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Top 100 Recommendations and Lobbying

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37 minutes ago, kenmorefield said:

I'm speculating, but after writing the post about directors with multiple nods, I think maybe the film was helped by the fact that Schrader didn''t have other films on the list already, sort of like a lifetime achievement award in conjunction with its quality? But I think it speaks very powerfully to the exvangelical moment, and, of course, there is a sort of fan service in his references to other films in the canon.

For me, it was definitely the two elements in the final sentence of your paragraph that made this a given for my Top 25.


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

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

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7 hours ago, Darren H said:

9 of the 23 voters nominated First Reformed, which really surprised me!

Darren, since you're the data-master (and have the data), if it's not too much trouble, I'd love to know what the other most nominated films were out of curiosity. Not asking for anything comprehensive. I don't  imagine it influencing voting, but do we want to save that kind of thing for later?

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2 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

I'm speculating, but after writing the post about directors with multiple nods, I think maybe the film was helped by the fact that Schrader didn''t have other films on the list already, sort of like a lifetime achievement award in conjunction with its quality? But I think it speaks very powerfully to the exvangelical moment, and, of course, there is a sort of fan service in his references to other films in the canon.

Though it's helpful to know about the director, it's really the film itself that is just so strong. I agree that it speaks powerfully to many trends in American Christianity (the media-fication of evangelical Christianity, the decline of mainstream Protestantism, the growth of environmental awareness in the church, etc.) and speaks to them truthfully in ways I can sure identify with or that shine the light on uncomfortable truths. 

I think in Schrader's essay "Canon Fodder" for Film Comment, in which he names a film canon, he discusses (using Harold Bloom's definition of literary canon) how one thing that makes a film canonical is that other films engage with it and are influenced by it, but also that it engages with other canonical films that came before it. 

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20 minutes ago, Rob Z said:

I think in Schrader's essay "Canon Fodder" for Film Comment, in which he names a film canon, he discusses (using Harold Bloom's definition of literary canon) how one thing that makes a film canonical is that other films engage with it and are influenced by it, but also that it engages with other canonical films that came before it. 

Such a great essay - still have my copy of that issue on my shelf.


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

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

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Here are my nominees in chronological order. Like Ken, I won't give any rationale here. I will try to find time in the next few days to put my reasons for nominating movies in their own threads.

 

The Phantom Carriage (1921)
Faust (1924)
7th Heaven (1927)
Metropolis (1927)
Sunrise (1927)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Rome, Open City (1945)
Monsieur Vincent (1947)
Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
Ikiru (1952)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Wild Strawberries (1957)
The Shop on Main Street (1965)
Andrei Rublev (1966)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Babette's Feast (1987)
Wings of Desire (1987)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Shadowlands (1993)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Magnolia (1999)
The Tree of Life (2011)
Silence (2016)
Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

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My nominations, in alphabetical order, plus some comments on a few that I think are worth more serious consideration than I anticipate they will likely be given otherwise:

The Act of Killing (2012)
A Hidden Life (2019)
A Man For All Seasons (1966)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) -- I think this film is a quite a beautiful allegory for how the new generation should respond to climate change, with a lot of emphasis on cross-generational forgiveness and understanding. It's one of the best modern examples of magical realism out there.
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Calvary (2014)
The Dark Crystal (1982)
Do The Right Thing (1989)
First Reformed (2017)
The Fountain (2006) - This is my favorite film about death; specifically, about learning to accept mortality as a necessary and outright beautiful part of the cycle of life.
Funny Games (1997) - This film, to me, is "spiritual" in that it directly confronts the viewer and asks them to reflect on themselves, their own desires, their own morality, and their own passive complicity in violence. It is unpleasant at every turn, and then, when it's not unpleasant, asks why we take pleasure in "righteous" violence before denying us catharsis. It is, along with Peeping Tom below, and The Act of Killing Above, one of the most provocative explorations of voyeurism and the relationship between fiction and real life that I've ever seen. (It was either this or Salo, honestly.)
In The Mood For Love (2000)
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s Such A Beautiful Day (2012) -- This movie makes me want to live more fully in the present; after each viewing, I feel grateful for every breath, every flower, and every mundane part of my mostly mundane life.
M (1931)
Magnolia (1999)
Make Way For Tomorrow (1937)
The Matrix (1999)
Noah (2014)
Paddington 2 (2017) -- Paddington sees people the way I want to see them more often: as flawed, spiteful, worthy of love regardless, and always capable of positive transformation.
Paris, Texas (1984)
Peeping Tom (1960)
The Truman Show (1998)
The Work (2017) -- This movie is about the hard work of making such a positive transformation. It reveals rehabilitation to be not only possible, but probable, given the right conditions.

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On 4/8/2020 at 2:56 PM, kenmorefield said:

I'm speculating, but after writing the post about directors with multiple nods, I think maybe the film was helped by the fact that Schrader didn''t have other films on the list already, sort of like a lifetime achievement award in conjunction with its quality? But I think it speaks very powerfully to the exvangelical moment, and, of course, there is a sort of fan service in his references to other films in the canon.

First Reformed is a great film! Paul Schrader even said so!
 

 
 

IMG_20200410_091406.jpg

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41 minutes ago, Joshua Wilson said:

IMG_20200410_091406.jpg

A brief aside: I hadn't heard of "The Student," so I checked IMDB. Is this the film Schrader is referring to? It sounds ... interesting

Sorry for the digression. I don't mean to hijack our Top 100 discussion. If anyone has seen The Student and wants to respond, you can send me a private A&F message.

Edited by Christian

"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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Here are mine, arranged alphabetically. I will try to make a succinct case for the ones that I suspect are not as familiar to everyone.


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

A Brighter Summer Day (1991) - Edward Yang's Taiwanese masterpiece deals with youths in gangs primarily, but the epic canvas encompasses the clash of cultures within that island around 1960. The way that inequality affects each sphere of the social order and causes fractures is developed in slow moving circles until the shocking climax. The contrasts of power and the struggle for moral advantage takes place in the family, on the streets among youth gangs, in school life, in the civil service based on political factions, in the romantic life of a young woman, and in the effects of Western popular culture starting to take hold in the youth. Based almost in equal parts on a real life crime story and on Yang's own reminiscences of his time growing up, it speaks with a poignancy that reaches out beyond its very localized setting. 

Amadeus (1984)

Andrei Rublev (1966)

Chimes at Midnight (1965) - Possibly Welles's greatest film, this is his most mature take on his favored theme of friendship, and loyalty. The idea that a high calling of duty would require the the betrayal of a friend is a one that he expertly stitches together out of Shakespeare's texts as the climax of a rumination of the earthy and bawdy pleasures in contrast with the heavy "virtues" of nobility.

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Dekalog III (1989) - no one else put a Dekalog film on here? Is that the consequence of requiring them to be seen as 10 separate films?

First Reformed (2017)

Fitzcarraldo (1982) - If there's a better metaphor for the struggle to ascend to spiritual heights by means of Art, I don't know what it is.

I Confess (1953)

In the Mood for Love (2000)

Kundun (1997) - This underseen Scorsese film is exquisitely edited to be like a prayer. I'm not a Buddhist, of course, so I don't dare say that it is authentically Buddhist, but it at least conveys an immense respect for the religious, cultural, and social perspective of the Dalai Lama, particularly as in opposition to an anti-spiritual force, embodied by Mao.

Like Someone in Love (2012)

Of Gods and Men (2010)

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) - The vampire genre often explores themes of good and evil, the transcendent power of human love, and the meaning of mortality. Jarmusch makes it contemporary by expanding the themes to include the mortality and meaning of Art, and even considering the mortality of the planet itself.

Samurai Rebellion (1967) - this is probably one of my biggest sleeper nominations. If you've seen Harakiri, and thought that it offered a powerful exploration of individual conscience against authority, a rebuke of injustice, and the power of famililial love in the face of poverty or social conventions, well...this film is even better than its more well-known brother, from the same director, Kobayashi.

Silence (2016)

The Flowers of St. Francis (1950)

The Fugitive (1947) - John Ford's adaptation of The Power and the Glory is unfairly compared to the source novel. It is better to see it as its own work. It plays more like a silent film, using masterful compositions and striking imagery (cinemtography by the Mexican-born Figueroa, working in the style of his teacher, Toland) to reach a more profound spiritual depiction of the basic outline from the Greene story than a more literal adaptation, purely through the pictoral means that are the stuff of cinema.

The Magician (1958) - This film, like many of Bergman's, takes apart and puts together the intersecting realms of art, faith, and the social order through means of a dramatic narrative. Most writing that I have seen talks about the parallels between the story and Bergman's views on art and filmmaking, but there's a very complex and not unambiguous look at the power of belief and the possibility of spiritual forces at work here as well.

The Music Room (1958) - If it's not too indulgent, I'll link to what I wrote about this movie a couple years ago: https://fforfilms.net/2016/07/20/blind-spot-2016-the-music-room/

The New World (2005)

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Wise Blood (1979) - This is a flawed film to be sure, but I think the power of O'Connor's narrative shines through in great performances by Brad Dourif, Harry Dean Stanton, and Ned Beatty. An indictment of the conflation of American consumerism and self-reliance with Christianity that still packs a punch.

World of Tomorrow (2015) - A whimsical, searing, joyous, tragic, heartbreaking, hopeful, despairing film. It's like all the Psalms packed into a sketchy sci-fi cartoon.

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30 minutes ago, Christian said:

A brief aside: I hadn't heard of "The Student," so I checked IMDB. Is this the film Schrader is referring to? It sounds ... interesting

Sorry for the digression. I don't mean to hijack our Top 100 discussion. If anyone has seen The Student and wants to respond, you can send me a private A&F message.

I think he is probably referring to this film, which I have seen. (It made the festival circuit in 2012 and I saw it on Festivascope back when I was on that site. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2369333/. It's a modern adaptation of Crime & Punishment, which is what makes me suspect it is in Schrader's wheelhouse.

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Watched Wanda this morning. 

Felt like a slog, not because it is a bad film but because, like a film festival, the heaviness begins to accumulate after a steady diet of pessimistic films. Not sure what to do about that other than try to space some things out before voting.

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> It's a modern adaptation of Crime & Punishment, which is what makes me suspect it is in Schrader's wheelhouse.

For sure. I wouldn't have been surprised if M. Leary had nominated The Student. He still references it from time to time.

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Not a huge Bergman fan--I appreciate his artistry but find a dull sameness to many of his films, and there is an existential dread about self-awareness that resonated at some points in my life but which I feel like he sometimes wallows in. But eight (8) nominees...um okay....so I recognize there will probably be two Bergman films on the list. Anyone want to lobby for one over the other seven? I re-watched Wild Strawberries last year for the Top 25 on Growing Older, and I *think* I've seen them all at one point or another, though they do tend to blur in my head. 

My favorite Bergman is Songs from a Summer Night if that makes a difference. 

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37 minutes ago, kenmorefield said:

Not a huge Bergman fan--I appreciate his artistry but find a dull sameness to many of his films, and there is an existential dread about self-awareness that resonated at some points in my life but which I feel like he sometimes wallows in. But eight (8) nominees...um okay....so I recognize there will probably be two Bergman films on the list. Anyone want to lobby for one over the other seven? I re-watched Wild Strawberries last year for the Top 25 on Growing Older, and I *think* I've seen them all at one point or another, though they do tend to blur in my head. 

My favorite Bergman is Songs from a Summer Night if that makes a difference. 

The one I most want to see on the list is Through a Glass Darkly; the questions of doubt and faith resonate beautifully on a thin line between despair and hope while never giving into the former, and it shows the what unconditional love genuinely looks like. I wrote a review to flesh out why it's one of my favorite films. I am afraid it's going to lose out to Winter Light.

As to a second Bergman for the list, I'd be happy with any of the other seven, but my top choices would be The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, and Hour of the Wolf. Actually, in the interest of championing the underrepresented, I'd probably push for Hour of the Wolf ahead of the other two.

Edited by Evan C

"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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On 4/11/2020 at 2:59 PM, kenmorefield said:

Watched Wanda this morning. 

Felt like a slog, not because it is a bad film but because, like a film festival, the heaviness begins to accumulate after a steady diet of pessimistic films. Not sure what to do about that other than try to space some things out before voting.

It's decidedly bleak as hell, but I think its aesthetic and themes are as if the Dardennes had made Malick's Badlands. Wanda is an enigmatic character who floats through existence—"Wanda" connotes both "Wander" and "Wonder"—and doesn't quite seem to land anywhere. The presence of large looming churches in the background of many of the shots, as well as the strange trip to Holy Land USA, seems like an interrogation of Americanized Christianity, where faith has become a commodity and an excuse for ignoring abuse and sin. I think Wanda's story is that of an existential and spiritual crisis where the person having the crisis is to passive, submissive, and inarticulate as to not necessarily have the resources to know why she's feeling or doing what she's feeling/doing. But just because Wanda is not as verbose as Walker Percy or Soren Kierkegaard or St John of the Cross in poetically sharing about her existential crisis, Loden's film about the fictional Wanda can serve as a witness for such real-life Wandas wandering and wondering in the marginalized places of America.

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On 4/11/2020 at 9:05 AM, Darren H said:

> It's a modern adaptation of Crime & Punishment, which is what makes me suspect it is in Schrader's wheelhouse.

For sure. I wouldn't have been surprised if M. Leary had nominated The Student. He still references it from time to time.

I considered it! Makes a great pair with El Norte.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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I've got 45 films I definitely want *somewhere* on the list and another 30 I'd like to watch before voting...which means I have some slots if people want to lobby. I suppose the biggest difference lobbying makes or will make for me will be in which films I priorities rewatching before voting, since I can't get to all of them. 

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Anyone want to advocate for me prioritizing any of the following before voting? The ones in italics are the ones I'm fairly confident I will be able to stream somewhere.

 

  1. A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

  2. A River Runs Through It (1992)

  3. A Tale of Winter (1992)

  4. After Life (1998)

  5. Another Year (2010)

  6. At the Death House Door (2008)

  7. Beyond the Hills (2012)

  8. Breaking the Waves (1996)

  9. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

  10. Daughters of the Dust (1991)

  11. Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

  12. Endless Poetry (2016)

  13. Faces Places (2017)

  14. Fever Pitch (1997)

  15. Frisco Jenny (1932)

  16. From the East (1993)

  17. Germany Year Zero (1948)

  18. Heartbeat Detector (2007)

  19. Joyeux Noel (2005)

  20. Le Quattro Volte (2010)

  21. Love is Strange (2014)

  22. Mass Appeal (1984)

  23. Matewan (1987)

  24. Men with Guns (1997)

  25. Monsieur Lazhar (2011)

  26. Museum Hours (2012)

  27. Nazarin (1959)

  28. Nobody Knows (2004)

  29. Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

  30. Paisan (1946)

  31. Revanche (2008)

  32. Rounders (1998)

  33. Run Lola Run (1998)

  34. Safe (1995)

  35. Secrets and Lies (1996)

  36. Silent Light (2007)

  37. Song and Solitude (2006)

  38. Stevie (2002)

  39. Still Life (2006)

  40. Stranger than Fiction (2006)

  41. Summer (1986)

  42. The Banishment (2007)

  43. The Big City (1963)

  44. The Celluloid Closet (1995)

  45. The Dark Crystal (1982)

  46. The Fountain (2006)

  47. The Fugitive (1947)

  48. The King of Kings (1927)

  49. The Shop on Main Street (1965)

  50. The Turin Horse (2011)

  51. The Village (2004)

  52. The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

  53. This Transient Life (1970)  

  54. To Sleep With Anger (1990)

  55. Triumph of the Will (1935)

  56. Under the Sun of Satan (1987)

  57. Upstream Color (2013)

  58. Ushpizin (2004)

  59. Voyage to the End of the Universe (1963)

  60. Wadjda (2012)

  61. Wanda (1970)

  62. What Time Is It There? (2001)

  63. Where is the Friend's House? (1987)

  64. Wise Blood (1979)

  65. Yella (2007)

  66. The Celebration (1998)

  67. Jodhaa Akbar (2008)

  68. Gates of Heaven (1978)

  69. Smoke Signals (1998)

  70. Cloud Atlas (2012)

  71. Secret Sunshine (2007)

  72. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)


"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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You have a couple of my nominations on your list, but I'll advocate for one: Frisco Jenny. I personally would like to see the list become diverse in every sense of the word, so I think it would benefit from having a pre-code gangster movie. I believe Frisco Jenny also happens to be a great work of transcendental cinema, in Paul Schrader's sense of the term. At this point in my life, I actually find Jenny a more resonant figure than Dreyer's Joan or Bresson's Marie, and I probably prefer Wellman's style to theirs as well.

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The DVD for Frisco Jenny mailed from Netflix today, so I will definitely get to that one.


"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, Evan C said:

Anyone want to advocate for me prioritizing any of the following before voting? The ones in italics are the ones I'm fairly confident I will be able to stream somewhere.

 

  1. A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

     

  2. A River Runs Through It (1992)

     

  3. A Tale of Winter (1992)

     

  4. After Life (1998)

     

  5. Another Year (2010)

     

  6. At the Death House Door (2008)

     

  7. Beyond the Hills (2012)

     

  8. Breaking the Waves (1996)

     

  9. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

     

  10. Daughters of the Dust (1991)

     

  11. Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

     

  12. Endless Poetry (2016)

     

  13. Faces Places (2017)

     

  14. Fever Pitch (1997)

     

  15. Frisco Jenny (1932)

     

  16. From the East (1993)

     

  17. Germany Year Zero (1948)

     

  18. Heartbeat Detector (2007)

     

  19. Joyeux Noel (2005)

     

  20. Le Quattro Volte (2010)

     

  21. Love is Strange (2014)

     

  22. Mass Appeal (1984)

     

  23. Matewan (1987)

     

  24. Men with Guns (1997)

     

  25. Monsieur Lazhar (2011)

     

  26. Museum Hours (2012)

     

  27. Nazarin (1959)

     

  28. Nobody Knows (2004)

     

  29. Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

     

  30. Paisan (1946)

     

  31. Revanche (2008)

     

  32. Rounders (1998)

     

  33. Run Lola Run (1998)

     

  34. Safe (1995)

     

  35. Secrets and Lies (1996)

     

  36. Silent Light (2007)

     

  37. Song and Solitude (2006)

     

  38. Stevie (2002)

     

  39. Still Life (2006)

     

  40. Stranger than Fiction (2006)

     

  41. Summer (1986)

     

  42. The Banishment (2007)

     

  43. The Big City (1963)

     

  44. The Celluloid Closet (1995)

     

  45. The Dark Crystal (1982)

     

  46. The Fountain (2006)

     

  47. The Fugitive (1947)

     

  48. The King of Kings (1927)

     

  49. The Shop on Main Street (1965)

     

  50. The Turin Horse (2011)

     

  51. The Village (2004)

     

  52. The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

     

  53. This Transient Life (1970)  

     

  54. To Sleep With Anger (1990)

     

  55. Triumph of the Will (1935)

     

  56. Under the Sun of Satan (1987)

     

  57. Upstream Color (2013)

     

  58. Ushpizin (2004)

     

  59. Voyage to the End of the Universe (1963)

     

  60. Wadjda (2012)

     

  61. Wanda (1970)

     

  62. What Time Is It There? (2001)

     

  63. Where is the Friend's House? (1987)

     

  64. Wise Blood (1979)

     

  65. Yella (2007)

     

  66. The Celebration (1998)

     

  67. Jodhaa Akbar (2008)

     

  68. Gates of Heaven (1978)

     

  69. Smoke Signals (1998)

     

  70. Cloud Atlas (2012)

     

  71. Secret Sunshine (2007)

     

  72. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)

     

I've lobbied in threads for some stuff here that are from my list (Celluloid Closet, Rounders), so rather than repeat everything, I'll just tilt at the windmill that is Fever Pitch. We need some comedies, and it is the best commercial depiction of the postmodern emptiness seeking connection and transcendence in a universe they it has been repeatedly told has none to offer.

In terms of stuff I'm not high on -- I was really disappointed in Cloud Atlas (your mileage may vary), and I'm not a Bunuel fan, Nazarin included.

Matewan and Nobody Knows are personal faves, that I struggle to think of in terms of this list. But I'll be revisiting the first before voting.

Oh, and try to see At the Death House Door if you can. 

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Evan, I'll advocate for two: Germany Year Zero and Secrets & Lies. Both are remarkable works of realist cinema, but with different tones and in very different contexts. They don't really have overt depictions of religion, per se, but are profoundly moving and loaded with spiritual/theological/existential ideas and questions without feeling preachy. The latter film is an all-time Top 10 favorite film for me, but is sadly also rather difficult to find (Criterion Channel was streaming it at one time, I believe).

I'd also highly recommend Upstream Color, but your mileage may vary.

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3 hours ago, Evan C said:

Anyone want to advocate for me prioritizing any of the following before voting?

I don't have strong feelings about any of these (in a positive way, at least). After Life, Heartbeat Detector, Silent Light, and Still Life are all on the 2011 list, and I'd love to see all of them make the 2020 list as well. So I would encourage you to see them. I also really hope Beyond the Hills makes the list. And Wadjda is a gem.

 

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I'll second both of Joel's recommendations. Secrets & Lies is on Criterion Channel right now. I watched it for the first time a few nights ago and was happy to see it lives up to the hype. Timothy Spall's Maurice immediately became one of my all-time favorite film characters.. It's been a few years since I saw Germany Year Zero, but I remember thinking at the end, "Oh, well, that's clearly one of the great films." The older I get, the more I cherish those Rossellini films. The Flowers of St. Francis and Germany Year Zero will be my two voting priorities for him.

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8 minutes ago, Darren H said:

I remember thinking at the end, "Oh, well, that's clearly one of the great films."

I'd say that's close to my reaction to seeing Rome, Open City. I think its religious elements tip it for me as a highly spiritual film. That's part of why it resonated for me so much. I think most others are more cinema-literate than I am, and I'd love to hear an argument for Germany, Year Zero (or Paisan) over Rome, Open City in terms of the cinematic quality or spiritual significance.

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