I’m going to be up front about this. I don’t enjoy watching Citizen Kane. I understand the innovations that it brought to Cinema, but I don’t think it’s a very good film. It’s decent sure, but the best movie ever made? I wouldn’t say so.
Whenever people defend Citizen Kane to me, it’s often with the merit that it brought to the movies. “It changed the way people make movies!” With that argument, I can understand where they’re coming from, but if you look at the Top 10 lists of best movies ever (AFI’s is the most famous) it’s filled with movies from a long gone era. So long gone that movies like The Artist can win Best Picture based on nostalgia (whole other debate)!
When people list the best technology of all time, the items are usually fairly recent. iPhones, Xboxes, and other inventions lead the pack, because technology actively changes the way people do things, usually with each successive innovation. Films are incredibly closely tied with technology. This is why you see people like Cameron, Spielberg, Jackson, and Scorsese using technology to make their films go further and change cinema.
We’re moving into a digital age of filmmaking, and I feel like these movies get a bad rap on “All Time” lists because they aren’t as hard to make or because they have more options to work with. If we’re going by innovations to the standard (which I think is a fine way to make these lists) then movies like Avatar, The Matrix, 300, O’ Brother Where Art Thou, and others should be topping AFI’s list of best movies of all time.
If you ask someone what the best phone ever made was, they’ll probably tell you it was the iPhone. Nobody is going to tell you it was the 2 cans and string because of what it did for communication on the go. Ask people what the best television ever made was and they’ll probably mention some HDTV brand and a certain size.
If we’re truly to judge the best of the best of Cinema by what they bring to the medium then our lists need a vast update. I wouldn’t take everything off, and Citizen Kane deserves to be in the top 10, but so does The Matrix and others.
Film and Technology are like brother and sister. They’re so closely tied together that they innovate with each other and co-create experiences for people. In this regard, they should also have the same method of explaining why things are the best at what they are, and this method should be updated often to keep speed with the mediums.