Every 10 years since 1952, the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound Magazine has asked film scholars, critics and directors to submit a list of their top 10 movies of all time. Those lists are combined and scores are tallied up and, each decade, in the year ending in "-2," a new list of the 10 greatest films is released.
As Roger Ebert (a Sight & Sound voter) once wrote of the Sight & Sound List: "It is by far the most respected of the countless polls of great movies--the only one most serious movie people take seriously."
2012's Sight & Sound list came out Wednesday, and if you're like us, you immediately scrolled through it to check off which films you had seen and which you hadn't. And while most of you have probably seen "Citizen Kane (you havent?!?!), a few of the more obscure, experimental or Russian films may have slipped under your radar.
No more! We've compiled the streaming video websites where you can legally -- and, occasionally, for free -- watch each of the ten Sight & Sound films online.
A note on methodology: First, we searched for free options -- many public domain films are available gratis online; then, we trawled the subscription websites like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime; finally, if neither of those brought any results, we searched Amazon Instant, iTunes, and Vudu to see which service offered the film for online rental for the cheapest. We're not going to link to any torrent sites or suspect YouTube uploads, though many classics can, indeed, be found through a simple search of the film title through YouTube.
Here's what we found. No more excuses for not having seen the 1929 experimental film "Man With A Movie Camera" (since we know you're making excuses about that constantly): Hook up your laptop to the big screen and get watching.
1. "Vertigo" (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) - Sight & Sound voters left their hearts in San Francisco this time around. Find out why by renting Hitchcock's dark, mysterious masterpiece from Amazon for $2.99 or $3.99 on iTunes. We also found it for free on YouTube.
2. "Citizen Kane" (Orson Welles, 1941) - Did you know that the source of the Internet's most ageless GIFs is also a pretty good movie in its own right? YouTube has it for $1.99, Vudu and Amazon have it for $2.99, and an iTunes rental is $3.99.
3. "Tokyo Story" (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953) - Contrary to popular belief, Ozu's tale of parental abandonment and existential grief in postwar Japan is not the inspiration for Pixar's "Toy Story"; it is, however, the third greatest film of all time, according to Sight & Sound. Hulu Plus subscribers can watch for free (thanks to an ongoing partnership that makes Criterion Collection films part of the catalogue); the rest of us will have to pony up $2.99 on Amazon or $3.99 on iTunes.
5. "Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans" (F.W. Murnau, 1927) - Movies of a certain age fall in to the public domain, meaning the copyright lapses and anyone can use it. Murnau's "Sunrise" is the first such film on the Sight & Sound list to do so. You can stream it on the Internet Archive site here.
6. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) - I'm afraid you can't stream this anymore, Dave: Kubrick's films just disappeared from Netflix's streaming section, so you're gonna have to pay for a rental (unless you search YouTube). YouTube also has the cheapest rental of the sci-fi classic: It's just $1.99 to rent 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is not only a stunning, groundbreaking film, but also contains the origin of Apple's iPad (kidding!).
7. "The Searchers" (John Ford, 1956) - Got Amazon Prime? You can watch The Searchers for free! John Wayne is the good guy (maybe!) in what many consider to be the greatest Western of all time.
8. "Man with a Movie Camera" (Vertov, 1929) - Streaming for free on YouTube, Vertov's groundbreaking, experimental opus is another public domain freebie.
9. "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1927) - Another one in the public domain, Dreyer's take on Joan of Arc is online for free at the Internet Archive.
BEFORE YOU GO
Are you a Netflix user looking for alternatives? Check out the gallery (below) to view some less mainstream options.