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Darren H

Darren's Top 100

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After checking off the last of the Top 100 films, I thought it might be interesting to reshuffle them according to my personal preference. It's the kind of exercise that should probably be done quickly, without too much second-guessing, or with great deliberation. I chose the former. I maybe spent 10 minutes putting together my list, and, frankly, I doubt I'd be able to justify some of the exact ordering.

A couple thoughts on the Top 100, generally:

- There's a fun discussion about lists going on right now at my friend Girish's site. I thought about mentioning the A&F Top 100 there because it's a good example of how I like to use lists. When I find a list I trust, I'm much more willing to confront some of my own biases and expand my tastes. For example, with a library as deep as Netflix's at my disposal, I never would've chosen to "waste" a rental on Tender Mercies, but I love that film. Also, I never would've predicted that a stop-motion telling of the life of Jesus would make me cry.

- Even when I didn't particularly like one of the films on the Top 100 (usually either because it didn't mesh with my tastes or because I thought the filmmaking itself was pretty bad), I could understand why it deserved its spot. For example, Chariots of Fire, which came in dead last on my list and which I think is a badly made film, tells a compelling "life of faith" story. Honestly, I expected to respond more cynically to some of the films, but I really have no strong complaints.

- Reranking the films made me realize that the trilogy-as-one-film rule is kinda stupid. I recently rewatched Three Colors and don't see any reason to treat them as a film (Red on its own would've ranked much more highly on my list if it hadn't been weighed down by the other two). Same with The Apu Trilogy. I'm not sure what to do with The Decalog.

- The list suffered greatly from the loss of Brakhage and The House is Black (I never felt as strongly about Deren's place).

A couple thoughts on my own tastes and biases:

- I found myself dividing the films into three basic categories: great films that I love deeply, great films that aren't as personally meaningful to me, and very good films that have their flaws or that I cannot connect with. The top 50 or so films on my list all fit into that first category, which is a pretty strong recommendation for the Top 100, I'd say.

- Sorry anime lovers. Please don't think me a Philistine, but for some reason I cannot get my head in the right place for anime. It's not you, it's me.

1. Mirror

2. Ordet

3. The Son

4. The Passion of Joan of Arc

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey

6. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

7. Andrei Rublev

8. My Life to Live

9. Diary of a Country Priest

10. Close-Up

11. My Night at Maud's

12. How Green Was My Valley

13. The Night of the Hunter

14. A Man Escaped

15. Vertigo

16. Make Way for Tomorrow

17. The Searchers

18. Au Hasard Balthazar

19. Stalker

20. Early Summer

21. Winter Light

22. Ikiru

23. Paths of Glory

24. The Decalogue

25. Sullivan's Travels

26. Still Life

27. Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys

28. Apu Trilogy

29. Syndromes and a Century

30. Floating Weeds

31. Faust

32. Flowers of St. Francis

33. Rashomon

34. The Rules of the Game

35. Three Colors Trilogy

36. Black Narcissus

37. Day of Wrath

38. Nights of Cabiria

39. La Promesse

40. The Gospel According to Matthew

41. Stroszek

42. Tokyo Story

43. Heartbeat Detector

44. Touch of Evil

45. The Spirit of the Beehive

46. Eureka

47. The Seventh Seal

48. Ran

49. Munyurangabo

50. Tender Mercies

51. Yi Yi: A One and a Two

52. Paris, Texas

53. Crimes and Misdemeanors

54. The Return

55. Playtime

56. Apocalypse Now

57. Wild Strawberries

58. The Bicycle Thief

59. The Double Life of Veronique

60. The Trial

61. M

62. Lawrence of Arabia

63. After Life

64. Days of Heaven

65. Death of Mr. Lazarescu

66. The Child

67. The Burmese Harp

68. The Straight Story

69. The Iron Giant

70. Dogville

71. Summer Hours

72. Ponette

73. Ratcatcher

74. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days

75. Silent Light

76. Fiddler on the Roof

77. The Island

78. The Miracle Maker

79. Into Great Silence

80. Babetteā€™s Feast

81. It's a Wonderful Life

82. Jesus of Montreal

83. Amadeus

84. Sophie Scholl: the Final Days

85. There Will Be Blood

86. Wings of Desire

87. The New World

88. The Story of the Weeping Camel

89. Schindler's List

90. Koyaanisqatsi

91. Born Into Brothels

92. Grave of the Fireflies

93. A Man for All Seasons

94. Becket

95. The Apostle

96. Magnolia

97. Spirited Away

98. Paprika

99. Places in the Heart

100. Chariots of Fire

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I love that you did this, Darren. What a great way to digest the Top 100 and think through the various titles. I think I'm most excited by the threefold distinction you came up with:

- I found myself dividing the films into three basic categories: great films that I love deeply, great films that aren't as personally meaningful to me, and very good films that have their flaws or that I cannot connect with.

Either that or the fact that Magnolia managed to not take the #100 slot on your list. I count that as progress.

Edited by Christian

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The Iron Giant in front of Babette's Feast? Huh?

A Bore For All Seasons probably could go a little further down.

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I am astonished that THE SON is ranked quite so highly.

But all in all, this ranking doesn't throw me too much. Of course, I could have my quibbles, but I think it's pretty reasonable.

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The top 11, including The Son, are all films that: a. radically changed my sense of what movies could be, and b. are inexhaustible. I will happily rewatch them for the rest of my life.

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My reaction to THE SON's high placement is just my bias against naturalism showing, I suppose. But even on my kindest days towards the film, I'd be hard pressed to put it in the company of ORDET and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Darren, how does this compare to your all-time top 100? Or, to make it simpler, what else would have to be added to your top 20 if you were listing your personal all-time favorites?

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I haven't thought about an all-time favorite list for a long time, but some of the films that would probably make the Top 20:

Beau Travail by Claire Denis

Dazed and Confused by Richard Linklater

The Long Voyage Home by John Ford

Four Sons by John Ford

Street Angel by Frank Borzage

What Time is It There? by Tsai Ming-liang

Faces by John Cassavetes

The Best Years of Our Lives by William Wyler

Young Girls of Rochefort by Jacques Demy

Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock

In the Bathtub of the World by Caveh Zahedi

In Praise of Love by Jean-Luc Godard

Edited by Darren H

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What Brian said - all of the mentions of John Ford inspired me to borrow How Green Was my Valley from the local library - I haven't watched it for many years.

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Our annual lists are typically around 60% the same, so it is odd to see that I have a high degree of variance here. Just looking at entries post-50: 64, 65, 67, 68, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 78, 79, 87 would all rank much higher on my list relative to the nature of this list. 87 is way up there for me.

I love how much biography leaks into the A&F list process. For all lists there is a taste and biography factor at play, but so many films here have altered or informed the course of my spiritual life that this arbitrary component takes on a rich significance.

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I really need to finish my Top 100 viewing. Thanks for the encouragement. The thoughtfulness to film watching on these boards is amazing.

I was really glad to see this following comment.

- Reranking the films made me realize that the trilogy-as-one-film rule is kinda stupid. I recently rewatched Three Colors and don't see any reason to treat them as a film (Red on its own would've ranked much more highly on my list if it hadn't been weighed down by the other two). Same with The Apu Trilogy. I'm not sure what to do with The Decalog.

I know Blue is the A&F favorite from the Three Colors collection but I have always experienced Red as my top choice of the three. So, if it wasn't a trilogy-as-one-film rule I think Blue would make the Top 100 and Red would sadly be missing.

I also think that the Top 100 suffers from the loss of Brakhage and The House is Black. Although I understand the "short rule" (not in complete agreement with it), and I can see Brakhage being a bit esoteric for the list, Farrokhzad's The house is Black belongs on the list; it embodies the list more than most of the other films.

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I know Blue is the A&F favorite from the Three Colors collection but I have always experienced Red as my top choice of the three. So, if it wasn't a trilogy-as-one-film rule I think Blue would make the Top 100 and Red would sadly be missing.

Is BLUE a clear A&F favorite?

I'd go for RED, myself.

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I know Blue is the A&F favorite from the Three Colors collection but I have always experienced Red as my top choice of the three. So, if it wasn't a trilogy-as-one-film rule I think Blue would make the Top 100 and Red would sadly be missing.

Is BLUE a clear A&F favorite?

I'd go for RED, myself.

Yeah, maybe Blue isn't as clear as I thought it was. Over the years it always seemed to be the favorite and I have always felt like I was in the minority with Red. I should go back and read some old threads (if those particular ones still exist) but if Blue is the true fav I am glad to stand with at least two others today ;)

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Here is one discussion about Blue vs. Red and the trilogy-as-one idea. Darren actually resurrected it.

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I remember that.

I didn't think I could have too much to bring to the discussion--I don't feel like I've spend enough time with the THREE COLORS films, to be honest, though I've seen them all--so I refrained from participating. But I do wish that Darren's thoughts there had received stronger responses.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I think Blue is more accessible, so it was my favorite of the three for quite a while. But I re-watched the trilogy last year, and now I'd say Red is my favorite (I didn't "get" it the first time).

None are as good as Veronique, but that's another discussion entirely.

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I know Blue is the A&F favorite from the Three Colors collection but I have always experienced Red as my top choice of the three. So, if it wasn't a trilogy-as-one-film rule I think Blue would make the Top 100 and Red would sadly be missing.

FWIW, Blue has always been my favorite... more so as I've revisited the trilogy about a dozen times... but I'd say that 3 out of 4 Kieslowski fans I know prefer Red over Blue. (And I've only come across a couple of people who like White best.)

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Also, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced we need to disqualify The Decalog next time around. It's a TV series. Even if it was shot on film and has been occasionally shown theatrically, it is a TV series. A very good TV series. I happen to think seasons 1, 3, and 4 of The Wire are much better and more "spiritually significant" TV series.

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I happen to think seasons 1, 3, and 4 of The Wire are much better and more "spiritually significant" TV series.

Huh. I'd care to hear you elaborate on that. 'Cause I love me some WIRE, but I have a hard time seeing it as more "spiritually significant" than THE DECALOGUE.

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Also, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced we need to disqualify The Decalog next time around. It's a TV series. Even if it was shot on film and has been occasionally shown theatrically, it is a TV series. A very good TV series. I happen to think seasons 1, 3, and 4 of The Wire are much better and more "spiritually significant" TV series.

I'm anticipating that these distinctions are soon going to be impossible to make. Everything will be downloadable. Television is increasingly "cinematic." (The Wire is better "cinema" than most movies.) There will probably be big-screen showings of Game of Thrones eventually, just as feature films will eventually "open" in a downloadable fashion.

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Also, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced we need to disqualify The Decalog next time around. It's a TV series. Even if it was shot on film and has been occasionally shown theatrically, it is a TV series. A very good TV series. I happen to think seasons 1, 3, and 4 of The Wire are much better and more "spiritually significant" TV series.

I can understand leaving out Season 5, but Season 2? The fight for Frank Sobotka's soul is powerful stuff. Plus, it's hilarious but ultimately much more tragic that the spark for the investigation that propels the season's main narrative is the battle between Sobotka and Valchek over the placement of their stained glass artwork in the local church - a microcosmic history lesson, that so-called religious wars are never about theology.

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