DID YOU READ

Comparing the year end film polls

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We’ve got one week left in 2011, so we’re running out of time to make lists, tear apart other people’s lists, make lists of lists, and list the lists we are going to list later. Better make the most of it.

Last night, for example, I spent a couple of hours pouring over the two big annual film critic polls: one from The Village Voice, the other from Indiewire. In both cases, the publications invite dozens of critics to list their favorite films, performances, directors, and assorted other topics. They compile the responses and use them to generate rankings. There’s a pretty large overlap between the two polls — out of the 193 total participants, 63 critics submitted a ballot to both — and some interesting disparities between the two sets of results.

Both polls agree about the best movie of the year: Terrence Malick‘s “The Tree of Life,” which appeared on more than half the Voice ballots and over a third of the Indiewire ballots. But after that, the lists get jumbled — while the two polls share nine out of the ten same films, no other movies occupies the same position on both top ten lists. The #2 and #3 films, “A Separation” and “Melancholia,” are flipped depending on which poll you look at — thorny matters of Iranian divorce were more popular in the Voice while greeting the end of all existing with Danish indifference was more popular with the Indiewire voters. The single biggest difference in placements for one film in the two top ten lists was “Drive,” which ranked as the fifth most popular film of the year on Indiewire but just the ninth most popular in the Voice. The outliers that only appeared on one poll each were “Hugo” (eighth on Indiewire, eleventh in the Voice) and “Take Shelter” (tenth in the Voice poll, fourteenth on Indiewire).

There are similar discrepancies in the acting categories, with a lot of repeated selections in vastly different orders of preference. Picking the best lead performance of the year, Indiewire voters wound up with a tie between Michael Shannon in “Take Shelter” and Michael Fassbender in “Shame.” But in the Voice, Shannon was the runaway favorite, receiving almost twenty more points than anyone else in either gender, while Fassbender came in fifth place behind Anna Paquin from “Margaret,” Juliette Binoche from “Certified Copy,” and Kirsten Dunst from “Melancholia.” Fassbender appeared on 27% of all Indiewire ballots and just 21% of all Voice ballots, a pretty big difference especially when you consider that one out of every three ballots in both polls were essentially identical. On the supporting side of things, Christopher Plummer got similarly Fassbendered. At Indiewire he won Best Supporting Performance by a sizable margin. In the Voice he only placed third, behind Albert Brooks in “Drive” and Jeannie Berlin in “Margaret.”

So what does this all mean? What do I look like, a guy who took more than one math class in college? Because I didn’t. Personally, I think it means that while consensus does exist out there in film critic land, it’s also far more fickle and flexible than we often imagine it to be. You poll 10 critics, you might get complete agreement. You poll 10 other critics, you might get ten different favorites. A few critics invited to vote here, a few critics not invited to vote there, and intentionally or unintentionally you’ve created significant variations in the data.

If you were going to take this research even further down sabremetriciany avenues, you’d need information that the Voice and Indiewire don’t publicly provide, namely the ages and outlets of their contributors. Then you could compare the statistical variations in the two polls with other factors; maybe the average voting age at Indiewire was younger and younger voters tended to prefer “Drive.” Or maybe print critics were more heavily sampled at the Voice, and they were less impressed by Michael Fassbender’s emotionally naked weiner performance.

For now, I guess we’re left more questions. In the meantime, be sure to examine the Voice and Indiewire polls in depth and to report back to me with your own findings. Or if you just want to read my ballots you can find those here and here.

Which poll do you agree with more: the Voice or Indiewire? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
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Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
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Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
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Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
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Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
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Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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