Over the past couple of years, the indefatigable Iain Stott over at The On-Line Review has conducted several polls of film critics and film buffs (yours truly included). First he created a list of the 50 Greatest Films, which frankly, turned out pretty much the same as all the other polls of the 50 greatest films. So Iain started all over again, and sent out a new poll called Beyond the Canon. In this one, he gave us a list of films that were ineligible, films like Citizen Kane, Vertigo and The Rules of the Game that were already very well represented in the "canon." We could send in a ballot with anything we wanted, provided it did not appear on the ineligible list. That list turned out pretty well, but it still received some gripes from purists. So now Iain has gone still further and come up with a new poll, The Obscure, the Forgotten and the Unloved.
The rules for this one were a bit more complicated. Iain took the films from the "canon" and considered only the ones that received less than 1000 votes on IMDB. We were also allowed a certain number of write-ins, provided that they, too, were also obscure, forgotten and unloved. This time the list is wonderfully eclectic, with very little critical consensus on anything. The film that came in at #1 is one of my personal favorites, Budd Boetticher's Ride Lonesome (1959), a low-budget, widescreen Western, starring Randolph Scott and the awesome Karen Steele (pictured). At #2 is Leo McCarey's great masterpiece Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), which many of the voters -- including myself -- only just saw this year on the new Criterion DVD.
At #3 is another favorite of mine, Abbas Kiarostami's Life and Nothing More... (1991), which is the second part of his "earthquake trilogy." It's a kind of meta-movie in which a (fictional) film director and his son travel to a (real) earthquake ravaged area in Iran to find the actors from Kiarostami's (real) movie Where's Is the Friend's Home? (1987).
Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) ranks at #4; it received a Criterion DVD release last summer. Next up, we have Max Ophuls' film noir The Reckless Moment (1949), which was remade as The Deep End (2001); Jean Renoir's excellent The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936), Terence Davies' Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), and Douglas Sirk's The Tarnished Angels (1958), none of which is available on DVD. At #9, there's Syndromes and a Century (2006) from recent Palme d'Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Rounding out the top ten is Fists in the Pocket (1965), the debut film by Italian director Marco Bellocchio, whose Vincere is currently playing.
The rest of the list continues in that vein, ranging from experimental films to silent-era films to films from all over the world, and even the occasional Hollywood film. The main trouble is that most of these titles are fairly hard to find, and the list tends to look like a bunch of critics showing off. Nonetheless, perhaps the list will bring some attention to these great films.