27 September 2015

The Color of Bucket

So I think I've just had my first genuinely mindblowing evidence of how differently I see (some) colors compared to the rest of the population, i.e. people who aren't colorblind. I don't entirely trust it, because it's being mediated by video, which is not the same thing as seeing colors out in the real world. And I'm still not sure I want to spring roughly $600 for Enchroma glasses, given that their own test indicates roughly a 30% chance that they'd be effective for my particular type and degree of colorblindness (strong Protan). But this is the first time I've ever seen something that made me say "Holy shit!"

Quick summary: My red cone is defective, so I don't see red properly. I see it, can generally identify it correctly, but it's apparently very diminished relative to what most people see. (This is slightly different from the red-green colorblindness you usually hear about, called deuteranomaly, which is the most common variety. I rarely confuse red and green, though I sometimes confuse green and yellow.) My clearest indication of the difference, funnily enough, is the opening titles sequence of certain movies—if the credits are red, I often have great difficulty reading them, especially if they're superimposed on images rather than a black or white background. They're extremely dark to my eyes, and hard to make out. I spent years wondering why filmmakers would do this before it finally dawned on me that it's my colorblindness causing the problem, and that others can read them just fine. 

Anyway, this affects any color in which red plays a part. Arguably, I have never seen purple, because the red in purple is barely perceptible to my eyes; what y'all call purple generally looks to me like just a very dark blue. Similar situation with pink, which I often have a lot of trouble recognizing/identifying. There are also some other issues that don't seem related to red per se (e.g., the green traffic light just looks white to me, must be the palest damn green on record), but red is the main problem. 

A company called Enchroma makes lenses designed to help colorblind people see something closer to what others see. The details are pretty technical, and if you're curious you can read about them here. But the lenses are apparently pretty effective for the more common varieties of colorblindness, and you can now find dozens of YouTube videos showing colorblind folks trying on the glasses and completely freaking out. Which is an experience I'm dying to have, but, as I mentioned above, Enchroma's own test indicates that their glasses are unlikely to work very well for me. I have the wrong kind of colorblindness, and in too severe a form. According to the site, any differences I perceive are likely to be subtle and minor rather than life-changing.

That's been precisely my experience—until now—with cases in which people take photographs or shoot videos through an Enchroma lens. I usually see a difference, but not a momentous difference; the intensity changes, but nothing actually changes color.

Today I saw this video and completely freaked out. (Apologies for the music.)

My response to most of it is typically muted. For example, he shoots a bike reflector with the lens, and it looks a brighter red to me. But I could see that it was red before. Not a huge deal. Just "interesting."

But then he shoots a bucket through the lens, and the bucket fucking magically changes color. I've never seen anything like it. 

This is a still of the bucket as seen without the lens. I guess you all see an orange bucket here? This bucket is yellow to me. It is plainly yellow. It could hardly be more yellow (apart from the distortion caused by sunlight, which renders a big hunk of the midsection whitish). I could perhaps be persuaded that it's actually bright green, as I screw those colors up all the time. But never, ever in any way reddish. There is not a trace of red in this image that I can perceive.

This is a still of the same bucket seen through the Enchroma lens. It is now, to my eyes, a color that I would have difficulty pinpointing as red or orange. Having read the comments in the Reddit post where I found this video, I know that the bucket is, in reality, orange (assuming I'm not being lied to), but without that knowledge I might have called it red. But it looks nothing whatsoever like the color of the bucket in the previous still. If you had shown me the two photos with no context, I would have sworn that they are two different buckets. It's as distinct to me as the difference between a banana and an orange. Even now, I am suspicious that the dude who made this video somehow managed to switch buckets without my noticing the switch or the edit. But that seems unlikely given that I don't get the same WOW! effect from any of the other comparisons. (Closest is the jacket, which is apparently green but to me goes from an extremely dull, pale yellow to a bright, vivid yellow.)

So I'm curious about what people with normal color vision see here. Do the two buckets look identical to you, or nearly identical? Because that would genuinely blow my mind. Or is this more like the phenomenon in which, say, a sodium streetlight can make a car look the wrong color, even to people with normal vision? Feedback encouraged.

27 July 2015

On Woody Allen, ignorance, and degrees of certainty.

Despite having previously avoided getting involved in debates about Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow, I made a series of tweets on the subject earlier today, in response to a Facebook post that got retweeted into my timeline. Teju Cole's general remarks about rape culture are on point, but they're undermined by his characterization of Allen as someone who's obviously, undeniably guilty, and about whom, Cole suggests, nothing should henceforth ever be written without acknowledgement of "what [he's] done." I observed that a reasonable doubt exists in Allen's case that is simply impossible in Bill Cosby's, and I maintain that. In the course of arguing with some folks, however, I also discovered that one of my beliefs about the Allen case—viz., that in order for him to be guilty, he must be a pedophile—was erroneous. And I want to apologize more formally for my ignorance on that score. (Though I will then destroy any goodwill that said apology may engender by questioning the value of automatically believing all accusations.)

I've never held a firm opinion regarding Allen's guilt or innocence. My position, dating back to 1992, when the story first broke, is "I have no idea." As the years passed, however, and no additional charges or even vague rumors surfaced—and as Allen's marriage to Soon-Yi Previn unexpectedly endured—I did begin to lean slightly toward the idea that maybe he didn't do it. For me, the most compelling argument in favor of his innocence was one that he articulated himself in his op-ed piece last year:

"After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation. I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct. Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary’s home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry — that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely."

Now, some of that may be factually inaccurate. It's been reported that concerns about Allen's inappropriate behavior with Dylan Farrow had been voiced prior to the Previn meltdown. But the general point—what is the likelihood that Allen managed to hide all evidence of being a pedophile until he was in his mid-'50s (no, Manhattan does not count), and then never abused anyone again that we know of?—seemed to me persuasive. Everything I'd ever read about pedophilia characterized it as a deep-seated illness, and the crimes it inspires as a horrible compulsion. Pedophiles are generally considered incurable, and most are recidivists. If Allen were guilty of molesting Farrow, wouldn't we likely have heard about other such incidents? Doesn't the fact that none have surfaced in the past 23 years cast doubt on the sole allegation directed toward him?

As it turns out, no. What I didn't know until today, never having read up on the subject in any detail, is that a hefty percentage of child sexual abuse is committed by people who are not truly pedophiles. They're known as situational offenders, and they generally prey on their own children or other relatives. Most of their sexual relationships are consensual, with other adults; they're not irresistibly attracted to small children, as pedophiles are. So it's entirely possible that Allen may have molested Farrow and nobody else. I didn't know what I was talking about, and I'm sorry to have spouted misinformation. Doesn't mean I now think Allen is guilty, but I've at least swung back to "I have no idea."

All of that's Ed, the notion that one is contributing to rape culture if one doesn't believe Dylan Farrow—which is to say, if one professes not to know whether or not she's telling the truth when she says Allen molested her—troubles me. I absolutely believe that she believes she's telling the truth. She is highly unlikely to be lying. And I understand why it's important that we as a society make it our default response to believe an accusation (though balancing that against the presumption of innocence, which is equally important, is a tricky business). But anybody who thinks it's impossible for a small child to falsely accuse an adult of sexual abuse must be too young to recall the hysteria of the '80s and '90s, which culminated in the utterly insane McMartin preschool trial. There are numerous documented cases of people whose lives were destroyed by their own children when the kids reported crimes that did not happen, but which they (the kids) genuinely believed had happened. It's disturbingly easy to implant false memories even in an adult, as numerous studies have shown; small children are even more suggestible. Is that what happened with Dylan Farrow and Woody Allen? I have no idea. But unlike some of the people who argued with me on Twitter today, I can't reject the possibility out of hand on ideological grounds. And in the absence of any truly compelling evidence of Allen's guilt, which to my knowledge does not exist, I submit that it's overreaching to complain that a profile of Allen that doesn't address the allegation constitutes destructive rape culture. No doubt Teju Cole would call this paragraph a case of a man "[wading] in with stupid explanations and caveats and distractions." I would call it striving to remain objective.

13 July 2015

In defense of the first-person review.

As most everyone reading this will likely be aware, The Dissolve ceased publication last week, just shy of two years after it had launched. I'm inordinately proud to have been a regular contributor for the site's entire existence, and like my friend Noel, I don't have much to add to the outpouring of grief and hand-wringing that its abrupt shutdown has inspired. It was a grand experiment that failed, but at least we had it for a while. In the words of Gene Belcher, it gave us its magic and then it disappeared. Just like Toad The Wet Sprocket.

Instead, this blog post rather ungratefully concerns the one very minor thing that I didn't like about The Dissolve, which was its editorial policy banning any use of the first person in film reviews. This was carried over from the A.V. Club (at which all but one member of the original Dissolve staff had previously worked), for which I also/still freelance every week. I've always maintained that a blanket rule forbidding first-person reviews is sorely misguided, and while I've occasionally tweeted my dissatisfaction (to the annoyance of my editors, no doubt), one of the Dissolve post-mortem essays, written by Daniel Carlson for Movie Mezzanine, indirectly expressed my feelings in a way that made me want to sit down and make my case at greater length, just in case anyone should somehow manage to start a new film site ever again.

First of all, I understand the concern. Honestly, I do. Given a long leash, most film critics (or writers of any stripe, really) are apt to become obnoxiously self-indulgent, and the potential for editorial headaches is enormous. It's definitely easier to just say No across the board than to spend half your day sending freelancers notes explaining why their digression about their high-school prom experience is both unnecessary and distracting. And one can make the case—as the Dissolve editors did—that one can find creative ways to get various ideas across without employing either the first or second person (the latter also being banned in reviews), though said ways will often require one to use the gender-neutral indefinite pronoun "one," which tends to make one sound like a pompous ass.

Still, there is in fact a baby in that bathwater. Quadruplets, by my count. I hereby present my list of four Totally Legitimate Reasons to Employ the First Person in a Movie Review, None of Which Constitutes Making the Review All About Me Me Me Me Me.

Confessions of ignorance

The most important reason by far. Even critics who've watched 300+ movies annually for a quarter century can have significant gaps in their knowledge, let me tell you. Roughly 90% of the cases in which I want to use the first person in a review simply involve some variation on the words "which I haven't yet seen." In one embarrassing instance, I was correctly called out by an editor regarding a review in which my opening paragraph made a bunch of vague, tenuous assertions about the director's place in the cinema landscape. It was said director's sixth feature, but I hadn't seen the previous five; I had, however, seen some of the director's early shorts, so I leaned really hard on those, because I actually knew what I was talking about. The solution in that case was pretty simple: I wound up completely rewriting the opening graf, ditching any historical context and focusing exclusively on the film being reviewed. But historical context is valuable, even when it comes from a place of partial or total ignorance. My not-yet-published (at this writing) review of Jan Troell's debut, Here Is Your Life, never mentions Troell's most celebrated film, The Emigrants, because I've never seen The Emigrants and couldn't find a graceful way to mention it in the context of the argument I was making about Troell's sensibility. Ideally, I'd have liked to include a parenthetical along the lines of "(It's possible that The Emigrants, his most celebrated film, is an exception to this apparent rule. I still haven't seen that one.)" But I'm not allowed to do that, so my only option was to ignore a film that really ought to at least be mentioned in passing, then await the inevitable complaints about the omission in the comments. As a reader, I want to know if a critic reviewing Far From Heaven has never seen any Sirk, or if someone is coming to Hard to Be a God as a German virgin (or, perhaps even more pertinently, as a sexually active person of any nationality who has never previously seen an Alexei German film). As a critic, I want to be able to admit that I'm not especially well versed in a particular genre, or that I'm writing about Robert Pattinson's performance in Cosmopolis without having seen any of the Twilight films, or even just that I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the movie in question. Nonstop feigned authority gets to be kind of a drag.

Acknowledgement of extreme subjectivity

I ran into this problem most recently in my A.V. Club review of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, just released by Criterion. On the one hand, I had some concrete arguments for my low opinion of the film (particularly regarding its leering treatment of the title character), and I made them. On the other hand, though, I'm well aware of my general bias against cinematic surrealism, especially as practiced by European filmmakers in the '70s. Malle's Black Moon: nigh-well unbearable to me. Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain: likewise. The reader has a right to know that, due to some quirk of my temperament, I happen to be predisposed to find this approach to the medium agonizing. Conveying that information via a quick first-person aside would be a very simple matter. Instead, look how tortured my effort to get it across became! As someone aptly noted in the comments, the review's entire first paragraph boils down to "subjectivity yo," which should really be an unstated first principle. But belaboring the point was necessary in this case because I wanted to be truthful about my response to the film, but I also didn't want to discourage anyone from seeing it. (My editor helped out with a headline that actually comes right out and says "maybe ignore our grade." As I've told him several times, I'd really prefer not to grade "classic" films, e.g. the Criterion releases; the very fact that Criterion is releasing them precludes their being disposable, and jesus do people fucking howl if you give, say, My Dinner With Andre a solid 'B.') You could argue that I should just avoid reviewing acclaimed movies that I'm likely to find unbearable, but (a) that's not always financially practical, and (b) I often don't know a single thing about a film until I sit down to watch it, at which point it's far too late to turn down the assignment.

Relevant personal background

To be fair, the A.V. Club did recently allow me to use the first person in my review of Rodney Ascher's The Nightmare, a documentary (of sorts) about sleep paralysis. I didn't even ask to do so—my editor had read my Sundance report at The Dissolve, in which I mention that I've "suffered" from sleep paralysis for my entire adult life (scare quotes because it stopped being frightening the moment I learned what it is; now it's just an occasional annoyance), and voluntarily granted me permission to do the same in my official review. Which is perfectly sensible—why would you not want a critic to bring valuable, relevant life experience to the party? Over the past week, a lot of folks have singled out David Ehrlich's terrific (albeit totally wrongheaded, based on what I saw) defense of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, in which he talks at length about how his response to the film is informed by his father having recently been in and out of the hospital with a Grade IV brain tumor. The piece was categorized as an essay, not as a review (Scott Tobias had already written a vicious pan), so Ehrlich was allowed to use the first person as much as he liked...but I see no good reason why a review couldn't or shouldn't be similarly personal. Had Ehrlich been assigned to review Me and Earl for The Dissolve, and consequently had to omit any reference to his father, would the world be in any way richer for it? Why not just assess these things on a case-by-case basis? Granted, that's more work (and easy for me to say, since I'm not an editor), but I feel certain that the benefits would outweigh the costs.

Because style

By now, Daniel Carlson is surely wondering why the hell I linked to his piece way back at the top there. It's because this rant was prodded by his assertion that "longer, more personalized pieces have a higher likelihood of reaching readers and defining an outlet's voice, and it's those two qualities—impact and personality—that help to create community." Carlson's point here is essentially that traditional reviewing is on the way out (hence "longer"), but I'm more interested in his belief, which I share, that readers prefer to know something about the people behind the words. As Jules told Vincent, vis-à-vis dogs and pigs, personality goes a long way. Not that a critic's personality doesn't come across unless (s)he uses the first person—I'm sure most regular Dissolve readers could identify which reviews were written by Scott, Keith, Tasha, Noel, etc. even with the bylines removed—but being constrained from mentioning yourself at all, even in passing, doesn't help to foster a connection between writer and reader. And it's not as if Wesley Morris, to pick an example almost at random, tests readers' patience with a sentence like "For most of Self/less, I was sure I was watching the first two episodes of a vapid new cable series." Sure, that thought could easily be rewritten to eliminate the first person ("Self/less frequently resembles the first two episodes of a vapid new cable series" would be the approved A.V. Club/Dissolve version), but doing so would elide much of Morris' singular personality. The element of hyperbole disappears. Recasting it that way takes a thought that's both amusing and evocative and renders it comparatively inert, turning it into a mere line of description. It's hard for me to imagine anyone making a convincing case that Morris, while a terrific writer, would be even better if he'd just nix the "I" stuff. (I also enjoy his Kael-esque authoritarian second-person pronouncements, but that's an argument for another occasion.)

Again, I do recognize that not everyone is Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Wesley Morris. I myself am not Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Wesley Morris, to my eternal shame. I do firmly believe, however, that I'm a stronger writer when I'm allowed access to every tool in the box, including moderate, non-gratuitous self-reference. My festival reports tend to be stronger than my reviews, in my opinion, precisely for that reason. (Frankly, my ideal format is probably the single-graf capsule, as seen here, which assumes the reader has seen the film in question and completely dispenses with everything except the precise intersection of the film and my personality. Hard to monetize that approach, though, except by way of enriching the owners of Letterboxd.) If the folks at the A.V. Club should see this, I'd encourage them to ditch the ban and just tell writers to keep first person to a minimum—"only when necessary." Evaluate each review on its merits, or lack thereof; if someone's abusing the privilege, send the offending sentences back with a request for revision and (if it becomes necessary) a friendly warning. Really, though, anyone causing that much hassle by using the first person probably isn't a very strong writer in general. If you've got a staff/stable you're happy with, letting them off the leash once in a while won't do any harm.

26 February 2015

Skandiewrap, or: More Than You Really Wanted To Know

First, a quick correction. As I mentioned in this year's instructional e-mail, the Skandies website designed and maintained by Mark Pittillo crashed last year, requiring him to rebuild the automated ballot. There were the usual bugs involved in this process, and at least one glitch escaped our notice until after the final results were announced: Veronika Ferdman's votes in Best Screenplay were mistakenly counted twice. (Thanks to alert reader Lawrence Garcia for calling this to my attention.) Correcting that error moved Winter Sleep from 13th place to 12th, ahead of Only Lovers Left Alive, and bumped Birdman, which had been #20, off the list entirely (cue cheers from Scott Tobias), to be replaced by Nymph()maniac Vol. I (cue cheers from Victor Morton). Hopefully, the results are now completely accurate, but if anybody sees any other oddities or discrepancies, please let me know.


Every year, I exhort participants to vote from the heart, paying no attention to what other people think or to the results of other awards-giving bodies. In particular, I beg everyone not to engage in strategic voting—giving minimal or even no points at all to a favorite that you're sure has victory in the bag, for example, in order to better support another candidate whose chances are dicier. Obviously, if too many people did that, the results would become meaningless (if fascinating). I'd hate for next year's Holy Motors to finish 19th because most of the people who loved it assumed that others had it covered.

I am a hypocrite, however. Not that I would ever downgrade my top choice in a category—I'm scrupulous in that regard. But I do engage in what you might call point manipulation. Mostly, this involves point-bombing a favorite that I perceive as being in need, which I think is fairly defensible (and which others do as well). This year, though, my point distribution in Best Picture was on the shady side, and I got exactly what I deserved. Here's my ballot—before reading ahead, see if you can figure out what I was up to.

19 Two Days, One Night
18 Coherence
17 Bird People
16 Under the Skin
5 Boyhood
5 The Grand Budapest Hotel
5 Last Days in Vietnam
5 The Missing Picture
5 Proxy
5 Snowpiercer

Once all the year-end pictures had been widely seen, it seemed clear to me that Best Picture would be a two-film race between Boyhood and Under the Skin. (Turned out Grand Budapest Hotel had more support than I thought.) And while I loved both movies, (a) I loved Under the Skin a little more, and (b) all things being close to equal, I'd rather our winner not be the same as every other poll's winner. So I was rooting hard for The Glazer, and devised my Best Picture ballot in a way that would give that film as many points as possible relative to Boyhood, without giving it more points than the three films I liked even better. This required siphoning some of the points that I would otherwise have allotted to Two Days, One Night and Coherence and Bird People.

Well, you saw how that strategy worked out. Under the Skin didn't need my help—it would have won had I given it zero points and Boyhood 30. Meanwhile, Bird People and Coherence finished at #21 and #22, respectively, missing the list by 2 and 3 points, respectively. Had I not attempted to strategize, both would likely have made the cut, so I ended up shooting myself in the foot for no reason. MORAL: Do as I say, not as I do. To quote myself from my standard instructional boilerplate, "pretend it's only you."

Still, I'm reasonably happy with how the 20TH MOTHERFUCKING EDITION OF THIS SURVEY HOLY JESUS HOW DID I GET TO BE SO OLD turned out. Under the Skin not only won but now holds the Passiondex record for the highest average-point total of any Skandie winner, its 16.05 handily topping 25th Hour's 14.82. Atypically, two of our acting winners also won Oscars—it's been five years since we shared even one winner with the Academy (Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds)—but that's mostly a case of the Oscars getting it right for a change. (On the other hand, we showed little love for Birdman or Eddie Redmayne.) My only very mild concern regards an observation that MuseMalade made in the comments about the disconnect between Picture and Screenplay. This year, Picture and Director overlapped in 18 of 20 slots, whereas Picture and Screenplay (after correcting for double Nika) went a mere 13/20, with many top 10 scripts (Coherence, The Lego Movie, Edge of Tomorrow, Listen Up Philip) not making the cut for Picture. Auteurism is all well and good, but let's not get too carried away.

Okay, on to the number-crunching. (Many of you will want to check out at this point.) What follows are the stats I used to send out to voters (via snail mail!) back in the '90s, which I still maintain for my own obsessive amusement.

(includes only films receiving a minimum of ten votes)

01. 3.65 The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
02. 3.61 Being John Malkovich (1999)
02. 3.61 A Separation (2011)
04. 3.58 Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
05. 3.57 In the Company of Men (1997)
06. 3.56 Secrets & Lies (1996)
07. 3.53 La Promesse (1997)
08. 3.52 Yi Yi (A One and a Two…) (2000)
09. 3.50 From the Journals of Jean Seberg (1996)
10. 3.48 Irma Vep (1997)
10. 3.48 Lone Star (1996)
10. 3.48 Margaret (2011)

No new additions this year; The Grand Budapest Hotel, with the top rating of 3.38, didn't even come close.

(includes only films receiving a minimum of five votes)

01. 0.20 Date Movie (2006)
01. 0.20 America (2014)
03. 0.58 Miss March (2009)
04. 0.60 Dragonfly (2002)
05. 0.61 The Roommate (2011)
06. 0.67 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001)
07. 0.70 Beastly (2011)
07. 0.70 Left Behind (2014)
09. 0.75 The Mod Squad (1999)
10. 0.79 I Melt With You (2011)

Dinesh D'Souza's jingoistic doc ties Date Movie for the worst movie in Skandie history. Also new: Late-Period Nicolas Cage.

(std. deviation >= 0.75; minimum 2 votes 3.5 or higher, 2 votes 1.5 or lower)

  • Goodbye to Language (0.90)
  • Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (0.84)
  • Inherent Vice (0.84)
  • Mood Indigo (0.84)
  • Norte, the End of History (0.83)
  • Proxy (0.83)
  • Under the Skin (0.79)
  • Actress (0.77)
  • Nymph()maniac Vol. II (0.77)
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (0.76)

    (lowest-ranked film seen by at least 75% of respondents)

    1996: Twister (1.80)
    1997: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (2.33)
    1998: He Got Game (2.59)
    1999: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (2.18)
    2000: Nurse Betty (2.31)
    2001: Vanilla Sky (2.20)
    2002: Storytelling (2.03)
    2003: The Matrix Reloaded (2.29)
    2004: The Village (2.30)
    2005: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2.49)
    2006: Little Miss Sunshine (2.52)
    2007: Ocean's Thirteen (2.52)
    2008: Milk (2.83)
    2009: The Hangover (2.35)
    2010: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2.71)
    2011: Midnight in Paris (2.47)
    2012: Beasts of the Southern Wild (2.37)
    2013: American Hustle (2.50)
    2014: Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2.44)

    Fourth consecutive year that this title has gone to an Oscar nominee for Best Picture. First winner.

    (lowest average among top 20 films in Picture voting)

    1996: Dead Man (2.94)
    1997: Crash (2.52)
    1998: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (2.68)
    1999: The End of the Affair (2.96)
    2000: Requiem for a Dream (2.73)
    2001: Amélie (2.71)
    2002: 8 Women (2.79)
    2003: The Good Thief (2.81)
    2004: I ♥ Huckabees (2.84)
    2005: Oldboy (2.68)
    2006: Manderlay (2.69)
    2007: Once (2.79)
    2008: Funny Games (2.83)
    2009: A Serious Man (2.83)
    2010: The Exploding Girl (2.75)
    2011: Shame (2.63)
    2012: Damsels in Distress (2.76)
    2013: Spring Breakers (2.72)
    2014: Goodbye to Language (2.64)

    I keep waiting for a film to beat Crash's record for the lowest average ever, but it may never happen. Remember, that's Cronenberg's Crash, not Haggis'.

    (highest-ranked film by average rating not to place in Picture voting [10+ voters] )

    1996: Get on the Bus (3.29)
    1997: Forgotten Silver (3.36)
    1998: The Kingdom II (3.14)
    1999: My Name Is Joe (3.18)
    2000: Erin Brockovich (3.14)
    2001: No Man’s Land (3.19)
    2002: Roger Dodger (3.14)
    2003: The Weather Underground (3.18)
    2004: Bright Leaves (3.16)
    2005: Howl's Moving Castle (3.15)
    2006: The Devil and Daniel Johnston (3.18)
    2007: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (3.25)
    2008: The Duchess of Langeais (3.20)
    2009: Night and Day (3.07)
    2010: Another Year (3.21)
    2011: Senna (3.07)
    2012: The Imposter (3.10)
    2013: Drug War (3.17)
    2014: National Gallery (3.25)

    (lowest average among films seen by at least 10 respondents)

    1996: Twister (1.80)
    1997: Batman & Robin (1.28)
    1998: The Avengers | Stepmom [tie] (1.50)
    1999: Jawbreaker (1.14)
    2000: Pay It Forward (1.41)
    2001: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (1.26)
    2002: Scooby-Doo (1.08)
    2003: Bad Boys II (1.60)
    2004: Exorcist: The Beginning (1.21)
    2005: Undead (1.29)
    2006: The Hills Have Eyes (1.65)
    2007: Smokin' Aces (1.64)
    2008: Jumper (1.54)
    2009: Gigantic (1.00)
    2010: The Last Airbender (1.05)
    2011: Vanishing on 7th Street (1.55)
    2012: This Means War (1.50)
    2013: Gangster Squad (1.29)
    2014: That Awkward Moment (1.45)

    (lowest average for a film that screened at the New York Film Festival)
    (post-expansion: Main Slate only)

    1996: Flirt (2.20)
    1997: Kiss or Kill (1.79)
    1998: Voyage to the Beginning of the World (1.80)
    1999: Dogma (1.89)
    2000: Before Night Falls (2.31)
    2001: La Ciénaga (1.95)
    2002: In Praise of Love (1.95)
    2003: Chi-Hwa-Seon: Painted Fire (2.19)
    2004: Free Radicals (2.08)
    2005: Palindromes (2.15)
    2006: Rolling Family (1.83)
    2007: The Go Master (1.93)
    2008: Married Life (2.25)
    2009: The Windmill Movie (2.13)
    2010: Hereafter (2.05)
    2011: We Are What We Are (1.64)
    2012: Hyde Park on Hudson (1.69)
    2013: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1.92)
    2014: Child of God (2.00)

    (suggested by Alex Fung; lowest average for a film that received a 4-star rating

    1996: The Stupids (2.30) | Bryan “Frankenseuss” Theiss (ret.)
    1997: Kissed (2.46) | Alex Fung
    1998: Psycho (2.11) | Erik Gregersen (ret.)
    1999: Twin Falls Idaho (2.28) | Milton Lawson (ret.)
    2000: Beautiful People (2.29) | Keith Collins (ret.)
    2001: The Road Home (1.88) | Erik Gregersen (ret.)
    2002: In Praise of Love (1.95) | Jeremy Heilman
    2003: Gigli (1.92) | Jeremy Heilman
    2004: The Passion of the Christ (2.18) | Victor J. Morton
    2005: The Brothers Grimm (2.29) | Bilge Ebiri
    2006: The Fountain (2.21) | Peter Reiher
    2007: Southland Tales (1.88) | Dave Cowen; Jeremy Heilman
    2008: Jellyfish (2.36) | Daniel Waters
    2009: 12 (2.29) | Bilge Ebiri
    2010: Somewhere (2.41) | Nictate
    2011: A Serbian Film (1.81) | Daniel Waters
    2012: Alps (2.43) | Don Marks
    2013: Maniac (2.50) | Jeremy Heilman
    2014: Vic + Flo Saw a Bear (2.43) | Victor J. Morton


    Cannes Palme d'Or

    1995: Underground (#15, 1997)
    1996: Secrets & Lies (#2, 1996)
    1997: Taste of Cherry (#15, 1998)
    1997: The Eel (did not place)
    1998: Eternity and a Day (did not place)
    1999: Rosetta (did not place)
    2000: Dancer in the Dark (#10, 2000)
    2001: The Son's Room (did not place)
    2002: The Pianist (did not place)
    2003: Elephant (did not place)
    2004: Fahrenheit 9/11 (did not place)
    2005: L'Enfant (The Child) (#6, 2006)
    2006: The Wind That Shakes the Barley (did not place)
    2007: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (#1, 2008)
    2008: The Class (did not place)
    2009: The White Ribbon (did not place)
    2010: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (#9, 2011)
    2011: The Tree of Life (#1, 2011)
    2012: Amour (#6, 2012)
    2013: Blue Is the Warmest Color (#8, 2013)
    2014: Winter Sleep (#15, 2014)

    Venice Golden Lion

    1995: Cyclo (#14, 1996)
    1996: Michael Collins (did not place)
    1997: Fireworks (Hana-Bi) (#5, 1998)
    1998: The Way We Laughed (did not place)
    1999: Not One Less (did not place)
    2000: The Circle (did not place)
    2001: Monsoon Wedding (did not place)
    2002: The Magdalene Sisters (did not place)
    2003: The Return (did not place)
    2004: Vera Drake (#6, 2004)
    2005: Brokeback Mountain (#3, 2005)
    2006: Still Life (#18, 2008)
    2007: Lust, Caution (did not place)
    2008: The Wrestler (#13, 2008)
    2009: Lebanon (did not place)
    2010: Somewhere (did not place)
    2011: Faust (did not place)
    2012: Pieta (did not place)
    2013: Sacro GRA (TBD, though I doubt it'll ever get a theatrical release)
    2014: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (TBD)

    Sundance Grand Jury (Dramatic)

    1995: The Brothers McMullen (did not place)
    1996: Welcome to the Dollhouse (did not place)
    1997: Sunday (did not place)
    1998: Slam (did not place)
    1999: Three Seasons (did not place)
    2000: Girlfight (did not place)
    2000: You Can Count on Me (#3, 2000)
    2001: The Believer (did not place)
    2002: Personal Velocity (did not place)
    2003: American Splendor (#20, 2003)
    2004: Primer (#10, 2004)
    2005: Forty Shades of Blue (did not place)
    2006: Quinceañera (did not place)
    2007: Padre Nuestro (did not place)
    2008: Frozen River (did not place)
    2009: Precious (Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire) (did not place)
    2010: Winter's Bone (#2, 2010)
    2011: Like Crazy (did not place)
    2012: Beasts of the Southern Wild (did not place)
    2013: Fruitvale Station (did not place)
    2014: Whiplash (#20, 2014)

    Most Appearances in Top 20 (Actors)
    (ties for number of appearances broken by average placement)

    01. Philip Seymour Hoffman (15)

    1s. The Master
    3s. Charlie Wilson's War
    5. Capote
    6. Synecdoche, New York
    6s. The Talented Mr. Ripley
    6s. Almost Famous
    10s. Magnolia
    10s. 25th Hour
    11. Doubt
    12. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
    12s. State and Main
    15s. Happiness
    15. Owning Mahowny
    18. A Most Wanted Man
    19s. Mission: Impossible III

    02. Tilda Swinton (12)

    1. Julia
    4s. Michael Clayton
    4s. Snowpiercer
    5. The Deep End
    5. We Need to Talk About Kevin
    7. Only Lovers Left Alive
    9s. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    11. I Am Love
    12s. Burn After Reading
    13s. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    18. Female Perversions
    19s. Thumbsucker

    03. Isabelle Huppert (12)

    2. The Piano Teacher
    2s. 8 Women
    4. Gabrielle
    8. Abuse of Weakness
    8. The School of Flesh
    12. White Material
    13s. I ♥ Huckabees
    13s. Amour
    15. La Cérémonie
    17. Time of the Wolf
    17. In Another Country
    19. Home

    04. Julianne Moore (10)

    1. Far From Heaven
    3s. Boogie Nights
    6. Still Alice
    8s. Magnolia
    11. The End of the Affair
    13s. The Big Lebowski
    15s. An Ideal Husband
    16s. A Single Man
    19. Savage Grace
    19. The Kids Are All Right

    (She also won Best Actress in 1995 for Safe, though I don't count that here as it was Oscar-style voting.)

    05. Edward Norton (9)

    1s. The People vs. Larry Flynt
    2s. Primal Fear
    3s. Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
    4. Fight Club
    6. 25th Hour
    9. American History X
    10. Down in the Valley
    13s. Rounders
    14s. Moonrise Kingdom

    Swinton, who was 3rd last year, moves into 2nd; Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet are replaced by Moore and Norton.

    Most Films Landed in Top 20 (Directors)
    (again, ties broken by average placement)

    01. Joel [& Ethan] Coen (9)

    1. Inside Llewyn Davis
    2. No Country for Old Men
    4. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    5. The Man Who Wasn't There
    6. Fargo
    7. A Serious Man
    11. Burn After Reading
    12. The Big Lebowski
    12. True Grit

    02. Richard Linklater (7)

    3. Before Sunset
    3. Boyhood
    4. Before Midnight
    9. The School of Rock
    12. A Scanner Darkly
    15. Waking Life
    18. Bernie

    03. Lars von Trier (7)

    1. Breaking the Waves
    1. Dogville
    7. Melancholia
    10. Dancer in the Dark
    17. Nymph()maniac Vol. I
    19. The Five Obstructions
    20. Manderlay

    04. Wes Anderson (6)

    2. Rushmore
    2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    2. Moonrise Kingdom
    2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
    8. The Royal Tenenbaums
    17. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

    05. Paul Thomas Anderson (6)

    1. There Will Be Blood
    4. The Master
    7. Magnolia
    7. Inherent Vice
    8. Boogie Nights
    8. Punch-Drunk Love

    Linklater moves into 2nd place; Wes and Paul Thomas Anderson replace Scorsese and Tarantino.

    And finally. Back when I started the survey, I remember looking forward to the time, a decade or so later (i.e. now), when there'd be tons of accumulated data to wade through. In particular, I was excited about the prospect of being able to compare how various films from major directors had been received over the years. Granted, that process isn't exactly definitive—the AVB has mutated over the years and even the diehards tend to be stingier with their star ratings than they were back in the mid-'90s. But perhaps my favorite task after receiving the averages is updating my Directors' Gallery, plugging this year's films into various post-'94 oeuvres. Here are the entries that saw additions this year—every filmmaker who's ever placed in the Director top 20. 2014 films are in bold. Numbers in parentheses indicate how the film placed in Best Picture that year, if applicable; if the film title is in parentheses that means it received fewer than 10 votes and hence the result is a bit less meaningful. N/A (not applicable) means it was eligible but didn't even get five votes and so didn't make the main list.

    Woody Allen

    Everyone Says I Love You: 3.09
    Vicky Cristina Barcelona (19): 2.98
    Match Point (13): 2.93
    Blue Jasmine (19): 2.82
    Sweet and Lowdown: 2.63
    Deconstructing Harry: 2.61
    Cassandra's Dream: 2.60
    Midnight in Paris: 2.47
    Magic in the Moonlight: 2.47
    Small Time Crooks: 2.37
    The Curse of the Jade Scorpion: 2.33
    To Rome With Love: 2.29
    Scoop: 2.28
    Whatever Works: 2.24
    Anything Else: 2.13
    Hollywood Ending: 2.13
    Celebrity: 2.04
    Melinda and Melinda: 2.00
    You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: 1.93

    Paul Thomas Anderson

    There Will Be Blood (1): 3.46
    Boogie Nights (8): 3.18
    Magnolia (7): 3.17
    The Master (4): 3.17
    Punch-Drunk Love (8): 2.93
    Hard Eight: 2.93
    Inherent Vice (7): 2.81

    Wes Anderson

    Rushmore (2): 3.45
    The Grand Budapest Hotel (2): 3.38
    Moonrise Kingdom (2): 3.32
    Fantastic Mr. Fox (2): 3.21
    The Royal Tenenbaums (8): 3.03
    The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (17): 2.89
    Bottle Rocket: 2.63
    The Darjeeling Limited: 2.40

    Gregg Araki

    Mysterious Skin (16): 2.92
    Kaboom: 2.57
    [Smiley Face]: 2.53
    (Nowhere): 2.42
    (Splendor): 2.33
    White Bird in a Blizzard: 2.32

    Darren Aronofsky

    The Wrestler (13): 3.02
    Black Swan (3): 2.97
    Requiem for a Dream (15): 2.73
    [Pi]: 2.65
    Noah: 2.47
    The Fountain: 2.21

    Marco Bellocchio

    Vincere (16): 2.94
    Good Morning, Night: 2.65
    Dormant Beauty: 2.55
    The Wedding Director: N/A

    Joe Berlinger

    Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (7): 3.58
    Metallica: Some Kind of Monster: 3.06
    (WHITEY: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger): 2.88
    (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory): 2.71
    (Crude): 2.58
    (Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2): 1.13
    Hank: 5 Years From the Brink: N/A
    Under African Skies: N/A

    Bong Joon-ho

    The Host: 3.19
    Memories of Murder (9): 3.16
    Mother (5): 3.11
    Snowpiercer (13): 3.03
    Tokyo!: 2.37

    Kenneth Branagh

    Hamlet (9): 3.29
    (A Midwinter's Tale): 2.83
    Thor: 2.39
    Love's Labours Lost: 2.10
    Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: 2.05
    Sleuth: 1.40

    Catherine Breillat

    Bluebeard: 3.02
    The Last Mistress: 2.88
    Fat Girl: 2.85
    Abuse of Weakness: 2.80
    The Sleeping Beauty: 2.75
    Sex Is Comedy: 2.66
    Romance: 2.00
    Anatomy of Hell: 1.77

    Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani

    Amer: 2.79
    The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears: 2.78
    The ABCs of Death: 1.69

    Nuri Bilge Ceylan

    Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (12): 3.10
    Winter Sleep (15): 3.00
    Distant: 2.93
    Climates: 2.84
    Three Monkeys: 2.58

    J.C. Chandor

    All Is Lost (14): 3.22
    A Most Violent Year: 2.84
    Margin Call: 2.74

    Damien Chazelle

    Whiplash (20): 2.94
    (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench): 2.20

    Stephen Chow

    Kung Fu Hustle (11): 3.09
    (Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons): 2.78
    CJ7: 2.46

    Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

    La Promesse (13): 3.53
    Two Days, One Night (4): 3.35
    L'Enfant (The Child) (6): 3.26
    The Kid With a Bike (7): 3.18
    The Son (6): 3.16
    Lorna's Silence (11): 3.09
    Rosetta: 2.89

    Jonathan Demme

    Rachel Getting Married (4): 3.28
    Neil Young: Heart of Gold: 2.94
    (Neil Young Journeys): 2.93
    (Storefront Hitchcock): 2.92
    The Manchurian Candidate: 2.70
    (Man From Plains): 2.67
    Beloved: 2.64
    (A Master Builder): 2.64
    Neil Young Trunk Show: 2.50
    The Truth About Charlie: 2.48
    (The Agronomist): 2.39
    Enzo Avitabile Music Life: N/A
    I'm Carolyn Parker: N/A

    Arnaud Desplechin

    Kings & Queen (15): 3.03
    A Christmas Tale (10): 3.00
    Esther Kahn: 2.98
    (My Sex Life, or How I Got Into an Argument): 2.60
    Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian: 2.47

    Clint Eastwood

    Million Dollar Baby (9): 3.06
    Letters From Iwo Jima: 2.82
    Mystic River: 2.81
    Changeling: 2.70
    Space Cowboys: 2.63
    American Sniper: 2.58
    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: 2.57
    Invictus: 2.53
    Flags of Our Fathers: 2.52
    Gran Torino: 2.46
    Blood Work: 2.35
    Absolute Power: 2.32
    True Crime: 2.31
    Jersey Boys: 2.21
    Hereafter: 2.05
    J. Edgar: 2.04

    Atom Egoyan

    The Sweet Hereafter (1): 3.65
    Felicia's Journey: 2.66
    Where the Truth Lies: 2.50
    Adoration: 2.44
    Ararat: 2.33
    Chloe: 2.21
    (The Captive): 1.86
    (Devil's Knot): 1.43

    David Fincher

    Zodiac (3): 3.27
    The Social Network (4): 3.22
    Fight Club (3): 3.19
    Gone Girl (14): 3.03
    The Game (9): 2.95
    Panic Room: 2.79
    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: 2.44
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: 2.42

    Philippe Garrel

    Regular Lovers (9): 3.07
    Frontier of Dawn: 2.91
    Jealousy: 2.88
    A Burning Hot Summer: 2.58

    Terry Gilliam

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (18): 2.68
    The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: 2.30
    The Brothers Grimm: 2.29
    Tideland: 2.21
    (The Zero Theorem): 2.11

    Jonathan Glazer

    Under the Skin (1): 3.29
    Sexy Beast: 2.81
    Birth: 2.74

    Jean-Luc Godard

    Notre Musique: 2.67
    Goodbye to Language (12): 2.65
    Film Socialisme: 2.59
    In Praise of Love: 1.95
    (For Ever Mozart): 1.58

    Michel Gondry

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2): 3.28
    Dave Chappelle's Block Party (19): 3.02
    (Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?): 2.94
    The We and the I: 2.70
    Be Kind Rewind: 2.59
    The Science of Sleep: 2.53
    Human Nature: 2.40
    Tokyo!: 2.37
    Mood Indigo: 2.29
    The Green Hornet: 2.00
    The Thorn in the Heart: N/A

    Alejandro González Iñárritu

    Amores Perros (17): 2.82
    21 Grams: 2.49
    Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): 2.44
    Biutiful: 2.00
    Babel: 1.95

    James Gray

    Two Lovers (12): 3.13
    The Immigrant (19): 2.94
    We Own the Night: 2.82
    The Yards: 2.78

    David Gordon Green

    George Washington: 3.05
    All the Real Girls (15): 2.93
    Pineapple Express: 2.71
    Joe: 2.69
    Undertow: 2.56
    Snow Angels: 2.56
    Prince Avalanche: 2.50
    (The Sitter): 2.00
    Your Highness: 1.89

    Peter Jackson

    Forgotten Silver: 3.36
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (7): 3.33
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (5): 3.26
    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (11): 2.96
    The Frighteners: 2.93
    King Kong: 2.83
    The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 2.50
    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: 2.24
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: 1.92
    The Lovely Bones: 1.80

    Jim Jarmusch

    Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (18): 3.03
    Only Lovers Left Alive (9): 3.03
    Dead Man (13): 2.94
    Coffee and Cigarettes: 2.70
    Broken Flowers: 2.56
    (Year of the Horse): 2.42
    The Limits of Control: 2.34

    Kim Ki-duk

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (12): 3.17
    Time: 3.00
    3-iron: 2.94
    Moebius: 2.63
    The Isle: 2.38
    Pieta: 2.09

    Takeshi Kitano

    Fireworks (Hana-Bi) (5): 3.26
    The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi: 2.79
    Kikujiro: 2.70
    Outrage: 2.46
    Brother: 2.38
    Dolls: 2.34
    (Beyond Outrage): 2.10

    Hirokazu Kore-eda

    After Life (13): 3.26
    Still Walking (19): 3.11
    Nobody Knows (18): 3.07
    (I Wish): 3.00
    Like Father, Like Son: 2.79
    (Maborosi): 2.40

    Mike Leigh

    Secrets & Lies (2): 3.56
    Vera Drake (6): 3.26
    Another Year: 3.21
    Topsy-Turvy (9): 3.18
    All or Nothing: 3.02
    Mr. Turner: 2.98
    Happy-Go-Lucky (12): 2.97
    Career Girls: 2.83

    Richard Linklater

    Before Sunset (3): 3.43
    Boyhood (3): 3.36
    Before Midnight (4): 3.33
    The School of Rock (9): 3.16
    A Scanner Darkly (12): 2.97
    Waking Life (15): 2.86
    Bernie (18): 2.85
    Tape: 2.77
    The Newton Boys: 2.75
    Me and Orson Welles: 2.70
    subUrbia: 2.63
    Bad News Bears: 2.50
    Fast Food Nation: 2.28

    James Marsh

    Man on Wire (16): 3.19
    Project Nim: 3.00
    (Shadow Dancer): 2.70
    Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1980: 2.58
    The Theory of Everything: 2.22
    The King: N/A
    Wisconsin Death Trip: N/A

    Frank Miller

    Frank Miller's Sin City (10): 2.74
    (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For): 1.88
    The Spirit: N/A

    Lukas Moodysson

    Together (18): 3.13
    Show Me Love: 2.89
    We Are the Best!: 2.88
    Lilya 4-Ever: 2.68
    A hole in my heart: 1.88
    Mammoth: N/A

    Errol Morris

    Fast, Cheap & out of Control (4): 3.42
    The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara (11): 3.24
    Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.: 3.10
    Tabloid: 3.00
    Standard Operating Procedure: 2.98
    The Unknown Known: 2.64

    Christopher Nolan

    The Prestige (2): 3.40
    Memento (3): 3.31
    The Dark Knight (5): 3.17
    Insomnia: 2.92
    Inception (13): 2.84
    Interstellar (18): 2.83
    Batman Begins (19): 2.81
    The Dark Knight Rises: 2.63
    (Following): 2.28

    Jafar Panahi

    Offside (11): 3.25
    Crimson Gold (11): 3.20
    (The Mirror): 3.20
    The White Balloon: 3.14
    This Is Not a Film: 3.00
    The Circle: 2.70
    Closed Curtain: 2.63

    Roman Polanski

    The Pianist: 2.96
    The Ghost Writer (18): 2.94
    Oliver Twist: 2.71
    Venus in Fur: 2.70
    The Ninth Gate: 2.38
    Carnage: 2.36

    Kelly Reichardt

    Old Joy (5): 3.17
    Meek's Cutoff (8): 3.13
    Wendy and Lucy: 2.98
    Night Moves: 2.86

    Alain Resnais

    You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (16): 3.11
    Private Fears in Public Places: 2.95
    Wild Grass (10): 2.92
    Same Old Song: 2.87
    Life of Riley: 2.65

    Robert Rodriguez

    Grindhouse (4): 2.93
    Frank Miller's Sin City (10): 2.74
    Spy Kids: 2.71
    Machete: 2.61
    The Faculty: 2.60
    Spy Kids 2 The Island of Lost Dreams: 2.50
    Once Upon a Time in Mexico: 2.44
    From Dusk Till Dawn: 2.43
    (Spy Kids 3D: Game Over): 2.06
    Machete Kills: 2.00
    (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For): 1.88
    Shorts: N/A
    Spy Kids: All the Time in the World: N/A

    Paul Schrader

    Affliction (17): 2.94
    Auto Focus: 2.32
    (The Walker): 2.19
    (Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist): 1.86
    The Canyons: 1.36
    Adam Resurrected: N/A
    Dying of the Light: N/A
    Touch: N/A

    Ridley Scott

    Gladiator (20): 3.04
    The Counselor: 2.91
    Black Hawk Down (20): 2.78
    Matchstick Men: 2.78
    American Gangster : 2.50
    Body of Lies: 2.50
    G.I. Jane: 2.42
    Kingdom of Heaven: 2.33
    Prometheus: 2.26
    (White Squall): 2.22
    (Exodus: Gods and Kings): 2.00
    Hannibal: 1.94
    (A Good Year): 1.93
    Robin Hood: 1.91

    Bertrand Tavernier

    (Capitaine Conan) (12): 3.50
    It All Starts Today: 2.93
    (Safe Conduct): 2.83
    (The French Minister): 2.58
    The Princess of Montpensier: 2.53

    Johnnie To

    Drug War: 3.17
    Exiled (18): 2.97
    Mad Detective: 2.95
    Vengeance: 2.87
    Election: 2.79
    Fulltime Killer: 2.74
    Election 2: 2.73
    (Breaking News): 2.50
    (Throwdown): 2.33
    Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2: N/A

    Tsai Ming-liang

    What Time Is It There? (11): 3.21
    Stray Dogs (10): 3.17
    The Wayward Cloud (8): 3.08
    (Vive L'Amour): 2.92
    Good Bye Dragon Inn: 2.69
    I Don't Want to Sleep Alone: 2.53

    Lars von Trier

    Breaking the Waves (1): 3.43
    Dogville (1): 3.22
    The Kingdom II: 3.14
    Melancholia (7): 3.06
    The Five Obstructions (19): 3.03
    Nymph()maniac Vol. I (17): 3.00
    The Boss of It All: 2.85
    Dancer in the Dark (10): 2.74
    Manderlay (20): 2.69
    Nymph()maniac Vol. II: 2.61
    The Idiots: 2.59
    Antichrist: 2.53

    23 February 2015

    Skandies: #1

    Best Picture: Under the Skin (337/21)
    This is the first Skandie winner not to have premiered at Cannes since There Will Be Blood in 2007. Overall, Cannes films have won 12 times out of 20. I think Being John Malkovich is the only previous winner out of Venice.

    Best Director: Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin (413/23)
    Skandie history: #16, Birth (2004). (The film itself didn't place, so we clearly dig him.)

    Best Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night (332/24)
    Skandie history: #11, La Vie en Rose (2007); #14s, Public Enemies (2009); #11, Rust and Bone (2012); #4, The Immigrant (2014).

    Best Actor: Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel (413/31)
    Skandie history: #2, The English Patient (1996); #19, Oscar and Lucinda (1997); #19, The End of the Affair (1999); #12s, In Bruges (2008); #16, Coriolanus (2011).

    Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (351/24)
    Skandie history: #18s, Spider-Man (2002); #19s, Burn After Reading (2008).

    Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood (367/28)
    Skandie history: None.

    Best Screenplay: Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel (404/29)
    Skandie history: #3, Rushmore (with Owen Wilson) (1998); #5, The Royal Tenenbaums (with Owen Wilson) (2001); #10, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (with Noah Baumbach) (2004); #5, Fantastic Mr. Fox (with Noah Baumbach) (2009); #1, Moonrise Kingdom (with Roman Coppola) (2012). His second win in this category in the past three years, and the first screenplay he's written solo.

    Best Scene: The whoring bed, Nymph()maniac Vol. I (148/11).

    Complete results available here. Thanks to all voters, and especially to Mark Pittillo for programming the automated ballot and maintaining the website. The big post-mortem will be up in the next day or two.

    Skandies: #2

    Picture: The Grand Budapest Hotel (274/23)
    Director: Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel (291/24)
    Actress: Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin (309/24)
    Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler (291/22)
    S. Actor: Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice (305/22)
    S. Actress: Uma Thurman, Nymph()maniac Vol. I (245/19)
    Screenplay: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Two Days, One Night (213/18)
    Scene: Converge but one of my two eyes, Goodbye to Language (106/08)

    (Credit to Doug Dillaman, if I remember correctly, for that brilliant scene title, which for those who don't know is a reference to this. Also Michael Sicinski points out that the scene can be found here, though it really can't be appreciated unless seen in actual 3-D.)


    In addition to his three previous "nominations," (see post below), Anderson has also placed 6th for The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and 15th for The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004).

    Johansson, who won Supporting Actress just last year and nearly won Actress this year (in one of the closer races), has now landed in the top 20 eight times. Her other "nominations" are recounted below, and are accompanied by nods at #15 (Girl With a Pearl Earring, 2003) and at #6 in Supporting (Match Point, 2005). Plus Lucy earlier this year (see #12).

    Gyllenhaal placed 7th in Supporting for Brokeback Mountain (2005). Brolin has a previous Best Actor "nomination" (see below), and has also placed 15th in Supporting for Grindhouse (2007), 10th in the lead category for W. (2008), and 11th in Supporting for Milk (also 2008). Thurman, in addition to her previously mentioned Best Actress win for Kill Bill Vol. 1, also placed 6th for Vol. 2 (2004).

    The Dardennes traditionally don't fare as well in Screenplay as they do in Director and Picture; their scripts for La Promesse, The Son, L'Enfant (The Child), Lorna's Silence, and The Kid With a Bike placed 12th, 16th, 17th, 10th, and 18th, respectively. (Rosetta didn't place at all.) This is the first time we've considered one of their films primarily an example of great writing.

    22 February 2015

    Skandies: #3

    Picture: Boyhood (270/22)
    Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood (253/22)
    Actress: Essie Davis, The Babadook (293/20)
    Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice (219/17)
    S. Actor: Edward Norton, Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (228/17)
    S. Actress: Elisabeth Moss, Listen Up Philip (215/17)
    Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice (187/15)
    Scene: Avalanche, Force Majeure (101/11)


    In addition to his "nomination" for Before Sunset (see post below), Linklater has also placed 18th for Waking Life (2001), 13th for The School of Rock (2003), 19th for A Scanner Darkly (2006), 20th for Bernie (2012), and 8th for Before Midnight (last year).

    Phoenix has now placed eight times, tying him for second (with Edward Norton) among the guys on the all-time leaderboard. In addition to multiple previously cited top-five finishes and his 10th-place finish this year for The Immigrant, he placed 9th in Supporting for Gladiator (2000), 10th for Walk the Line (2005), and 11th for I'm Still Here (2010).

    Norton has now placed nine times, and I'll just cut and paste the roster since I just put it together due to his having vaulted to #5 on all the all-time list (behind Philip Seymour Hoffman [15], Tilda Swinton [12], Isabelle Huppert [12], and Julianne Moore [10]).

    1s. The People vs. Larry Flynt
    2s. Primal Fear
    3s. Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
    4. Fight Club
    6. 25th Hour
    9. American History X
    10. Down in the Valley
    13s. Rounders
    14s. Moonrise Kingdom

    Both women are new.

    PTA won Best Screenplay for There Will Be Blood in 2007. The Master (2012) finished 4th. His scripts for Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999) both placed 11th. Punch-Drunk Love only managed 15th. Hard Eight is his sole film that didn't place at all.