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The Top 25 List Selection Process


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Since a few of you have already begun discussing this, I'll start this up now.  Keep in mind that Greg & Tyler said they are willing to publish a second Top 25 list (based on pretty clear voting results, "Films on Memory" would be our next list) this year.  Also keep in mind that we can lengthen the process and/or even move it's completion date to a different time of the year (even if Image generally wishes to save it in order to publish it during awards season).  After we discuss this for a while, I can even start up a Nomination thread for "Films on Memory" that can last much longer than past nomination threads.
 

For me, the key is to learn from this experience; we were going to run into such difficulties sooner or later. My suggestions for future Top 25 lists, that I'll copy and paste into the new thread whenever you start it:

1) No more than 2 directors or studio-auteurs per list - for me, this strikes the right balance between recognizing the great auteurs of a genre (in this case, Pixar, the Coens, Charlie Chaplin, etc.), while allowing for diversity.

2) Have some more pre-voting time to allow for advocacy of particular overlooked gems. I would love to see this list-making allow for maybe 3-4 in-depth film club discussions. For comedies, for instance, I would've loved to see discussions of Tampopo, Good Morning, a Jacques Tati film, Sherlock Jr., etc.

3) Perhaps in 3-5 years' time, with these lessons learned, we can return to comedies and vote in a new list.

I hope, too, that this experience will motivate this year's non-voters to get off their keisters and vote! It only takes 15-20 minutes, and unlike U.S. presidential elections with their cursed electoral college, your votes here actually make a difference.

However, I would not want you or any other folks involved in the list organizing process to do more to get certain people to vote. I think there are reminders aplenty for all us busy folks juggling families, one or two careers, and our avocations; and singling out certain folks for special pleading smacks of elitism.

 

1) No more than 2 directors or studio-auteurs per list - for me, this strikes the right balance between recognizing the great auteurs of a genre (in this case, Pixar, the Coens, Charlie Chaplin, etc.), while allowing for diversity.


Agreed. IIRC, the "four films per director" rule was first proposed in connection with the Top 100 list, where it seems more proportionate. We probably should have scaled it down for a Top 25 list. It also seems reasonable to similarly limit the number of Pixars (should that be an issue with future lists).

In this case that would have meant losing Wall-E, which I think would have been a very serious blow to the list, as well as Ratatouille, about which Nick feels similarly. That is because Up and Finding Nemo were, IMO, overrated for the purposes of this list in our voting outcome.

This is where having rounds of voting would help. If an initial vote revealed that Up and Finding Nemo had ranked above Wall-E, we could have had a discussion about which Pixars really belong on this list, and perhaps the final outcome would have been different.

2) Have some more pre-voting time to allow for advocacy of particular overlooked gems. I would love to see this list-making allow for maybe 3-4 in-depth film club discussions. For comedies, for instance, I would've loved to see discussions of Tampopo, Good Morning, a Jacques Tati film, Sherlock Jr., etc.


Agreed, with the proviso that I think advocacy needs to be combined with rounds of voting. People don't start advocating in earnest until they see where things stand. Too much advocacy in past lists has been after-the-fact lamentation.

I hope, too, that this experience will motivate this year's non-voters to get off their keisters and vote! It only takes 15-20 minutes, and unlike U.S. presidential elections with their cursed electoral college, your votes here actually make a difference.

However, I would not want you or any other folks involved in the list organizing process to do more to get certain people to vote. I think there are reminders aplenty for all us busy folks juggling families, one or two careers, and our avocations; and singling out certain folks for special pleading smacks of elitism.


Only on the last point do I disagree. There is nothing wrong with a little gentle harassing of the people who are most invested in the board. Obviously if someone wants to sit out, they can sit out, but too many people in the past have simply missed deadlines though inattention or circumstance, and lamented it later. As for the question of elitism, a certain elitism, if you want to call it that, is baked into the cake with the ranked voting system. I don't think a modest effort to ensure that the "elites" vote substantially aggravates that issue.

I agree with Andrew and SDG, with one exception. On future top 25 lists, I suggest 2 films per director and 3 per studio, because 1) different directors have different voices and styles even within the same studio, and 2) I wouldn't want to discriminate against a director who works with the same studio as another director.

I still think that would allow for enough diversity.

E.g. Suppose My Neighbor Totoro and Spritied Away finished as the top two Studio Ghibli on an animated films list. Would we want to exclude Grave of the Fireflies OR Whisper of the Heart (not both) as a third Ghibli because Miyazaki didn't direct them?

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Stupid question.

Now that the Top 25 has been released, what's stopping us from printing a Top 100 List?

Not with blurbs. Not with stills. Just a list of titles, with Director's last name and year of release.

Eh?

It's certainly not the sort of thing anyone has thought of or agreed to before. Remember, we are not really the ones doing the publishing. Image lends their support to us, and they have endorsed much of what we've put together and trusted us to put quality lists together, which is very kind of them.

I, for one, think that the process we have used so far for Top 25 lists is already almost too short. This is because I am interested in quality. A Top 100 list would demand the work and effort of finding four times the quality of one Top 25 list. The current and most recent Arts and Faith Top 100 list took, if I remember correctly, at least a year to compile, and that was after much of the work had already been done before in earlier lists.

Higher quantity might allow for little traces of greater diversity here and there, but 100 films is a lot of films. I hope we are still committed enough to these lists to think carefully about them, work on carefully selecting them and to strive towards high standards for them.  Immediately jumping to higher quantity can often decrease the quality of a list.

So why not also publish a "Top 100" Divine Comedy, Horror, Marriage, Road Trip, etc. List? Because there would not necessarily be an agreement here that 100 films merited being on such a list in the first place. Because, if it was understood beforehand that we would have done so, then I would at least have been one participant who would have lobbied for a longer amount of time for the nomination process. And because some of us crafted our votes with the very specific understanding that the list was going to consist of 25, and would have voted differently otherwise.

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Twenty five is a good number for these genre-esque lists.  The 100 should stick to its original purpose--even if that purpose is refreshed from time to time.  There is a grandeur and a significance to the number 100 in terms of list making--base 10 in general seems to lend itself to this type of treatment--and keeping in mind Image's overall thrust of inquiry and exploration, I think the full complement of spiritually significant films is important enough to be reserved for that list.  The twenty fives are great for the stops along the overall journey, overlooks from the path over pleasing vistas, while we march on to the summit for which we started this trek.

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Now that the Top 25 has been released, what's stopping us from printing a Top 100 List?

I, for one, think that the process we have used so far for Top 25 lists is already almost too short. This is because I am interested in quality. A Top 100 list would demand the work and effort of finding four times the quality of one Top 25 list. The current and most recent Arts and Faith Top 100 list took, if I remember correctly, at least a year to compile, and that was after much of the work had already been done before in earlier lists.

Higher quantity might allow for little traces of greater diversity here and there, but 100 films is a lot of films. I hope we are still committed enough to these lists to think carefully about them, work on carefully selecting them and to strive towards high standards for them.  Immediately jumping to higher quantity can often decrease the quality of a list.

Twenty five is a good number for these genre-esque lists.  The 100 should stick to its original purpose--even if that purpose is refreshed from time to time.  There is a grandeur and a significance to the number 100 in terms of list making--base 10 in general seems to lend itself to this type of treatment--and keeping in mind Image's overall thrust of inquiry and exploration, I think the full complement of spiritually significant films is important enough to be reserved for that list.  The twenty fives are great for the stops along the overall journey, overlooks from the path over pleasing vistas, while we march on to the summit for which we started this trek.

Supporting Jeremy's and Buckeye's line of thought, it may be helpful to remember that our first genre list, IIRC, was originally going to be shorter — a top 20 rather than 25? — and when we looked at the five top-rated films that missed the cutoff, we decided to expand to 25.

25 is a good number for a short list. I concur that a larger number should begin with a larger pool and a longer deliberative process.

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

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For the record, the first decision that needs to be made is whether the "Top 25 Films on Memory" will be completed later in 2014, or whether it will just be our next list to be published in March of 2015.

 

It is entirely possible that we decide that we make the list selection process, from now on, 12 months instead of 4 months.

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Using our old timeline, the top 25 memory films would follow:

 

Open film nominations and discussion: November 4 March 15
Close film nominations: January 6 May 17
Open voting on films: January 8 May 19
Close voting: January 20 May 31
Write blurbs: January 20-February 3 May 31- June 14

 

I think there's more than enough time to publish another top 25 list this year, with an extended period of nominating and two rounds of voting.  Perhaps something like this:

 

Nominations and discussion: March 15th

Close Nominations: May 31st

Open first round of voting: June 2nd

Close first round of voting: June 15th

Discuss what films we want to advocate for: June 16th/17th

Open second round of voting on top 50 (or whatever number we decide): July 7th

Close second round of voting: July 27th

Write blurbs: July 27th - August 16th

Publish list: End of August/Beginning of September

 

 

And we need to decide what the limit will be for directors and studios.  I doubt that will be a problem with this list, but we should decide either way.

"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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Given that Greg has been an open advocate for more lists during Image's 25th anniversary, wouldn't that entail moving more quickly, not less, on these lists? (Also, is the 25th anniversary year equivalent to the calendar year, or did it, say, start in March or something?)

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Given that Greg has been an open advocate for more lists during Image's 25th anniversary, wouldn't that entail moving more quickly, not less, on these lists? (Also, is the 25th anniversary year equivalent to the calendar year, or did it, say, start in March or something?)

Given the concerns about the last list, I don't think we should rush this one.
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Given that Greg has been an open advocate for more lists during Image's 25th anniversary, wouldn't that entail moving more quickly, not less, on these lists? (Also, is the 25th anniversary year equivalent to the calendar year, or did it, say, start in March or something?)

 

Is it possible to juggle more than one list at once? It may be too much to handle for everyone involved, but that's one way to do more than one while also giving people enough time.

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Okay, I have a question/concern about nominations. One of the rules is:

 

10) If you do not want a film to make the Top 25 Films on Memory, then do not nominate it.  Please do not nominate a film just to "test the waters" or to "throw it out there" because you think it might qualify for the subject matter of "memory".  Give every other A&F member the compliment of only nominating films that you have spent time to think about why you believe they merit being on the final list.

 

At this early date, I'm not sure there are many films I can be sure I want to make the list, and I can't forget that for every one I know, there are likely fifty better ones I haven't seen. And while many here have much greater film knowledge than I do, it seems likely to be true for everyone that following this rule strictly might result in a rather stunted nominations pool. I'll see as many nominees as I can in the coming months so my vote will be as informed as possible, but for right now, if we're supposed to have a great deal of confidence that we want our nominees on the final list, not just to be considered for the list, I may have to withdraw from the nominations process entirely.

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Okay, I have a question/concern about nominations. One of the rules is:

 

 

 

10) If you do not want a film to make the Top 25 Films on Memory, then do not nominate it.  Please do not nominate a film just to "test the waters" or to "throw it out there" because you think it might qualify for the subject matter of "memory".  Give every other A&F member the compliment of only nominating films that you have spent time to think about why you believe they merit being on the final list.

 

At this early date, I'm not sure there are many films I can be sure I want to make the list, and I can't forget that for every one I know, there are likely fifty better ones I haven't seen. And while many here have much greater film knowledge than I do, it seems likely to be true for everyone that following this rule strictly might result in a rather stunted nominations pool. I'll see as many nominees as I can in the coming months so my vote will be as informed as possible, but for right now, if we're supposed to have a great deal of confidence that we want our nominees on the final list, not just to be considered for the list, I may have to withdraw from the nominations process entirely.

I'll confess that I do not like the language of that rule.

Of course, the list will benefit more from thoughtful nominations rather than careless ones. But there should be a certain level of freedom and joy in the nominations process, too. This shouldn't feel like a burden. So as long as a nomination is in good faith, I say go for it.

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Okay, I have a question/concern about nominations. One of the rules is:

 

10) If you do not want a film to make the Top 25 Films on Memory, then do not nominate it.  Please do not nominate a film just to "test the waters" or to "throw it out there" because you think it might qualify for the subject matter of "memory".  Give every other A&F member the compliment of only nominating films that you have spent time to think about why you believe they merit being on the final list.

 

At this early date, I'm not sure there are many films I can be sure I want to make the list, and I can't forget that for every one I know, there are likely fifty better ones I haven't seen. And while many here have much greater film knowledge than I do, it seems likely to be true for everyone that following this rule strictly might result in a rather stunted nominations pool. I'll see as many nominees as I can in the coming months so my vote will be as informed as possible, but for right now, if we're supposed to have a great deal of confidence that we want our nominees on the final list, not just to be considered for the list, I may have to withdraw from the nominations process entirely.

I'll confess that I do not like the language of that rule.

Of course, the list will benefit more from thoughtful nominations rather than careless ones. But there should be a certain level of freedom and joy in the nominations process, too. This shouldn't feel like a burden. So as long as a nomination is in good faith, I say go for it.

I second what Ryan said.  I think the main point of that rule is this: don't nominate a film because you feel it might be eligible for the list depending on how loosely we define memory, and certainly don't nominate something just because you think it would be more appropriate than another nominee (like I did with The Princess Bride).  If you have spent time thinking about a film, and you believe it is a well made film in which memory plays an important role, definitely nominate it.  It would be more of a pity for a fitting film to fall through the cracks because no else remembered to nominate it in time.

"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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As far as I'm concerned, the list should be published no earlier than September. We may even want to go later than that to allow for sufficient conversation and two rounds of voting.

Given that Greg has been an open advocate for more lists during Image's 25th anniversary, wouldn't that entail moving more quickly, not less, on these lists? (Also, is the 25th anniversary year equivalent to the calendar year, or did it, say, start in March or something?)

Let's say we extend the selection process for this list like Ryan suggests. That would be making what has been a 4-month process into a 6-month process, and we would still give Image a second Top 25 list for 2014.  In order to preserve the new 6-month schedule, we would have to begin the 2015 Top 25 list in September (at the same time we were finishing votes and writing blurbs for films on Memory like Jason suggests) in order to give Image a Top 25 list again by March 2015.  I think that would be reasonable.

 

At this early date, I'm not sure there are many films I can be sure I want to make the list, and I can't forget that for every one I know, there are likely fifty better ones I haven't seen. And while many here have much greater film knowledge than I do, it seems likely to be true for everyone that following this rule strictly might result in a rather stunted nominations pool. I'll see as many nominees as I can in the coming months so my vote will be as informed as possible, but for right now, if we're supposed to have a great deal of confidence that we want our nominees on the final list, not just to be considered for the list, I may have to withdraw from the nominations process entirely.

Well, it obviously depends on how strictly you want to construe that.  I would encourage you (and anyone else) not to consider yourself excluded from the nomination process merely because you have seen less films than others here.  If you have not seen very many of the films being nominated, then by all means, start seeing them now.  I have always found that as I watch nominated films, the very experience of watching them reminds me of other films I have seen with related themes.

 

But please don't disregard common sense either.  If you do not honestly believe that a film should make the greatest 25 films about Memory (that also wrestle with spiritual themes), then please do not nominate such a film.  If you have seen less films about Memory than someone else here, then it would make perfect sense that you would nominate less films than that someone else would.  (In this case, I include myself right along with you.  I have not seen too many films that explore the topic of memory.)  This nomination process is not experimental.  Any nominated film, especially any popular nominated film that everyone here has seen, has a good chance of making the list.  I am not the one who calculates the final results, but I do know that the way the weighting system works, numbers do matter.  A film that ten people have seen and is ranked only a "3" by all ten of them will beat a film that only one person has seen and ranked a "5."

 

This is one of the reasons I'm asking everyone to put more thought into their nominations.  We have more time to think this through now.  Besides, less nominations would not necessarily mean a stunted list.  A smaller number of nominations (chosen carefully and with deliberation) would result in a better Top 25 list than a greater number of nominations, chosen enthusiastically by a larger group excitedly trying to think of every single film they can think of that might have something to do with memory in order to give every such film its day in court (in other words, chosen less carefully and with no deliberation).

 

Everyone at A&F is welcome to participate and nominate films.  This means everyone, even if you only just signed on to A&F yesterday.  But that's not a reason for you to not to think carefully about your nominations.  I will affirm what Ryan said.  If you make a good faith effort at this, then by all means nominate away and explain your nominations.

 

The end goal here is not to have a greater number of participants who can all feel like they equally contributed and participated.  The end goal is a high quality list.  And a high quality list means that those who have studied film more than I have (and there are many here who have) just might end up nominating more films than I and just might influence what films I see rather than my influencing them.

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