The 2011 Arts & Faith Top 100 Films!


As a longtime member of the Arts & Faith community, I’m pleased to report that this week Arts & Faith and Image Journal released the 2011 edition of the Arts & Faith Top 100 Films list—possibly the best edition of the list to date, and in many ways an improvement on last year’s list.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer, 1927)

The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer, 1927)

For some background on the Arts & Faith Top 100 as well as Arts & Faith and Image Journal—along with some perspective on why I think this year’s list may be the best—please see my essay “Reading the Eternities: The 2011 Arts & Faith Top 100,” the official introduction to this year’s list. (Some trends I’m pleased to see include more Golden Age Hollywood titles (and more English titles generally; last year’s list was pretty thin on English title), a number of animation titles and more documentaries.)

Here I’d like to flesh in some of the details I didn’t have space to discuss in that essay.

As I noted in my introductory essay, almost two-thirds of the 2011 list (65 films) have been carried over from last year, and of those slightly more than half (i.e., a third of the total list, 34 films) have appeared on every Arts & Faith Top 100 Films list ever made.

These 34 enduring films constitute a sort of Arts & Faith “canon,” a list of perennial favorites at the core of our discussion at Arts & Faith. I mentioned several of them in my introductory essay, but here’s the complete list, ranked according to preference as expressed in all the lists:

  1. Ordet (Carl Dreyer, 1955)
  2. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer, 1927)
  3. The Decalogue (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1989)
  4. The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2002)
  5. Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
  6. The Gospel According to Matthew (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964)
  7. Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel, 1987)
  8. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
  9. Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)
  10. Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)
  11. The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
  12. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F. W. Murnau, 1927)
  13. Three Colors Trilogy (Krzysztof Kieślowski)
  14. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
  15. The Apostle (Robert Duvall, 1997)
  16. Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann, 1966)
  17. La Promesse (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 1996)
  18. A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956)
  19. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)
  20. The Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
  21. Wild Strawberries (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
  22. Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)
  23. Day of Wrath (Carl Dreyer, 1943)
  24. Tender Mercies (Bruce Beresford, 1987)
  25. Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953)
  26. Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981)
  27. Jesus of Montreal (Denys Arcand, 1989)
  28. It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
  29. My Night at Maud’s (Éric Rohmer)
  30. The Straight Story (David Lynch, 1999)
  31. Ponette (Jacques Doillon, 1999)
  32. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
  33. Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)
  34. Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)

This is a fantastic super-list, although I have to admit there are still a number that I haven’t seen—a fact I’ll try to rectify by next year. Even if I never see all 100 films on any year’s list, I certainly want to see each of the 34 films that keep coming back year after year.

It’s not hard to see which directors we admire the most: Carl Dreyer, Robert Bresson and Andrei Tarkovsky each have three films apiece on the 34 perennial favorites, while Krzysztof Kieślowski,  the Dardennes and Ingmar Bergman each have two. (It’s possible that Dreyer, Bresson or Tarkovsky might have gotten more than three perennial favorites, but this year’s list limits directors to no more than three films.)

Also worthy of note: Of the 34 films new to this year’s list over last year’s, 24 are brand-new to the Arts & Faith Top 100. Here are the 24 brand-new honorees, in order of preference:

  1. Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, 1937)
  2. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
  3. Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957)
  4. Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988)
  5. Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957)
  6. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
  7. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
  8. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
  9. Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
  10. The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1991)
  11. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
  12. How Green Was My Valley (John Ford, 1941)
  13. Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)
  14. Born Into Brothels (Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, 2004)
  15. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  16. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
  17. The Trial (Orson Welles, 1962)
  18. The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)
  19. Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)
  20. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
  21. Sophie Scholl: the Final Days (Marc Rothemund, 2005)
  22. Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999)
  23. The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999)
  24. The Story of the Weeping Camel (Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni, 2003)

Of these, I’m most delighted to welcome Make Way for Tomorrow, Grave of the Fireflies, Spirited Away, Sophie Scholl and The Story of the Weeping Camel. (Nothing against any of the other films, some of which I love a lot!)

Then there are the ten films from previous lists that came back after dropping off last year:

  1. The Miracle Maker (2000)
  2. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
  3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  4. Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys (2000)
  5. Places in the Heart (1984)
  6. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
  7. Schindler’s List (1993)
  8. Dogville (1993)
  9. Amadeus (1984)
  10. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Yes! The Miracle Maker and Fiddler on the Roof are back! (And rats, Dogville and Amadeus are back. Oh well, no list is perfect.)

Oh, and for fans of the 1995 Vatican film list: This year’s A&F Top 100 includes 16 films from the Vatican 45, down two from last year.

All in all, great job, my fellow Arts & Faith voters!

Explore the new list (with introductions to each film.)

Get my perspective on the new list.

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