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Anna J

Top 25 Marriage Films: Results and Blurbs

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Mine are coming later today. Possibly much later. Possibly so much later that it will technically be first thing tomorrow morning, but no later than that.

Since SDG is my role model, I will learn from his example.

Hey hey hey, Overstreet, remember, I'm three hours ahead of you. First thing in the morning for me will be long over while you're still under the pall of delinquency.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Yeah, I figured since Jeremy's a left-coaster (right?), that his end of day is really my 3 a.m. So I plan to attend a client's public meeting from 6-8:30, spend an hour with the kids, watch a couple of movies and write a couple of blurbs before midnight Pacific. Piece of cake.


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I'd be interested to know how many people actually voted. Also the gender percentages - I don't think it would 'invalidate' the list if the voters are overwhelmingly male; not at all... However, I'd like to hear more women's perspectives on the list. Josie seems to be taking a lone (though thoughtful and much appreciated) stand.

Unless, of course, these names and avatars are misleading... SDG could be Sarah Diana Gladwell for all I know.

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I don't think it would 'invalidate' the list if the voters are overwhelmingly male; not at all... However, I'd like to hear more women's perspectives on the list.

There is no reason for wanting the second sentence if the first sentence is true.


Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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I don't think it would 'invalidate' the list if the voters are overwhelmingly male; not at all... However, I'd like to hear more women's perspectives on the list.

There is no reason for wanting the second sentence if the first sentence is true.

Why on earth not? The two sentences aren't contradictory - I didn't say I wanted the list to be remade to include more choices made by women; simply that I would be interested to hear their opinions on the finished list - what they might think we missed out, for example. I was just wondering if a list made predominantly by women would be completely different.

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I don't think it would 'invalidate' the list if the voters are overwhelmingly male; not at all... However, I'd like to hear more women's perspectives on the list.

There is no reason for wanting the second sentence if the first sentence is true.

I was just wondering if a list made predominantly by women would be completely different.

If that were true, then a mostly-male list would become accordingly (at least somewhat) invalid.

One cannot reasonably maintain both that men and women have different perspectives AND that a non-quota'ed list isn't damagingly biased.

Edited by vjmorton

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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One cannot reasonably maintain both that men and women have different perspectives AND that a non-quota'ed list isn't damagingly biased.

That is silly.

Just because greater diversity is desirable and welcome doesn't mean more limited diversity equals "damaging bias" (or "invalidation," which is what Anodos actually said).


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I volunteered to write the blurbs for Husbands and Voyage to Italy, totally forgetting that I blurbed the exact same films in last year's list! Would it be a total cop-out to reuse those blurbs?

Why not use them to work off of, but tilt the summary in the direction of explaining why each film has something of value to say about marriage?

Voyage to Italy, remember, is now our #1 film about marriage. It's the very first summary any reader who looks at the list is likely to read.

And, Certified Copy is our #2 which will appear listed directly below it. So, for example, in that context, you don't have to refer the reader to Certified Copy this time.

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I am in. Also, Don't Look Now makes me desperately long for the days when they made horror movies for grownups.


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One cannot reasonably maintain both that men and women have different perspectives AND that a non-quota'ed list isn't damagingly biased.

That is silly.

Just because greater diversity is desirable and welcome doesn't mean more limited diversity equals "damaging bias" (or "invalidation," which is what Anodos actually said).

If "invalidation" is a threshold issue (like an on-off-switch), that is indeed true -- damaging bias doesn't invalidate. But if validity is a linear issue (a thing can be relatively more or less valid), then any poll is relatively less valid because of "sex imbalance."

And the other point ain't tough stuff -- if "greater diversity is desirable and welcome" (and the word "greater" implies linearity) then less diversity is necessarily undesirable and unwelcome.


Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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If that's how it worked, Victor, then, taken to its logical extreme, a top-films list composed by a single person would be so damagingly biased and invalidated as to be practically worthless.

But that isn't how it works. Any list is what it is. A personal list different from, but not invalid in comparison to, a list that I voted on along with a small number of friends and/or colleagues -- say, film critics who happen to work in a particular market.

The 2010 A&F Top 100 was voted on by 44 members. One year later, participation on the 2011 list climbed to 65 -- an increase of 48 percent. Those 21 additional voters were certainly "welcome"; that doesn't mean the 2011 list was 48 percent more "valid," or, conversely, that the 2010 list was 32 percent more "biased."

Having significant participation from both men and women is welcome. So is a pool of voters representing various ethnicities, ages, nationalities and temperaments.

Ideally, diversity should also be reflected in the films themselves -- and this is the diversity I most care about. A list that includes films distributed throughout the various decades of cinema, various genres and moods, and so forth is a better list than one that's more clustered in some way.

In that connection, I do have some dissatisfaction with our latest list, relative to our other lists. It's already been noted that we have no comedies or family films; it's also worth nothing that, compared to our other top 25 lists, this list leans far more toward art films and away from popular films, strikingly so.

Consider: Our horror list includes such well-known staples as The Silence of the Lambs, Alien, The Exorcist and Psycho. A casual reader only passingly interested in film will probably have heard of at least half of the films in our top 25 horror list, and seen at least half a dozen.

Our road movie list isn't quite as popular, but a number of titles enjoy broad name recognition: The Searchers, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Straight Story and of course Pixar's Up. A casual reader might have heard of half a dozen, and may well have seen at least two or three.

To my mind, none of the films on our current list are as well-known as the eight films mentioned above. If a casual reader has heard of any of them, it would most likely be Friendly Persuasion, Tender Mercies or In America. If he pays attention to the Oscars, he might remember A Separation winning foreign film. Not exactly household names, any of them.

That's a steep drop in popularity from our last two top 25 lists. To me, that's an unfortunate bias. I wouldn't say it's a "discrediting" bias, even relatively. It's just the bias of our community.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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If that's how it worked, Victor, then, taken to its logical extreme, a top-films list composed by a single person would be so damagingly biased and invalidated as to be practically worthless.

Agreed ... that isn't how it works. I deny the entire premise -- that diversity is a good thing, precisely because that's one of the conclusions it leads to.


Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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Is this how arguments develop on this forum? My initial post was a perfectly innocuous query - and I thought I made clear I wasn't questioning the validity of the list.

I don't think it would 'invalidate' the list if the voters are overwhelmingly male; not at all... However, I'd like to hear more women's perspectives on the list.

There is no reason for wanting the second sentence if the first sentence is true.

I was just wondering if a list made predominantly by women would be completely different.

If that were true, then a mostly-male list would become accordingly (at least somewhat) invalid.

One cannot reasonably maintain both that men and women have different perspectives AND that a non-quota'ed list isn't damagingly biased.

So which are you claiming? That men and women (collectively, not individually) don't have different perspectives, or that a non-quota'ed list is 'damagingly biased'?

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In that connection, I do have some dissatisfaction with our latest list, relative to our other lists. It's already been noted that we have no comedies or family films; it's also worth nothing that, compared to our other top 25 lists, this list leans far more toward art films and away from popular films, strikingly so.

Although, I don't think we necessarily need "popular" films on the list for our recommendations to be persuasive to a popular audience. If this was a Top 40 instead of a Top 25 list, then Up, The Thin Man, Fiddler on the Roof, Raising Arizona and It's a Wonderful Life all would have made the list. I most regret Fiddler on the Roof not making it, but I won't dismiss the possibility that most popular films simply do not explore marriage with any great amount of depth.

To my mind, none of the films on our current list are as well-known as the eight films mentioned above. If a casual reader has heard of any of them, it would most likely be Friendly Persuasion, Tender Mercies or In America. If he pays attention to the Oscars, he might remember A Separation winning foreign film. Not exactly household names, any of them.

That's a steep drop in popularity from our last two top 25 lists. To me, that's an unfortunate bias. I wouldn't say it's a "discrediting" bias, even relatively. It's just the bias of our community.

I would agree that one of the biases of A&F leans towards the idea that many of the greatest directors in the history of film are not popularly well-known directors. I don't know if I'd say that it's an unfortunate bias though, except in the sense that it's deplorable that perhaps more than 9 out of 10 people haven't a clue who someone like Yasujirō Ozu is. I think one of the laudable goals of these lists we compile is the attempt to help remedy this misfortune.

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That's a steep drop in popularity from our last two top 25 lists. To me, that's an unfortunate bias. I wouldn't say it's a "discrediting" bias, even relatively. It's just the bias of our community.

This is an interesting observation, SDG. It could simply be that marriage stirs the artiest feelings in us as a community, or that the artiest members of our community are more attracted to a list like this one. (Many of us are mystical about marriage.)

FWIW, this is the first A&F list I've participated in. I wasn't moved to cast a ballot for previous lists, but for some reason I wanted to be a part of this one. By and large, I'm pleased with the results. It's a pretty classy list. There are one or two awful choices, two or three milquetoasty choices, and four or five French choices. To the average passerby, the list may look elitist, but they'd be mistaken; this is a populist canon. Anyone could have voted. But why didn't everyone? (Now there's the question.)

Edited by Nathaniel

"A great film is one that to some degree frees the viewer from this passive stupor and engages him or her in a creative process of viewing. The dynamic must be two-way. The great film not only comes at the viewer, it draws the viewer toward it." -Paul Schrader

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Although, I don't think we necessarily need "popular" films on the list for our recommendations to be persuasive to a popular audience. If this was a Top 40 instead of a Top 25 list, then Up, The Thin Man, Fiddler on the Roof, Raising Arizona and It's a Wonderful Life all would have made the list. I most regret Fiddler on the Roof not making it, but I won't dismiss the possibility that most popular films simply do not explore marriage with any great amount of depth.

Not buying it. One could easily swap Up, Fiddler on the Roof and/or It's a Wonderful Life for two or three titles in the lower half of our list without a decline in "depth."

I would agree that one of the biases of A&F leans towards the idea that many of the greatest directors in the history of film are not popularly well-known directors. I don't know if I'd say that it's an unfortunate bias though, except in the sense that it's deplorable that perhaps more than 9 out of 10 people haven't a clue who someone like Yasujirō Ozu is. I think one of the laudable goals of these lists we compile is the attempt to help remedy this misfortune.

This is an observation, not an argument: The reach or appeal of a list to a given reader generally depends on connecting with him or her on at least a handful of titles. (Perhaps minimally four or five titles out of a list of 25?) People are willing to stretch so far, if there is some kind of pledge or assurance, if they can see at least partly where you're going, and can come to trust you for the rest. Past a certain point, though, if they don't see anything they recognize, they simply conclude that you aren't addressing them, and move on.

By and large, I'm pleased with the results. It's a pretty classy list. There are one or two awful choices, two or three milquetoasty choices, and four or five French choices. To the average passerby, the list may look elitist, but they'd be mistaken; this is a populist canon.

This is a definition of "populist" that leaves out an awful lot of people who were in a position to appreciate and benefit from our horror and road movie lists.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Anyone could have voted. But why didn't everyone? (Now there's the question.)

I remembered to check when the deadline for voting was the day after the deadline.


"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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The reach or appeal of a list to a given reader generally depends on connecting with him or her on at least a handful of titles. (Perhaps minimally four or five titles out of a list of 25?) People are willing to stretch so far, if there is some kind of pledge or assurance, if they can see at least partly where you're going, and can come to trust you for the rest. Past a certain point, though, if they don't see anything they recognize, they simply conclude that you aren't addressing them, and move on.

True statement. But it is they, not we, who'd conclude that such a list is "not for them." We've done our part; we voted honestly.

By and large, I'm pleased with the results. It's a pretty classy list. There are one or two awful choices, two or three milquetoasty choices, and four or five French choices. To the average passerby, the list may look elitist, but they'd be mistaken; this is a populist canon.

This is a definition of "populist" that leaves out an awful lot of people who were in a position to appreciate and benefit from our horror and road movie lists.

I guess I didn't realize that our list-making was so missional. How about this, SDG: Our marriage list may not reach as many people as our previous lists, but those who remember our horror and pilgrimage lists (through which we have established a certain measure of trust) are in an ideal position to appreciate and benefit from this one.

Edited by Nathaniel

"A great film is one that to some degree frees the viewer from this passive stupor and engages him or her in a creative process of viewing. The dynamic must be two-way. The great film not only comes at the viewer, it draws the viewer toward it." -Paul Schrader

Twitter     Letterboxd

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There are one or two awful choices, two or three milquetoasty choices, and four or five French choices.

I'm assuming you avoided naming the pictures to avoid a drawn-out debate about the list, but I'd be curious to see which films you're talking about. I've always enjoyed the ways in which your opinions about films have differed from what I typically think of as being "mainstream" at A&F.

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True statement. But it is they, not we, that conclude that such a list is "not for them."

Which doesn't undermine the relevance of my observation, in context.

We've done our part; we voted honestly.

Honestly, certainly, but also very much on the basis of the discussions we had beforehand, and also, negatively speaking, the conversations we didn't have.

As I've pointed out, two of our titles that are more popular in style, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW and THE FAMILY WAY, have made our lists because they were passionately championed by individual members. Other titles that didn't make the list might have done so, had the appropriate conversations taken place.

I guess I didn't realize that our list-making was so missional.

Now, now. This looks like over-interpreting. I just found your use of the word a bit counter-intuitive.

How about this, SDG: Our marriage list may not reach as many people as our previous lists, but those who remember our horror and pilgrimage lists (through which we have established a certain measure of trust) are in an ideal position to appreciate and benefit from this one.

That would be lovely, of course, though a marriage list might have been uniquely positioned to reach some people who wouldn't have been as responsive to a horror list in particular.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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