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Top 25 Divine Comedies: Results


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The winning titles are:

 

1. Groundhog Day (1993) 
2. The Truman Show (1998) 
3. A Serious Man (2009)
4. City Lights (1931)
5. Moonrise Kingdom (2012) 
6. Modern Times (1936) 
7. Sullivan's Travels (1941) 
8. Life of Brian (1979) 
9. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
10. Lars and the Real Girl (2007) 
11. Up (2009)
12. Finding Nemo (2003)
13. Metropolitan (1990) 
14. Wall-E (2008)
15. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) 
16. Ratatouille (2007) 
17. The Fisher King (1991) 
18. Fiddler on the Roof (1971) 
19. The Big Lebowski (1998) 
20. The Great Dictator (1940) 
21. Brazil (1985) 
22. Punch-Drunk Love (2002) 
23. The Princess Bride (1987) 
24. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) 
25. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) 
 

 

 

All right, all films are up for grabs! We need a 2-3 sentence blurb for each film, very briefly describing the plot and highlighting what is special about the film. Jeremy Purves will be starting a thread to assign blurbs next. Please send these to Jeremy by February 12.

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I will start a new thread to organize assigning the write-ups tomorrow.

That said, in light of these results, let’s pause for just a moment.  Now is the time for anyone to suggest or discuss the possibility of holding any polls for the A&F community to vote on in order to modify this list.

(I have a suspicion that this may be the very first Top 25 list results that some may find unsatisfactory, but maybe that’s just me.  It is certainly the very first list top 25 films list of which I’ve already seen in its entirety.)

 

Edited to add:

 

FYI, the top five that just barely did not make it were:

 

26. Fargo (1996) - which would be disqualified anyhow as the Coens already have 3 films on the list.
27. Amélie (2001)
28. Midnight in Paris (2011)
29. The Last Days of Disco (1998)
30. Being There (1979)

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I have a suspicion that this may be the very first Top 25 list results that some may find unsatisfactory, but maybe that’s just me.  It is certainly the very first list top 25 films list of which I’ve already seen in its entirety.)

 

Is there something wrong with me? My first impression is that this is a very good list. I see everything here I think we absolutely needed to include (Groundhog Day, The Truman Show, Metropolitan), a number of titles that absolutely speak to this community's identity even if they don't totally click for me (A Serious Man, Life of Brian, Punch Drunk Love), a number of titles I hoped would be here and feared wouldn't be, and not one single title that I think is just a mistake (including a few I didn't think were really comedies at all) although there are a few I'm not especially a fan of.

 

I'm happy. I'm sorry my push for The Emperor's New Groove didn't slip it onto the list, but I'm happy to see Wall-E, which I slipped into the nominations after the bell. (I plan to write up Wall-E as my #1 first draft pick. I'll put in for Fiddler on the Roof also, but defer to Peter if he wants it.)

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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Is there something wrong with me? My first impression is that this is a very good list.

No, there's probably just something wrong with me. The plan, regardless, is to begin assigning blurbs for these results tomorrow because we need to give Tyler and the Image crowd a couple weeks to put everything together before March 2.
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I'm a little disappointed that I've seen every film on the list; I was hoping for a few I hadn't seen.  However, almost all the essential films made it, and there are only two titles that I'm not convinced qualify, so I think this is a very good list overall.

 

I do wish more than one Allen film made the cut, as well as Frances Ha, but I am thrilled to see six of my nominees made the list, even if I was second guessing one of those.

 

Can we see the rest of the results?

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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I think we can all agree PTC gets to do Purple Rose of Cairo. He's been that movie's apologist for years.

Absolutely.

 

I'm happy. I'm sorry my push for The Emperor's New Groove didn't slip it onto the list, but I'm happy to see Wall-E, which I slipped into the nominations after the bell. (I plan to write up Wall-E as my #1 first draft pick. I'll put in for Fiddler on the Roof also, but defer to Peter if he wants it.)

Um. I nominated WALL-E when I remembered it on the last day of nominations. Is there any chance you'd be equally happy with Finding Nemo? You are a much better writer than I am, so I'm perfectly willing to let you write up WALL-E, but it is my #2 film of all time and my first pick as well.

 

EDIT: Never mind.  Until writing the list below, I didn't fully appreciate how many of my nominations made the list.  I'll happily find something else.

 

 

EDIT:

As a reference point, here's a list of who nominated each winning title.  Not to suggest that anyone has to write up their own nomination, but if we're going to adopt Jeremy's proposal here, I thought a reference point might be helpful.

 

So when we get the results in, how about we modify it with this?:

1 - Give a week for everyone, if they wish, to post their first, second, and third choices for writing blurbs.

2 - First assign one write-up per person, giving priority as follows [a] to who nominated the film, to who seconded the film, [c] to who has invested more at A&F (determined by total post count), and only then [d] by first come, first serve.

3 - We could determine (a) through (d) looking first at each participants' first choice, then their second and then etc.

4 - If that doesn't assign a writer to all 25 films, we could then start assigning two films based on the same (a) through (d) priority basis.

 

Attica: (1) Fantastic Mr. Fox

Darrel Manson: (1) Up

Darryl A. Armstrong: (2) Brazil, Punch-Drunk Love

Evan C: (6) Moonrise Kingdom, Life of Brian, Dr. Strangelove, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, The Princess Bride

J.A.A. Purves: (1) Metropolitan

John Drew: (2) O Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski

Josie: (1)The Great Dictator

Nick Alexander: (2) Groundhog Day, Ratatouille

Overstreet: (1) The Fisher King

Peter T Chattaway: (1) The Purple Rose of Cairo

Rushmore: (3) A Serious Man, City Lights, Modern Times

SDG: (2) Fiddler on the Roof, The Truman Show

Tyler: (2) Sullivan's Travels, Lars and the Real Girl

Edited by Evan C

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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4 Pixars

3 Coen Bros

3 Terry Gilliams (tho he was associated w one)

3 Charlie Chaplins

2 Wes Andersons

Very little variety.

No foreign titles.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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It's interesting (and I am working on figuring out what that "interesting" means-- I'm vacillating between "dismayed" and "intrigued") how musicals and animation are apparently comedies by default. Seriously, I absolutely LOVE Ratatouille and Fiddler on the Roof, but neither is a comedy, despite comedic scenes.

 

I am dismayed by the lack of British films beyond Life of Brian. (Right? Am I missing some?)

Edited by David Smedberg

That's just how eye roll.

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4 Pixars

 

Oo wait, that's a good point. We had a three-director limit, and while our four Pixar films are by three different directors (Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Brad Bird), Pixar is a special, almost-unique case in point that's raised the whole angle of the studio-as-auteur in a special way in critical discussion. 

 

Can we discuss whether the lowest-ranking Pixar film (i.e., Ratatouille) should be disqualified? (I'd be game, as I'm not convinced Ratatouille's largely aesthetic themes have much "divine" cache.)

 

It seems reasonable to me to argue that the same concern for diversity that led to our three-film limit for directors applies just as legitimately to Pixar's oeuvre. 

 

(What's #26? What would we gain by disqualifying Ratatouille? For that matter, I'd like to see the whole top 50.)

 

Note that the diversity issue is one that we could better address by rounds of voting. Objections like "4 Pixars, 3 Coen Bros," etc. would emerge in the first round of voting, sharpening debate around questions like "Which Pixars do we really need?" and hopefully leading to a consensus around two or three films that would lead in the final round of voting. 

It's interesting (and I am working on figuring out what that "interesting" means-- I'm vacillating between "dismayed" and "intrigued") how musicals and animation are apparently comedies by default. Seriously, I absolutely LOVE Ratatouille and Fiddler on the Roof, but neither is a comedy, despite comedic scenes.

Since I nominated Fiddler on the Roof, obviously I disagree. I think humor is sufficiently integral to what makes Fiddler work to qualify it as a comedy. It's hardly authoritative, but I don't think Wikipedia is wrong to identify the film in the first sentence of its article as "a musical comedy-drama film."

 

I am dismayed by the lack of British films beyond Life of Brian. (Right? Am I missing some?)

You're missing Brazil. But no Ealing was a miss on our part. Kind Hearts for Coronets should have made the list. 

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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EDIT:
As a reference point, here's a list of who nominated each winning title.  Not to suggest that anyone has to write up their own nomination, but if we're going to adopt Jeremy's proposal here, I thought a reference point might be helpful.

 

Evan C: (6) Moonrise Kingdom, Life of Brian, Dr. Strangelove, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, The Princess Bride
 

 

 

 

clearly, the real point is that Evan totally won this list.

Edited by Tyler

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I'm happy. I'm sorry my push for The Emperor's New Groove didn't slip it onto the list, but I'm happy to see Wall-E, which I slipped into the nominations after the bell. (I plan to write up Wall-E as my #1 first draft pick. I'll put in for Fiddler on the Roof also, but defer to Peter if he wants it.)

Um. I nominated WALL-E when I remembered it on the last day of nominations. Is there any chance you'd be equally happy with Finding Nemo? You are a much better writer than I am, so I'm perfectly willing to let you write up WALL-E, but it is my #2 film of all time and my first pick as well.

 

EDIT: Never mind.  Until writing the list below, I didn't fully appreciate how many of my nominations made the list.  I'll happily find something else.

 

Oops. ::blush:: I guess my memory elided my impassioned defense of Wall-E in this comment with my late nominations earlier the same day. 

 

Obviously, Evan, as the real nominator (in, you know, the technically accurate, historical sense), you have first dibs on Wall-E. If, in light of your other nominees you're willing to cede Wall-E to me, I'll gladly take it (assuming whoever seconded it is also willing to let me have it). My connection to that film is stronger and more personal than to either of the films I nominated that got selected.

 

I think Peter should do Fiddler on the Roof. I don't have any strong need to do The Truman Show; I'll cede that to someone who feels strongly about it. 

“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 just noticed the results have been posted.  Glad to see that several I really like made it onto the final list, although I'm disappointed that Three Colors: White (one of the most amazing films of all time in any genre, to me) and The Gods Must Be Crazy aren't there. I wasn't paying attention when nominations were happening, or I would have put forward A Thousand Clowns and some others too.  Still, it's fun to have this as a reference.

Edited by Lynn He

Art affirms all that is best in man—hope, faith, love, beauty, prayer…what he dreams of and what he hopes for.  What is art?  Like a declaration of love: the consciousness of our dependence on each other.  A confession.  An unconscious act that nonetheless reflects the true meaning of life—love and sacrifice.

~Andrei Tarkovsky

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Hmm.

 

My first impression is that this is the most familiar and, I think, least "cinephilic" list we've made. I think we needed more voters with a more thorough experience of cinema history. (I say this because *I* lack that, when it comes to comedies.)

 

And Pixar has 1/5 of the top 20? Hmmm, again. 

 

And... this is just a personal thing, but... Groundhog Day? #1? Really? I'm always amazed when it tops comedy lists. It has a great gimmick. And Bill Murray's funny. But I haven't found it to improve on repeated viewings. And the romance... Andie Macdowell... blah. Never been one of my favorites.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Oops. blush.png I guess my memory elided my impassioned defense of Wall-E in this comment with my late nominations earlier the same day. 

 

Obviously, Evan, as the real nominator (in, you know, the technically accurate, historical sense), you have first dibs on Wall-E. If, in light of your other nominees you're willing to cede Wall-E to me, I'll gladly take it (assuming whoever seconded it is also willing to let me have it). My connection to that film is stronger and more personal than to either of the films I nominated that got selected.

In that case, I'll gladly cede it to you; you'll do it much more justice than I will.

 

Can we discuss whether the lowest-ranking Pixar film (i.e., Ratatouille) should be disqualified? (I'd be game, as I'm not convinced Ratatouille's largely aesthetic themes have much "divine" cache.)

 

It seems reasonable to me to argue that the same concern for diversity that led to our three-film limit for directors applies just as legitimately to Pixar's oeuvre. 

 

(What's #26? What would we gain by disqualifying Ratatouille? For that matter, I'd like to see the whole top 50.)

If we dropped Ratatouille, Fargo would be 26 but would be dropped because we already have three Coens, which would give us Amelie.  I think that would make for a stronger, more interesting list.

 

I am dismayed by the lack of British films beyond Life of Brian. (Right? Am I missing some?)

Dr. Strangelove was filmed in Britain.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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I suggest we should count Pixar as a "director" for purposes of list eligibility. We would lose Ratatouille, which, while I love it as much as anyone, is debatably a comedy and won't be a new discovery for anyone viewing the list, and instead gain the wonderful Amélie, which would be our only foreign-language film. IMO, this would strengthen and enrich the list. As it stands it's a fine list of good comedies, but it's lacking in, well, in the spirit of adventure that's characterized previous A&F lists. I really don't like having 24 American films and Life of Brian. (Dr. Strangelove is as American as it gets, no matter where the filming took place.)

 

(This is assuming everyone's not up for more rounds of voting, etc., which I take it might not be a practical idea to implement this late in the game. We really should think about it for next year, though.)

Edited by Rushmore
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If we dropped Ratatouille, Fargo would be 26 but would be dropped because we already have three Coens, which would give us Amelie.  I think that would make for a stronger, more interesting list.

I agree, and would argue that Amelie is a stronger comedy than Ratatouille.

 

Maybe this was due to the films nominated, but this feels like a very Western/American/British list in comparison with past lists. Five of the final films are animated. Ten of the films are from the 2000s or 2010s, making it a very "recent" list. Zero films from the 1950s.

 

None of these are negative observations, per se. Just observations.

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Tyler wrote:
: I think we can all agree PTC gets to do Purple Rose of Cairo. He's been that movie's apologist for years.

SDG wrote:
: I think Peter should do Fiddler on the Roof.

 

Oh gawrsh. Thanks, guys. Is this where I have to sheepishly admit that I forgot to vote in this year's Top 25? (To be honest, the only Top 25 I have ever actually voted in is the "marriage" one.) If that disqualifies me from writing any blurbs, I'll understand.

 

I will say that I'm happy to see that City Lights came out ahead of the other Chaplin films. That's easily my favorite Chaplin. (Or it's up there with The Kid, at any rate.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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In line with Jeffrey's feedback above, some others I might also have nominated, just for future reference.

 

Il Postino, The Tiger and the Snow, The Mouse That Roared, Pygmalion, A Hard Day's Night, Lagaan, and Shall We Dance? (Japan-1996).

Art affirms all that is best in man—hope, faith, love, beauty, prayer…what he dreams of and what he hopes for.  What is art?  Like a declaration of love: the consciousness of our dependence on each other.  A confession.  An unconscious act that nonetheless reflects the true meaning of life—love and sacrifice.

~Andrei Tarkovsky

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The irony of all this "Too many Pixars" talk that I had raised, which inevitably led to "Let's drop Ratatouille", is that it was I who nominated Ratatouille in the first place. I think it is the best integration of spirituality and comedy in a single Pixar film ever made.

I mean, if folks want to drop Ratatouille, fine. But no love for TAMPOPO? Really? I'm sad.

 

ETA: You know, I've been thinking about it. 

 

I'm super-super curious what the Top 25 list would look like if it had ONE-AUTEUR per entry (and their runner ups would be listed as "See Also:" underneath).

 

For example:

...

3. A Serious Man. 

[summarization of A Serious Man follows]

[summarization of The Coen Brothers' output]

SEE ALSO:  O Brother Where Art Thou?  The Hudsucker Proxy.

...

 

What would such a list look like?  Can there be two lists from this survey?

Edited by Nick Alexander

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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I find it hard to feel too bad for those smarting from the lack of international diversity on the list.

 

On the one hand, sure, I can agree it would be a stronger list with an infusion of more exotic fare—though as I said I don't see one film on this list lacking in solid credentials to be there, and that's the main thing, isn't it? 

 

On the other hand, we've produced more than one list in the past that I would argue was excessively, if not obnoxiously, obscure and lacking in familiar landmarks. 

 

A list that looks like runs the risk of being perceived as essentially signaling to newcomers, "From our point of view, you've wasted your entire cinematic life. You've missed everything. Everything you care about is irrelevant to us, and conversely this list is irrelevant to you." 

 

Personally, I would prefer to shoot for a broad sweet spot not lacking in either adventurous finds or familiar landmarks, though this leaves me open to charges of pandering and quota-marking. If we have trouble hitting that sweet spot, sometimes shooting over and sometimes under, perhaps that's something that can be ironed out with rounds of voting (or perhaps not; perhaps we would simply lurch from one extreme to the other). 

 

Either way, if we're ultimately compiling a body of lists here, then a familiar list may help balance out an overly obscure list; it may even signal to some people "If you like our taste in comedies, perhaps you might give these other movies over here another look." 

“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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And... this is just a personal thing, but... Groundhog Day? #1? Really? I'm always amazed when it tops comedy lists. It has a great gimmick. And Bill Murray's funny. But I haven't found it to improve on repeated viewings. And the romance... Andie Macdowell... blah. Never been one of my favorites.

 

I'll definitely go to bat for Groundhog Day, both as a comedy and for this list. 

 

Google "groundhog day spiritual" (without the quotes) and it's obvious that many people respond to this film on a spiritual level. 

 

I have found it to improve on multiple viewings. The first time I saw it, I only thought it was uproariously funny; now I think it is a nearly perfect film, both as a comedy and as an existential yet humanist work of pop art. 

 

The romance, I grant, isn't much deeper than Indy and Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark. But what really matters is how Phil's pursuit of Andie challenges him to be a better person, even a real person, in a Till We Have Faces sort of way. She's his Beatrice, the ideal that he can't attain without passing through perdition and purgation and attaining paradise. (I swear I wrote that sentence all the way to the end without even thinking of our list's title! Although obviously once I wrote Beatrice I was in Dante's world.)

 

More to say, but can't write it now. (I guess I should put a bid on writing up this film, even if there are at least two names above mine in priority.)

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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I like the list, for many of the reasons that SDG listed.  And I'm glad Groundhog Day made the list; it's held up to my repeated viewings as well, and I think it's significant that when MOMA did their "Hidden God:  Film and Faith" program several years ago, it was one of the very few comedies to be included.

 

It's not a perfect list - I'm especially bummed out at the absence of Buster Keaton, Tampopo, and Ozu's Good Morning - but I think it's quite satisfying.

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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