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kenmorefield

2015 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury

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Looking over the master list again: I'd like to revisit with a nomination: Bridge of Spies, Creed, and Infinitely Polar Bear. Mark Ruffalo was astoundingly funny and depressing at the same time in "Polar Bear". The story was brilliantly written. High recommendation from me on this film. 

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Hey jurors... a couple of logistical things....

Greg (Wolfe) has confirmed that he would like to run our results at Good Letters Blog for IMAGE. He/we would like it to be exclusive at IMAGE (since they are A&F sponsor) for at least a week. After that, you are welcome to post stuff at your individual blogs. (You are, of course, welcome to link to IMAGE coverage.

I will write a brief introduction to the list followed by blurbs for the Top 10. There is a place on the ballot to indicate your willingness to write a blurb for one of the winners. This is optional but good publicity for the individual critic. Because of where holidays fall this year, we'd like to get post up as quickly as possible once votes close (January 3), so please keep that in mind if you volunteer to write a blurb. I don't think it should take more than a day to write a blurb, so hopefully we I can get results to IMAGE no later than January 5. 

Ballots should go out December 28th to allow non-accredited jurors access to most Christmas films. (Might not be in time for Anomolisa or The Revenant depending on where you are...)

 

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1 hour ago, kenmorefield said:

Ballots should go out December 28th to allow non-accredited jurors access to most Christmas films. (Might not be in time for Anomolisa or The Revenant depending on where you are...)

 

You mean you don't expect a big push of support for The Hateful Eight? ;)

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I nominate Bone Tomahawk.

For dialogue, it's fantastic. For performances, it rivals anything Kurt Russell and Richard Jenkins have done before.

Patrick Wilson plays a Catholic who relies on prayer for hope and survival, despite the cynics around him who have no patience for religion, during a harrowing Searchers-style journey to try and rescue people taken hostage by... let's just call them villains. The closer the film gets to its excruciatingly violent conclusion, the more the stakes go up on whether or not there is any value in his faith.

I'm eager to find out what other A&Fers make of this... if, that is, anybody else can get through the brutality of the film's last act. This is not Tarantino stylized violence; it's more serious and more horrifying. I admire so much of the film that I have a hard time knowing what to make of the extremes of its finale. I haven't seen Refn's Valhalla Rising, but from what I've heard, that might be a good comparison?

I like what Scott Renshaw wrote about it.

 

Edited by Overstreet

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Can't say I am on board with either film, especially for this list, but Mustang would sure make a heck of double feature with Ex Machina. 

One of the more interesting things about this year's list for me will be to see if we end up voting more or less for the same types of films within the nominations or whether the winners are as varied as the nominees. 

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I'm going to second Alissa's nomination from way back when: The Wolfpack. I just caught it on Netflix, and it's such a fascinating portrait of an overprotective parenting style and what it does to children. The way that all the kids latch onto the movies that they watch seemed like such a powerful metaphor for the way that the stories we're told in childhood stick with us. A kind of real life, less bleak, more redemptive Dogtooth. I see it being a good Christian humanist film in the way it moves toward affirming that the world is a good place in which we belong, rather than something from which we have to hide-- a temptation for many Christian parents. 

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Below is a list of nominated films I have not yet screened....

Anyone want to do some lobbying/give me a nudge towards which I should prioritize?

  • About Elly
  • Crimson Peak
  • Hard to Be a God
  • It Follows
  • Jauja
  • Kaili Blues
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Mountains May Depart (may be hard to get...I think this is still on festival circuit?)
  • Right Now, Wrong Then
  • Salt of the Earth
  • Slow West
  • Time Out of Mind
  • Timbuktu
  • The Witch (I think this will end up being 2016 release...not sure if enough will see it to qualify)
  • World of Tomorrow

     

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Here is an updated list of films that have been nominated but not yet seconded. Let me know if I missed anything:

  • '71
  • Bone Tomahawk
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Buzzard
  • Cinderella
  • Creed
  • Don Verdean
  • The Drop Box
  • Embrace the Serpent
  • Faults
  • The Fool
  • Girlhood
  • Honor Thy Father
  • I am Big Bird
  • Infinitely Polar Bear
  • Inherent Vice
  • Iris
  • Jimmy's Hall
  • Junjun
  • Kumiko, Treasure Hunter
  • Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
  • Louder Than Bomb
  • Meet the Patels
  • A Midsummer's Fantasy
  • Mister Holmes
  • Mr. Turner
  • Murmur of the Hearts
  • O, Brazen Age
  • People, Places, Things
  • Prophet's Prey
  • Queen of the Earth
  • Selma
  • Sicario
  • A Sinner in Mecca
  • Southpaw
  • Still Life
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • When Marnie Was There
Edited by kenmorefield

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  • About Elly - Not Farhadi's strongest film, but its connection to the list as a thoughtful, humane take on family and gender makes it worth visiting. On Netflix Instant.
  • Crimson Peak - A spectacle for sure, but not worth prioritizing relative to our list.
  • Hard to Be a God - I am biased toward this film, which is one of the best sheer cinematic accomplishments of the 2000s so far. Thematically, it is so opaque I could see it not faring well in our voting. Still on Netflix Instant, I believe.
  • It Follows - Meh.
  • Jauja - Oh yes. Gripping, intriguing. Alonso firmly remains A&F territory. And easily seen on Netflix Instant.
  • Kaili Blues - Have not had the chance! But high on my to see list.
  • Kindergarten Teacher - There are some aspects of this film that make it a must see (and an argument for paying better attention to Israeli cinema in general), but I can't predict your response to this...
  • Mountains May Depart (may be hard to get...I think this is still on festival circuit?) - Yeah, I have not received a screener either.
  • Salt of the Earth - I think this is worth visiting, especially if you have been disappointed by Wenders lately. It has very clear affinity for what we do in these parts list-wise.
  • Slow West - A solid 2015 B Team film.
  • Timbuktu - For sure. This is a memorable, provocative film. 
  • World of Tomorrow - Yes!

Let's say you only had time to watch three of these? Jauja, About Elly, and Timbuktu would be my recommendations.

Edited by M. Leary

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I second

Bridge of Spies, Girlhood, Inherent Vice, Mr. Turner, Selma... if indeed those last three qualify as 2015.

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I will second Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

Ken, I'd highly recommend World of Tomorrow. It's only 16 minutes long. Everybody has time for that! :)

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5 hours ago, Overstreet said:

I second

Bridge of Spies, Girlhood, Inherent Vice, Mr. Turner, Selma... if indeed those last three qualify as 2015.

As per discussion above, the latter three technically qualify in our broader inclusion criteria (as do Paddington and Song of the Sea), though individual jurors have right to vote them lower or abstain if they considered them previously or view them as primarily 2014 films.

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I nominate The Big Short.

It's very much a your-mileage-may-very film, but I really appreciated the angle it brought to the housing market crash; I found the frequent breaking of the fourth wall very effective, the kinetic camera movement and editing was effective at capturing the cavalier life in the fast lane that led up to the crash (and it rarely became distracting), it's easily my favorite Steve Carell performance, and I think I'd say it's Bale's best performance as well.

As relates to the list, it's a film about how greed destroys not only economies but human beings as well. As much as we want to root for the protagonists as they bet against the housing market, and by extension the American and world economies and people's livelihoods as well, it very subtly underscores the hypocrisy of decrying the fraud of the banks while exploiting that fraud as a way to get rich. You totally expect a smug I-told-you-so moment or moments, but the film very effectively subverts that.

Basically think a faster paced version of The Wolf of Wall Street with the roughness substantially sanded down.

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I'll second The Big Short.

I thought of The Wolf of Wall Street (a film I despised) too, but time permitting I hope to write a brief comparison to Spotlight.

I'm fascinated by how many of the nominated films pair up well....and I'll be curious to see if we pick one over the other or end up picking both or neither in some instances:

Everest vs. The Martian

Room vs. The Wolfpack

Ex Machina vs. Mustang

The Big Short vs. Spotlight

Steve Jobs vs. The Walk

45 Years vs. Phoenix (or Gett for that matter)

Paddington vs. 99 Homes

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kenmorefield wrote:
: Everest vs. The Martian

As it happens, I have an article on those two films (and The Walk) in the next issue of Books & Culture, coming out in a couple weeks...

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I'm *this* close to nominating Sisters, which is easily my favorite of this year's raunchy R-rated comedies from female comedians who started on television (the others being Spy and Trainwreck). It's hilarious, and while the lesson about growing up and acting your age can easily be seen coming, the film manages to introduce it in a natural and interesting way, and there are some decent points about who has failed whom.

I'm also 98% sure that I liked Sisters more than I'm going to like Star Wars.

Edited by Evan C

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I don't think we had any comedies on the list last year, unless The Lego Movie counts.

Even horror gets more traction in these parts. Don't know if there are people who just don't like comedy or if comedy is just the current Philadelphia 76ers of the film industry.

I expect the latter.

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