Archive for March, 2010

The Arts and Faith Top 100 Films List

March 1, 2010

I’m honored to announce the Arts and Faith Top 100 Films—a list I had a hand in creating, and of which I am immensely proud. (Is it OK for a Christian to feel pride?)

Arts and Faith is an online community of mostly Christian film critics and movie lovers. I’ve been part of the community since 2001. The board has gone through a couple of iterations during that time, changing administrators and owners. It’s now run by the folks at Image, and they’ve done a wonderful job with the site. The update of the Arts and Faith 100 list, which has been published twice before, is their biggest undertaking so far, and they’ve pulled it off during a time when Image has been facing significant financial and staffing challenges. I honor their commitment to the Arts and Faith site and their dedication in pulling together this new list of top films.

So, what about the list? Take a look at it. It’s amazing. Sure, there are immediate questions on first look: Why is Ozu’s Early Summer ranked higher than Ozu’s Floating Weeds, and why are both ranked above the director’s Tokyo Story, which, on one list of the best movies of all time, supplanted Citizen Kane in the top slot? Why is the top-ranked English language film number 22? Are we just a bunch of foreign-film snobs? Why is the list tilted toward recent releases?

All legitimate questions, with answers that boil down to the personal preferences of a select group of passionate advocates of worldwide cinema that stirs the spirit. The voting was open to all registered participants of

You might be wondering what the criteria were for ranking the films. Great question. This has been debated among the board participants for years. What makes our viewpoint unique? We’re a group of religious individuals who are moved by soul-stirring cinema. Some would describe “soul-stirring” as films that deal with overt spiritual themes; others would say that great cinema touches the soul regardless of whether or not the films deal explicitly with spiritual themes. Some look for uplifting, hopeful messages, while others find depictions of destructive behaviors instructive, illuminating and helpful. The criteria have never been settled.

This year, a group of films were nominated (several were grandfathered in from previous Arts and Faith 100 lists) and rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 representing the strongest films, and a 1 the least strong, among the nominees.

A few things jumped out at me about the new list. The Dardennes brothers are all over it—and deservedly so. They have consistently made the most thought-provoking cinema of the last several years. Their film Lorna’s Silence, which got a raw deal from several critics but which placed at number 2 on my own Top 10 list for 2009, comes in here at number 67, while the film that topped my list last year, a remarkable French film called Summer Hours, is number 74. Not so many comedies on the list—that’s unfortunate—but Jacque Tati’s delightful Playtime comes in at number 37. And Carl Theodore Dreyer’s Ordet continues its lock on the number 1 spot.

Take a look at the list and post any thoughts or questions you might have. Then, if you’re interested in joining the conversation at the board, register for the site. You’ll be involved in some great discussion—and you’ll get to contribute to the next revision of the Arts and Faith 100.