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Thinking about the Future of the Top 100, 25, Etc.


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#1 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 01:05 PM

Hello, A&Fers:

I know it's early to start thinking ahead to our next "Top" list but I wanted to get your feedback on something.

I've been trying to wrap my brain around the question of frequency for the Top 100 list.

Moving it to every other year made a lot of sense, but now I'm wondering about doing a Top 100 THAT often.

I'm thinking it should be more like five years, right? I mean, we're talking about the top 100 films of all time! How much is going to change in two years?

So, first, I'd like you to consider my 5-year proposal.

Second, I want to propose that we take a different approach to our non-100 lists.

I love the notion of thematic and genre Top 25 lists -- they are great and I hope we continue to do them.

But at the same time I'm wondering about the issue of urgency -- what will make people really want to pore over a particular list?

My sense is that time and timeliness help a great deal. For example, a Top 10 list of the best films of the year -- every is always interested in what's recent -- what they missed, what they might catch on DVD.

Shouldn't we start thinking along those lines? Couldn't we make a bigger contribution to the larger cultural conversation if we took a break from the all-time list and focused our combined intelligences on what's happening now?

#2 Darrel Manson

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 01:20 PM

Every 5 years: makes sense.

As to the top 10 of the year, many of us share our lists here, and some years someone has gone through and combined them (20, 19, 18... points) to come up with something resembling that, but it has been unofficial.

A constant fly in the ointment is what constitutes a film for a given year? IMDB listing? Limited release in LA and NY? Wide release? And how long do we allow people to see all the year end films?

#3 Christian

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 01:34 PM

Every 5 years sounds good to me, although in the changing world of social media, it's hard to know how this group and this board will look in another few years.

As for more recent lists, I realize those might attract eyeballs, but I like to think it's our job to help promote films that aren't currently getting a PR push or lavish attention from Entertainment Weekly (or even Film Comment, which covers more interesting films but is focused on recent releases).

Greg, is your concern that our recent Top 25 lists haven't generated enough eyeballs, enough clicks on the site? Are you looking to use the lists to boost traffic? I know that's part of our goal, but going too far in that direction brings tradeoffs that make me uncomfortable.

Last, if we're going to concentrate on recent films, I think we might consider making lists of only non-Hollywood films, or of only foreign films. I realize that plays into the "elitist" stereotype, but I think we should strive to make this place different from all the other listmaking sites that are out there. We already are different in that we bring a faith-based perspective to films, but I'm not sure that our views of the most recent films are the most interesting. I know that I most enjoy pulling up older threads at A&F, adding to them as I catch up on films I missed, etc.

That's just my two cents.

#4 Ryan H.

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 07:08 PM

I'm thinking it should be more like five years, right? I mean, we're talking about the top 100 films of all time! How much is going to change in two years?

I enjoy doing the top 100 enough to do it yearly, but making it a five year thing makes all kinds of sense.

Shouldn't we start thinking along those lines? Couldn't we make a bigger contribution to the larger cultural conversation if we took a break from the all-time list and focused our combined intelligences on what's happening now?

Maybe. I tend to think that cinematic conversation "of the now" is almost always inevitably short-sighted, too subject to immediate cultural trends and hype. And that sort of "best films of the year" conversation is also pretty crowded, and adding one more voice to the din might not altogether do that much good unless we make it a point to be somewhat counter-cultural and highlight neglected gems. That said, I doubt A&F's consensus would focus enough on the neglected gems to really create a list centered around them; it's inevitable the films most of us will have seen will tend to be the more widely available releases that already have a strong reputation.

I know that I most enjoy pulling up older threads at A&F, adding to them as I catch up on films I missed, etc.

Agreed. Honestly, I wish our conversation at A&F was almost a little less driven by current cinema. I know we have a lot of members who have writing duties, and out of necessity, their viewership focuses on newer releases, but I would nevertheless love to see A&F dig at some older films the way they dig at some new ones.

Edited by Ryan H., 11 July 2012 - 07:58 PM.


#5 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 01:39 PM

Thanks, Darrel, Christian, and Ryan. Good thoughts.

I guess what I've been thinking about in terms of lists has been stimulated by the folks at PASTE. They seem to have a knack for putting out lists that people love to read -- and which rise above the merely superficial. They mix up stuff happening now with "all time" lists.

In any case, I don't want to suggest that IMAGE has an agenda here that A&F has to get behind.

If y'all want to want to do lists that simply give you pleasure to create, that's fine. And I mean that.

It's really up to you to decide how much you care about the ratio between doing something fun amongst yourselves and edifying the larger public.

I will say this: I have noticed that people here are pretty tickled when your lists ARE noticed, so it's not as if that doesn't play some role in your collective thinking!

I can imagine simply sticking to Top 25 lists you decide to do each year between the Top 100 lists.

Further thoughts are welcome!

#6 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 04:36 PM

I like Darrel's concern about the standardizing of release dates.

And I like Christian's concern about the ever-shifting membership of this board; we only moved to our present URL eight or nine years ago, so five-year plans assume a certain longevity that we can't necessarily take for granted yet.

And yet, I like Greg's five-year interval idea, too. I like the idea of such longevity.

More thoughts later, maybe, when I'm not confined to the mobile interface.

#7 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 06:10 PM

I'm thinking it should be more like five years, right? I mean, we're talking about the top 100 films of all time! How much is going to change in two years?

So, first, I'd like you to consider my 5-year proposal.

Right. I'm with you on this one. Another added benefit to working on this only every five years is a little added stability. Most of the friends & family members who I've shown the Top 100 list to are interested, but they start trying out the films very slowly. Some of them even asked me why the list changed last time, and I didn't really have a good answer for them.

Second, I want to propose that we take a different approach to our non-100 lists ... My sense is that time and timeliness help a great deal. For example, a Top 10 list of the best films of the year -- every is always interested in what's recent -- what they missed, what they might catch on DVD.

Shouldn't we start thinking along those lines? Couldn't we make a bigger contribution to the larger cultural conversation if we took a break from the all-time list and focused our combined intelligences on what's happening now?

I wouldn't be against attempting a Top 10 list for each year if that would help generate more notice for Image. But there are problems that we'd have to work through. As mentioned before, often even a limited release of some of each year's greatest films are regularly delayed until the next year. Even ignoring IMDB's reliable listing by year, if you tried to use something like NY/LA releases so that a 2012 Top Ten could include 2011 films, first you're still going to have films slip through the cracks (think Lee Isaac Chung's Lucky Life), and second, we could very likely be making Top 10 lists for one year that consisted of a majority of films from the last year instead.

Just because I'd like to hold A&F to a high standard, I'd question whether we could make a Top 10 list for 2012 in, oh say, early 2013 that wouldn't look completely different if we made the same list in 2014. From the discussions in the forums here, many of each year's best films are only seen by a minority of us in the year they are actually released. This would skew our voting.

On the other hand, a certain amount of effort and the occasional long drive could help remedy this. But I'm not sure how realistic that would be. Timeliness is useful, but quality can also be sacrificed to timeliness. So while I like the idea of A&F developing a collection of top of the year lists (even a top 25's of the year). And, if we kept it up, I bet we could accumulate a body of work that would be quite impressive. Maybe if we did a top 10/25 list of best films of the year ... two or three years afterwards? In other words, as I see it, now is around the time we could probably begin to fully discuss and put together a Top 10 or 25 list for 2009 or perhaps even 2010.

#8 Darryl A. Armstrong

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 01:45 AM

I think limiting the Top 100 list to 5 year increments makes a lot of sense. Everything gets updated all the time, except the things that matter.

Is there any reason we can't do a yearly top 10 plus a themed top 25 list each year? I realize this takes work, but if we're already doing one list, it wouldn't be too much extra time to incorporate a second in the mix. I assume a lot of the work can be duplicated.

Also, straying a little further afield... I've suggested hosting chats before, but now I'm thinking why not just use Twitter? Maybe a monthly or quarterly "chat" on Twitter with a hashtag moderated by a representative from A&F and featuring a guest. I know A&F is it's own beast, and I'm not a devout subscriber to Image, but we're basically the Image forum by default, right? I have no objections to that and I don't think many here would. It would be great to host such chats with artists in film, music, literature and visual arts.

#9 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 09:27 AM

Darryl A. Armstrong wrote:
: Also, straying a little further afield... I've suggested hosting chats before, but now I'm thinking why not just use Twitter? Maybe a monthly or quarterly "chat" on Twitter with a hashtag moderated by a representative from A&F and featuring a guest.

Some of us don't use Twitter that much, and I suspect any "chat" on Twitter would be regularly interrupted by tweets from non-chat feeds. Plus I wonder how easy it would be to archive such a "chat" after it has taken place; would the A&F rep have to be a "follower" of all the participants in that "chat"? (For that matter, would each participant have to be a "follower" of all the other participants, especially those with relatively high privacy settings?)

I do like the idea of chats with guests, though.

#10 BethR

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 11:31 AM

There are Twitter tools that can allow focused chats based on hashtags. That way, you only see tweets with, say, #AandF, while logged into the chat. Doesn't matter whether you follow everyone or not. I've done this for group live-tweeting of films or TV episodes. Can't find it right now. Will check.

#11 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 03:00 AM

FYI, we will be re-installing the chat module that comes with the board software. We've even looked into chat software like Cover It Live! that may be better than the board program.

So am I hearing that there's some interest in non-event-related chats? Just periodic chats (e.g., quarterly)?

In the office we wondered what sort of pretext would be needed for chats outside of live events like the Oscars....

#12 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 01:40 PM

So am I hearing that there's some interest in non-event-related chats? Just periodic chats (e.g., quarterly)?

In the office we wondered what sort of pretext would be needed for chats outside of live events like the Oscars....

Perhaps for the discussion of proposed questions or propositions? Many a literary club in the past would meet to discuss a "question before the house" and there are certainly a collection of questions that would be of interest to this group. (Something like "Resolved: Art created for the purpose of propaganda is bad art." or "Whether the modern use of the word 'culture' has changed the effect that art has on our lives?" or etc.)

That said, it may just be that the medium of an online chat-room may not be conducive to substantive, ordered or serious discussion. Darryl's idea of using chats in order to ask questions of special guests may be better and easier to promote & advertise.

#13 John Drew

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:50 PM

FYI, we will be re-installing the chat module that comes with the board software. We've even looked into chat software like Cover It Live! that may be better than the board program.

So am I hearing that there's some interest in non-event-related chats? Just periodic chats (e.g., quarterly)?

In the office we wondered what sort of pretext would be needed for chats outside of live events like the Oscars....


Back in 2010, when the chat feature was restored at that time, I suggested that maybe we could use the chat format for a movie viewing/discussion. With Netflix streaming, we could choose a film, set a date and start time (get it as synchronous as possible) and have an active discussion while viewing the film. Kinda like the Cinema Interruptus events that Roger Ebert used to host. Anyway, throwing that idea out there again.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah, 24 July 2012 - 08:51 PM.


#14 LibrarianDeb

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 02:54 PM

I'm also in favor of an every five year Top 100 list. Maybe I'll have time to finish watching the films with that much time.

#15 Anders

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 03:19 PM

I'm also in favor of an every five year Top 100 list. Maybe I'll have time to finish watching the films with that much time.


I'm also in favour of this. I'm making slow but steady progress on the the Top 100, so should definitely be all caught up by the time it comes to make another.

As for the yearly lists: I think we should continue with the Top 25 lists AND since so many of us do a Top 10 anyway, why don't we just collate the results of everyone's Top 10 like Ron Reed used to do anyway? Or do a weighted list like we did the top films of the decade list (divided 100 points among 10 films with no film getting fewer than 5 points and no more than 30)?

#16 Christian

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 03:48 PM

As for the yearly lists: I think we should continue with the Top 25 lists AND since so many of us do a Top 10 anyway, why don't we just collate the results of everyone's Top 10 like Ron Reed used to do anyway? Or do a weighted list like we did the top films of the decade list (divided 100 points among 10 films with no film getting fewer than 5 points and no more than 30)?

I have no objection to this approach -- find it rather appealing -- but am wondering about the logisitcs. Since so many of us put together a Top 10 for the year well after the year is over, what would our cutoff be? Wouldn't we end up excluding people, or with half-baked lists from people who might heavily revise their lists later, if only because they hadn't had the opportunity to see the year's films until well into the following year?

Some of these concerns have already been expressed.

#17 Joel Mayward

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 11:33 PM

I have no objection to this approach -- find it rather appealing -- but am wondering about the logisitcs. Since so many of us put together a Top 10 for the year well after the year is over, what would our cutoff be? Wouldn't we end up excluding people, or with half-baked lists from people who might heavily revise their lists later, if only because they hadn't had the opportunity to see the year's films until well into the following year?


The Top 25 this year was collated by early February, right around the same time many were finishing off their Top 10 lists from 2011. If there were a collated Top 10 list from everyone's Top 10, might I suggest that the Top 25 is shifted to later in the year (or earlier this year) to allow for more time to view and discuss films for each respective list? A Top 10 list posted by February 1 could allow a wider viewing of the limited NY/LA releases, then an August/September Top 25 would allow for a new A&F list every 6 months or so.

All are humble suggestions; I'm typically a quiet reader/listener in these parts.

#18 Darryl A. Armstrong

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 01:34 AM

Gonna throw out another idea here (hopefully to remind me when the time comes to make suggestions for next year's Top 25 list): A Top Trailers list. Maybe this is something more fitting to Paste or somewhere along those lines, but I think it would be a fascinating discussion at the least.

There are Twitter tools that can allow focused chats based on hashtags. That way, you only see tweets with, say, #AandF, while logged into the chat. Doesn't matter whether you follow everyone or not. I've done this for group live-tweeting of films or TV episodes. Can't find it right now. Will check.


Indeed. These can make it easy to follow a specific conversation and allow for archiving. I know there was some functionality of board chat, but I was just thinking it might be less work for our hosts to use Twitter and allow for wider participation.

#19 Ryan H.

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 09:44 AM

A top trailers list? That's a fun idea.

#20 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 09:46 PM

I think the IMAGE staff would be open to doing a top 10 and top 25 at different times of the year. As many of you know, we tried to time whatever list we were putting out for the weeks right before the Oscars, just to ride the PR coattails of that event, so to speak. All we would probably want to figure out is what time of year would be easiest on the staff (given the timing of something like Glen West in August...).