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Joel Mayward

2018 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury: Nominations and Discussion

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Has anyone here (besides SDG) seen the Wim Wenders documentary, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word? It seems to be available to rent on streaming platforms, and I'm wondering if it's worth watching for consideration, both for this A&F Ecumenical Jury list, as well as my own end-of-year best list.

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5 minutes ago, Joel Mayward said:

Has anyone here (besides SDG) seen the Wim Wenders documentary, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word? It seems to be available to rent on streaming platforms, and I'm wondering if it's worth watching for consideration, both for this A&F Ecumenical Jury list, as well as my own end-of-year best list.

 

I've seen it

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3 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

Has anyone here (besides SDG) seen the Wim Wenders documentary, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word? It seems to be available to rent on streaming platforms, and I'm wondering if it's worth watching for consideration, both for this A&F Ecumenical Jury list, as well as my own end-of-year best list.

As have I.

I think it merits consideration, so consider this a nomination.

Looking over my 2018 film journal, I saw Paul, Apostle of Christ came out this year as well. The beginning is kind of clunky, but the final act's handling of forgiveness and loving your enemies was very nicely handled, and it merits consideration as well, so I nominate that too.

Edited by Evan C

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On 12/27/2018 at 1:26 PM, Evan C said:

As have I.

I think it merits consideration, so consider this a nomination.

Looking over my 2018 film journal, I saw Paul, Apostle of Christ came out this year as well. The beginning is kind of clunky, but the final act's handling of forgiveness and loving your enemies was very nicely handled, and it merits consideration as well, so I nominate that too.

Seconding Paul, Apostle of Christ, which will make an appearance on my Top 20 Films of 2018. 

Edited by Christian

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You know, on the grounds that it's a morality play, similar to King Lear, about the dangers of envy and vanity as played out through vicious political backstabbing, and it's also one of my favourite films of the year, I am going to nominate The Favourite.

Edited by Evan C

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For what it's worth, one of my critic's groups got an e-mail complaining about nominations for A Star is Born because of the producer's credit for Jon Peters. Vanity Fair summarizes issues here:

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/09/a-star-is-born-jon-peters

How much, if at all, that should impact jury members is an open question.

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I second A Wrinkle in Time (because, as disappointed as I am in the film, it does explore faith-related questions to some extent, and it does bring some of L'Engle's ideas to the screen).

I also second The Favourite.

Am I allowed to second films I haven't seen? If so, I'll second Pope FrancisWildlife, and Blaze, because I want to see all three of those before final voting, and because reviews have convinced me that they are worth considering in our vote.

Am I allowed to nominate films I haven't seen? I've been reading a lot of really intriguing reviews of Border.

 

 

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Just realized we almost let The Death of Stalin slide without discussing or nominating it, and I think it was a pretty brilliant mockery of authoritarianism and a great look at the ways power corrupts, so I nominate The Death of Stalin

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5 hours ago, Overstreet said:

Am I allowed to second films I haven't seen? If so, I'll second Pope FrancisWildlife, and Blaze, because I want to see all three of those before final voting, and because reviews have convinced me that they are worth considering in our vote.

Am I allowed to nominate films I haven't seen? I've been reading a lot of really intriguing reviews of Border.

An interesting question, and one that hasn't yet been raised, nor is it formally addressed in our rules and process. As foreperson, I'm hesitant to make a hard-and-fast rule on this, but my gut tells me that opening it up to nominating or seconding films which a critic/juror has not yet seen could be problematic. To some degree, this entire nominating and voting process relies on a trust in the jury's judgment, as well as their honesty throughout the process. I value this trust, and want to keep the nominating and voting as wide open and free as possible. However, a rogue juror could, theoretically, nominate or second all sorts of films they hadn't seen (or have seen, but didn't really like), or could vote on films they haven't actually seen. I'd find it odd if an unseen film somehow made it onto our ballot; it'd be worse if an unseen film somehow made it onto our top 10 list! The language sounds strong, but I'd consider such a situation a breach of trust.

So, I'm inclined to leave those unseen films un-nominated, but would also encourage jurors who *have* seen the films Jeff suggested to speak up, either to nominate or second a film, or to explain why they haven't/wouldn't. I'm also open to input and pushback--what do other jury members think of nominating or seconding unseen films?

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2 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

An interesting question, and one that hasn't yet been raised, nor is it formally addressed in our rules and process. As foreperson, I'm hesitant to make a hard-and-fast rule on this, but my gut tells me that opening it up to nominating or seconding films which a critic/juror has not yet seen could be problematic. To some degree, this entire nominating and voting process relies on a trust in the jury's judgment, as well as their honesty throughout the process. I value this trust, and want to keep the nominating and voting as wide open and free as possible. However, a rogue juror could, theoretically, nominate or second all sorts of films they hadn't seen (or have seen, but didn't really like), or could vote on films they haven't actually seen. I'd find it odd if an unseen film somehow made it onto our ballot; it'd be worse if an unseen film somehow made it onto our top 10 list! The language sounds strong, but I'd consider such a situation a breach of trust.

So, I'm inclined to leave those unseen films un-nominated, but would also encourage jurors who *have* seen the films Jeff suggested to speak up, either to nominate or second a film, or to explain why they haven't/wouldn't. I'm also open to input and pushback--what do other jury members think of nominating or seconding unseen films?

I'm inclined to agree with Joel. I think nominating and seconding films we haven't seen could create all sorts of problems, and we definitely should not vote for films we haven't seen, especially since eligibility for the final list is determined by half the jurors having seen a film.

I know in past years when we've done the second ballot ranking the ten finalists, we've said if there are any films a juror has not seen, s/he should rank them based on any criteria they see fit (e.g. respect for the auteur's past work, recommendations from trusted friends, knowledge of the plot, etc.). However, by the time we do the second ballot, a majority of the jury has already expressed their confidence that each final film belongs on the list, so ranking an unseen film for that list doesn't seem like a gamble the same way nominating an unseen film does.

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I've seen two of the films Jeffrey mentions - Border and Wildlife - and have not nominated them here. Rather than give reasons for why I didn't include them among my nominations - one of them appears on my Top 20 of 2018 list, the other just missed the cut - I'll just reassert what I've stated earlier in this thread: My criteria for what merit inclusion for this particular list are different from the criteria I use for my broader Top 20 list, so while I find aspects of the two movies excellent, I just didn't think of the films as excellent for this list.

That said, I'm often susceptible to arguments in favor of inclusion for our list. For instance, Evan mentions The Death of Stalin, which I know I considered (it was my top film of 2018 for a time, and remains high up in my final ranking) but decided not to nominate for our list. But reading his comments, it seems sensible - even a slam-dunk - for a nomination. So I second it! (Speaking of great comedies, how many have we had on our lists over the years? Not many, I'm thinking. That's not reason enough to include it here, but it's a not insignificant factor when the other reasons for inclusion that Evan mentions are taken into account.)

Edited by Christian

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I'm ambivalent about codifying the prohibition against seconding a film you haven't seen, because it's unenforceable. (You wouldn't really know a person hadn't seen it unless he/she said so.) That said, if a film is having trouble getting a second, I don't imagine it would score very high. But I have seen the Pope Francis movie and am happy to second it to give anyone who wants to look at it and hasn't seen it time to do so.

Also, I nominate Love, Simon because...well, I don't have time for that tonight, but I'll try to circle back and write a justification if it gets a second.

 

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2 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

I'm ambivalent about codifying the prohibition against seconding a film you haven't seen, because it's unenforceable. (You wouldn't really know a person hadn't seen it unless he/she said so.) That said, if a film is having trouble getting a second, I don't imagine it would score very high.

Yes, this is exactly why I'm hesitant to make a hard-and-fast rule--had Jeff not mentioned that he hadn't seen the films and had simply seconded or nominated him, we'd just have to take him at his word. (Jeff, thanks for your honesty and raising the question!). And, if a film somehow was seconded that hadn't been seen by many in the jury, unless a significant number of jury members decided to vote highly for a film they hadn't seen (a very unlikely scenario), I think the film's score would likely disqualify it anyway.

Also, I nominate Ben Is Back, a prodigal story akin to Luke 15.

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14 hours ago, Christian said:

Speaking of great comedies, how many have we had on our lists over the years?

I looked this up, and we had Hail, Caesar! on our 2016 list, Inside Out for 2015, and The LEGO Movie for 2014--Honorable Mentions include Chef, World of Tomorrow, and Lady Bird.

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2 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

I looked this up, and we had Hail, Caesar! on our 2016 list, Inside Out for 2015, and The LEGO Movie for 2014--Honorable Mentions include Chef, World of Tomorrow, and Lady Bird.

Chef absolutely should have made the list. That was a miss. 

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I nominate I am Not A Witch

Set in Zambia, it is about a nine year-old exiled to a government camp after being accused of being a witch. Given how polarized America is around religious and political lines, films that explore such themes in a world setting are sometimes more approachable. 

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I second Ben is Back.

And even though I think the story leans to heavily on a wish-fulfillment outcome, I liked the unconditional family love element enough to second Love, Simon.

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And speaking of great family dynamics, the sisters' relationship in To All the Boys I've Loved Before alone should merit it for consideration, and that film also does a great job of capturing the social awkwardness of high school (similar to Eighth Grade and middle school), an introvert's simultaneous desire and fear of inclusion, and the ups and downs of a first relationship. So I nominate To All the Boys I've Loved Before.

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11 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

I looked this up, and we had Hail, Caesar! on our 2016 list, Inside Out for 2015, and The LEGO Movie for 2014--Honorable Mentions include Chef, World of Tomorrow, and Lady Bird.

That's more than I thought. Thanks, Joel.

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And with a final second for To All The Boys I've Loved Before, our nomination process is closed. Please check the list of nominees to see if I've missed anything, as I'll email out a ballot to the jurors later today. Happy New Year everyone!

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We have a Top 10...but it's not ranked yet, and thus not public. Jury members, I've emailed you a ballot for ranking the ten finalists. Then I'll collect your blurbs and Honorable Mentions, and we'll have a two-part post with the 2018 Top 10 and our jury members' Honorable Mentions in the week leading up to the Oscars in February.

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