Contemporary films fared poorly in BBC Culture’s poll of the greatest US films: the most recent movie in the top ten is The Godfather: Part II, released 41 years ago. Only six films from the 21st Century made it into the top 100, chosen by critics from around the world.

Why is this? “Movie studios don’t make ground-breaking films any more,” cultural critic Noah Gittell tells Tom Brook. “There are still ground-breaking films being made, but they’re independent films. While critics may be unanimous in their praise of some of these films, they don’t impact society as a whole to the same degree that some of these older films do.”

A movie’s reach can help it move up the rankings. “If you look at the top ten movies, these are movies that for the most part impacted society all at once, collectively, and movies just don’t do that any more,” says Gittell.

BBC Culture’s deputy editor Christian Blauvelt believes that hindsight is a leveller. “I think that critics really feel that time sanctifies, and that it’s only with the passage of some years – maybe even decades – that we truly understand what constitutes a classic.”

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