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kenmorefield

Top 100 for 2020 -- Organization

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> I get the impression from what Darren has said that maybe a lot of our #26 films are already nominated.

That seems to be the case. I mean, we've already nominated more than 300 films and I'm still awaiting lists from two veteran members of the forum. Chances are that film you think needs to be on the list has already been nominated. If we do the "everyone gets to add one more film to the list," I'd encourage everyone to choose films by women and non-white directors.

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Fwiw, my #26 was Do the Right Thing.


"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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1 hour ago, Darren H said:

> I get the impression from what Darren has said that maybe a lot of our #26 films are already nominated.

That seems to be the case. I mean, we've already nominated more than 300 films and I'm still awaiting lists from two veteran members of the forum. Chances are that film you think needs to be on the list has already been nominated. If we do the "everyone gets to add one more film to the list," I'd encourage everyone to choose films by women and non-white directors.

I'm ambivalent about the +1, but I'm okay with it if the people doing the actual work (at this stage Darren) are. Mostly what I want is for people to feel good about their participation. 

Don't know if we'd want to add "...or GLBTQ" to recommendation or if they are better represented than films by women or people of color. I suspect that's a different conversation, but it's worth putting out there. Darren's suggestion essentially reframes the +1 issue from being a safety net for canonical films that slip through the cracks to being a way of encouraging films we outside our areas or experiences of familiarity. 

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I think we as a voting body are "problematic," so if we want our list to have any kind of cultural resonance -- rather than just being a fun exercise -- then we need to proactively acknowledge and account for it.

Beyond the +1 exercise, I can think of a couple practical ways to inject more diversity into the list. One would be to limit each director to two films. Even with that rule in place, I suspect 10% of our top 100 will belong to Bresson, Bergman, Dardennes, Malick, and Tarkovsky. How many more of their films do we need? And wouldn't the list be much more compelling if we dropped one for a Sissako or Akerman film (two directors I regret not including on my list)?

Another would be to juke the stats (to quote The Wire). It would be easy enough to add extra weight to the scores of films by non-white, non-straight, male filmmakers.

Ten years ago, the online film world saw our list and said, "Wow, this is surprisingly good!" I'd love to see the same response again. Ideally, the list will be so diverse no one will feel the need to investigate the diversity of the voters.

Edited by Darren H

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1 hour ago, Darren H said:

Chances are that film you think needs to be on the list has already been nominated. If we do the "everyone gets to add one more film to the list," I'd encourage everyone to choose films by women and non-white directors.

27 minutes ago, kenmorefield said:

Don't know if we'd want to add "...or GLBTQ" to recommendation or if they are better represented than films by women or people of color. I suspect that's a different conversation, but it's worth putting out there. Darren's suggestion essentially reframes the +1 issue from being a safety net for canonical films that slip through the cracks to being a way of encouraging films we outside our areas or experiences of familiarity. 

I like both of these ideas. One of the last films I struck off my nominations list was Todd Haynes' Carol, and I already kind of regret not leaving it in, probably as a substitute for one of the films that were almost certainly nominated by somebody else.

16 minutes ago, Darren H said:

Another would be to juke the stats (to quote The Wire). It would be easy enough to add extra weight to the scores of films by non-white, non-straight, male filmmakers.

This idea, though, I'm not crazy about. It seems borderline dishonest to "correct" the voting record just because we suspect that we may not like the actual voting results. If individual voters want to intentionally give higher scores to certain filmmaker demographics, that's fine, but at the end of it all I think we should be frank with ourselves and the outside world about what the vote looked like.

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2 hours ago, Darren H said:

If we do the "everyone gets to add one more film to the list," I'd encourage everyone to choose films by women and non-white directors.

I heartily second this guideline, whichever "minority" categories we choose.

1 hour ago, Darren H said:

I think we as a voting body are "problematic," so if we want our list to have any kind of cultural resonance -- rather than just being a fun exercise -- then we need to proactively acknowledge and account for it.

Beyond the +1 exercise, I can think of a couple practical ways to inject more diversity into the list. One would be to limit each director to two films. Even with that rule in place, I suspect 10% of our top 100 will belong to Bresson, Bergman, Dardennes, Malick, and Tarkovsky. How many more of their films do we need? And wouldn't the list be much more compelling if we dropped one for a Sissako or Akerman film (two directors I regret not including on my list)?

Another would be to juke the stats (to quote The Wire). It would be easy enough to add extra weight to the scores of films by non-white, non-straight, male filmmakers.

Ten years ago, the online film world saw our list and said, "Wow, this is surprisingly good!" I'd love to see the same response again. Ideally, the list will be so diverse no one will feel the need to investigate the diversity of the voters.

These are really great points, Darren. My list of 25 films was primarily about the aesthetics and spirituality of the films and their personal meaning to me (a white male) and to a lesser extent about historical or technical aspects, but the social and indeed justice aspects of a list of films is important too (particularly the final list). I know it's easy as a white male to ignore those then I want to, but I too hope that our final list includes many outside the (white, male) canon.

Like Rushmore, I'm against "juking the stats." I'd rather have us actually do the work of taking these concerns into consideration when voting. 

And I think a +1 non-blind nomination is a great way for increasing the diversity of the nominations list.

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1 hour ago, Darren H said:

Beyond the +1 exercise, I can think of a couple practical ways to inject more diversity into the list. One would be to limit each director to two films. Even with that rule in place, I suspect 10% of our top 100 will belong to Bresson, Bergman, Dardennes, Malick, and Tarkovsky. How many more of their films do we need? And wouldn't the list be much more compelling if we dropped one for a Sissako or Akerman film (two directors I regret not including on my list)?

This is a really good question, and one that I think we said we'd resolve after seeing the list of nominees?

I looked at the results of the poll for the 2011 list, and of the films that were left off because of the 3 per director rule, 2 were by Tarkovsky, 2 by the Dardennes, 1 by Bresson, 2 by Kurosawa, and a whopping 4 by Bergman:

Sacrifice , The (Offret-Sacrificatio) 
Cries and Whispers (1973)
Through a Glass Darkly ("Såsom i en spegel") (1961)
Virgin Spring , The (Jungfrukallan) 
Fanny and Alexander ("Fanny och Alexander") (1982)
Lorna's Silence ("Le silence de Lorna") (2008)
Red Beard (1965)
Rosetta (1999)
Derzu Uzala (1975)
Solaris ("Solyaris") (1972)
Pickpocket (1959)

If the 2011 list had had only had 2 from each director, it would have lost Early Summer, Days of Heaven,  A Man Escaped, The Double Life of Veronique, Rashomon, The Child (L'Enfant), Day of Wrath, Wild Strawberries, and Stalker. 7 by white men and 2 by Japanese men. It would have gained the following 9 in their place:

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Song of Bernadette (1943)
Pinnochio (1940)
Killer of Sheep (1977)
Shotgun Stories (2008)
Rome, Open City ("Roma, citta apera") (1945)
Gleaners and I , The (2000)
F for Fake (1973)  

One is by a black man, one by a white woman, and 7 are by white men. Killer of Sheep and The Gleaners and I (and some of the others) would have been very welcome additions, but all in all, at least from my perspective, I'm not sure the overall trade-off would be worth. (Interestingly, one film I nominated was one of those 9 that would have been left off and another I nominated would have been included instead :-)

Let me put it this way: I think a list that we're making for fun or just to reflect the collection of individual tastes of those on this site might want to keep all those that had been left off. That said, if one of the goals of the list is to craft a cultural artifact (list or book) that reflects "spiritual significance" in film in a broad sense, then I think intentionally including a variety of voices and perspectives is important. And I'm sure an essay in the book could still mention other films by Bergman, Kurosawa, Dardenne's, etc. even if only two of their films were on the final list.

The weighting model that we've been discussing (and that I'm coming around to) to see which films constitute the Top 100 might end up favoring those canonical films that we can agree are wonderful but are also representative of who holds power in the film industry to the exclusion of others. Still, I think weighting to better reflect the will of the group is okay in principle whereas I'd resist weighting based solely on the social categorization of the director. I very much want to say that the norms/goals of diversity and social justice are spiritual (and significant), and I hope we take those into account when voting and choosing which films to catch up on before voting. But I think that's the place to take that into consideration.

As to the question of 2 versus 3 films per director, I don't know. Do we want to delay that question until we'd actually see what the trade-off would be in terms of which films would be included and which excluded?

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4 hours ago, Darren H said:

I think we as a voting body are "problematic," so if we want our list to have any kind of cultural resonance -- rather than just being a fun exercise -- then we need to proactively acknowledge and account for it.

Beyond the +1 exercise, I can think of a couple practical ways to inject more diversity into the list. One would be to limit each director to two films. Even with that rule in place, I suspect 10% of our top 100 will belong to Bresson, Bergman, Dardennes, Malick, and Tarkovsky. How many more of their films do we need? And wouldn't the list be much more compelling if we dropped one for a Sissako or Akerman film (two directors I regret not including on my list)?

Another would be to juke the stats (to quote The Wire). It would be easy enough to add extra weight to the scores of films by non-white, non-straight, male filmmakers.

Ten years ago, the online film world saw our list and said, "Wow, this is surprisingly good!" I'd love to see the same response again. Ideally, the list will be so diverse no one will feel the need to investigate the diversity of the voters.

My initial response is "yes" to 2 films per director, and "no" to juking the stats (I do love the reference to The Wire, though).  But that could just be my privilege showing; maybe our list-making needs some affirmative action.


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

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

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Yeah, I don't really like the weighting idea either. I mentioned it because for years I would make a complex spreadsheet before TIFF to help me figure out what films to prioritize, and I would always weight it to find women and first-time filmmakers. In this case, I'm fine with trusting voters to weight their own voting strategy as they see fit. I'd be happy to put an asterisk next to films made by underrepresented filmmakers if that would help.

I feel pretty strongly about the two films per director rule. I'd be tempted to limit it even to one except that I can't imagine this list without The Passion of Joan of Arc and Ordet.

 

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Am I counting correctly that there are 3 films by women in the 2011 Top 100? 
http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?/films/&do=year&id=4
Given that we had 4 in the 2019 Top 25, I think that suggests anecdotally that the forum is evolving:
http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?/films/year/2-2019-top-25-growing-older/

I have no problem with 2 per director (or even, possibly one), but I'd be against juking stats. (Standard disclaimer: preference not a mandate.) Rob raises a real concern with the limiting of directors -- there's no guarantee the films that don't make the cut won't be replaced by films directed by other white men. Mostly though, I thought...well this will take a second to get out., so please be patient.

I think it is good that we are having this conversation and that it reflects evolution of the participants which will lead to evolution of the list. That's as it should be. That takes time. Joel has been doing good work with the Ecumenical Jury being intentional about inviting more women and people of color. That is a good thing, but...

Quote

Ten years ago, the online film world saw our list and said, "Wow, this is surprisingly good!" I'd love to see the same response again. Ideally, the list will be so diverse no one will feel the need to investigate the diversity of the voters.

I understand what D is saying, and I get it. By the same token, there's always been a little bit too much concern about how those outside will perceive of us, whether that means distancing ourselves from "Christian" criticism or establishing bona-fides with the arthouse crowd. We are who we are. (At least I am who I am.) And this forum, even in its heyday (maybe especially in its heyday) had a kind of cliquishness and snobbishness (not the right word, but I don't know a better) that revolved around having the "right" opinions, liking the "right" films. I've always sort of disliked that part of it. 

A few years ago, a former student of mine died after a long struggle with inoperable cancer. One of her last posts said words to the effect of, in the end, here are the books that actually mattered. She didn't add the "to me" but everyone understood it. I think this conversation has clarified for me that I see the list as ultimately for us and about us, it is an articulation of who we are, not what the best films are. Part of that can be aspirational. (Part of who I am includes who I want to be, and some of the films that matter are the films that push me beyond the comfort of what mattered to me yesterday or matters to me today.) If that means 95% films by male directors, that will be painful, but part of growth is looking at who you are. And I don't think it will be because we are already looking for ways to put more diversity *in front of voters* in the faith that the quality of the films will make the viewers value them much more than would any desire to look good or correct to someone else. 

I hate Magnolia. People who have been here forever know that about me. I'm indifferent to Tarkovsky and find Bergman discouragingly one-note. I think Balthasar is the 11th best Bresson film. But if people here hadn't championed it, I would never have found A Man Escaped, or Ordet, or the Dardennes. My own taste is more populist than a lot of people here, and I like some art stuff more than others. (I've never understood why Antonioni doesn't get more love in these parts, )

I also want to be careful not to just blindly buy into auteur theory to the point where the gender of the director is the only thing that matters. I have a hard time thinking of John Sayles as a male director rather than half of a partnership with Maggie Renzi. I'll die on the hill arguing that Clarice Starling is one of the greatest heroes of my film life, and I don't really care that it is hard for me to separate Jonathan Demme's direction from Jodie Foster's performance. (Ditto Falconnetti and Dreyer.) Julie Delpy is as much a part of Before Sunset as Richard Linklater. Similarly, I want space to say I find Lady Bird as annoying as anything that Wes Anderson did on his most twee day. That's not meant to say I don't hear people who feel differently, nor am I meaning to try to talk them out of it. But I've been in academia for a quarter of a century, and I know how quickly being inclusive can turn into a justification in and off itself.


I had only two film by a female director on my list, so I'd welcome a +1 limited to women or people of color, but  the bigger issue is that I'm more aware of the issue and more likely to consider it when voting for the films that are nominated. If everyone's list was like mine that means 8% films directed by women (or about 25 of the 300 nominated). That's about par for the course today, since I think that's about the percentage of films directed by women today. It sucks, but to very, very roughly paraphrase Gene Rodenberry when he was told by NBC that he couldn't have 50 percent female crew on the enterprise, I guess we better make the ones we have count.

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5 hours ago, Rob Z said:

If the 2011 list had had only had 2 from each director, it would have lost Early Summer, Days of Heaven,  A Man Escaped, The Double Life of Veronique, Rashomon, The Child (L'Enfant), Day of Wrath, Wild Strawberries, and Stalker. 7 by white men and 2 by Japanese men. It would have gained the following 9 in their place:

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Song of Bernadette (1943)
Pinnochio (1940)
Killer of Sheep (1977)
Shotgun Stories (2008)
Rome, Open City ("Roma, citta apera") (1945)
Gleaners and I , The (2000)
F for Fake (1973)  

 

Thanks for doing the research, Rob. It's really useful. Given a choice now between those two options, I'd definitely take the list that includes Henry King, Charles Burnett, another Rossellini, and Agnes Varda. And it reminds me to use my +1 for Killer of Sheep.

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Ken said:

Quote

Another reason I favor some sort of second wave voting (or more specifically ranking) is because I care exponentially more about the difference between #1 and #4 or #5 and #12 than I do about the difference between #58 and #82. 

FWIW, on the 2011 list, #2 and #3 were separated by only .005 points. And #4 was only .006 higher than #6. #5 was only .0005 higher than #6! That's five ten-thousandths of a point! Many of the films on the list were separated by mere thousandths of a point, which is what happens when it's just a 1-5 scale for ranking hundreds of films. Ranking them will allow us to be more intentional. 

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Just by way of commentary, I think the questions and observations raised in this ongoing discussion thread strike me as being insightful, charitable, and fruitful, and the final Top 100 list will be stronger for it (and hopefully we'll be better film-viewers and critics as well). Even if Ken still doesn't like Magnolia. ;) 

Some very quick thoughts: 1) I like the limit of two films per director, but wouldn't like limiting it to just one, 2) the "juke the stats" idea is highly problematic on a number of levels, but I don't get the impression that Darren or others are really interested in going that route, 3) including LGBTQ+ filmmakers in our potential +1 makes sense to me (e.g. Stephen Cone's Princess Cyd was a film I considered nominating), even as 4) I agree with Ken's observation that our apparent auteur focus can sometimes overemphasize the director against actress/actor, screenwriter, editor, etc., so perhaps our write-ups and the book commentary can draw attention to these other cinematic dimensions, and 5) I just now realized I somehow didn't nominate a single Wes Anderson or Coen brothers film.

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Two or three films per director is fine with me. I think we should allow more than one to acknowledge directors whose films mean more to this community.

Of the 40 films I short listed for my top 25, the only two that no one else nominated were The Godfather Part II and Touch of Evil; I'm a little surprised no one else nominated the latter.

The Wes Anderson and Coen films I considered all made it.

 


"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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59 minutes ago, Evan C said:

 

Of the 40 films I short listed for my top 25, the only two that no one else nominated were The Godfather Part II and Touch of Evil; I'm a little surprised no one else nominated the latter.

 

 

I have this vague recollection of Ryan Holt being the big Welles champion on this board, so perhaps we're already seeing how evolution of membership is impacting the list.

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On 4/4/2020 at 12:38 PM, Evan C said:

Fwiw, my #26 was Do the Right Thing.

You're welcome. :)

1 hour ago, kenmorefield said:

I have this vague recollection of Ryan Holt being the big Welles champion on this board, so perhaps we're already seeing how evolution of membership is impacting the list.

Yeah, but also that I think for a long time (at least in my young adult days) Touch of Evil was seen as the "other" big Welles, aside from Citizen Kane, but as more of his European films and other works become available, the consensus on Welles is spread out a bit more (what a career). For instance, I'd probably put Chimes at Midnight ahead of Touch.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I'm in favor of the "2 films per director" limit, for reasons. I think our past lists have worked out reasonably well, even with the rather unusual voting methods of the past, so I'll go with whatever method the mathematically inclined agree upon.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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