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Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Best Films of 2016

As promised, I'm working my way backwards through the annual Metracritic lists of top films as compiled from the rankings posted by film critics. I didn't see all of these films in 2016-2017 so I'm looking for possible viewing opportunities in the next few weeks (or months) of home lockdown.
Movie and Metascore# 1st Place# 2nd Place# OtherPoints
199 Moonlight653391353
294 La La Land371982.5232
396 Manchester by the Sea212995218
481 Arrival14775.5133
593 Toni Erdmann161145116
688 Hell or High Water7768105
790 Paterson1125684
896 O.J.: Made in America *7104182
984 The Handmaiden3953.581
1089 Elle51036.572
1181 Jackie2645.564
1279 American Honey2632.552
1382 The Lobster153650
1486 Cameraperson252642
1579 Silence332641
1683 20th Century Women3128.540
79 Sing Street1035.540
83 The Witch0137.540
1983 Everybody Wants Some!!1132.538
2079 Green Room0329.536
2182 Certain Women212533
2290 The Fits2515.532
2395 I Am Not Your Negro1222.530
2487 Love & Friendship002829
2578 Zootopia022428
84 Kubo and the Two Strings022328
2765 Deadpool1120.527
2879 Loving1022.526
79 Fences2019.526
83 13th112026
* The eight-hour documentary O.J.: Made in America was screened in two theaters to qualify for film awards prior to airing as a miniseries on ESPN. As a result, you may see it appear in lists from movie critics in addition to those from TV critics.
This is a quick and crude ranking -- keep in mind that I haven't seen some of these films in four years.
Readers may recall that 2016 was a trying year for my family, so it's not really a surprise that I missed seeing so many of the top ranked films. Once I see them, I will move them in the list and mark the updates with yellow highlighting. 

Best Films of 2016

Hell or High Water
Manchester By the Sea


Sing Street
La La Land
I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster
The Fits
Certain Women

Very Good, But Flawed

20th Century Women
Green Room
Love & Friendship
American Honey
Everybody Wants Some!

Update: I would have ranked Cameraperson higher for the cinematography, but the film simply lacked narrative structure. It is a series of scenes, some are connected to one another, but some are not. The commonality is the talented woman behind the camera.

Have Not Yet Seen

The Handmaiden
Kubo and the Two Strings
O.J. Made In America
Toni Erdmann
The Witch

I confess that Toni Erdmann has been on my priority list for awhile. While in Ottawa on sabbatical, I checked it out from the local library, but never watched it (partly because of the length). I'm unlikely to see the animated Kubo or Zootopia. There are several documentaries on the list and a horror flick, genres I never prioritize for quite different reasons.

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Monday, May 04, 2020

Fall Semester?

The President of my university issued a statement Sunday claiming that we are full steam ahead for fall 2020 semester live on campus:

President Bendapudi made the following announcements:
  • The University of Louisville will have regular campus operations for the Fall semester.
  • This entails students living on campus, learning on campus and online, and faculty and staff working together to advance our mission of teaching, and research, and service. 
Many faculty members have spent part of their day exchanging email and social media messages reflecting unhappiness with this decision. One issue is lack of consultation with faculty and staff. The decision undercut the work of committees that were supposed to meet this week to discuss this issue. The President acted without our input.

If the current situation with COVID-19 does not change, however, then the idea is completely unworkable. And that actually seems kinds of obvious to me. I suspect that University officials realize that public health uncertainty is going to reduce enrollments and tuition revenue, so they are saying something to seem positive and decisive. The latest message is basically PR, appealing to students and parents, as well as potentially gullible media who might report this uncritically. Administrators still have plenty of time to backtrack if the disease prevalence is significant and the case fatality rate (CFR) remains high.

If central administration does not realize this, then I am quite concerned. Universities are kind of like nursing homes, meatpacking plants, ships, and prisons (the 4 places that have suffered the worst outbreaks) in that people are in close proximity to one another for prolonged periods day after day. These are clearly incubators of the disease and some local facilities have suffered outbreaks of half to two-thirds of their populations. If half of the UofL community of 28,000 students and employees gets COVID-19 and the CFR is a fairly conservative 0.35%, then that’s 14,000 infections and nearly 500 fatalities. Even if it’s 0.01%, then that’s 140 deaths.**

No one will risk those lives, I would assume.

Before faculty and students can possibly return to crowded classrooms, the USA needs far more testing for the disease and antibodies, as well as extensive contact tracing --  unless there proves to be some kind of miraculous treatment for the disease in the next few months. The federal government has bungled its response, letting February pass without strong contact tracing and testing in isolated hotspots -- and the problems have only magnified in the subsequent months as testing continues to lag and contact tracing is nearly forgotten.

In short, I’m not optimistic that the situation is going to improve, so I’m not certain how we can possibly plan for anything other than online education.  Given that most faculty in A&S (by far the largest teaching unit) are not paid for work in June and July, any efforts to improve distance education needs to be happening NOW, in May. Exams are over and faculty cannot travel for personal or professional reasons, as many ordinarily would during May.

After performing well in March and April, UofL is botching its ongong COVID-19 response. .


** Yes, I realize the case fatality rate is unknown, but see this post for an explanation of my use of 0.35.  I also realize that the population of a university community skews young and that's a population that has a lower mortality rate from the disease.  However, I'm also ignoring the probability that students will transmit the virus to family and community members in their jobs and homes. Louisville is a commuter school and most students work -- at least when the economy is functioning.

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