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Exploring the List 2011


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Around the beginning of the year, I made a loose goal to try to watch the rest of the films from the 2011 Top 100 List that I’ve never seen. Perhaps a little too ambitious for one year, but this list is the one that has been most productive for me of any film list I’ve really dug into over the years. I didn’t actually make a tally of the films I had yet to watch until March 1 (Ash Wednesday—I often try to watch Lenten appropriate films during Lent), and I had thirty left, although some are multi-film entries:

14 Three Colors Trilogy ("Trois couleurs") (1993, 1994, 1994)

20 La Promesse (1996)

28 Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

30 Into Great Silence ("Die grosse Stille") (2005)

31 Munyurangabo (2007)

32 Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito, Apu Sansar) (1955, 1956, 1959)

34 Nights of Cabiria (1957)

41 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)

43 Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys (2000)

51 Stroszek (1977)

54 Still Life ("Sanxia haoren") (2006)

56 Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)

57 Eureka (2000)

58 Heartbeat Detector ("La question humaine") (2007)

59 Summer Hours ("L'heure d'été") (2008)

72 Paris, Texas (1984)

75 Return, The (Vozvrashchenie) (2003)

80 Paprika (2006)

81 Floating Weeds ("Ukigusa") (1959)

82 Born Into Brothels (2004)

84 Syndromes and a Century ("Sang sattawat") (2006)

85 After Life (“Wandafuru raifu”) (1999)

86 Spirited Away (2001)

87 Trial, The (1962)

93 Spirit of the Beehive, The (El espíritu de la colmena) (1973)

94 Early Summer ("Bakushû") (1951)

97 Sophie Scholl: die letzten Tag (Sophie Scholl: the Final Days)(2005)

98 Ratcatcher (1999)

99 Iron Giant, The (1999)

100 The Story of the Weeping Camel (2003)


I realize from this tally of 30 films I’ve yet to watch that they are pretty representative of my cinematic gaps overall:

Non-Anglophone European (12 films)

Asian (12)

Animated (4…out of 5 total in the Top 100)

1999-2008 (18)

(I’m actually surprised there are that many recent films on the Top 100. These are just the ones I haven’t seen!)

Edited by Rob Z
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On 4/12/2017 at 1:18 PM, Rob Z said:

Ozu is not particularly my cup of tea either. But "boring" isn't a word I'd use to describe his films. "Slow-paced" perhaps, but nevertheless engaging. Honestly, I think boredom with a work of art has more to do with the disposition of the viewer than the work itself. I tend to find Hollywood superhero movies "boring," for instance. Viewer experience is an important part of interpreting a film for me, but only to the extent that I know myself as a viewer, including my weaknesses. (And I'm not saying you don't, but there was a time when I probably would have found Ozu boring, too, and it corresponded to a time when I was less mature in my understanding of film.) We all find different things entertaining, I guess. And Bicycle Thieves certainly doesn't conform to conventions that some film watchers are accustomed to, especially current Hollywood conventions. I had the good fortune to first see it shown as part of a college world cinema class, so that helped me appreciate it even though I may not have been "entertained." We probably just disagree on the value of "entertainment." I do think viewer engagement is important, but see my previous comment. To be honest, I think that films are often "entertaining" at the expense of developing deeper artistic or spiritual profundity, which I personally value more.

I couldn't agree more with you on this and I will certainly try to change the word "boring" when describing works of art from now on :) But don't get me wrong: The passion of Joan of Arc is indeed one of my favorites and I have appreciated other silent films such as La Vie et la Passion de Jésus Christ which I believe it has phenomenal special effects for its time; so I don't believe I am that "Modern Hollywood-oriented". I just would say that a top 100 film list should have movies that contain both viewer engagement, as you call it, and also deep artistic or spiritual profundity as well. An example of that is "Rome, open city" which was included in the 2010 list but was left out in the 2011's.

On 4/12/2017 at 1:18 PM, Rob Z said:
On 4/12/2017 at 1:18 PM, Rob Z said:

Again, we all live out our spirituality differently, and find different things "spiritual" in film. For some, it has more to do with the "art," and I believe these three you mention are all very fine works of art. For some, it has more to do with "faith." Of course spirituality has other aspects, and both are integral aspects to spirituality. I'd argue that the aesthetic and the religious (broadly defined) are integral to human personhood--and if you believe humans are made in God's image, then pretty much anything can be spiritual to some extent! 

Great! I also think they are fine works of art. But if they are in an Arts and Faith top list, one expects they will have both art and faith complements


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On 4/12/2017 at 1:18 PM, Rob Z said:

One of the reasons I love this list of films is that it has expanded my understanding of spirituality. While I certainly don't agree with everything on the list, as I mentioned, I trust the A&F community's judgment, and it hasn't disappointed. It's helped me to approach the list not as an exercise in seeing whether or not I agree with a film's placement on the list. Instead, I watch to film to be challenged. Instead of judging the films (though that's unavoidable), I try to let the films judge me.

You're right, I probably started in this community a little bit negative showing my point of views but I guess you understand that one has to have references when taking a list into consideration. If I wouldn't have liked all 12 films I've seen from the list, I wouldn't have even mind to leave a comment here because I would presume no other film from the list would be good for me. But the list seems to have lots to offer and I just went ahead and pointed out a few negative aspects about it just because I would like it to be better. I also understand I could be wrong and you also have clarified some of these negative aspects to me as well. Thanks

On 4/12/2017 at 1:18 PM, Rob Z said:

An example of this from the Top 100 is Dogville. It's a difficult film, and I utterly disagree with what I take the film's worldview to be. Ultimately, I think it is anti-gospel. But it taught me a lot about human nature, including my own veniality and need for God's grace, in addition to showing me things done with cinema that I hadn't even considered were possible before.

I'll take that into consideration.

On 4/11/2017 at 8:32 AM, Joel Mayward said:

Welcome to A&F, Mau! Watching all 100 of the films is quite an endeavor. 

I really appreciate, dear friends, everything you both mentioned. It seems we enjoy encountering the Truth through art. Blessings

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On 4/11/2017 at 8:32 AM, Joel Mayward said:

I wonder how you define "blasphemous," a word you used in the Gospel According to St Matthew thread, and perhaps what you criteria would consider to be "spiritually significant" within a film. Perhaps your definitions might evolve or change after watching more films on the list. I'm also curious as to what you found to be boring with Late Spring, Bicycle Thieves, and Chariots of Fire, three incredibly different films in terms of both form and content--what makes a film "boring" for you, and why is that considered a negative attribute?

Blasphemous for me would be something that doesn't take serious nothing related to God or his Holy things. Of course, there are levels for that, being the worst "sacrilege", a direct violation or injure against the Holy. Anything that defend, promote or just consider God, any of his Holy things or even a single christian virtue would be spiritually significant within a film for me.

Maybe I saw Chariots of Fire in a time when I wasn't educated about real important artistic films yet. However, I must say that these 3 films seem to show regular-normal everyday life topics and actions that happen to almost everyone in a lifetime, decorated with slow-paced filming techniques. I must confess, Realism is not my favorite movement and in these movies it just worsen my experience. I could include there also Grapes of wrath, a movie that in my opinion should be of interest only for american citizens. Even though I do recognize some sense of art and coherence in them, that doesn't seem enough to consider them historically, artistically, culturally or spiritually significant classics.

I don't think of them as "bad" films but I'm certain I wasted my time watching them because they didn't give me anything special. I mean, Bicycle thieves ends up the same way as it starts... Late Spring shows a buddhist type of life which I'm not interested in following (spinsterhood doesn't seem to be positive there) and Chariots of Fire in my opinion is too much conversational for a story that could have had more action and/or suspense.

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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 year later...

I just finished making my way through all the films in the 2011 Top 100! The last one I saw was After Life—what a neat and quirky film to end on.

Here are a couple thoughts I had reflecting on the list as a whole.

There is a lot of overlap in the list with the 2012 Sight and Sound list, especially toward the top of that list. Seven films in the top 10 of the 2012 Sight & Sound poll are on the 2011 Top 100 list. Eighteen of the top S&S 47 are on the A&F list and 27 overlap from the S&S top 100 and the A&F top 100. That’s the Critics List. From the Directors List, 6 of the top 10 are in the A&F Top 100, 15 of the top 36, 20 of the top 43, and 27 of the top 100. Lots of great films on both lists, obviously! I’m glad the lists don’t overlap any more than they do.

Compared with other lists of top films, there’s a lot more room on the A&F list for quirky films or ones that are great films that deal with issues of morality, faith, or religion but aren’t necessarily consensus masterpieces in film history. I like that the list is of great “Arts AND Faith” films, not “arts and/or faith” or just great artistic films appreciated by people who also appreciate faith. I was most grateful for the films on the list that addressed issues of faith directly.

There is a lot of death in the Top 100 films. Just going down the list from memory, I count 67 films in which someone dies, and often the death is of a central character or serves as a central plot driver. Plus there are many more films in which no one actually dies in the film but where the death of someone important to the film’s story died before the actual narrative of the film begins, for instance

The Son, Ponette, Munyarangabo, Heartbeat Detector, After Life

. Death by falling from a high place was something that at least 4 films featured prominently. Anyway, I appreciated how thoroughly these films are invested in exploring the deepest questions around life, which often involve thinking about death and its consequences.

Having made it through the 2011 Top 100, I am eager to participate on an update to the Top 100!

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  • 1 year later...

If anyone is still trying to make their way through the 2011 list 9 years later, a film that I've long had trouble tracking down: 2000's Eureka is now playing on MUBI in Canada. I'm hoping to check it out in the next month.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut


Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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