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2011 Methodology

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Posted · Report post

It's time to start discussing how we are going to run nominations and voting this year. Here are some of the things suggested last year that we need to discuss:

  • How trilogies or series of films are to be nominated
  • Films vs TV miniseries (is Kieslowski's Decalogue bending the rules?)
  • Any other lists we might want to grandfather in (Sight and Sound?). Last year we grandfathered in all Top100 winning films of the past, but no outside lists.
  • Remembering to nominate the classics like The Godfather and Citizen Kane, etc.
  • Whether we should reconsider the scale. 1 to 5 or 1 to 10?
  • Aesthetics and usability of the poll: ease of voting, etc.
  • Thinning out nominees that received the lowest scores.
  • Cut-off point for directors (Example: no more than 3-5 films).

We welcome more suggestions.

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Posted · Report post

BtW, my name is Markus, and I am a new intern at IMAGE this year. I will be assisting in the A&F Top 100 Films for 2011. It looks like you guys have a great community here; I look forward to hearing your feedback to improve the system this year.

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Posted · Report post

Apologies if this isn't the appropriate time or place for this suggestion. As I mentioned soon after the 2010 list was announced, my only complaint with it was that we'd somehow managed to overlook all of classic Hollywood cinema:

A Man for All Seasons (#31), It's a Wonderful Life (#45), and Song of Bernadette (#100) are the only films on our entire list that were made in the classic Hollywood studio era! That reveals a major flaw of some sort in our system, as far as I'm concerned. Whether or not Vertigo, Sunset Blvd., and Lawrence of Arabia, specifically, deserve to be on the list is less of an issue to me than the fact that we've somehow managed to exclude Hitchcock and Wilder, along with John Ford, Nicholas Ray, William Wyler, Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, Stanley Donen, Michael Curtiz, George Cukor, Vincent Minelli, Leo McCarey, Elia Kazan, Joseph Mankiewicz, Jacques Tourneur, King Vidor, Raoul Walsh, Otto Preminger, and on and on.

Why this happened probably boils down to a lot of factors:

1. Our group has a tendency to not watch and/or discuss films from this era, which makes it difficult to build consensus. (Wasn't Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives nominated? I know I gave it five stars!)

2. Those terms "faith" and "spirituality" create a bias against genre films. (I'll put the existential angst of Nicholas Ray's noir In a Lonely Place up against Bergman's Scandinavian agnosticism any day of the week.)

3. Not enough of us (myself included) contributed to the nomination process. (Many of the "glacial" films on the list are holdovers from early incarnations of this board, when a few of us were downright obsessed with a certain kind of explicitly "transcendent" aesthetic.)

4. We're a bunch of liars who vote the way we think we should vote instead of voting our true feelings.

I'd go so far as to say that the omission of the 20 filmmakers I mentioned above reveals a fatal flaw of our list, and I'd love to have a discussion of how it might be remedied on this go-round.

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Posted · Report post

I think limiting films per director to a maximum of three would help with Darren's valid concern.

If we're allowing The Decalog, I think we need to be consistent and allow for other television programs/series to be nominated.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Greetings, Markus!

I'd hope to see The Decalog cut, because if we include it, why not The Wire? And if we include The Wire... well, other TV titles will start piling up. Maybe one of these years we could organize The Arts and Faith Top 25 Achievements in Television.

I'd like to see trilogies broken up. (I'd argue that Blue belongs in the Top 100 but White doesn't.)

I agree with Darren's notes about the "fatal flaw," but I'm not sure what to do about it short of a dedicated film club in which we watch some of the classics and discuss them (and I will probably fail at any commitment to that this year).

Grandfathering in: Sight and Sound's list, definitely.

Edited by Overstreet

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Posted · Report post

The films-vs-TV thing is tricky, because a number of 2- or 3-hour movies -- especially from Europe -- were originally produced for TV as 6-hour mini-series or whatever. Carlos (from France) is an example of just such a film that happens to be in theatres right now, but if we look at older films, we can find similar examples such as Das Boot (from Germany) and, turning to an example that sits on the current incarnation of the A&F list as we speak, Fanny and Alexander (from Sweden).

Heck, even in the case of Dekalog, two of its episodes were expanded and re-edited into feature-length films (A Short Film about Killing and A Short Film about Love).

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Posted · Report post

Re: trilogies, I don't mind keeping trilogies intact when they were conceived as trilogies and shot simultaneously (e.g. The Lord of the Rings or Three Colours -- my favorite of which, back when I saw all three films, was White, but anyhoo). In cases like that, what you really have is one movie split into three sections (so there's sort of a parallel, there, to the question of films that have been condensed from TV mini-series).

I think keeping trilogies intact would be less justifiable in the case of, say, the Star Wars trilogy, however, since each film was written and produced without any clear idea of where the next film might go, and each film was made by a different director, etc.

Incidentally, this kind of has implications for how we regard TV shows, as well: A mini-series can be a single, distinct work of art with a beginning, middle and end -- but an ongoing TV show can have different writers, editors and even producers over the course of its lifespan, resulting in all sorts of inconsistencies, not unlike the inconsistencies that we see in the Star Wars trilogy. So accepting Dekalog as an A&F contender would not, by any means, require us to accept The Wire or Battlestar Galactica, etc., etc.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I strongly ask that we not "grandfather" in outside lists that don't represent any faith perspective (such as Sight and Sound). The Christian faith perspective that we bring is what makes our list worth making.

Edited by David Smedberg

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Posted · Report post

One way we could address our "classic Hollywood blinders" is to auto-nominate movies from something like the AFI 100 list. If we went that route, though, I think there should be a vetting committee or something that would be responsible for deleting AFI movies we definitely don't want on our list.

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Posted · Report post

Another consideration: Do we want to consider shorts again this year?

My take on getting the "classics" considered: Members should post them in the nominations thread. If they don't get posted, they don't get voted on. That's not a fatal flaw. It's an easily remedied one.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

What David and Ed said. Grandfathering in other lists would seem to make the nomination/voting process more cumbersome than necessary. Nominating films should require some deliberation on the nominator's part and shouldn't be an automatic thing.

Edited by Andrew

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Nominating films should require some deliberation on the nominator's part and shouldn't be an automatic thing.

I agree, and think this extends to the trilogy/TV/short format issue. If you want to nominate something on the border of those distinctions, make a cogent argument for it. Anarchy is an important methodological component of this list.

Edited by M. Leary

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I don't think we should grandfather in other lists. Grandfathering previous A&F lists is already cumbersome enough. Similarly, nobody should feel we have to nominate the "classics" (if you ask me, many of the classics have overstated reputations); we should nominate what we're passionate about and fight for it. We have no duty to choose the agreed-upon masterpieces of the critical community. As far as I'm concerned, the more surprising and unusual choices, the better.

I would hope to see some truly vibrant discussion about the nominees and the validity of each; that didn't happen so much last time around except right near the end, so we should brainstorm about how to foster that kind of discussion earlier on.

I do think we should have a cut-off for directors at 3 films. Personally, I'd bring it down further; two films per director sounds right to me, and it only further encourages variety.

Another thing: we should not be permitted to nominate a film from the last few years. In reflection, I'm not quite happy about what happened with our last list and A SERIOUS MAN (which I actually nominated, I believe). I'm not sure what the cut-off should be, but two or three years sounds about right.

Do we want to reconsider how we "weigh" the votes of members according to their activity in/history with the community? I agree with the general notion of that idea--the established A&F folk should have a strong voice--but can't recall quite how they did it last time around.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Posted · Report post

Do we want to reconsider how we "weigh" the votes of members according to their activity in/history with the community? I agree with the general notion of that idea--the established A&F folk should have a strong voice--but can't recall quite how they did it last time around.

It was weighted according to post count.

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Posted · Report post

Do we want to reconsider how we "weigh" the votes of members according to their activity in/history with the community? I agree with the general notion of that idea--the established A&F folk should have a strong voice--but can't recall quite how they did it last time around.

It was weighted according to post count.

I'd be curious to see how different the list might have been without that weighting. (And I say that as one who carries significant weight based on number of posts.)

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Posted · Report post

Similarly, nobody should feel we have to nominate the "classics"

Ryan, I assume this is in response to my comment about our list's lack of films from the Classical Hollywood era. For what it's worth, I'm not arguing for the inclusion of any particular canonized films; I just think that when we manage to exclude what is generally considered by film critics and historians to be the most important mode of film production ever that our reasons for doing so should be opened for scrutiny. I've participated in various incarnations of this board for nearly a decade now and am proud of how this list has evolved, but I honestly think that the Hollywood-sized hole in the 2010 list makes the entire project suspect.

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Posted · Report post

Similarly, nobody should feel we have to nominate the "classics"

Ryan, I assume this is in response to my comment about our list's lack of films from the Classical Hollywood era. For what it's worth, I'm not arguing for the inclusion of any particular canonized films; I just think that when we manage to exclude what is generally considered by film critics and historians to be the most important mode of film production ever that our reasons for doing so should be opened for scrutiny. I've participated in various incarnations of this board for nearly a decade now and am proud of how this list has evolved, but I honestly think that the Hollywood-sized hole in the 2010 list makes the entire project suspect.

I'm with Darren, in the sense that if this list were a scholarly project that was being peer-reviewed, that gaping hole would need to be explained. If someone has a good explanation as to why some of the films from the Classical Hollywood era, I'd like to hear it. But I'm afraid that (and this goes for me as well) we're actually just under-watched in that area.

This gap, and a difficulty for today's generation to deal with these films, is coming out as I am currently TAing for a Film & Narrative course.

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Posted · Report post

Ryan H. wrote:

: Similarly, nobody should feel we have to nominate the "classics" (if you ask me, many of the classics have overstated reputations) . . .

As Darren and Anders just noted, the issue here is not whether or not we've nominated "classics" (in point of fact, we HAVE; they just tend to be "arthouse" classics or "spiritual" classics, and yes, I think some of THOSE films have overstated reputations too). The issue here is whether the "Classical Hollywood era", as Darren puts it, is appropriately represented here.

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Posted · Report post

I guess another way of putting this is, if I clicked a link to a list of the Arts and Faith Top 100 Films and discovered that it didn't include any films by Tarkovsky, Bresson, and Dreyer, I'd question the qualifications of the voters to make such a list. Likewise, a film list that excludes Ford, Welles, Hitchcock, Hawks, Ray, and so on is open for similar criticism. Don't get me wrong, I'm sick of seeing the same titles pop up again and again in every film list, and I think the left-field choices in our voting are what make our list more interesting and , for lack of a better word, pedagogical.

I know we have threads here and there devoted to films of this era, and I don't want to pull discussion away from them, but maybe we could try something as simple as starting a nominations thread dedicated specifically to films of the Hollywood studio era. Citizen Kane and Vertigo aren't necessarily the greatest films ever made, but they're canonized because a general (and generally wise, I'd argue) consensus has built up around them. If we were to have a nominations thread like the one I've proposed, maybe it would attract a bit more concentrated attention and increase our odds of building momentum behind a few titles. I can think of four or five films already that I know would make the list if eight or ten more people watched them.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Similarly, nobody should feel we have to nominate the "classics"

Ryan, I assume this is in response to my comment about our list's lack of films from the Classical Hollywood era.

No, not at all. The list needs a stronger Hollywood presence, and I've complained about that before. I've argued for VERTIGO before, and will nominate it again this time out (I also intend to nominate BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, SUNSET BOULEVARD, and WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?). But we shouldn't grandfather the likes of Sight and Sound or AFI to accomplish that end. I want to see Welles make the list, but I'd sooner see TOUCH OF EVIL or CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT or THE TRIAL on the list (and yes, I know the latter two aren't from Welles' Hollywood days) than CITIZEN KANE. My general point is that there's a great deal of richness to Hollywood cinema that goes beyond the usual headliners, and I'd rather see that represented than the usual suspects.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Posted · Report post

Ooooooh, The Trial! Now we're talkin'.

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Posted · Report post

I strongly ask that we not "grandfather" in outside lists that don't represent any faith perspective (such as Sight and Sound). The Christian faith perspective that we bring is what makes our list worth making.

I concur with David on this.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I don't think we should grandfather in other lists. Grandfathering previous A&F lists is already cumbersome enough. Similarly, nobody should feel we have to nominate the "classics" (if you ask me, many of the classics have overstated reputations); we should nominate what we're passionate about and fight for it. We have no duty to choose the agreed-upon masterpieces of the critical community. As far as I'm concerned, the more surprising and unusual choices, the better.

I would hope to see some truly vibrant discussion about the nominees and the validity of each; that didn't happen so much last time around except right near the end, so we should brainstorm about how to foster that kind of discussion earlier on.

I do think we should have a cut-off for directors at 3 films. Personally, I'd bring it down further; two films per director sounds right to me, and it only further encourages variety.

Excellent points from Ryan here, especially about 2 films per director.

If someone likes the AFI or other "standard" lists & want to use them as sources for his/her own nominations, fine, but use some discrimination in picking and choosing.

Another reason for not automatically chucking one or more of these pre-made lists in is that a lot of the same titles/directors are duplicated from one list to the next. If the A&F list turns out similarly--fine, but let it be because those were our choices, not because we were following the crowds.

Another thing: we should not be permitted to nominate a film from the last few years. ... I'm not sure what the cut-off should be, but two or three years sounds about right.

It seems to me that one time we couldn't nominate films from the previous year (e.g., 2010). I would be in favor of giving films at least a year to percolate before they're eligible. I could live with two.

Edited by BethR

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Posted · Report post

Ooooooh, The Trial! Now we're talkin'.

Glad to have some support on that one. I love Welles' THE TRIAL.

Excellent points from Ryan here, especially about 2 films per director.

Glad to see somebody agrees with me on the "two films" notion.

It seems to me that one time we couldn't nominate films from the previous year (e.g., 2010). I would be in favor of giving films at least a year to percolate before they're eligible. I could live with two.

Yeah, a year at the very minimum.

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Posted · Report post

As still a fairly new participant in Arts and Faith (at least compared to most of you) I've never participated in voting or nominations for the list yet. I will say that I've found the Top 100 Films list very useful for finding great recommendations of films I'd never hear about anywhere else.

But I've always assumed the "skew" in the list was due to the fact that it's a Top 100 films that are significant for purposes of faith and spirituality, and not a Top 100 list of the greatest films ever made. This is true, right? Of course, you'd think great directors like Alfred Hitchcock should go in any top 100 list, but on a list for faith and spirituality? Perhaps not. For example, Rope might be the most spiritually significant film he's made (the whole film pretty much being a conflict between characters who believe morality is relative (and entirely based on survival of the fittest) and their professor who is at least suddenly realizing he believes moral law is absolute). But then Rope could also be said to be more philosophical than spiritual.

I don't know if I'd even try and nominate anything yet, but I look forward to following everyone's discussion on this. Should get some more good recommendations out of it, even when all the nominations don't make the top 100.

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