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RESULTS: The Top 25 Films on Memory

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The winning titles are:

 

1. Rashômon (1950)
2. Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959)
3. Vertigo (1958)
4. Wild Strawberries (1957)
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
6. Three Colors: Blue (1993)
7. The Mirror (1975)
8. Blade Runner (1982)
9. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
10. Citizen Kane (1941)
11. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
12. Memento (2000)
13. The Tree of Life (2011)
14. 246 (2004) 
15. Solaris (1972)
16. Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
17. The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
18. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
19. Certified Copy (2011)
20. 8 1/2 (1963)  
21. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
22. The Act of Killing (2012)
23. La Jetée (1962)
24. The Remains of the Day (1993)
25. Mulholland Drive (2001)
 

 

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 16.

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A very nice list, I must say.

 

I'm a bit bummed that many of my favorite nominees didn't make the list (though I'm delighted that 2046 made the cut). I would have especially liked to see Colossal Youth, Mysteries of Lisbon, and Once Upon a Time in America on the list. Even so, this is a very strong set of movies, and unlike past lists, I don't think there are any duds here.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Anders   

I'm disappointed that neither of the nominated Apichatpong films (UNCLE BOONMEE, SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY) made the cut, but happy that some of the one's I considered essential did.

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I'm disappointed that neither of the nominated Apichatpong films (UNCLE BOONMEE, SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY) made the cut, but happy that some of the one's I considered essential did.

 

My first thoughts exactly.

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Anodos   

A very nice list, I must say.

 

I'm a bit bummed that many of my favorite nominees didn't make the list (though I'm delighted that 2046 made the cut). I would have especially liked to see Colossal Youth, Mysteries of Lisbon, and Once Upon a Time in America on the list. Even so, this is a very strong set of movies, and unlike past lists, I don't think there are any duds here.

I haven't seen Colossal Youth, but strongly agree on the other two. Especially Mysteries of Lisbon - I'm a little surprised that film doesn't get more love on this forum. It's the best period drama of the last decade, by quite a long distance.

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I haven't seen Colossal Youth, but strongly agree on the other two.

I sought it out to prepare for this list and was very impressed.

Especially Mysteries of Lisbon - I'm a little surprised that film doesn't get more love on this forum. It's the best period drama of the last decade, by quite a long distance.

Given the attention paid to faith in the film, you'd think it was tailor-made for this community. If you look back at the thread for the film, you'll see that it was a little divisive.

More than anything, I suspect what really holds it back is that it's not widely seen. Its not easily accessible in a streaming format (it used to be on Netflix, but it isn't there at the moment), and its length demands some serious investment on part of the viewer.

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Evan C   

I'm surprised by the absence of Mysteries of Lisbon as well; it certainly deserved a spot. I'm a little disappointed that only one Hitchcock made the list, and I was really hoping for Millennium Actress and Radio Days, but I didn't expect those two to make it. Still, the entire list is pretty great (and I still need to see two of the winners.)

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Rushmore   

A very interesting list, and one that no other group would have made. I won't say how many I've seen, but I'm looking forward to exploring the rest.

 

The stats: One of these (Certified Copy) was on the marriage list. Ten (Blade Runner, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindSolaris, The Sweet HereafterHow Green Was My Valley, Rashômon, Three Colors: Blue, Vertigo, The Mirror, and Wild Strawberries) were on at least one iteration of the top 100. The last six of these were on the 2011 list, and the last two have been on all five top 100 lists. There's no overlap with the horror, road, or comedy lists.

 

Here's the spreadsheet combining all the A&F lists, with this one added.

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Keep your preferences for writing blurbs coming.  Jason Panella, Nathan Douglas, Nick Alexander, NBooth & Daryl A. Armstrong, you all nominated films that made the list and we'd appreciate your helping do a write-up for at least one of them.

 

Christian, SDG, Persona, Darrel Manson, Andy Whitman, Andrew, Darren H., Rushmore and other big A&F paricipants, even if you feel like you didn't participate as much with this particular list, don't let that make you feel like we wouldn't still love to have you write at least a paragraph for one of these films for us.

 

I can eventually assign 2-3 films per writer, but the more participants the better for the list.

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I'm a bit puzzled at the high rank of Three Colors: Blue on this list. Of the many themes that seem prominent in that film, memory doesn't rise near the top for me. But I love the film; I'm not going to complain about it being celebrated anywhere. I'll be interested to read the blurb that makes the case for that.

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Evan C   

I'm a bit puzzled at the high rank of Three Colors: Blue on this list. Of the many themes that seem prominent in that film, memory doesn't rise near the top for me. But I love the film; I'm not going to complain about it being celebrated anywhere. I'll be interested to read the blurb that makes the case for that.

From the discussions thread:

I'll make cases for my nominees when I have some more time later this evening. But here's one I'm on the fence about seconding: Three Colors: Blue. I adore the film, but I'm not convinced how much memory plays a role in Julie's story, rather than her bitterness at the current world. In other words, is she preoccupied with the death of her husband and son, and does her bitterness stem from remembering them and the work she used to do with her husband? Or, is she upset at reporters bothering her for interviews, watching another composer finishing her husband's composition, and her current feeling of isolation? If the former, then I think it belongs, if the latter, I don't think it does.

I come down on the "former" side, which is why I nominated Blue. One of the key early scenes is when Julie removes/sells off everything that reminds her of her family, and she claims she wants forget her past at several points, as well. The latter parts of the movie (including finishing the reunification song and meeting her husband's mistress) are about Julie reintegrating and mourning the memories that she had tried to live without.

Edited by Evan C

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Darren H   

Been a crazy week, so I'm just now seeing the results. Have to admit I'm kinda crushed to not see several of my favorites on here. I know it's hard to see, but A Moment of Innocence would be my very first choice. No Apitchatpong, no Colossal Youth, no In the City of Sylvia or The Mysteries of Lisbon -- all masterpieces from the past decade. Frustrating.

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M. Leary   
The Good:
  • A decent spread chronologically: 1950s (4) 1960s (5) 1970s (2) 1980s (2) 1990s (3) 2000s (4) 2010 (3)
  • A decent variety of genres and filmmakers
  • It includes a few of the standard films on the theme 
  • No really bad films here
  • A few of the choices fit the theme well and do not usually come up in conversation on this topic, like: Thin Blue LineVertigo, Certified Copy, Remains of the Day, 8 1/2. The blurbs for these are a great opportunity for looking at them afresh.
  • Two documentaries!
The Bad:
  • It only includes a few of the standard films on the theme. The exclusions, listed by Darren and a few others above, are very noticeable. The lack of any Weerasethakul or Costa is glaring.
  • A few of the choices are unexpected. Memento is not a film about memory, it is a film that happens to use amnesia as a narrative device. Same with Mulholland Drive. Cracking yarn, but not a film about the nature, texture, or politics of memory. Citizen Kane, Blade Runner, and Blue are also stretches.
The Odd/Interesting:
  • First four are from the 50s!
  • Not getting Marienbad over Night and Fog
  • No Malick in the top ten. How often does that happen for us?
  • Hitchock in the top three! How often does that happen for us?
Edited by M. Leary

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Evan C   

The Bad:

  • A few of the choices are unexpected. Memento is not a film about memory, it is a film that happens to use amnesia as a narrative device. Same with Mulholland Drive. Cracking yarn, but not a film about the nature, texture, or politics of memory. Citizen Kane, Blade Runner, and Blue are also stretches

I agree Leonard's amnesia is a plot device in Memento, but the story itself is all about memory, and the way Leonard obsesses over one memory while distorting all others. As he says:

Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They're just an interpretation, they're not a record, and they're irrelevant if you have the facts.

That quote is highly ironic as Leonard allows his selective distorted memories to control him and redefine who he is.

 

I agree Citizen Kane is a stretch.

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M. Leary   

I can see that, Evan. One thing I really like about these lists is that they have forced me to re-evaluate films I may not have understood or appreciated in the past - usually because someone has written a good blurb relevant to the theme.

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Brian D   

Been a crazy week, so I'm just now seeing the results. Have to admit I'm kinda crushed to not see several of my favorites on here. I know it's hard to see, but A Moment of Innocence would be my very first choice. No Apitchatpong, no Colossal Youth, no In the City of Sylvia or The Mysteries of Lisbon -- all masterpieces from the past decade. Frustrating.

I would love to have seen some of these before the vote. Unfortunately, I (perhaps like many) didn't take the long gestation period seriously and so was caught unprepared when the deadline came suddenly upon us. Would be fascinating to see a revote at some future time to see how the list would change if all of us were to have a solid month or two to prep for a scheduled vote. I suspect many voted this time for the familiar in part because it was familiar. Still, the list is intriguing as it is. Good work, everyone!

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Anders   

While there are some definite films I would have liked to see on the list (see my above Apichatpong comment), this is the first list in a long time where I feel really comfortable with the overall result (as opposed to the Comedy and Marriage list). Basically, this is pretty close to what I think a well-thought out list on Memory would look like. Well done gang.

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Great job, Ryan!

 

Note that I had to dig up your intro by going to the Image Good Letters blog at Patheos because the "click here" link to the intro atop the Top 25 list didn't work for me.

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NBooth   

Great job on the intro, Ryan. And on the blurbs, everyone.

Edited by NBooth

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Terrific write up, Ryan.  I like the fact that you were chosen to write it, since it was your nomination.  Been a long, nearly 3 year road for this list (IIRC, you nominated it in 2012).  Everyone's contributions to the write ups are really well done.  It's surprising how difficult it can be to express not only your love for these particular films, but also why they qualify for this list, into 3 or 4 sentences. 

 

Jeffrey, I love the fact that you also decided to start your blurb of The Mirror with some of its more iconic moments, just as I did with Blade Runner.

 

FWIW, I just published this list on my Letterboxd account, with links to the write ups, and to the Arts & Faith forum.  Could be a good way to get some new blood in here, and I'd invite everyone here with a Letterboxd account to do the same.  I'm not sure if a list can be cut and pasted over at Letterboxd, but just in case, here's the link to the list I created.

Edited by John Drew

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