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J.A.A. Purves

Top 25: Discussion of Nominations for 2013

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I am going to catch up with the discussion here this week. But forgive me if I interrupt for a moment to ask one question.

When viewing these films and finally voting later on, after the initial nominations, is our vote going to be based on what we actually think of the film itself, or is our vote going to be based on whether we believe the film belongs on the list?

I came across this question after I seconded and re-watched The Best of Youth. Yes, I did it. All six hours.

If there were a 1-5 scale as we've done in the past and I were voting based solely on the film itself, I would give it a five out of five.

If the voting were based on whether I re-watched the film and was now unconvinced it was a film on or about marriage, I might lower that to about a two out of five.

Do we trust that it's been nominated and seconded and that it already belongs on the list, and vote merely on the strength of the film itself? Or do we lower our vote based on whether or not we think it belongs on such a list.

Any help here would be appreciated.

Edited by Persona

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Also, if this is the thread in which to begin campaigning, I'd like to say that I look forward to seeing and blogging quite a few of these nominations, and re-watching La moustache, which I just nominated, this week. This is the one film I can think of from the top of my head that would be a great addition to this list, but I am going to see it again to know for certain. It is kinda like an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for marriage.

Please see it, and add to its current thread or give it a boost here, and discuss.

Edited by Persona

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Do we trust that it's been nominated and seconded and that it already belongs on the list, and vote merely on the strength of the film itself? Or do we lower our vote based on whether or not we think it belongs on such a list.

The nomination process does not really have any safeguards to keep it only about films on topic. It's been the voting process, in the last couple years that has winnowed the great but off-topic films out of past nominations. Given that there are already a whole collection of films nominated that only tenuously have anything to do with marriage, or that have marriages in them while not really being about marriage, I would strongly suggest that everyone modify their votes according to whether they think a film belongs on an "Arts & Faith Top 25 Films" about Marriage.

Godfather II, for example, is a film I love and highly regard. If I was just ranking Godfather II, I'd give it a 5 out of 5. But, it's been nominated for this list. For purposes of a list of films about marriage, at the moment I'd probably give it a 0 out of 5. At this point, I'm tempted to do the same for some other nominated films on here that I really love - Fargo, Heat, The Shining, and Walk the Line.

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What about films from the Middle East? ... What I'm asking is, What are we missing so far in our nominations? Where are our blind spots? Let's identify and rectify those before the nominations close. Any suggestions?

The Stoning of Soraya M. (2008) - If we wanted to include a few films on marriage in the Middle East, besides A Separation, this would be one of the others I could think of. A Separation subtly showed how limiting and restricting life can be for married women over there, but it still also showed how marriage can occasionally be good. Both husband and wife strengthened each other in A Separation, something worth considering. The Stoning shows how a marriage in Middle Eastern culture can often be the equivalent of a form of slavery. It evokes a feeling of being trapped and helpless that I don't think I can even begin to comprehend. In spite of that, the irony is that Soraya is refusing to consent to a divorce because of the very limited privileges that being married gives her. If she was no longer married, she would be even worse off than before.

In the meantime, I would urge everyone to at least consciously restrain themselves in both their nominating and their voting, so as to not to allow our Top 25 list to be heavily slanted towards only the recent. Mathematically, with no conscious effort on our part, that is what this list is going to become. Here's an update on the number of films nominated by decade:

1920s - 2

1930s - 4

1940s - 12

1950s - 13

1960s - 9

1970s - 13

1980s - 13

1990s - 22

2000s - 39

2010-2011 - 14

So, as of right now, we have nominated more films from just 2010-2011 alone than we have nominated films from any other single decade later than the '90s.

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Underlined by me....

In the meantime, I would urge everyone to at least consciously restrain themselves in both their nominating and their voting, so as to not to allow our Top 25 list to be heavily slanted towards only the recent. Mathematically, with no conscious effort on our part, that is what this list is going to become. Here's an update on the number of films nominated by decade:

1920s - 2

1930s - 4

1940s - 12

1950s - 13

1960s - 9

1970s - 13

1980s - 13

1990s - 22

2000s - 39

2010-2011 - 14

So, as of right now, we have nominated more films from just 2010-2011 alone than we have nominated films from any other single decade later than the '90s.

I know our past two lists have been fairly - well "balanced" is the wrong word because both lists tended to skew higher towards certain decades or "eras" of films (Horror list towards pre-World War 2, Road/Pilgrimage list towards the 70's) - but let's say they have been fairly representative by spanning the overall history of films. I don't know, perhaps I'm reading the underlined portion of the above quote wrong but, IMHO, I don't believe we should try and steer our lists in this direction, which I feel the underlined portion aims to do. I would rather have an honest list that skews towards more recent films, than a balanced list that includes older films just for the sake of representing those eras. I feel this request risks tainting our outcome in a way that differs from recent requests for more foreign titles or Shakespearean titles, because this request seems to be asking us that our voting and nominating not favor more recent films. I'm not sure why, with six weeks left for nominations, that we need to be prompted in a direction such as this. We shouldn't go into any of our Top 25 Lists with an expectation of what the final result should be, or how they'll compare to other lists from other publications, or even to our past lists. They should be allowed to become what they become. And whatever it becomes, based on the last two years, I don't believe it will become a generic list, no matter where it skews.

I tend not to notice the year of the films that I'm nominating or seconding, just whether they speak to me on the subject at hand. If we have a list that skews more towards films released in the last twenty years or so, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I stated the following in the results discussion of our Top 25 Horror list a few years back, and still think it will hold true for this years final outcome... I think by having a short list it makes us examine our ratings that much more closely. The oldest film I've nominated that will appear in the final voting is Rosemary's Baby (1968), the most recent A Separation (2011). At least one of these films is going to fare lower in my final rating, because several older and better films have been brought up for nominations. I'm sure all of us have come across this while perusing the nominations, and I trust that the final list will reflect those moments.

Edited by John Drew

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I would rather have an honest list that skews towards more recent films, than a balanced list that includes older films just for the sake of representing those eras. I feel this request risks tainting our outcome in a way that differs from recent requests for more foreign titles or Shakespearean titles, because this request seems to be asking us that our voting and nominating not favor more recent films. I'm not sure why, with six weeks left for nominations, that we need to be prompted in a direction such as this. We shouldn't go into any of our Top 25 Lists with an expectation of what the final result should be, or how they'll compare to other lists from other publications, or even to our past lists. They should be allowed to become what they become. And whatever it becomes, based on the last two years, I don't believe it will become a generic list, no matter where it skews.

I tend not to notice the year of the films that I'm nominating or seconding, just whether they speak to me on the subject at hand.

Understood. But again, without thinking about it, I also tend to not notice the year of the films I'm focusing upon. When I take the trouble to notice, I realize that I'm always thinking more of recent films than trying to stretch myself towards older films. But, just because I remember the effect that a 2010 or 2011 film had on me better does not mean it was a better film. Right now, naturally left to no consideration of the issue, over 50% of our nominations have come from the 1990s and after. In other words, with over 9 decades of film history, more than half of what we are considering comes only from the last 2 decades. I do not believe that this is because the majority of the best films about marriage have been made in the last two decades.

I'd apply this reasoning to the consideration of foreign films as well, I just haven't done a count yet on how many non-English films we've nominated.

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The Face of Another is a Japanese science fiction movie about a man who becomes disfigured in an accident and decides to undergo an experimental procedure: the doctor will create a mask of another man's face, and then graft it onto the first man. To test how convincing the new face is, he decides to see if he can "seduce" his own wife. He succeeds, but when he reveals himself to her later, she says she knew it was really him all along--that the seduction was just a game to keep their love life interesting.

The director, Hiroshi Teshigahara, is probably better known for The Woman in the Dunes, but I think Face is a more interesting movie.

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The Face of Another is a Japanese science fiction movie about a man who becomes disfigured in an accident and decides to undergo an experimental procedure: the doctor will create a mask of another man's face, and then graft it onto the first man. To test how convincing the new face is, he decides to see if he can "seduce" his own wife. He succeeds, but when he reveals himself to her later, she says she knew it was really him all along--that the seduction was just a game to keep their love life interesting.

The director, Hiroshi Teshigahara, is probably better known for The Woman in the Dunes, but I think Face is a more interesting movie.

I've been wanting to see both of these films for a while. I'll try to track them down.

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Understood. But again, without thinking about it, I also tend to not notice the year of the films I'm focusing upon. When I take the trouble to notice, I realize that I'm always thinking more of recent films than trying to stretch myself towards older films. But, just because I remember the effect that a 2010 or 2011 film had on me better does not mean it was a better film. Right now, naturally left to no consideration of the issue, over 50% of our nominations have come from the 1990s and after. In other words, with over 9 decades of film history, more than half of what we are considering comes only from the last 2 decades. I do not believe that this is because the majority of the best films about marriage have been made in the last two decades.

I'd apply this reasoning to the consideration of foreign films as well, I just haven't done a count yet on how many non-English films we've nominated.

I suspect the proportion of newer films to older films has less to do with emotional resonance and more to do with which films have been widely seen by the A&F community. While I kinda understand your concern, if I recall correctly, our nominations for other lists tended to skew a bit newer as well. Voting generally sorted things out.

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I would rather have an honest list that skews towards more recent films, than a balanced list that includes older films just for the sake of representing those eras. I feel this request risks tainting our outcome in a way that differs from recent requests for more foreign titles or Shakespearean titles, because this request seems to be asking us that our voting and nominating not favor more recent films. I'm not sure why, with six weeks left for nominations, that we need to be prompted in a direction such as this. We shouldn't go into any of our Top 25 Lists with an expectation of what the final result should be, or how they'll compare to other lists from other publications, or even to our past lists. They should be allowed to become what they become. And whatever it becomes, based on the last two years, I don't believe it will become a generic list, no matter where it skews.

I tend not to notice the year of the films that I'm nominating or seconding, just whether they speak to me on the subject at hand.

Understood. But again, without thinking about it, I also tend to not notice the year of the films I'm focusing upon. When I take the trouble to notice, I realize that I'm always thinking more of recent films than trying to stretch myself towards older films. But, just because I remember the effect that a 2010 or 2011 film had on me better does not mean it was a better film. Right now, naturally left to no consideration of the issue, over 50% of our nominations have come from the 1990s and after. In other words, with over 9 decades of film history, more than half of what we are considering comes only from the last 2 decades. I do not believe that this is because the majority of the best films about marriage have been made in the last two decades.

I'd apply this reasoning to the consideration of foreign films as well, I just haven't done a count yet on how many non-English films we've nominated.

I suspect the proportion of newer films to older films has less to do with emotional resonance and more to do with which films have been widely seen by the A&F community. While I kinda understand your concern, if I recall correctly, our nominations for other lists tended to skew a bit newer as well. Voting generally sorted things out.

Ryan, Jeremy, this last bit is exactly what I'm trying to point out. I took an hour to go over the first weeks nominations from last year, just to make that point even clearer. So far, we are 16 films off of last years pace (I'm including the three nominations that were made later today), due in part, I think, because we have a much more narrowed area of focus with our current topic, but also due to the fact that last year the board was going to be shut down after that first week of nominations for an unknown amount of time for upgrading. When the board got back up and running, momentum for nominations really lagged. The bulk of nominations came in the first 7 pages of that thread, a thread that was closed with only a total of 9 pages. Last years Pilgrimage/Road Movies List also had a lot of out-of-the-box suggestions. This years topic doesn't seem to be gathering that many unusual suggestions. In many ways we are somewhat more varied this year - we are much more spread out this year from the 20's through the 80's, and our total for the 90's to 2011 is only 5 films ahead of where we were last year.

2011 (Nominations from Nov. 17th, - Nov 25th, 2011)

1900's - 1

20's - 3

30's - 6

40's - 6

50's - 11

60's - 12

70's - 24

80's - 26

90's - 17

00's - 50

'10 - 4

Total = 160

2012 (same time period)

20's - 2

30's - 4

40's - 12

50's - 13

60's - 10

70's - 13

80's - 14

90's - 22

00's - 40

10's - 14

Total = 144

Edited by John Drew

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In other words, with over 9 decades of film history, more than half of what we are considering comes only from the last 2 decades. I do not believe that this is because the majority of the best films about marriage have been made in the last two decades.

Could it be that the majority of films, period, have been made in the last two or three decades? There are simply more films--good and bad--being created now and readily available than there were in the early 20th century, which might be why there are more of these sorts of films in our nominees. While there are certainly plenty of newer nominated films, I think the voting process and the important question that Persona asked earlier about how we vote for the films (vote for good films, period? Or vote for films emphasizing our theme of marriage?) will reveal just how diverse-yet-cohesive the tastes of the A&F community truly are.

Seriously, what community places Rear Window, The Brood, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, Face/Off and A Separation together on a list of nominees? We do. :)

Edited by Joel Mayward

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The Face of Another is a Japanese science fiction movie about a man who becomes disfigured in an accident and decides to undergo an experimental procedure: the doctor will create a mask of another man's face, and then graft it onto the first man. To test how convincing the new face is, he decides to see if he can "seduce" his own wife. He succeeds, but when he reveals himself to her later, she says she knew it was really him all along--that the seduction was just a game to keep their love life interesting.

The director, Hiroshi Teshigahara, is probably better known for The Woman in the Dunes, but I think Face is a more interesting movie.

I'm kicking myself for not thinking of that one first. I personally don't find it as aesthetically pleasing as The Woman in the Dunes, but I like your words "more interesting." I think that's terribly accurate. My gauge for how interesting a film is starts rising with the post-viewing discussion, and The Woman in the Dunes doesn't strike up anywhere near as many conversations (read: debates, arguments, name calling) as The Face of Another.

Edit: Plus, Teshigahara is one of my very favorite directors. He will always need more attention. What he did with Kobo Abe and the AMAZING Toru Takemitsu is all so wonderful, and I could watch his Antonio Gaudi on repeat until my eyes shriveled up and fell out.

Edited by Pair

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Yeah, like I said in the secondings I loved that movie for the ending monologue by Pfeiffer, honestly that was one of my most favorite quotes on marriage and the hardships and struggles one faces in it.

I was going to nominate it myself if someone else hadn't already.

I completely agree. This is an excellent monologue performed in such a way as to be able to feel how long it has been simmering inside without knowing how to communicate it all, or wondering if it would be heard.

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I don't know if this will be an argument for inclusion, as I don't have a ton of time, but I think it is a decent summary of why each one should be considered for nomination.

My Night at Maud’s is a pretty dense conversation relating to marriage (ideology and morality) through the dialogue of a divorced woman and a soon to be wed man. This is a necessary look at marriage.

The Day I became A Woman is a multigenerational look at the relationships between women and men through the gaze of marriage (from preparing as a young girl to acting within marriage through to death/widowing) in Iranian culture. Each story is tied to the idea of womanhood and the affects marriage has on it.

Days of Wine and Roses is a fascinating story of how we affect one another in marriage; for better or for worse.

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Solaris has been nominated and seconded at a good time. Turner Classic Movies will be broadcasting it Wednesday night @ 9:15pm PST (12:15am Thursday for EST folks). Might want to set your DVR's if you're interested in re-examining it, or watching it for the first time.

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Nicholas Roeg's Cold Heaven is available on Netflix Instant for the next four days. It expires on Dec. 1. I'm going to nominate it because it takes a boldly cosmic view of the union between a man and a woman. It's a true genre bender, one of the most underrated films of the '90s, and so potentially appealing to the participants of this board I'm surprised only one member, Ron Reed, has ever mentioned it before. (And he wasn't too kind, either.)

For a darker spin on the marriage theme, also highly recommend Chabrol's La femme infidele. It's a thriller in which murder actually saves the relationship.

Edited by Nathaniel

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Also, also...

I feel it would be a shame if we didn't consider Dodsworth. I think could be the most mature film about marriage Hollywood ever produced. Even those unsympathetic to William Wyler's style generally note the sensitivity of his direction. A great film and a perfect fit for this list.

Edited by Nathaniel

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I stuck this in the main Nominations thread but should have put it up for discussion here.

J.A.A. Purves, on 17 November 2012 - 03:22 AM, said:

5) No films released after December 31, 2011 can be nominated. (Like last time, if there is a heavily advocated for exception, we’re open to allowing for it.)

Is anyone interested in going to bat for Joe Wright's version of Anna Karenina? I've been thinking quite a bit about that film's depiction of marriage. I realize very few of us have seen it, but if those who have want to nominate it, I wouldn't object. If not, that's OK, too. Just wanted to toss it out there. I haven't seen earlier adaptations of the story, but from what I've been hearing, those versions downplay one of the two primary marriages in the story to such an extent that I'd be reluctant to nominated them even if I'd seen them.

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I was wondering if Scott Derrickson's Sinister could be one of those heavily advocated for exceptions to the cut off date rule. As one of the few horror movies that actually deals with a broken marriage in a righteous manner I think it deserves to be on the list.

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I had though earlier that Sinister would be worth mentioning. But I just figured it was too new.

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Title: A Married Couple

Director: Allan King

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Language: English

IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064640/

YouTube Link (a clip of/trailer for the film): http://www.criterion...-married-couple

Link to the A&F thread on the film (if there is one): ?

So... this is a documentary. Well no, cinema verite. Well no, actuality drama:

"King describes his style as "actuality drama - filming the drama of everyday life as it happens, spontaneously without direction, interviews or narrative". He says he strives to "serve the action as unobtrusively as possible" and does so by becoming very familiar with the environment and people he films, by paying particular attention to movement patterns, routines and light quality." - wiki

I made this nomination after I saw Overstreet asking for doc ideas on Facebook.

If you don't know Allan King, DEFINITELY get to know him. I VERY HIGHLY recommend Dying at Grace and Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company. In many people's book, Warrendale is one of those you're just supposed to see before you die.

A Married Couple is nowhere near my favorite of his work, but I do think it fits wonderfully for this list. He captures a couple deconstructing their gender roles in their quickly dissolving marriage; while he deconstructs the nature of documentary procedure. He definitely goes for a fly-on-the-wall approach, and although the couple suffers a bit from observer effect (changing their behavior due to the awareness they are being observed), they still have some very raw moments ranging from humorous to tender to outright frightening.

I know you can check it out on Hulu+, I'm not sure if it's on Netflix. Or if you can, just go buy the Eclipse set. I'd wholeheartedly recommend just springing for the set. It has been one of my very favorite movie purchases of at least the past few years, each film in it is a treasure, and each time I watch them I get irritated that I didn't know about Allan King sooner.

Edited by Pair

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I nominated The Royal Tenenbaums because I think, at its core, it's a movie about marriage--specifically, about holding on to it after it has died. In the case of Chas and his sons, his inability/unwillingness to deal with his wife's death leaves them stuck in the "disaster preparedness" scenarios to the point where they can't really live their lives. And although Royal's wife is still alive, he has been trapping her in a relationship that has been dead for years. That's why the scene where he gives her the divorce papers is so significant; it's a symbolic way to free both of them from the "body of death" they've become to one another. That's why the scene at the end with Royal, Chas, and the kids all on the fire truck together really gets to me--it shows them learning how to live again.

Edited by Tyler

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La moustache still has not been seconded. I saw it again over the weekend, and still believe it is a perfect choice for this list. It is also the kind of film I'd like to see some of the heavier hitters weigh in on. I think I scraped the surface when I wrote about it Here.

Please take time to look over my reaction to the film, see it, and have a heart and at least get it seconded for the list. :)

PS I also just received Chrystal in the mail yesterday. Will be taking a look at that tonight.

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But if La moustache were a square, it would never really be the square. It would be all of the beautiful space inside and outside the lines of that square.

Nice. If no one else has, I'll second it.

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