movie about the magic and possibilities of movies. No Citizen Kane. No The Godfather. No Vertigo. No Seven Samurai. No Pixar. No worries. Which criteria would you use? Which movies would be on your list?

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top