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The 2006 Arts & Faith Top100 List of Spiritually Significant Films

61 posts in this topic

: 94. A Moment of Innocence (4.89, 9 votes)

Yes. Yes. Oh happy yes. Some of the good in this new list I had some reasonable hope for, but I was not at all expecting The Bread and the Vase/A Moment of Innocence to make the list. I would like to hug my other eight voters.

All in all, there's seven new/returning from '04 films that I'm very happy to see, and there's no film that fell off the list that makes me particularly sad. Good job, voters -- a stronger list than list year, I really and truly think.

Dale, temporary steroid insomniac

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This is a great list, excepting To End All Wars, and The Year of Living Dangerously. I haven't the slightest idea why this is a "spiritually significant" film compared to other choices from Weir's filmography.

The significant loss from last year seems to be 2001, perhaps its evolutionary connotations rub people the wrong way. It is very nice to have The Sweet Hereafter back.

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Happy well-deserved vacationing, Alan! I'm pretty happy with this list. Some not-surprising choices, some possibly controversial--a good thing, IMHO.

Most of the new additions and the returning films seem like appropriate choices. As for those that slipped away...somehow I suspect they won't be gone forever.

Guess I'd better put Andrei Rublev back in my Netflix queue and finish watching it this time ;)

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Two quick thoughts:

Rashomon fell off?! We must remedy that nexy year.

And now I have no excuse to put off seeing Koyaanisqatsi any more.

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Great stuff, Alan! Thanks for all your work on this.

Of the 145 films that have made an appearance on the A&F 100...

60 films have been on all three lists.

35 films have been on two of the three lists.

50 films have been on only one list.

Of the films which had been on both the 2004 and 2005 lists 7 dropped off in 2006;

2001: A Space Odyssey

Amadeus

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Life Is Beautiful

Lord Of The Rings

The Shawshank Redemption

Unforgiven

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Directors with 5 films on the 2006 list;

Bresson

Tarkovsky

Directors with 3 films on the 2006 list;

Bergman

Dardenne

Dreyer

Kiarostami

Rosselini

Directors with 2 films on the 2006 list;

Kieslowski

Kurosawa

Murnau

Rohmer

von Trier

Weir

Non-directing writers with 2 films on the 2006 list;

Foote

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Additions I'm happy to see:

  • AfterLife
  • Places in the Heart (the one I really wanted included)
  • Fiddler on the Roof (not sure how we ever justified it's absence).

It's nice to have Peter Weir back, even though the films here may not be my choice of his films to include.

I'll miss some that are going off, but it's nothing that challenges the integrity of the list.

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This is a great list, excepting To End All Wars, and The Year of Living Dangerously. I haven't the slightest idea why this is a "spiritually significant" film compared to other choices from Weir's filmography.

I'm sure this isn't the place to dig into this question, and I don't want to open (or find) a designated thread to do it up proper at the minute, but I will say this is the Weir film that affects me, personally, the most, and in ways that I would call spiritual. I suppose if my focus were on the love story (or the synth music) I might see it differently - that aspect doesn't seem particularly strong - but because my fascination is with Billy Kwan, and his relationships with the other two characters, I find most all of its central themes to be strongly connected with faith.

(Oh, what the heck. I kept writing, ended up with a paragraph or so, might as well cut it from here and paste it into an appropriate thread. The film is worth it.)

Edited by Ron

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The list looks pretty good from here. Glad to see Hell House back, as well as Fearless. Though for my money when talking about Weir, The Mosquito Coast or Picnic at Hanging Rock should come in ahead of The Year of Living Dangerously.

I especially miss Pickpocket and The Virgin Spring.

Of the new additions I haven't seen, I am most looking forward to After Life, A Moment of Innocence, Stromboli, and Summer.

I'm not sure I've heard of Most before. Is that the one that was Oscar nominated for best short film a few years ago?

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The list looks pretty good from here. Glad to see Hell House back, as well as Fearless. Though for my money when talking about Weir, The Mosquito Coast or Picnic at Hanging Rock should come in ahead of The Year of Living Dangerously.

Because you see them as better films, or because they have a stronger claim on "spiritual significance"?

I'm not sure I've heard of Most before. Is that the one that was Oscar nominated for best short film a few years ago?

Yes indeed.

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The list looks pretty good from here. Glad to see Hell House back, as well as Fearless. Though for my money when talking about Weir, The Mosquito Coast or Picnic at Hanging Rock should come in ahead of The Year of Living Dangerously.

Because you see them as better films, or because they have a stronger claim on "spiritual significance"?

Mostly because I think that on the whole, they are better films than YOLD (which, btw, I happen to like a good deal, in spite of the occasional synthesizer breaking into the action). Where YOLD makes an occasional misstep, I feel that in those other two, Weir largely avoids such problems.

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Yes, Most is a short. Nicely crafted, with enough characters for a feature-length film, but definitely a short.

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I find it odd that the rules governing shorts are so rigid but those governing the minimum number of votes required to be eligible are so elastic.

That's true, but I can understand the ruling for shorts. Even the best shorts every year are seen by a very few, and then are rendered hardly accessible to the average film watcher (unless they are interested in tracking down which annual DVD collection of shorts it may have popped up on and then trying to actually find this DVD through Netflix or something of that nature).

I would not at all be opposed to creating a smaller list of short films that fall out of the purview of the larger set. This could be quite helpful to someone wishing to broaden their film horizons even further. And, of course, would be fun.

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I've never heard of the 3rd most spiritually significant film. Does that mean I'm a bad critic or a bad Christian? ;)

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I think it just means you don't watch enough TV around the Christmas holidays.

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That is a good idea. Perhaps we could start a thread concerning possible nominations so that people can have a year to bone up on classic short films before actually having to vote on them.

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my review of the justly celebrated #3 film

one that brings nice diversity to the list. English language, family film, animation. and one of the more critically literate and responsible (yet reverent and devout) treatments of the Gospel text, AFAIK.

Matt, I read your review back when you first posted it. Nice piece! (Did the film really have a theatrical release in the UK? Cool!)

Edited by SDG

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Thanks!

Yeah it did, and it even showed in our local. Sadly only at 6pm so the theatre was quite empty. It worked out well actually cos at the time a mate of mine and I went to the cinema most weeks, so it was one of those natural opportunities to watch a film about Jesus with someone who wouldn't claim to follow him, and to be able to talk about it without it feeling like they were thinking they were getting the hard sell (which they weren't).

Matt (veering slightly off topic)

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I've never heard of the 3rd most spiritually significant film. Does that mean I'm a bad critic or a bad Christian? ;)

Or that you haven't been paying attention. This is the third year The Miracle Maker has been in the Top 100, last year at #23.

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You know... I like The Miracle Maker. The puppets are extraordinary, and the voice casting is well done. It treats the gospel with tenderness and choreographs some deeply moving moments.

But the hand-drawn animation sections really look like somebody stepped in to fill the gaps in order to meet a deadline. They're so jarringly incongruous with the detail and art of the rest of it that it really looks like a patch-up job.

The film strikes me as an impressive Sunday school feature. But as a work of art, is it really deserving of placing in the top three spiritually significant films ever made? I mean... is it a more astonishing, provocative, visionary work than The Decalogue, Babette's Feast, Au Hasard Balthazar, and Andrei Rublev? Really?

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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I tend to sympathize with Doug C. when he says "I like lists but I don't like ranking" (paraphrase).

Sure, #3 might seem a bit high, but I'm not surprised it was #23 last year, and I expect it to make the next list too (does it have to be next year?!). I for one voted that it "definitely belongs on the list," and apparently the feeling was widely shared. It's a "small miracle," perhaps, as I wrote in my review, but a miracle nonetheless.

The hand-drawn sections, I grant you, are nothing particularly special visually, though I think the conceit of using them to portray bits that in some way fall outside the straightforward narrative of the main story (dreams, memories, visions) works well.

Still and all, I think the film as a whole belongs on a shortlist of the best sacred art ever. I am not kidding. I wouldn't put it right under the Sistine Chapel ceiling and Rublev's Trinity and Handel's Messiah (to again invoke a triad of touchstones I used recently in another thread), but certainly when it comes to spiritual cinema it's going to make my top 100 every time.

As a narrative distillation and contextualization of essential gospel stories, it's right up there (on a family-oriented level, yes, but still) with The Man Born to Be King. The puppets, for me, give the film a kind of (literally) iconic transcendence not matched in any live-action or cel animation Jesus film. The film works for me on a quasi-ritual, quasi-liturgical level, and not many Jesus films do that for me.

And as Matt points out, it's virtually the only cinematic gospel account that does any kind of justice to the resurrection accounts. For that alone it's indispensable.

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I'm glad to see Ordet take the top spot. I'm also happy Koyaanisqatsi made the list. I love that movie. A bit dissapointed 2001 and Amadeus were dropped, but overall I think this might be be the best list yet. I'll try to vote next time and hopefully in the mean time particpate in the forums. I like what you guys are doing here.

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Sure, #3 might seem a bit high, but I'm not surprised it was #23 last year, and I expect it to make the next list too (does it have to be next year?!).

I am still unclear as to how ranking relates to votes, but I wouldn't be surprised if most people gave this a "definitely" straight away.

The hand-drawn sections, I grant you, are nothing particularly special visually, though I think the conceit of using them to portray bits that in some way fall outside the straightforward narrative of the main story (dreams, memories, visions) works well.

This unassuming set of production values also fits the material well. I don't mean that facetiously at all. Some of those scenes almost come across as "outsider art," and feel as genuine as a flannelgraph Sunday school lesson. For me, this is still the most moving Jesus film on repeated viewings.

As a narrative distillation and contextualization of essential gospel stories, it's right up there (on a family-oriented level, yes, but still) with The Man Born to Be King. The puppets, for me, give the film a kind of (literally) iconic transcendence not matched in any live-action or cel animation Jesus film. The film works for me on a quasi-ritual, quasi-liturgical level, and not many Jesus films do that for me.

And as Matt points out, it's virtually the only cinematic gospel account that does any kind of justice to the resurrection accounts. For that alone it's indispensable.

Great points all around. It decontextualizes the story of Jesus from the peripheral issues of representation that plague film. You can't really question it the same way one can endlessly interrogate TPoTC on a variety of moral, aesthetic, or theological levels. The film is wise as a serpent, but harmless as a dove. And I certainly hope that Matt's important point will be invalidated sometime in the years to come.

Edited by MLeary

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