Perhaps so, Tashman.
Not having looked at the SIGHT AND SOUND 2002 Poll in a couple of years, I did as you suggested.
The first thing which struck me was that I didn't understand immediately the methodology of the Poll. I take it that the votes were weighted and/or allocated by a standard established in earlier SIGHT AND SOUND polls. Fair enough.
Secondly, I was embarrassed by how few of the critics cited I was familiar with, or had even heard of. This may be put down to the fact that I tend to go my own way. Critics to me are tied to the publications in which they appear. I go for a Christian Science Monitor, The Village Voice, The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Chicago Reader, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, etc. I recognize critics who work for the publications I consult.
Thirdly, it came to me that though SIGHT AND SOUND is known for its Critics Poll, I really thought in terms of directors, and only in 2002 were directors added, possibly in hopes that the conclusions might be a bit different. There were differences, below the Number One Spot. The critics, for instance, liked VERTIGO for Number Two, but the directors preferred 8 1/2. [Is a psychological commentary lurking in those choices?] Both groups, however, picked CITIZEN KANE as the Best Film of All Time, as the critics had in 1962,1972, 1982, and 1992.
Not only that but the critics have picked Welles as Best Director for five decades.
Obviously, no matter the methodology, no matter the group, Welles is the man, and CITIZEN KANE is the picture.
As an anecdotal aside, I had the honor last Sunday to meet and chat with Directors Paul Mazursky (ENEMIES: A LOVE STORY) and Joe Dante (GREMLINS), seasoned and accomplished veterans from two generations. Both spoke admiringly of Welles. In the SIGHT AND SOUND POLL, I notice that Dante picked CITIZEN KANE for first, but Mazursky took BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, with CITIZEN KANE second. They both picked Welles as the best director of all time.
My personal experience doesn't prove much, but does confirm that two contemporary directors seem not to have changed their minds about Welles in the last four years.
Thank you, Tashman, for encouraging us to actually go back to look at those poll results.
While I'm at it, let's get back to Our Poll. Let me throw in another reason why CITIZEN KANE should, in my opinion, be considered his best: Of the films listed, only CITIZEN KANE and F FOR FAKE are comtemporaneous and original. "The Making of Othello" to one side (not a serious contender), all the others are adaptations and set in the past (MACBETH, OTHELLO, CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT) or are dark fables (THE TRIAL, THE IMMORTAL STORY). Most critical evaluations of modern literature or drama give higher marks to works which are original and set in the life and times of the creator. By that criteria, CITIZEN KANE again should be Number One (as it is), but F FOR FAKE, an original and brilliant film which meets all the other tests, should be much higher on our list.
To sum up, may we agree that the poorest of Welles' films might vie to be equal to many recognized directors' best ones?