What is it about the 2022 BFI Sight & Sound Critics List that ensnares Jim’s attention so compellingly? Previously, Jim and Teal have delved into this list, dissecting its broader themes and honing in on particular genres like the French New Wave. They’ve also cast a critical eye over what they consider to be the most misguided choices. With a mere five films remaining to complete the extensive list of 264, it’s time for Jim to judiciously select and propose alternatives for a few of the listed films.
First up is the director team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, better known to film enthusiasts as The Archers. This celebrated pair, together with Alfred Hitchcock, claimed the highest number of entries in the BFI 250 this edition. It’s undeniable: every one of their films is impressive. A handful would secure spots on Jim and Teal’s compendium of the top 100 films ever made. However, from the roster of The Archers’ films that graced the BFI 250, there’s one Jim would willingly substitute. That film, ‘I Know Where I’m Going!’, is a charming romantic comedy, but its placement among the greatest films ever made might be misplaced.
Why not give due recognition to the American director, William Wyler, who has garnered more Best Director Oscar nominations than any other filmmaker? Wyler’s 1946 Oscar-winning film, The Best Years of Our Lives, is one of Jim’s all-time favorites, enriched by outstanding performances. In this episode, Teal experiences the movie for the first time.
The second film up for relitigation is Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Eclisse. Jim previously praised La Notte and Red Desert, two selections on the top 100 directors’ list and 250 critics list, respectively. So, imagine Jim’s disappointment when he got to L’Eclisse. A ten-minute sequence laden with appalling racism prompted Jim to immediately recommend Teal to watch the movie to confirm his disbelief. Despite the film’s distasteful content, Monica Vitti’s performance was remarkable, but watching her in full blackface and dancing with a spear was utterly unacceptable.
How was this ever okay? Answer: It wasn’t, and should never have happened.
What was Teal’s reaction to the sequence and L’Eclisse overall? Let’s say it led to a complete reassessment of his stance on Antonioni.
The experience left Jim, and Teal perplexed why L’Eclisse was included on the BFI 250 while a more worthy Antonioni film, Blow-Up, was not. Blow-Up is one of Jim’s top 100 films, and it is a highly influential movie that inspired two other BFI selections, The Conversation and Blow Out. So, why no love for Blow-Up? The enigma of the BFI Critics Poll continues to persist.