I originally posted a version of these comments over at the discussion board I visit on occasion, seeing as the top 100 spiritually significant films list grew out of the group of people that frequent the site. I am a sucker for lists, while at the same time recognizing their limitations and constraints. No list will be perfect. Every list will be a reflection of those involved in its creation, and therefore limited to their experience and interests. That being said, I still like them, and find them an interesting way to access films and directors I may not have heard of or titles that might have otherwise escaped my attention. Lists are also a good way to see titles that are well-regarded or important in both critical or historical circles.
With my recent viewing of Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice, I have completed at least one viewing of all 100 films on the list. Many I had seen before the list came out, so in the last year to 18 months, I have made it a goal to check out the 30 or so I hadn’t previously seen.
It’s been a varied experience. Admittedly, most of the one’s I hadn’t seen fell into the foreign language or older film categories. Some of my first viewing experiences were downright transcendent – films like Au hasard Balthazar and Stalker. Others were strange, beautiful, and wonderful – Songs from the Second Floor and Werckmeister Harmonies. Others were more difficult to process, and while I recognize the craft involved, need more time and viewings to really take them in – Ozu’s Tokyo Story or Tarkovsky’s Mirror (which I commented on below) might fit here.
Overall, I must say I am pretty pleased with the list. It is varied, and has a nice collection of world cinema, biblical films, and many titles that fall outside that sort of ‘beat you over the head spirituality’ category. If I had one critique of the list, it might be that it tends toward newer films. I know that some disagree, but I find it difficult to put very many new films (from this decade) on a list like this. That doesn’t mean I think none from this decade belong. Obviously that’s not the case, as I have some in my list of films I love. I suspect it might also could use more non-English language titles, but one would expect a group of English speakers to favor English language films to some degree.
As for specific titles, I’ll only mention those titles residing closest to the extremes (both good and bad):
Films I love: The Addiction, Au hasard Balthazar, Babette’s Feast, Bicycle Thieves, Close-Up, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Dead Man Walking, Dekalog, Dogville, Fearless, Gospel According to Matthew, Ikiru, Magnolia, A Man Escaped, The Night of the Hunter, The Sacrifice, Secrets & Lies, Shawshank, The Son, Songs From the Second Floor, Stalker, Sunrise, 13 Conversations, Three Colors, 2001, Waking Life, Werckmeister Harmonies, Wild Strawberries, Wings of Desire, Year of Living Dangerously, Yi Yi
Films I could do without: American Beauty, Bad Lieutenant, Changing Lanes, Dogma, Eternal Sunshine, Fight Club, Groundhog Day, Life of Brian, LOTR, Prince of Egypt, Star Wars
What’s missing: Winter Light for sure and possibly Picnic at Hanging Rock.
2 thoughts on “Arts & Faith Top 100”
13 Conversastions is a fantastic film, and seems to be overlooked quite a bit. Its one of those films you can always recommend to somone who is not a film fanatic and be certain they’ll enjoy it.
I agree Brian, it has really only started to open up to me on repeated viewings. And I find the scenes near the end of the film with McConaghey’s awakening and then on the subway to be poignant and touching. In the midst of our hard lives, people can see things truly, and they can offer kindness to others. Good stuff. Thanks for bringing it up.–>