18 February 2011

Skandies: #1



Best Picture: Dogtooth (236/20)







Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network (225/22)
Skandie history: one of the five Oscar-style nominees, Se7en (1995); #8, The Game (1997); #3, Fight Club (1999); #3, Zodiac (2007).






Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone (310/22)
Skandie history: None.






Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network (456/26)
Skandie history: #6s, Roger Dodger (2002); #15, The Squid and the Whale (2005).






Best Supporting Actor: John Hawkes, Winter's Bone (322/20)
Skandie history: None.






Best Supporting Actress: Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer (230/20)
Skandie history: #16s, Rushmore (1998).






Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network (331/23)
Skandie history: None.






Best Scene: Dance dance revolution, Dogtooth (159/14)

Complete results available here (soon, if not this instant). Thanks to all voters, and especially to Mark Pittillo for programming the automated ballot and maintaining the website. Brief post-mortem coming up on Monday.

64 comments:

md'a said...

Victor was correct. I would never have imagined a film winning both Director and Screenplay without winning Picture. Much less finishing as low as #4.

Films have previously won Best Picture without winning either Director or Screenplay: Yi Yi, Irreversible, Grizzly Man, and most recently 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days.

Hamilton said...

It makes no sense. Best director, best screenplay, bonus best actor, and finish #4...

Anonymous said...

Lots of (pun not intended) Toy Story 3 scenes get a single mention, but I'm surprised no-one nominated the montage sequence where the talking telephone explains the perils of escaping. Pacing-wise it was a bit awkward that it followed straight after a sort-of-similar sequence narrated by a sort-of-similar character (Lotso's Origin Story, which got a single vote), but I thought that was definitely a highlight (especially as it showcases that indelible psychotic monkey).

Ryan said...

Thought I voted for Fincher but not Aronosfky. Then checked my ballot and it turned out I had given 10 points to both. So not my fault Fincher won.

witherholly said...

Congratulations to Jennifer Lawhohasbeenwrence.

bentclouds said...

I wish I had remembered to throw some points to the GREENBERG party scene and "Fred and Ginger put on a show" from SPLICE. I forgot about how awesome these scenes were until just now.

Robert Fuller said...

I wanted to like Dogtooth. I loved individual scenes, especially early on, but mostly I just found it immature and, ultimately, not very clever or cogent.

However, it definitely deserves more praise than Winter's Done [that was a typo, but I decided to leave it because I think I prefer that title], which felt to me more like an exercise than a genuine movie. It was like one great scene (the one in the barn), surrounded by... nothing, really. And then they brought out the damn baby chicks at the end, and I couldn't take it seriously any longer. I mean, Jesus Christ.

md'a said...

Well, Robert, I think it's safe to say this group's taste and yours don't have much in common.

Robert Fuller said...

Well, yes, so you keep saying. I still fail to see how that's pertinent or meaningful, though. Sounds dangerously like groupthink.

(For the record, though, of the 16 movies in the top 20 that I've seen, I agree with half of them).

witherholly said...

Can somebody decode the Dog Tooth poster?

witherholly said...

Hahah, check this one out.

http://tinyurl.com/5uu5bjk

thanksbud said...

These results seem entirely appropriate to me as The Social Network is a picture whose impact is less than the sum of its parts. Good job buds. Also good job Samuel Fuller with your insightful and accurate comments. It is too bad you are not in the survey.

Litmus said...

Fincher, seriously? Clearly this was the work of the new Tahrir Square Brigade of Skandie voters. I call upon the wrath of the Voices of Dissent.

Robert Fuller said...

"Also good job Samuel Fuller with your insightful and accurate comments. It is too bad you are not in the survey."

I assume you're being sarcastic, but I have no idea why. Are people not in the survey not allowed to comment on it?

Jeff said...

"I assume you're being sarcastic"

I am not sure why you assume bad faith and sarcasm. I know that thanksbud actually pretty much agrees with your statements regarding WINTER'S BONE and DOGTOOTH. You should not get so defensive.

Also, thanksbud makes the great point about sum of the parts in FACEBOOK, etc.

Anyhow, good riddance 2010. The upcoming year looks pretty good. I do not know if I have more anticipation for the new Bela Tarr or the new David Gordon Green. That is the nice feeling to have.

I am also looking forward to certain ballit next year when there is the choice between UNCLE BONE ME and a new Terrance Malick film--I think a head explosion is possible.

Michael said...

Thank you, Jeffery. You have crystalized my thoughts exactly.

Also, I look forward to Skandies 2011 when Godard's latest masterpiece flouts the D'Angelo Effect with a top ten finish. Tally ho!

Robert Fuller said...

"I am not sure why you assume bad faith and sarcasm. I know that thanksbud actually pretty much agrees with your statements regarding WINTER'S BONE and DOGTOOTH. You should not get so defensive."

Oh, my mistake, then. I assumed from his statement about the results being "entirely appropriate" that he didn't agree with my comments and was making a catty remark. My apologies.

Anonymous said...

Jesse Eisenberg was the lead in the Squid and the Whale? Really?

Victor Morton said...

If anyone is, he is, yes.

Ryan said...

Craziest bit of data from the Skandies file? Both Dan Waters and Bilge saw 300 or so movies. But Dan's selectivity is 36 while Bilge's is 68. It's like they're watching two different sets of 300 movies.

Victor Morton said...

That's not the craziest ... my 15 4-stars outnumbering the 4- AND 3.5-stars of Mike d'A, Sicinski and Stults COMBINED (10), despite the fact we all saw the same number of films (105, give or take).

md'a said...

That's not the craziest ... my 15 4-stars outnumbering the 4- AND 3.5-stars of Mike d'A, Sicinski and Stults COMBINED (10), despite the fact we all saw the same number of films (105, give or take).

Nothing crazy about that. You just use the rating scale completely differently than we do. And as I noted elsewhere, that you allotted more 4's than 3.5's is a good indication that you're using it, well, wrong, even allowing for selectivity.

Ryan said...

Yeah, selectivity is based on a uniform metric, so disparities like the Bilge/Dan thing are much weirder to me. I just think there are at most 300 watchable movies in any given year. Is it likely to find two guys watching 300 movies, with only a 100 movie overlap?

As for grading scales, not sure how "wrong" it is for V-Mort to have a flatter bell curve. Maybe he's just a more passionate dude.

On the other end, I see folks handing out 0s and 1.0s like free condoms at the AVN Expo. This includes people who've seen sub-100 movies during the year, so we're not just talking about the crits who must suffer through Wild Hogs for the paycheck. This seems strange to me. If you're going to the movies for pleasure, you're doing something wrong to choose to see so many terrible movies. I ding a movie with a 1-pointer maybe once every 5 years.

But you know, it may just be that haters gonna hate.

Bilge said...

I should note though that Waters's selectivity rating is way lower than anyone else's. Only Fung comes close, I think, with a 47.

That said, I appear to have given a rather comical number of 3-star ratings this year. Holy shit. That's just me shrugging and saying, "It's OK."

Victor Morton said...

"And as I noted elsewhere, that you allotted more 4's than 3.5's is a good indication that you're using it, well, wrong"

Not really ... For one thing, the raw numbers are close enough (15 and 13) to dismiss as a statistical hiccup. It's also not a normal occurrence -- last year, the numbers were 12 and 17; the year before that, 8 and 12. It's more likely a result of my having fairly precise abstract but wholly subjective standards for each grade. A "9" generally means I walked out thinking "that was 10-best-worthy" ("8" generally means "very good and would love to see again"; "7" generally means "quite good but wouldn't cry if I never saw again"). The numbers fall where they do, and because I'm just an amateur, and thus my own gatekeeper, the results skew high.

"even allowing for selectivity."

I'm not sure what you mean here. All four of the people I mentioned have nearly the same selectively -- 75, give or take.

Hamilton said...

@witherholly

the poster puts together the first 3 shots of the movie: flat line, small wave, big wave. It looks like a response of a dynamic system to a feedback loop whose intensity is a multiple of its natural oscilation frequency. The oscilation (disturbance) of the system grows until it eventualy collapses. That's what happens in the film.

And the graphic looks like growing dogtheeth also...

Victor Morton said...

"I see folks handing out 0s and 1.0s like free condoms at the AVN Expo."

I gave out three 0s and six 1s. In every case, I went in for reasonable cause and grew to hate them for reasons that weren't obvious beforehand.

0.0
AGORA -- the subject matter since I wanted to be a Classicist. This unfortunately made me intolerant of the film's lies and its (their) presentism.
KISSES -- was at TIFF and I generally have a soft spot for Celtic working-class dramas. Didn't realize it would be an apologia for 10-year-old runaways.
TINY FURNITURE -- I need more exposure to mumblecore and even Glenn Kenny was mildly approving. Turned me off with its narcissistic "comedy" and the audience was yukking it up.

1.0
ARMY OF CRIME -- People have spoken well of Guediguian and it was playing FilmFestDC. Like AGORA, lied about history and then even openly stated that it was doing so on presentist grounds.
CLIENT 9 -- Playing at TIFF, never seen Gibney and curious about his attitude to a liberal scumbag. But so shallow I was mentally writing a 1NC speech throughout the film... couldn't pay me to see Gibney now.
A FILM UNFINISHED -- film archaeology promising newly-found footage. OK ... and I'm supposed to think there's some mighty moral issue or aesthetic point from the Nazis faking Warsaw Ghetto footage (film poster doubly absurd).
LEAVES OF GRASS -- At TIFF with Edward Norton doing comedy and in a dual role. Unfortunately I have little tolerance for gory ultraviolence in a featherweight high-concept sitcom.
MY DOG TULIP -- hand-drawn animation, and from a JR Ackerley novel. Unfortunately, I also have little tolerance for Beavis-Buttheadish snickering obsession with bodily fluids and sex.
VIDEOCRACY -- I blame Noel Murray for this one. Another stupid self-righteous leftist screed that I was mentally rebutting at every turn. Thankfully, I'm vindicated by the past week in Italy, which Gandini painted as mpossie.

Ryan said...

Hamilton, that's an awesome interpretation -- makes total sense, linking the film's first images to the subsequent investigation of a closed system. Well done, dude.

md'a said...

As for grading scales, not sure how "wrong" it is for V-Mort to have a flatter bell curve. Maybe he's just a more passionate dude.

Passion's got nothing to do with it. It's strictly a question of how you use a given scale, what the numbers or letters or whatever mean to you. Le Chuck (may he rest in peace, cinephilia-wise) was stingier with his A than anybody, and I doubt you'd call him dispassionate.

But whatever they mean, and however selective you're striving to be, rating more films at the very top (or the very bottom) than in the middle is goofy. Oh, here's Victor now to explain.

It's more likely a result of my having fairly precise abstract but wholly subjective standards for each grade. A "9" generally means I walked out thinking "that was 10-best-worthy" ("8" generally means "very good and would love to see again"; "7" generally means "quite good but wouldn't cry if I never saw again").

The issue isn't with your 1-10 grades, though. It's the way you're mapping them to the 4-star system. Clearly both 10s and 9s are getting 4 stars. So you're mapping 18% of your scale to 12% of the Skandies scale. Obviously some havoc will inevitably be wreaked fitting 11 slots into 8, but if you're gonna double some of your ratings up directly (as opposed to splitting some, which is essentially what I do), it makes way more sense to do that in the middle, not at the ends.

This seems more sensible to me:

10 --> 4.0
9 --> 3.5
8 -- > 3.0
7 --> 3.0
6 -- > 2.5
5 -- > 2.5
4 -- > 2.0
3 --> 2.0
2 -- > 1.5
1 -- > 1.0
0 -- > 0.0

See how nearly symmetrical that is? (It would be totally symmetrical if I hadn't omitted the 0.5, which was a mistake I adopted from Maltin for some reason. Too late to change it now, alas.) I also assume your 8's are getting 3.5, which again seems too high. In fact now that I look I see you give 6s three stars, which means almost half of your scale (5 of 11) is mapped to three stars or better. Meanwhile you all but ignore the 2.5, which in theory (not allowing for selectivity; see below) should be your busiest rating (as it is mine).

I'm not actually suggesting you change anything. But it explains the apparent anomaly.

I'm not sure what you mean [by "even allowing for selectivity"]. All four of the people I mentioned have nearly the same selectivity -- 75, give or take.

Nothing to do with any comparisons among us. I'm saying if you saw every movie released last year, in theory you should wind up with a nearly perfect bell curve. In reality that doesn't happen because apart from Daniel Waters and Alex Fung we're all striving to see the great films and avoid the crappy ones, which skews the curve. But I'm saying it doesn't skew it that much, to the point where you wind up with more films in the "masterpiece" column than in the "excellent" column.

Likewise at the bottom end of the scale. I almost never get below the 1.5 rating, and it's not because I hated Hereafter any less than you hated Tiny Furniture. I gave that film a 25, which is incredibly low relative to most films I see, even the ones I dislike (which tend to land in the low 40s). But there's still a difference between a 25 and a 2, and that's why Hereafter gets a 1.5 and Trash Humpers gets the zero (of which I've allotted two in the last six years—the other was Kiarostami's 10 on Ten).

witherholly said...

Good job. Ok, now what are the objects around Aaron Sorkin? (→Michael)

Steve C. said...

"On the other end, I see folks handing out 0s and 1.0s like free condoms at the AVN Expo. This includes people who've seen sub-100 movies during the year, so we're not just talking about the crits who must suffer through Wild Hogs for the paycheck. This seems strange to me. If you're going to the movies for pleasure, you're doing something wrong to choose to see so many terrible movies."

Can't speak for anyone else (and I'm not a voter anyway), but I know my genre affiliations lead me to see more terrible movies than most. I'm hopeful (read: stupid) like that, and I doubt I'm the only one.

Theo said...

Anyone else have views on setting a minimum threshold of Films Seen - at least 55, which is just one film per week - for Skandie voters? On the one hand, I feel it hurts the survey's credibility when half the AVB are less familiar with the Films of 2010 than your average multiplex-goer who takes in a double bill every Saturday. On the other, it's true that even folks watching 300 new films a year end up voting for much the same things as the low total/high selectivity crowd. I'm torn.

md'a said...

Anyone else have views on setting a minimum threshold of Films Seen - at least 55, which is just one film per week - for Skandie voters? On the one hand, I feel it hurts the survey's credibility when half the AVB are less familiar with the Films of 2010 than your average multiplex-goer who takes in a double bill every Saturday.

Are you under the impression that the average multiplex-goer sees 55 films per year? That's an insanely high total by the standards of ordinary punters. The non-cinephiles I know see one film every couple of months, if that.

In any case, even if the ideal threshold is 52 (not sure where you found those extra three weeks), half the AVB didn't fall below it. 7 out of 35 did. (Not counting Matthew Butcher, who did star ratings only.) People's viewing habits fluctuate from year to year. When someone is clearly just not seeing enough films anymore, they generally bow out on their own.

Michael said...

In any case, even if the ideal threshold is 52 (not sure where you found those extra three weeks)

He's a European, Mike. Those are Theo's paid vacation weeks. They keep the workforce happy, stable and productive, and that's why economies all across Europe are stronger than ever.

(Just saving you the trouble, Victor.)

Theo said...

What I said was "average multiplex-goer who takes in a double bill every Saturday". Anyone who watches two films every Saturday will end up with 104 films a year (thanks, I already knew about that 52-weeks-in-a-year business), putting them ahead of 22 out of 35 AVB-ers.

Granted, none of this is very scientific. But anyone interested in Skandie results will be a filmgoer - not necessarily a "cinephile" but someone who follows current movies, even if they watch them in their living-room rather than a multiplex - and it's not unreasonable to suppose that such a person will watch 2 new films a week, esp. if they're in their teens or 20s. Will this hypothetical person still take us seriously when they realise they've seen twice as much as we have? Just sayin'.

He's a European, Mike. Those are Theo's paid vacation weeks.

That's nothing. Our unions are currently working to extend the definition of a "day" to 30 hours, meaning all employees get a 6-hour lunch break with free tiramisu paid for by employers. Solidarity!

Theo said...

Hmmm ... Reading that again, I seem to be arguing 2 different things at the same time. Minimum threshold of 55 (52, whatever) clearly wouldn't make much difference if I'm also saying that ordinary filmgoers watch 100 films/year. Maybe we can just ignore the numbers and talk about the pros'n cons of setting a minimum threshold, whatever that may be. Thankyouverymuch.

Ryan said...

So what are you trying to say, Theo?

I saw 43 pictures this year, falling short of my goal of seeing 50 new releases before the deadline. But even if I had caught 7 more -- let's say, Alamar, Catfish, Anton Chekhov's The Duel, Salt, Waiting for Superman, How to Train a Dragon, and The Exploding Girl (the next 7 on my list to watch) -- I'm not sure what difference it would've made. I might have changed a few votes here and there. But I feel confident that I ended up catching most of the acclaimed movies/performances of 2010 and that I didn't embarrass myself with a shoddy ballot.

Just to act like anal V-Mort for a sec, I ended watching: top 19 Skandie picture winners, and 23 of the top 25. Direction: top 17, and 23/25. Actress, top 9 and 14/20. Actor: top 9 and 18/25. Supporting Actor: top 18 and 22/25. Supporting Actress: top 12 and 19/25. Screenplay: top 14 and 20/25. Scene: top 4 and 22/25.

I bet you my stats in this regard match or exceed a number of voters who've watched 100+ pictures. Mr. Selectivity, Mark Pittilo, probably kicks my ass on this, and he only watched 4 more movies. Sure, my ballot isn't as interesting as the ballot of the guy who voted for an actress from Centurion. But voting eccentricity has little to no impact on the results. And I think a 40-50 film intake is plenty for someone to come up with a decent ballot, one that covers the bases with room for idiosyncratic choices.

Bilge Ebiri said...

Limiting the pool of voters to those who've seen more than a set number of movies is pretty stupid in my opinion. Isn't the pool of voters already basically limited to people whose opinions Mike gives a shit about? (Or, in my case, people whose opinions Mike doesn't find actively annoying.)

Theo said...

But I feel confident that I ended up catching most of the acclaimed movies/performances of 2010 and that I didn't embarrass myself with a shoddy ballot.

You're probably right. Like I said before, "it's true that even folks watching 300 new films a year end up voting for much the same things as the low total/high selectivity crowd".

I guess there are two (maybe three) main arguments for the threshold idea.

Firstly, it goes to credibility, making the survey look more like the opinion of folks who know movies - whether professional reviewers or just amateur enthusiasts - as opposed to folks who might catch the occasional movie when they have time. This is the weakest argument, since the Skandies aren't really trying for credibility outside our own small circle (though results are public now, so who knows?).

Secondly, it helps good performances in small movies that few people watch - for instance Zoe Kazan, who might've made the nominees if more people had seen The Exploding Girl (I say that not just because I love the performance, but also because it ticks so many AVB-friendly boxes). That's even more true of performances in unfashionable films that'll hurt one's Selectivity Index: this year, for instance, I gave points to Jeff Goldblum in The Switch, a film that isn't on anyone's list of the 52 most acclaimed (nor should it be).

And thirdly - though this is a more touchy-feely argument - the more films one watches, the more quirky and personal one's ballot is likely to be, which in turn makes the survey more interesting than the zillion other end-of-year surveys. What you call "voter eccentricity" may not impact the results - though it becomes less eccentric as more voters watch more movies - but it's often the most fun (hence the main point) in this kind of exercise. I didn't plan to watch The Runaways (McCloud), Helena From the Wedding (Stults) or The Vicious Kind (Bilge), but they're on my list now.

Alex said...

Theo, give Helena From The Wedding a shot. Melanie Lynskey's quite good in that - kudos to Chris Stults for the cite.

(I'm also jealous of Waz's Rose Byrne vote - forgot to consider this wickedly funny little turn.)

I understand where Theo's coming from with the minimum threshold idea, but I'd hate to see longstanding participants get expelled because they failed to meet the quota one year. Sometimes life gets in the way. (If it's a recurring thing, though...)

(Also, ditto on Steve's comment - dedicated genre buffs will almost inherently get dinged on selectivity.)

Victor Morton said...

Just to act like anal V-Mort for a sec

Oh, Ryan, you ain't seen nothing yet.

WARNING: More anal than on a Saturday night on Castro Street.

WARNING: More retarded than an orphanage downwind from Chernobyl.

WARNING: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE DO NOT READ!!!


The issue isn't with your 1-10 grades, though. It's the way you're mapping them to the 4-star system.

Well, there are two factors you are not considering.

First, because I do not use the 10 at all for films on first viewing, the 9 has to be a 4.0, otherwise I take the 4.0 off the table for first viewings too, which seems unduly harsh and too much of a penalty on a scale with fewer notches. I also consider my 10 grade a subset of the 9s -- "great and lasting" as opposed to "great."

Second, I do quite consciously try to use the 5-of-10/2.5-stars grade as little as possible, because of its association with the Crix Pix "mixed" grade. "Mixed" seems to me to be a bit of a critical copout. The first thing anybody asks someone else about any film he sees is "was it good?" or "did you enjoy it?"). And since questions should generally be answered, a "yes" or "no" should generally be preferred over a "meh."

I realize the undoubted fact that the norm tends toward the mean, but that's also what "6" and "4" are for -- respectively, a film I'd recommend with serious reservations and a film I would not on the whole but with some redeeming features. However, if I would "on the whole" recommend it, it seems a 2.5 is false, since that generally should be taken as "neh," so 3.0 is what a 6-grade means to an Ordinary Person, and if I would not. Rinse and repeat for 2.0 and 4.

Also, I don't think the logic of the general fact of mediumness can be confined to the mid-grades. It is equally true that nearly everything at the extremes is somewhat imperfect or has something worth watching. Respectively: I recently re-watched DESIGN FOR LIVING (9) but realized I will never not think that Gary Cooper is a bit stiff for Lubitsch drollery. As much as I detest CLIENT 9 (1), I kinda warmed to Spitzer and found the Emperor's Club CEO a total hoot. So if you follow this logic for too long, you wind up using only 3 or 4 grades (on a 0-10 scale) very much. And then your scale becomes useless from repetitiveness.

Victor Morton said...

RINSE AND REPEAT PREVIOUS WARNINGS



But I'm saying [Selectivity Score] doesn't skew it that much, to the point where you wind up with more films in the "masterpiece" column than in the "excellent" column.

I've already said that my greater number of 4.0s (9/10 grades) than 3.5s (8s) this year is just a quirk, not the norm.

But more generally, skewing your grades high is EXACTLY what a high selectivity should do. If one has a high selectivity index but a grade distribution that still clusters toward the middle just as much as someone with a lower index, that's just a statistician's demonstration of what we would more common-sensically describe as crankiness.

Further -- and this is true of bell curves of all kinds -- even if the curve only moves a little bit on the horizontal scale (in this case, owing to a higher Selectivity Index), it produces huge changes/discrepancies at the extremes (assuming the amplitude remains the same). To take a real-world example, this is why even though the average difference in mathematical ability between men and women is small, there remain huge gaps at the highest levels of achievement in the field -- it's how bell-curve distribution works, regardless of the thing measured. A slightly lower amplitude (i.e., a slightly flatter curve, which I admit I have) will likewise produce its most pronounced effects at the extremes.

One thing I do every year is to look at the people who have seen more films than I have. And then ask "do any have higher selectivity indexes than I do?" and "do any have higher average grades than I do?" If the answer to both questions is "no" then I know I've had the best possible year I could have had and that seeing more films likely would have yielded diminishing returns. (It was absolutely true this year; most years, there's only a few voters to scotch it).

md'a said...

But anyone interested in Skandie results will be a filmgoer - not necessarily a "cinephile" but someone who follows current movies, even if they watch them in their living-room rather than a multiplex - and it's not unreasonable to suppose that such a person will watch 2 new films a week, esp. if they're in their teens or 20s.

You are on crack bud. Anyone who watches 104 new releases per year is in the 99th percentile. I did not watch 104 new releases in 2010 (though my total would be higher if I rated walkouts). What's more, I was once a teenager who went to the movies "all the time" and I saw, looking back, maybe around 40 films a year. (I count 38, for example, that I remember seeing in theaters in 1985, which was the year I first started watching art films.) Your estimation of how many films the average non-cinephile who's kinda interested in film watches is off by an order of magnitude, if not two.

Secondly, it helps good performances in small movies that few people watch - for instance Zoe Kazan, who might've made the nominees if more people had seen The Exploding Girl

Here's the thing, though. Kazan got no points from me either, even though I did go see The Exploding Girl (pre-deadline) and thought she was terrific in it. Because everything about the movie other than her performance was putting me to sleep and I walked out. I don't vote for performances I've seen only in part, as a matter of principle, so sorry Zoe. Likewise Emma Stone in Easy A, which I also bailed on despite seeing that here was a sure Best Actress candidate. I wasn't gonna endure the rest of those movies for the sake of a better ballot.

Presumably you can extend that to people just not seeing a given film to begin with on your own.

md'a said...

Second, I do quite consciously try to use the 5-of-10/2.5-stars grade as little as possible, because of its association with the Crix Pix "mixed" grade.

Which is wacko and explains the skew in itself. You're forcing a binary system onto something that was expressly designed not to be binary, simply because you're temperamentally opposed to what you consider waffling. Arrgh.

So if you follow this logic for too long, you wind up using only 3 or 4 grades (on a 0-10 scale) very much. And then your scale becomes useless from repetitiveness.

This is exactly why I switched to the 100-point scale, which seemed superior to artificially shoving stuff to the top and bottom just to avoid repetition.

witherholly said...

This thread has blown up in an interesting way. I never see anything until I know tons about it. I consider myself unspoilerable, because I'm in the movie and no amount of knowing ahead of time is going to pull me out or put me more in it.

Sorkin. So he has people in a doorway, a floor vase and a balance beam with primative wooden figurines or armatures on it doing what looks to be like what my gym called the cops for the other day.

Ryan said...

And thirdly - though this is a more touchy-feely argument - the more films one watches, the more quirky and personal one's ballot is likely to be, which in turn makes the survey more interesting than the zillion other end-of-year surveys.

I think you're confusing a couple of issues. Quirky ballots have very little impact on the results. If I had seen 200 movies and voted for Rachel Weisz in Agora, it'd make absolutely no impact on the results. Just look at Bilge and Dan's ballots. Ron Bronstein and Ciaran Hinds would not finish in the top 20 even if you got rid of all of the low#movies voters.

I often hear complaints about how "boring" some survey result happens to be. But that's the nature of surveys -- they're meant to find the consensus great works. It'd be ridiculous to gripe that the Muriels' poll of Best Pictures of the 1950s was boring and predictable. Would a survey that has Sudden Fear and Carmen Comes Home among the best of the Fifties be more interesting? Sure, but surveys don't reflect quirkiness; they reflect consensus.

The variation among movie surveys can be primarily attributed to the differences in the pool of voters and the number of voters/voting system. For the Skandies, the pool is selected by Mike and reflects a certain arty-but-open-to-entertainment sensibility. What's different about this poll is that the relative low # of voters + the Pazz & Jop voting system allows individual voters to exercise more power than most of the other surveys. A 30-pointer plus one other fan might be it all takes to vault somebody. So you end up with more idiosyncratic choices in the 11-20 slots. Whether a particular voter watches 100 movies or 40 has no bearing on this effect.

As for the "interesting ballot" issue, I guess what you're really saying is that, if you spend three hours poking around the Skandies site, you might unearth some hidden treasures within the ballots of high-volume-viewing voters. That's great. But the number of people who actually poke through people's ballots is certainly less than 20. I hadn't even done it until now. What's more, you're still free to ignore uninteresting ballots like mine. The only way this matters to your point is if you think Mike should replace the sub-60-movies-seen types with 100+ movies seen types, for the sake discovering a few more unsung supporting performances. Maybe I'm out of touch, but it seems like an extremely marginal benefit.

I think what you really mean, but might be too polite to actually say, is that the Skandies may gain more credibility if Mike jettisoned the non-pros and limit the survey to pro critics and the most hardcore current-movie cinephile. And if that's you mean, then go ahead and say it. Those of us who don't fit the bill won't take offense.

Ryan said...

In re-reading your post, Theo, you did make the credibility argument. You say it's the weakest argument, but I think it's pretty much the only reason to jettison low-viewing voters.

Of course, there are more effective ways to make Skandies more well-known, at least among the internet cinephile crowd. But I don't get the sense that he cares, or wants to take the kind of measures you need to take in order to get there.

md'a said...

Of course, there are more effective ways to make Skandies more well-known, at least among the internet cinephile crowd. But I don't get the sense that he cares, or wants to take the kind of measures you need to take in order to get there.

Correct. I started putting the results online because it was less labor-intensive than mailing them to the participants, and I'm happy to point folks to them on Twitter or whatever, but I wouldn't be at all bothered if the rest of the world lost interest.

Theo said...

No real argument with your (Ryan's) points, but you say:

Just look at Bilge and Dan's ballots. Ron Bronstein and Ciaran Hinds would not finish in the top 20 even if you got rid of all of the low#movies voters.

... which I don't follow, since both Bronstein and Hinds did finish in the top 20. Am I missing something?

Otherwise I have nothing to add. Thinking about it, most of my arguments in that previous comment are arguments for people watching more movies - not for banning people who watch fewer movies, especially if (as you say) they end up with a non-shoddy ballot. Only the credibility argument really fits, and we don't really care about credibility (right?).

So I guess we're stuck with the people who have lives, and don't waste their time watching images flicker on a screen. I hate those people.

Victor Morton said...

Let me note for the record that way back in late-1998, when Mike first invited me to vote in the Skandies, he did say, as if it was a requirement or a threshold, "assuming that you saw at least 40 movies." I told him that I had, but in fact I had only seen at that point around 35 or so. Which meant I buckled down and watched about 8 or 10 movies in the last month or so (I was living in Augusta, Ga., at the time, so that was no mean feat). And as I know I've said, I'm semi-embarrassed by how heaviloy skewed that 1998 ballot of mine was to about the dozen or so films that year I really liked a lot.

Ryan said...

... which I don't follow, since both Bronstein and Hinds did finish in the top 20. Am I missing something?


Ooops, I meant to write top 10. These were exactly the kind of votes that make my point about how a few voters can vault quirky choices into the 11-20 range.

So I guess we're stuck with the people who have lives, and don't waste their time watching images flicker on a screen.

Not sure about having a life, but keep in mind all of the competing entertainment choices available now. I have two hours to kill before the NBA all-star game. Do I: (1) watch Alamar on Netflix on Demand; (2) finally start watching Breaking Bad, season 1 of which is stored on my laptop; or (3) pop in my DVD of Mouchette?

In this case, I've opted for (3). And 9 times out of 10, unless the Skandies deadline is approaching, I'll opt for the rep screening or an old movie on DVD over a screening of Fish Tank. This reflects my viewing bias for pre-1980 movies (I watch around 100 movies a year, but it's skewed to older fare, rep screenings and DVD viewing). Others might choose to catch up to last week's Community on DVR. The quality of TV is so high these days that many cinephiles and would-be cinephiles have directed their attention to that medium.

Point is, there's only so much time one has for entertainment. Given all the entertainment options available at your fingertips, anyone taking the time to watch 50 new releases a year is really pretty dedicated.

witherholly said...

Oh cool, Bronstein and Hinds finished in the top 20.

P.S., the act was on a workout bench, not a balance beam.

thanksbud said...

"Quirky voting" does affect the results in ways you may not have considered bud. For example I did not actually think anyone else would vote for Emily Meade in My Soul for the Taking (this chick is going to be a star in my opinion, you read it here first), but had I not seen that picture, my 8 points for her would have otherwise gone to my #11 choice -- probaly Kunis, which would have changed the order of the top 5. And etc.

Point being, I don't think you can argue that seeing more pictures doesn't make for a "better" Mike's survey voter. That's ed, I am traditionally in the bottom half of pictures seen and I am still not going to see a picture I don't think I have at least a decent chance of liking. If that turns out to be less than 40 one year then oh well I guess the name of the survey will suddenly make the sense.

Joshua said...

Just to throw some actual statistics into the mix, NATO (the National Association of Theater Owners, not the folks who won the Cold War) reported 1.414 billion movie tickets sold in 2009 for the U.S. and Canada. The combined population of the two countries was about 330 million, so that means that the average American/Canadian saw somewhere between 4 and 5 movies in theaters that year.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find statistics for video rentals, video-on-demand, etc. which no doubt would add quite a few more movies seen for the average person (and presumably some more for Skandie voters as well).

By the way, did anyone count the actual number of films seen by both Daniel and Bilge? There were, by my count, 491 films seen by *any* Skandies voter (i.e. ignoring the films nobody saw), so they must have overlapped by more than 100 films just mathematically, without taking into account their common interests if any.

Nictate said...

...anyone taking the time to watch 50 new releases a year is really pretty dedicated.

Indeed. Before being invited to join the Skandies, I saw around 30 films a year and that was considered hardcore by friends, family and coworkers.

Last year I made it to just under 50, so that I could be a more informed Skandies voter. This year I almost hit 70. The pace of my movie consumption is now considered freakish by those around me and a freelance film critic I met recently told me he envies my screening schedule (based on seeing my tweet reviews).

No complaints. I enjoy every minute and wish I could see more, but wanted to add anecdotal evidence that 50 is a lot for a civilian.

Go you Huskies.

witherholly said...

That's an impressive schedule and budget, Nictate, exhausting sounding too, considering you also go to a work job. I might go more often if there were more theatres near where I live instead of nightclubs. Driving miles and parking to pay to sit in a civilian theatre is sort of punative. But you know, everything is. TIFF might be a wise choice for you, not that I know your vacation schedule or anything. I checked out hostels there on-line once, too. I stayed at one in San Fran for a week in Fort Mason, it was great.

md'a said...

Upon reflection, and not to single out any particular individual or anything, I've decided that if I had to make the choice (which thankfully I don't), I would rather have a voter who saw only 40 films, one of which was Carlos, than a voter who saw 162 films, none of which was Carlos (even though the voter who saw 162 films is possibly the world's most ardent Assayas fan).

Interloper said...

Another lovely year, Mike…so do I have the historically lowest selectivity index ever? The great thing about seeing over 300 films with a selectivity index in the low 30's is that you know my 0.0 rankings have integrity. It's hard to give Agora and Animal Kingdom goose eggs after you've sat through Leap Year and the Virginity Hit.

Alas, this will be my last year having seen the most movies as I'm making a real effort this year not to see everything…although it's hard to trust someone who had a Gnomeo and Juliet, Eagle, and I am Number Four triple feature yesterday.

Should have given more points to Ellen Wong.

Theo said...

Upon reflection, and not to single out any particular individual or anything, I've decided that if I had to make the choice (which thankfully I don't), I would rather have a voter who saw only 40 films, one of which was Carlos, than a voter who saw 162 films, none of which was Carlos

I too believe it's wrong to single people out, and I'm glad we're just talking generally - but if I were faced with such a voter I might ask him (or her) really banal questions, like for instance: "Did you have access to a dvd of Carlos before the deadline? If so, how long before?". Or perhaps: "Did you at any point have time to watch the movie, and decide not to do so?".

Of course, if I saw that he still hadn't watched the thing, say, a month after the deadline, I'd probably just dismiss him as a lost cause and cut him loose. Cruel to be kind, etc.

md'a said...

if I were faced with such a voter I might ask him (or her) really banal questions, like for instance: "Did you have access to a dvd of Carlos before the deadline?"

I might ask my 88-year-old great-aunt that question. No, I wouldn't, even she knows how to find movies on the Internet. (True.)

witherholly said...

I think we have a masochist winner in Interloper. My scoliosis prevents me from being so inclined.

Bilge Ebiri said...

Having finally taken a look at the full results, it occurs to me that in speeding through giving my ratings I actually forgot to note a few I saw, which are now unfortunately in the Films Shunned by All and Sundry category. Including HERE AND NOW, FLOORED, and TiMER. I'm almost afraid to look at what films I *did* rate...

Matthew Butcher said...

Yeah, access to Carlos was trivial. (Access to Another Year, say, not so much, and that may have hurt it badly in the standings.)

Joshua said...

Following up to my previous comment, it looks like there were approximately 181 films rated by both Daniel and Bilge (the two voters who each saw over 300 films).