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Discussing the Results


kenmorefield
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Okay, some of my initial reactions to the Top 100 at this point:

  • Films I am happy made the list: The Kid with a Bike, Secrets & Lies, Blade Runner, Stop Making Sense, Cameraperson, Embrace of the Serpent, and...Magnolia ;) 
  • Films I am disappointed did not make the list: The Red Shoes, The Secret of Kells, Selma, Silent Light, This Is Martin Bonner, and Meshes of the Afternoon. And no David Lynch!
  • Films I am genuinely and pleasantly surprised made the list: Do the Right Thing (and just outside the top 10!), In a Lonely Place, and Won't You Be My Neighbor?
  • There are not many Bible films. Only two Jesus films, The Gospel According to St Matthew and The Miracle Maker (maybe you can count The Mill and the Cross).
  • *So many* priest/clergy films. Far more than I anticipated, to be honest. I wonder why this is, and whether it differs from previous lists. Some are newer films, like First Reformed, Calvary, Of Gods and Men, and Silence.
  • From what I can tell, none of the nominated horror or Western films made the list? Paris, Texas could be considered a Western of sorts.
  • And not a single true comedy film apart from A Serious Man? There are some joyful films—The Gleaners and I, Stop Making Sense, Chariots of Fire—but comedy is not a genre we tend towards, it seems (unless it's dark).
  • I haven't seen 14 of the films on the 2-per-director list, 17 on the 1-per-director list.
  • I'm still processing how the three decades most represented are the 1980s, 1950s, and 2010s, while we have only 3 films from the 1970s. It makes me think I need to watch more films from the 1980s, a decade I typically don't give as much attention for some reason.

Overall, a very fascinating list worth discussing.

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6 minutes ago, Joel Mayward said:
  • From what I can tell, none of the nominated horror or Western films made the list? Paris, Texas could be considered a Western of sorts.
  • And not a single true comedy film apart from A Serious Man? There are some joyful films—The Gleaners and I, Stop Making Sense, Chariots of Fire—but comedy is not a genre we tend towards, it seems (unless it's dark).

Good points, Joel. This is why it's comforting to recall that we've done separate Horror and Comedy lists. Yes, it's odd that none of those Top 25 films in either genre cracked the 2020 Top 100, but we can note in any introductory materials that this same group has addressed those genres with earlier separate lists.

And now we have an idea for our next Top 25: Best Westerns! 

"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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  • Films I am happy made the list: I Am Not Your Negro (more so for my love of Baldwin than the film itself); At the Death House Door; L'Avventura; Lourdes.
  • Films I am disappointed did not make the list: Persepolis, The Queen of Versailles, The Exorcist, Fever Pitch (not that I thought it would).
  • Films I am pleasantly surprised made the list: Won't You Be My Neighbor? (guess that makes up for no Oscar nomination, rgiht?); The Man Who Planted Trees.
  • Films I am most surprised did not make the list: Blue Velvet, Au Hasard Balthazar, Schindler's List.

     
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1 hour ago, Christian said:

Good points, Joel. This is why it's comforting to recall that we've done separate Horror and Comedy lists. Yes, it's odd that none of those Top 25 films in either genre cracked the 2020 Top 100, but we can note in any introductory materials that this same group has addressed those genres with earlier separate lists.

And now we have an idea for our next Top 25: Best Westerns! 

A Westerns list would be soooo fun.

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I'm super happy that The Music Room and A Brighter Summer Day are on the list! The first one I see up high that doesn't work for me is the Pasolini. I respected it, but talk about lacking joy.

Of my own nominations, I'm most sad that Chimes at Midnight is absent. Welles gets no representation. I agree also that Lynch should be here, but that's how it goes. I can't be too disappointed about Fitzcarraldo, since at least Herzog is on the list, and with a great film, if not my favorite of his.

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  • Films I am happy made the list: Through a Glass Darkly, Red Beard, The Wrong Man, Cleo from 5 to 7, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Lourdes
  • Films I am disappointed didn't make the list: Lady Bird, All That Jazz, Blue Velvet, Fire Walk With Me, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, WALL-E
  • Films I'm pleasantly surprised made the list: I Am Not Your Negro, A Moment of Innocence, The Act of Killing, and Silence being in the top 10
  • Films I'm surprised and disappointed didn't make the list: The Double Life of Veronique (I took its inclusion for granted and should have advocated for it more) The Witch (didn't realize this would be so polarizing)

"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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2 hours ago, kenmorefield said:
  • Films I am most surprised did not make the list: Blue Velvet, Au Hasard Balthazar, Schindler's List.

Balthazar's absence has been met with surprise in Ken's post and elsewhere, but I just noticed that the Excel spreadsheet shows it placing between The Miracle Maker and The Flowers of St. Francis. Elsewhere Darren encouraged us to check his work. I should post this in that thread, wherever it is. I hope he see this post here and comments - even if that means Magnolia has to fall off the Top 100! (I figured it was going to somehow.)

EDIT: Disregard. I see now it was Bresson's third film, which explains its absence. Sorry for any confusion.

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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Out of curiosity, I sorted the list by per-film standard deviation, found the 100 most divisive films, and then re-sorted them by weighted average. My thinking is that it would be something like Jonathan Rosenbaum's alternative list to the AFI 100 and also a way of illustrating how, even with a relatively small sample like our forum, the canon is shaped by consensus opinion, which buffs away the rougher edges. I'll post the alt 100 if anyone's curious. I think it has merit and might even make an interesting subject for an article -- but then again I gave 6s to a lot of films on that list (Mothlight is #32)!

Edited by Darren H
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20 minutes ago, Darren H said:

Out of curiosity, I sorted the list by per-film standard deviation, found the 100 most divisive films, and then re-sorted them by weighted average. My thinking is that it would be something like Jonathan Rosenbaum's alternative list to the AFI 100 and also a way of illustrating how, even with a relatively small sample like our forum, the canon is shaped by consensus opinion, which buffs away the rougher edges. I'll post the alt 100 if anyone's curious. I think it has merit and might even make an interesting subject for an article -- but then again I gave 6s to a lot of films on that list (Mothlight is #32)!

Yes, please. (I don't think I'll go in that direction specifically, but this certainly generates ideas for suggestions in the Call For Papers).

Christian, I was aware when I said it that Balthas\zar was a high ranking film that was gut for being #3 Bresson. I just meant that I was surprised it was the #3 Bresson. I assumed it would be Balthazar and A Man Escaped in that Order, eve though, cough, I once ranked Balthazar as Bresson's eleventh best film. 

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Please do post that. It would be interesting to see the candidates "sorted by controversial".

I'm happy to see Blade Runner (returning from the 2004 list!) on there. It strengthens the list to have a sci-fi entry beyond the two obvious choices of Stalker and 2001.

I'm disappointed by the absence of Carol and Moonlight. I hoped at least one of those would make the cut, though Carol at least always seemed like a long shot.

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D, I gave Mothlight a 4 because:

  • I had some slots left over.
  • I was persuaded by the diversity arguments, both for its status as a short and as a non-narrative film.
  • It was one of the few that I could actually watch (more than once) and felt that I understood. 
  • I wanted there to be at least one movie that was...I guess what I would call self-reflexive...a movie about making movies...and I thought it actually had a better chance of making it than The Celluloid Closet (which I scored higher but  I think averaged a 3.2
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Biggest things I'm pleased about: Do The Right Thing at #11. My Neighbor Totoro on the list (only the second ranked film on the list after Ikiru to deal with Eastern spirituality). A couple of 

But overall, I'm kinda feeling odd/mixed about this list. While it's definitely an improvement in some areas (see the thing I'm pleased about) over 2011, I also feel it has a bit less genre and tonal diversity, as noted above. No Westerns? Madness.

Big disappointments, which for me are kinda overshadowing a lot: no Blue Velvet (or Lynch), no Uncle Boonmee (in fact, this list is more Western-focused as far as religion is concerned), and Tarkovsky's Mirror not making the list.

"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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1 hour ago, Evan C said:
  • Films I'm surprised and disappointed didn't make the list: The Double Life of Veronique (I took its inclusion for granted and should have advocated for it more) The Witch (didn't realize this would be so polarizing)

And The Assassin, that was another one I thought for sure would make it and wanted to see it on the list.

"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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One thing seems quite clear to me: the appreciation for Lars von Trier has waned. Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark are in the lower 50 films on the ranking spreadsheet. Also I realized that Wanda, The Return, and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days are not on the list, which is a bit disappointing too.

I'm curious as to which films all 24 voters have seen.

3 hours ago, Anders said:

in fact, this list is more Western-focused as far as religion is concerned

I agree that there's a dominant Western view, but I wonder if it's all that much different from the 2010 and 2011 lists.

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4 hours ago, Evan C said:

The Assassin, that was another one I thought for sure would make it and wanted to see it on the list.

This is one of my bigger disappointments, too. I also thought Veronique would make the list. The Searchers was another I'd have guessed would have made it. But I'm happy to see The Grapes of Wrath, a Ford film I prefer. That's not a western in the classic genre, but it's very much a western setting. I will miss Balthazar--it's my favorite Bresson.

Only 3 from the 70s is interesting. I'm surprised neither The GOdfather or Apocolypse Now made the list.

 

8 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

Only two Jesus films, The Gospel According to St Matthew and The Miracle Maker (maybe you can count The Mill and the Cross).

I'm disappointed we lost Jesus of Montreal, but The Mill and the Cross is a good pick up.

 

51 minutes ago, Joel Mayward said:

I'm curious as to which films all 24 voters have seen.

I was too so did a quick swing through the spreadsheet.

The Tree of Life, First Reformed, 2001, It's a Wonderful Life, The Seventh Seal, Blade Runner, A Serious Man, Magnolia

Schindler's List, 

Wall-E, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Apocalypse Now (Each of these also had 86 points--a five way tie! How unlikely is that!)

The Iron Giant, Moonrise Kingdom, Singin' in the Rain, Rear Window, There Will Be Blood, ET, Lady Bird, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Casablanca, The Silence of the Lambs, The Matrix, Raising Arizona, 

And there were a lot of 23s and 22s.

There were several ties in the Top 100. It looks like standard deviation was used as a tie breaker?

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4 hours ago, Rob Z said:

There were several ties in the Top 100. It looks like standard deviation was used as a tie breaker?

I thought about this last night and meant to raise it for discussion, so thanks for reminding me! There are a few cases where two films received the same number of points and votes, so the tie went (by default) to the film that came first in the alphabet -- Of Gods and Men over Silence, Sunrise over Two Days, One Night.

I don't know if I'll be able to make the call tonight. If not, please work out a better solution.

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9 hours ago, Anders said:

My Neighbor Totoro on the list (only the second ranked film on the list after Ikiru to deal with Eastern spirituality).

Burmese Harp made the list. Aside from it also being one of my favorite films, this is another reason I really wanted What Time is It There? to make the cut. Wish I'd advocated harder for that one.

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-          Surprises: the ascent of Sophie Scholl so high on the list; the descent of the Ozu films

-          Bummed they didn’t make it: 12 Years a Slave, Harold & Maude (our list needed some levity, brought by Hal Ashby no less), Moonlight, Ran (though not surprised Ikiru came in higher), Wadjda (wish I’d campaigned for this, as a representation of Islamic religion, a woman-centered narrative, and the first Saudi Arabian film directed by a woman)

-          Happy they made the cut: Cave of Forgotten Dreams, I Am Not Your Negro, Red Beard

-          Pleased to see overall: more recent decades were not too disproportionately represented

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

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

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11 hours ago, Evan C said:
  •  
  • Films I'm surprised and disappointed didn't make the list: The Double Life of Veronique (I took its inclusion for granted and should have advocated for it more) The Witch (didn't realize this would be so polarizing)

I suspect that the intentional omission of Dekalog had implications here. I think the pecking order here has long been Dekalog>Three Colors>Everything Else. Not saying that is right, but there might have been some residual muscle memory assuming Dekalog would still be on the list and the Dekalog III episode might have siphoned some votes. (My hypothesis is also that The Godfather stole votes from Apocalypse Now rather than people wanting or voting for two Coppolas.)

I gave serious thought to nominating Heaven instead of Run Lola Run because I thought the Kieslowski connection might make it more viable. (Tykwer used Slawomir Idziak, the cinematographer from Blue and Veronique and Three Colors writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz). 

Which got me thinking, we are so focused on directors in our discussion and rule, even though not everyone here is firmly entrenched in auteur theory. Were there nominations or votes that people made because of specific contributions of someone other than the director (writer? DP?)?

 

I know I preferred Grapes of Wrath because of Greg Toland, not John Ford (though Ford wasn't an impediment in that regard) and he also worked with Wyler on The Best Years of Our Lives. (I wonder if we had any cinematographers that skirted the 2 film/director rule?) A Serious Man is one of my least favorite Coens (about whom I'm indifferent) but I'm still happy to see Roger Deakins's work represented (also for Dead Man Walking). I'm bummed there is no Nick Hornby anywhere on the list. Given the paucity of comedy, High Fidelity or An Education might have had a longshot chance if I had nominated either over Fever Pitch. Perhaps Rebel Without a Cause might have fared better than The Celluloid Closet by adding James Dean, and I would have liked to have seen The Godfather for Brando and Pacino as much as for Coppola. I assumed The Third Man or Citizen Kane would get Welles in even if I'm less of a fan of his Shakespeare, and I would like to have seen the shadow of the bard *somewhere* on the list (maybe Henry V, Hamlet, or Lear, but picking a version is always tough). Speaking of which, we do still have Fiddler, but it feels like a list more informed by the novel than other creative enterprises (esp. theater, though I'm happy for Stop Making Sense as a nod in the direction of live performance). Another reason I wish Persepolis had made it: an acknowledgement of how film is influencing publishing (writers think more in terms of cinema arcs and presentation because they've now been raised as much on movies as books) and the rise of the graphic novel without having to bring in comic-books. (Though I would have been fine with Watchmen as historically significant, it was less personally significant to me and I've never been able to convince myself that the movie was any good. If I squint hard, I could *maybe* see The Dark Knight as culturally and hence spiritually significant, even though nothing film wise rises to the level of impact as Frank Miller's graphic novel for me.)

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I definitely nominated John Ford's The Fugitive because of the visual contribution by Toland's disciple Gabriel Figueroa. His collaboration with Ford on that picture might be the best looking Black and White film in Ford's filmography, and to me, one that has a spiritual impact due to the imagery. I would say that though Ford's justly praised work with Toland on films like The Grapes of Wrath, Stagecoach (too bad that one's missing, too!) and The Long Voyage Home is arguably surpassed in beauty by Figueroa.

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2 hours ago, Darren H said:

Burmese Harp made the list. Aside from it also being one of my favorite films, this is another reason I really wanted What Time is It There? to make the cut. Wish I'd advocated harder for that one.

That'a great film and one I wrote on for our top 25 Road Movies. There are a couple other Eastern films, I just meant that Totoro and Ikiru are the only Asian films in the top 50, if I'm not missing anything. I'm really missing Tokyo Story not being high up the list.

"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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3 minutes ago, Anders said:

That'a great film and one I wrote on for our top 25 Road Movies. There are a couple other Eastern films, I just meant that Totoro and Ikiru are the only Asian films in the top 50, if I'm not missing anything. I'm really missing Tokyo Story not being high up the list.

I nominated Kundun, which is quite meaningful to me spiritually, though I don't share the religion of the Dalai Lama. Though it didn't make headway, it is something of an outsider's look (in English, written/directed by Americans, etc.) at an Eastern religion. Looks like only 13 people had seen it though.

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12 hours ago, Anders said:

 (in fact, this list is more Western-focused as far as religion is concerned)

I agree. And that's probably as good a cue as any to broach this (potentially sensitive?) topic...

It is my understanding, not unassailable but a firm conviction, that, historically, the use of the more amorphous terms "faith" and "spiritually significant" on this board have been intended as less in-your-face synonyms for "Christian" in part because we (board admins and/or members) wanted to differentiate and distance ourselves from critics and sites that were freer with that label ("Christian") but whose practice we didn't always appreciate or want to adopt as our own.

As this board has evolved so too has our make up, and I think that Darren's "Spiritual Practice" thread illustrates, even those among this board who identify in some meaningful way as "Christian" are content, maybe even happy, to see, "faith" and "spirituality" act as a label for a shared topic of interest rather than a unifying condition of membership or participation. The administrator (me) identifies as Christian.  I teach at a university with Baptist roots and was saved while attending a Baptist church, but the only church I've ever been a "member" of was Wesleyan (which is kinda funny if any of you understand the historic conflicts between Calvinism and Arminianism). Two of the three moderators are Christian, but one professes Atheism, and I think we are the better for it because Andrew helps those of us who are Christian (or me at least) remember that talking to people you assume agree with you about most everything is a very different discipline from talking to people who don't. Also his calming and diffusing peace-making is a nice and necessary complement to my volatility, so in many ways I find his "practice" more consistent with my Christian values than that of many people I've met who profess Christian values or theology but who mean who-knows-what by adopting that label.

Anyhow, back to the list.... the point I'm making is that I think the Western spirituality (i.e. Christianity) dominance of this list is changing slowly, but it reflects the historical canon of this forum which was set, initially, by a membership that I  *think* was (or was trying to be) more explicitly Christian.

That brings me to another point about this list...one which I will be bold to say just in case anyone else is thinking it but doesn't feel comfortable saying so publicly.

I, personally, think the list skews a little too Catholic. There are reasons for that...(I might even get into them in a book introduction since the essay about Clarice Starling as a Christ figure seems unlikely to be)...reasons which are tied as much to our national and international history and the ways Puritanism and Protestantism has been more particularly susceptible to anti-art bias than even Catholicism (which has its own problems in that area but also has a longer history of positive uses of art and exceptional individuals who are able to elevate their respective fields.)

I might as well be transparent and say that's one reason why, if we have Rd2, I personally would rank Ordet as the higher Dreyer and bump Joan down, why I would favor A Man Escaped over Diary of a Country Priest (I know that the culture in the former is Catholic but its hero has mixed feelings about religion and the spirituality, to me, is more about being spirit-led than theologically correct or institutionally governed). It is part of the reason why I'd like to see First Reformed, Do the Right Thing, Ikiru, Night and Fog, and (grits his teeth because he doesn't actually like the film) Tree of Life a little higher. I will understand and not object if anyone wants to apply the exact same argument in reverse (and vote things up because they are Catholic), but right now, by my reckoning we have at least seven films in the Top 25 that are, for lack of a better word, *explicitly" Catholic or about Catholicism: The Passion of Joan of Arc, Of Gods and Men, Silence, A Hidden Life, Into Great Silence, Diary of a Country Priest, Monsieur Vincent. That's not counting Sophie Scholl, which I still haven't seen. Someone might might counter that some of these films are about Catholics, not Catholicism, but I think/hope that a charitable reading of my last paragraph would at the very least acknowledge that this is a tenuous distinction. 

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Wasn't sure whether to put this in here or in the Call For Papers thread....

Darren, would you be willing to send everyone who voted a short list on my behalf asking for their list of Top 10 Spiritually Significant Films Directed by Women (even if they were not among the nominees)? Not 100% sure where, but my intended use would be in the book introduction, a book chapter (that could include the Alt-100) that looks at the process, or an appendix. If you would prefer not, I can do it myself, but I would like to minimize whatever confusion might come if people start getting ballots from two different people. Make it *clear* that this isn't part of the voting for the list but is to help me gather data for a book chapter *about* the list.

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