Here in the Criterion editorial department, we know how difficult it can be to sum up the essence of a film in just a few words. That’s why we were impressed by so many of the entries in this past weekend’s My Essential Criterion contest on Facebook. To celebrate our 60,000th Facebook fan, we asked all our viewers to pick a single Criterion title and write one sentence to convince us of why it’s indispensable. We didn’t know what to expect and were overwhelmed by the response. We had a difficult time whittling down the thousands of submissions we received to sixty winners.
Our favorite sentences run the gamut from clever (“A donkey shows us how to reflectively discipline our emotions while enlarging our heart, which is mighty kick-ass for a donkey” —Pixie Bernard on Au hasard Balthazar) to heartfelt (“8½ shows that the struggles one must go through in order to make a film are often the same struggles one must go through to live” —Craig Duffy), pithy (“Frequency becomes flesh, shock becomes satire, and a good director becomes a great one” —Alex Murphy on Videodrome) to overflowing (“Makavejev’s Carnivalesque firecracker knows no bounds, whether combining the scatological with the political or the farcical with a palpable sense of injustice and tragedy . . .” —Clayton Dillard on Sweet Movie). But all of them were persuasive and passionate. Even some of those that were disqualified (we were sticklers for the rules—you had to keep them to one sentence) moved us. All winners have been notified.