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Anna J

Top 100 2011: Nomination and Discussion

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IMO, feature length is 90 minutes, but I wouldn't press the point on this one. (Some might?)

Do you really want to be the one to disqualify Jonah Hex from the list?

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"Arts and Faith" refers to our community. That's who we are, artsandfaith.com. Thus, if a member of the "Arts and Faith" community thinks that any particular movie is good enough, that's sufficient criterion to justify nominating/voting it onto the list right now. The degree to which the member's faith is educating their opinion of the movie could be nil.

If that's true, then isn't this post by Jeffrey, that we've got linked to the top of our Top 100 list, no longer completely true?

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"Arts and Faith" refers to our community. That's who we are, artsandfaith.com. Thus, if a member of the "Arts and Faith" community thinks that any particular movie is good enough, that's sufficient criterion to justify nominating/voting it onto the list right now. The degree to which the member's faith is educating their opinion of the movie could be nil.

If that's true, then isn't this post by Jeffrey, that we've got linked to the top of our Top 100 list, no longer completely true?

Well, we didn't have Jeffrey's post prior to voting, and many of us were thinking along David Smedberg's lines at that time of voting, so I've always thought Jeffrey's post somewhat problematic in how it describes the intent of the community behind the list. But working as a description of the existing 2010 list, rather than the intent behind it, Jeffrey's post does mostly make sense; looking over it, the 2010 list is fairly "spiritual" in emphasis, as I suspect any list put together by our community will be, regardless of how we vote. The films we tend to get passionate about often have some "spiritual" dimension.

I am hoping we get a somewhat more diverse list this year. We have a great set of new nominees.

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OK, this is super duper early but having just completed the voting, I've just thought of a film that every darn year I think 'why isn't that on the list?', and always forget. This year it was partly because I was teaching and have been overwhelmed with prep/marking work for the past few weeks so didn't have time to consider this properly. Anyway, what I was wondering is whether it would be worth starting a discussion thread for nominations early, so that people can add to it as and when films occur to them. It may also help people to think more carefully as to whether they really wish to nominate it or withdraw it later in the year.

Anyway, the film I wish I had nominated is Mephisto, (István Szabó, 1981).

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Anyway, what I was wondering is whether it would be worth starting a discussion thread for nominations early, so that people can add to it as and when films occur to them. It may also help people to think more carefully as to whether they really wish to nominate it or withdraw it later in the year.

There was one started in February of this year. It's right here.

Anyway, the film I wish I had nominated is Mephisto, (István Szabó, 1981).

I've been dying to see that.

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aha! i did search but obviously not well enough. My bad.

Mephisto is definitely worth getting a hold of. I was really struck by it when I saw it years back, some of the scenes are really etched in my memory.

Darn it, now I've started thinking about this film, I am coming up with more nominations - Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow, and The Conformist.

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Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow

Second.

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Shoot me if you want to, but my feeling is that Jeffrey's interpretation is the best one for this list.

I have no doubts that this community can pick a list of the Top 100 Films Ever Made that is utterly terrific from an aesthetic point of view.

But if this community is to offer a list to the world, shouldn't it a list be grounded in the very identity of the community?

Shouldn't it at least be "The Top 100 Films Ever Made from the Point of View of Those Who Take the Arts and Faith Seriously"?

That's perhaps a wee bit broader than "The Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films."

Having said that, I have a fairly broad concept of how "arts and faith" can be interpreted in the light of a film's meaning and approach.

And along those lines I thought last year's list was perfectly within the framework set forth by Jeffrey (who, I should say, is not setting policy in any way but interpreting in his own way our intent; the IMAGE staff gave him no directions on that piece).

Unless we want to somehow make the list private to this board, which would seem a shame (IMHO).

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Shouldn't it at least be "The Top 100 Films Ever Made from the Point of View of Those Who Take the Arts and Faith Seriously"?

Could it ever be anything else?

And along those lines I thought last year's list was perfectly within the framework set forth by Jeffrey (who, I should say, is not setting policy in any way but interpreting in his own way our intent; the IMAGE staff gave him no directions on that piece).

Good to know.

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Greg Wolfe wrote:

: Shouldn't it at least be "The Top 100 Films Ever Made from the Point of View of Those Who Take the Arts and Faith Seriously"?

FWIW, it occurs to me that, just because the VOTERS take arts and faith seriously, it does not necessarily follow that the FILMS will take arts and faith seriously. So to the extent that any description of this list describes each and every FILM on the list as raising provocative spiritual questions, etc., that might be accidentally true, but it is NOT something that we the voters have necessarily been taking into account during our voting. It might be an accurate comment on the results, but it is NOT an accurate comment on the methodology that led to those results. FWIW.

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I agree, Peter. That's why the list used to include the phrase "spiritually significant."

But even if we have removed the phrase as redundant we have not removed the rationale behind the phrase: what are the 100 best films ever made that resonate with faith?

Make "resonate" as broad and mysterious as you like. (And I think that it is precisely how broad and mysterious we've been that has excited fascination with this list.)

But listen for that resonance and nominate accordingly.

I think that is legitimately the origin and purpose of this list.

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But even if we have removed the phrase as redundant we have not removed the rationale behind the phrase: what are the 100 best films ever made that resonate with faith?

This strikes me as a fair rationale, and I'll defend every one of my nominations as having that "resonance." But talking about "resonance" allows for things to be a bit broader than how Jeffrey defined the list, in which he suggested every film wrestles with questions that can be called spiritual. I don't think we need to say that these works of art wrestle with spiritual questions for them to resonate with faith.

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Ryan H. wrote:

: This strikes me as a fair rationale, and I'll defend every one of my nominations as having that "resonance." But talking about "resonance" allows for things to be a bit broader than how Jeffrey defined the list, in which he suggested every film wrestles with questions that can be called spiritual. I don't think we need to say that these works of art wrestle with spiritual questions for them to resonate with faith.

Yeah, exactly.

Since Ryan and I are both Fantasia fans, I'll cite that as an example of a film that very clearly "resonates" with spiritual issues -- and it might even provoke some thought about spiritual questions, inasmuch as it juxtaposes Darwinian evolution, Greek mythology and Catholic spirituality, among other things -- but I wouldn't say the film "wrestles" with any of those questions. I wouldn't even say it revels in them. It's not interested in "questions", per se; it's just a celebration of what it means to be human and creative (through music and visual arts, especially, but also through dance and story and even, in one case, science -- to say nothing of the uniquely modern, technological artform (i.e. cinema) that brings all these things together).

I can't recall if Fantasia has ever appeared on previous incarnations of this list, but I still think it's a prime contender for any Top 100 list, especially one that is all about the arts and faith.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Ryan H. wrote:

: This strikes me as a fair rationale, and I'll defend every one of my nominations as having that "resonance." But talking about "resonance" allows for things to be a bit broader than how Jeffrey defined the list, in which he suggested every film wrestles with questions that can be called spiritual. I don't think we need to say that these works of art wrestle with spiritual questions for them to resonate with faith.

Yeah, exactly.

Since Ryan and I are both Fantasia fans, I'll cite that as an example of a film that very clearly "resonates" with spiritual issues -- and it might even provoke some thought about spiritual questions, inasmuch as it juxtaposes Darwinian evolution, Greek mythology and Catholic spirituality, among other things -- but I wouldn't say the film "wrestles" with any of those questions. I wouldn't even say it revels in them. It's not interested in "questions", per se; it's just a celebration of what it means to be human and creative (through music and visual arts, especially, but also through dance and story and even, in one case, science -- to say nothing of the uniquely modern, technological artform (i.e. cinema) that brings all these things together).

I can't recall if Fantasia has ever appeared on previous incarnations of this list, but I still think it's a prime contender for any Top 100 list, especially one that is all about the arts and faith.

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Now along the lines of defending unseconded nominations to the Top A&F Horror Films -

I'm just going to focus on two of the most important ones.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) - William Dieterle

- While a lot of high praise has been given to Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney for their various and famous monster performances, there will always be one performance that tops them all in my opinion, and that's Charles Laughton's Quasimodo. I don't know if any other famous monster story explores the morality of man faced with monster more than Victor Hugo's hunchback story. Quasimodo may actually be more human than Frankenstein, Dracula, or almost any other famous monster, but because of his deformity, ugliness, and disabilities, it virtually impossible for him to communicate this to any other human. So he acts the part of the beast, at least until he comes smack up against good and evil, personified by the girl Esmerelda (a young Maureen O'Hara) and his adoptive father Frollo (Cedric Hardwicke out of his usual character). It's by choosing sides between good and evil, and willingness to self-sacrifice that Quasimodo eventually succeeds in proving to a few others that he is a man after all. Unfortunately, the question remains at the end whether he's succeeding at proving this to himself. There are scenes from this film that scared me when I was little and that I will never ever forget (the hunchback chasing Esmerelda through the dark slums of Paris, the beggars appearing out of thin air like a lethal swarm of dirty flies, the hunchback roaring with joy as he conducts a battle singlehanded against a mob attacking the church, and the final showdown between him and Frollo including a demonstration of which of the two can stand taller over the other). An amazing film, and, in my book, one of the best horror themed films ever made.

Fallen (1998) - Gregory Hoblit (possible spoilers if you haven't been paying any attention for the last 12 years)

- Let's just say that their are very few films that actually have scared me. Fallen scared me, and still scares me whenever I watch it. It has by far the creepiest "chase scene" ever portrayed on film. There are probably a hundred different films about demons and demon possession, but in Fallen Azazel always struck me as seemingly the most real - perhaps because Hoblit somehow succeeds in giving him a personality without ever giving him an actor or CGI'd body. Forget all those Frank Pereti stories, if you want a sense of what it feels like to have spiritual warfare around you, just watch Fallen. And yet, Fallen is also the story of dangerous, malevolent evil coming up against righteousness. Denzel Washington's John Hobbes character is righteous. He may not even believe in God at the beginning of the story, but he certainly does by the end. And confronted with the magnitude of the spiritual world around him, he can only make one choice and that is to join in the fight on one of these sides. A lot of my friends hate the ending, but the point is that Hobbes succeeds in fighting. In Hobbes, Azazel comes up against someone he can't overcome. If Hobbes has any weakness, it is relying too much on himself. It makes one wonder at the possibilities if a man like Hobbes was convinced to rely on God instead of so much on himself. All in all, it begins like your average intelligent murder mystery, but suddenly turns into one of the scariest and most haunting films I've ever seen.

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