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Top 100 2011: Results and Discussion


Anna J
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I've seen a few films, quite a few that are an exercise in the surreal, and I've known it when I've seen it. Vertigo doesn't convince me of that.

What? You think the film is striving for realism? Come now.

And whether the point of the characters is that they really are vacuous, and that's the point -- then I'm thoroughly convinced that their vacuousness isn't explored deeply enough to be remotely interesting.

I never said the point was that these characters were vacuous. In fact, I deny that these characters are vacuous. Stewart's Scottie has a lot of complexity. I don't know how you could at all call his character "vacuous." It's true that he falls for a girl who is more image than substance, but that doesn't make him vacuous, it just makes him flawed, and that key flaw--a flaw which many human beings share, I might add--is the point of the film, and the notion that VERTIGO somehow fails to explore that flaw makes no sense to me whatsoever. And Judy, who we don't get to know quite as well as Scottie, is still a cocktail of complicated and conflicting emotions.

We don't want them to die, actually.

I'd be careful about somehow regarding your experience with the characters are normative for audiences on the whole, as you're implying with your use of "we." Plenty of people don't want VERTIGO's characters to die, too (I walk away devastated anew every time I finish the film, and I haven't shown it to a person that wasn't moved by it). The reason it's so often hailed as Hitch's greatest is because these characters and their relationship to one another speaks very powerfully to many viewers.

For whatever reason, you don't connect with these characters to the point that you actually find them irritating. I can kinda understand that; as I said, these characters are preposterous to some degree (though I'd argue they still have enough humanity to allow us to accept their more absurd aspects), but VERTIGO isn't a film that attempts to be realistic. Like Hitch's MARNIE, which is a far less successful attempt at this mode of storytelling, it's relies on very expressionistic storytelling.

It is a stronger ending than Vertigo because we are fascinated with Bates *and* the people staying at the motel.

We're only fascinated with Janet Leigh's character, who presents an interesting cocktail of greed and guilt. Maybe the detective, just because he has some personality. We could care less about the ultra-bland sister or the boyfriend; we only follow them because of our interest in Norman Bates, and Hitch has us beautifully hooked into the suspense of the story by the point they become particularly prominent.

They've both been available for years.

PSYCHO has been available far longer than VERTIGO has, and has been part of the conversation for far longer, as well. There was a vast period of time where you couldn't get a copy of VERTIGO. VERTIGO only began to receive serious attention at the beginning of the 1980s.

There's a reason you remember Psycho over any other Hitch.

When you say Hitchcock, PSYCHO is hardly the first film that leaps into my head. It's a very, very fine film, but I don't think you can genuinely make the argument that it's somehow more iconic than any other film he made. Hitchcock made many iconic, memorable films.

Edited by Ryan H.
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Regarding Hitchcock, I agree with Stef that Rear Window is a much more engaging film than Vertigo, in terms of its characters. I also think the former with its characters and stylistic conceit has much to say about our culture and the immorality of watching and not getting involved. As such, I think it would be a wonderful addition to subsequent Top 100 lists.

As for Mononoke and Spirited Away, I'll try to articulate my preference (both of which are way up on my list of personal favorites):

- Both films illustrate eloquently the consequences of ill-directed passion: greed/gluttony in Spirited Away with the porcine parental unit; greed and vengeance in Mononoke, with the two female leads, the monk, and the porcine gods-turned-demons. However, I think this is done much more potently in Mononoke: the boar demons are rightfully horrifying, as is the conduct of the monk and the leader of Iron Town who are willing to decapitate a god to further their ends.

- Both films create a magnificent sense of wonder at the Deific or Other (who can forget the Radish Spirit?). But I think Mononoke is more effective at elevating the viewer's sense of the Other's strangeness: the benevolence-turned-awfulness of the Forest God who has the power to restore as well as take away life, the eerie charm and bizarre innocence of the tiny head-rattling forest spirits.

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

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

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I also think the former with its characters and stylistic conceit has much to say about our culture and the immorality of watching and not getting involved.

It certainly has something to say, but I'd venture that there are many films that explore the voyeuristic impulse with more nuance and depth than Rear Window.

Regarding the Mononoke/Spirited Away fight, I weigh in for Spirited Away. I find Mononoke to be a very, very tedious film. Stephen Hunter wrote in his review that Mononoke is "as spectacular as it is dense and as dense as it is colorful and as colorful as it is meaningless and as meaningless as it is long." Now, I wouldn't say the film is "meaningless," but I agree with the general sentiment: it's a film of too much-ness. Mononoke is exhausting, and not in a good way. I prefer the quieter, more intimate Spirited Away.

That said, I wouldn't complain about anyone preferring Mononoke. I appreciate Miyazaki quite a bit, but I don't have much of a personal attachment to his work. Now if we were talking about Grave of the Fireflies or Paprika...

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Is there a date attached to making the Top 100 public?

And it's Feb. 1st on the blurbs, right?

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Regarding Hitchcock, I agree with Stef that Rear Window is a much more engaging film than Vertigo, in terms of its characters.

I'm surprised to see the word "engaging" used as such a trump card in this discussion.

So little of what makes up the very, very good things in my life and the art that has spoken most deeply to me is what I would (at least upon an initial encounter) describe as "engaging." Often the opposite is true.

Not to sound over-the-top snooty, but I'm inclined to submit 'truthful' as a better trump (though I'm open to arguments saying the two aren't terribly far apart).

By such a standard, I'd say Vertigo wins out. Rear Window entertains me. Vertigo tells me more about who I am. (Again, I realize this is very subjective.)

Wonderful discussion!

"Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen."
Robert Bresson

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By such a standard, I'd say Vertigo wins out. Rear Window entertains me. Vertigo tells me more about who I am. (Again, I realize this is very subjective.)

Perhaps not as subjective as you think. I think you're on to something. VERTIGO not only tells you about yourself, but it describes the very process of cinematic obsession and repetition with variation. VERTIGO tells us more about who we are as film goers. Of course, it's not a flattering portrayal, part pervert, part victim. Which might explain why it is both the Hitchcock film most cited as a favourite by directors (see past Sight & Sound polls) and cinema studies.

"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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Speaking of Hitchcock, I'm kind of wishing I'd nominated The Wrong Man. No less an authority than Truffaut writes that Henry Fonda's prayer scene contains "the most beautiful shot in Hitchcock's work and it summarizes all of it." (Granted, he wrote this in 1957, the year before Vertigo's release :))

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

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

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Speaking of Hitchcock, I'm kind of wishing I'd nominated The Wrong Man. No less an authority than Truffaut writes that Henry Fonda's prayer scene contains "the most beautiful shot in Hitchcock's work and it summarizes all of it." (Granted, he wrote this in 1957, the year before Vertigo's release :))

I would have voted for that!

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We are hoping to go public with both the Top 100 list and the Top 25 Horror Films list on February 7, approximately 3 weeks before the Oscars.

And yes, the deadline for Top 100 blurbs and short horror film descriptions is February 4.

PLEASE please please try to make this deadline.

It will enable us to meet the PR deadline and make the most of the run-up to the Oscars.

THANKS!!!

Is there a date attached to making the Top 100 public?

And it's Feb. 1st on the blurbs, right?

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Edited: List of new films corrected based on input from Anna.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2. Amadeus (1984)

3. Apocalypse Now (1979)

4. Born Into Brothels (2004)

5. Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys (2000)

6. Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)

7. Dogville (1993)

8. Double Life of Veronique , The (1991)

9. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

10. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

11. How Green Was My Valley (1941)

12. Iron Giant , The (1999)

13. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

14. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

15. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)

16. Miracle Maker , The (2000)

17. Night of the Hunter , The (1955)

18. Nights of Cabiria (1957)

19. Paprika (2006)

20. Paths of Glory (1957)

21. Places in the Heart (1984)

22. Playtime (1967)

23. Ran (1985)

24. Ratcatcher (1999)

25. Rules of the Game , The (1939)

26. Schindler's List (1993)

27. Searchers , The (1956)

28. Sophie Scholl: die letzten Tag (Sophie Scholl: the Final Days)(2005)

29. Spirited Away (2001)

30. Sullivan's Travels (1941)

31. There Will Be Blood (2007)

32. Touch of Evil (1958)

33. Trial , The (1962)

34. Vertigo (1958)

Pretty sure Playtime was #37 last year.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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I believe Andrew made a comment about Playtime vs. Hulot earlier in this thread (too lazy to double check). As much as I love both films a great deal, I have voted for Playtime higher than Hulot in this list because of the way that Playtime openly uses this absurdist Observer to witness shifts in modern European culture that can lead to feelings of alienation. And all of this is well captured in the way Tati uses architecture, glass, and urban design to track our process through the film. I get lonely looking at Malevich paintings. I get lonely watching this film. But oddly, there is joy in there too.

Edit: After writing this I thought: who is going to write the blurb? Turns out it's me.

Edited by M. Leary

"...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."

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Andrew wrote:

: Speaking of Hitchcock, I'm kind of wishing I'd nominated The Wrong Man. No less an authority than Truffaut writes that Henry Fonda's prayer scene contains "the most beautiful shot in Hitchcock's work and it summarizes all of it."

If it's the shot I'm thinking of, it's actually TWO shots that overlap. Is that the one?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Andrew wrote:

: Speaking of Hitchcock, I'm kind of wishing I'd nominated The Wrong Man. No less an authority than Truffaut writes that Henry Fonda's prayer scene contains "the most beautiful shot in Hitchcock's work and it summarizes all of it."

If it's the shot I'm thinking of, it's actually TWO shots that overlap. Is that the one?

That's the one - ain't it a beaut?

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

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

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Andrew wrote:

: : If it's the shot I'm thinking of, it's actually TWO shots that overlap. Is that the one?

:

: That's the one - ain't it a beaut?

'Tis indeed. And it's so full of ambiguities and paradoxes. Does it symbolize the restoration of justice or the perpetuation of injustice? (Is it, in other words, about the un-transferance of guilt or the re-transference of guilt?) And what is such a boldly cinematic gesture doing in a film that has striven for more-or-less strict naturalism up to that point? But those very ambiguities and paradoxes are, indeed, precisely what makes the sequence a pretty good summation of Hitchcock's filmography.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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After writing this I thought: who is going to write the blurb? Turns out it's me.

Why do you need to write a blurb? Jeff already wrote one when it went on the list last year.

Or am I completely missing the point? Are all the blurbs being rewritten, rather than just for the new films?

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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FWIW By Brakhage, Meshes of the Afternoon, and The House is Black were removed because they are short films.

I understand removing "short films" from the list, although I would argue that many short films provide as much, and often times, more impact, thought, and commentary than full length films. Plus, I really enjoy the fact that A&F had the courage and gumption to go against the common Top 100 categorical flow.

All that aside, has there been any discussion regarding a list of "top <whatever number> list" for short films? I may just get a thread going on this to see where the interest is. But maybe we simply do not want to saturate the boards and A&F with lists.

...the kind of film criticism we do. We are talking about life, and more than that the possibility of abundant life." -M.Leary

"Dad, how does she move in mysterious ways?"" -- Jude (my 5-year-old, after listening to Mysterious Ways)

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All that aside, has there been any discussion regarding a list of "top <whatever number> list" for short films? I may just get a thread going on this to see where the interest is. But maybe we simply do not want to saturate the boards and A&F with lists.

I would love to see this come about!

"Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen."
Robert Bresson

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Bummed out that Red Beard and Ugetsu didn't make the cut - maybe next time.

The reason Red Beard didn't is because Kurosawa was already on the list 3 times. We kept the top three vote-getters from each director. Here are the ones that were removed, and their original places:

42 Cries and Whispers (1973)

44 Through a Glass Darkly ("Såsom i en spegel") (1961)

45 Virgin Spring , The (Jungfrukallan)

46 Sacrifice , The (Offret-Sacrificatio)

51 Fanny and Alexander ("Fanny och Alexander") (1982)

68 Lorna's Silence ("Le silence de Lorna") (2008)

84 Red Beard (1965)

99 Rosetta (1999)

100 Derzu Uzala (1975)

103 Solaris ("Solyaris") (1972)

On the spreadsheet, there are scores/ratings for all the other films, even the runners-up, but not for these. Is there any chance you could provide us with the scores for these films?

Thanks. And thanks for all your work on this. Some of us love this kind of stuff!

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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FWIW By Brakhage, Meshes of the Afternoon, and The House is Black were removed because they are short films.

I understand removing "short films" from the list, although I would argue that many short films provide as much, and often times, more impact, thought, and commentary than full length films. Plus, I really enjoy the fact that A&F had the courage and gumption to go against the common Top 100 categorical flow.

I missed this somewhere in the discussion of this latest list. I would have argued vigorously against leaving out both Brakhage and The House is Black from the voting. The history of cinema does not distinguish between short and long formats, and neither should we.

The House is Black is just a no-brainer for this list.

"...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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The list feels a bit unbalanced without any Brakhage and/or related abstraction on it. And your writeup explained why.

But The House is Black is one of the most just and eloquent film statements of the Abrahamic religious tradition. The long and short-form distinction is a cinema idol we would do well not to worship.

Edited by M. Leary

"...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)

Filmwell | Twitter

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On the spreadsheet, there are scores/ratings for all the other films, even the runners-up, but not for these. Is there any chance you could provide us with the scores for these films?

42 Cries and Whispers (1973) 3.716

44 Through a Glass Darkly ("Såsom i en spegel") (1961) 3.6667

45 Virgin Spring , The (Jungfrukallan) 3.6628

46 Sacrifice , The (Offret-Sacrificatio) 3.6508

51 Fanny and Alexander ("Fanny och Alexander") (1982) 3.5385

68 Lorna's Silence ("Le silence de Lorna") (2008) 3.4911

84 Red Beard (1965) 3.3725

99 Rosetta (1999) 3.2858

100 Derzu Uzala (1975) 3.2807

103 Solaris ("Solyaris") (1972) 3.2664

"Solaris" didn't really make it onto the list at all...it appeared briefly when the others above it got cut, but then it ended up getting cut too. Whatever that's worth.

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Thanks, Anna! Say, do you want notes on any glitches we notice in the list? For example, the year for Dogville was incorrect on the spreadsheet.

I'm also wondering about the choice of how to name certain films. For example, while it's true that "Ikiru" translates "To Live," nobody anywhere in the world calls it that. No DVD cover anywhere says "To Live." Even the IMDb, which favours American titles over original titles, lists "Ikiru." On last year's list it was called "Ikiru." And maybe that's the plan for this year as well, but the list calls it "To Live," with "Ikiru" in brackets. Just checking.

There are a couple other such title questions. Shall I bring them up?

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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