Sunday, February 22, 2009


If it isn’t obvious by now, Paul Clark’s brainchild The Muriel Awards has, in its third season of counter-programming the Oscar race, really come into its own. There has been such a bounty of excellent writing and sharp insight in this year’s crop of choices that readers should experience a slight twinge of guilt that it’s all being delivered free of charge, one from the heart as Mr. Coppola once said, putting the kind of salivating coverage of awards season available from such august outlets as the Los Angeles Times to shame on merit of writing alone, not to mention disregard for the industry’s tendency to insist upon calling all the dances. In introducing this last series of Muriels updates, I just want to thank Paul Clark, Steven Carlson and all of the contributing writers who have given us all such a bounteous treat over the past two weeks. If I could buy you all a beer or invite you over to my house tonight so we could commiserate about how much Oscar actually missed this year, I would. But we have all these fantastic essays to read instead, and what a pleasure it has been, and continues to be.

Paul promises updates every half-hour throughout the day and evening, as there are some 30 or so essays on all the Muriel Best Picture also-rans to be published and savored leading up to the crowning of this year’s Muriel Award winner for Best Picture. (I don’t know what it is either, so don’t ask me for inside information.) Until then, please take the time to catch up on some of these final categories:

The Muriel Awards entry on Also-Ran Performances (Part 1) features Matt Noller on Sally Hawkins, Lucas McNelly on Mathieu Amalric, ALexander Coleman on Meryl Streep, Sean Burns on Marisa Tomei, Martin McClellan on the Burn After Reading ensemble, Andrew Bemis and James Frazier on Kate Winslet, and Jim Emerson on Lucy, the unsung other half of Wendy and Lucy.

The Also-Ran Performances series continues with Part 2 which focuses on pieces from Evan Derrick on Sean Penn, Craig Kennedy on Penelope Cruz, Jason Overbeck on Michelle Williams, Phil Nugent on Viola Davis, Kent M. Beeson on Samantha Morton, Patrick Williamson on Juliette Binoche and Craig D. Lindsey on Robert Downey Jr.

Then there’s the crowning on the Muriel Award Winners for Best Performance (Female) and Best Performance (Male).

Finally, the BEST PICTURE series gets started in earnest with Steven Carlson on the movie that placed 28th in the poll of Muriels contributors, Silent Light.

30th place features a tie between Still Life (Michael Lieberman) and Che (Ari Dassa).

Bryan Whitefield on Reprise, the movie that placed 35th

And just posted, number 28 on the Muriels hit parade with 43 points and four votes (Four! Yes!) is a little film called Speed Racer, with some accompanying words written by Your Humble Narrator. It starts like this:

“What do movies as disparate as It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra; 1947), The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Billy Wilder; 1970), The Thing (John Carpenter; 1982) and Blade Runner (Ridley Scott; also 1982) have in common? On the surface, not much. However, each of these visually resplendent pictures was a flop at the box-office and years later came to be regarded as either among their celebrated directors’ best, most personal films or, in the case of Blade Runner, so stylistically influential that it can be said to have changed the way futurism in cinematic science fiction has been realized ever since. To that list of recognized classics I volunteer to add the unjustly maligned, often willfully misunderstood, and completely enthralling Speed Racer, my unashamed pick for the best movie of 2008. This is a movie of shimmering poetry, shifting, gliding perspectives and a velocity that pulsates with meaning and feeling, a movie so far ahead of the curve of the general audience (and levels of tolerance for its disorienting and radical visual grammar) that it might take at least 20 years, and a wave of failed, Wachowski-tinged pyrotechnical movie piracy, for it to be able to take its rightful place as a landmark of personal filmmaking in the blockbuster mode.”

You can read the entire piece right here.

Please check this space later today for more updates, or just click on the Muriel Awards button on the sidebar to go directly to Silly Hats Only and find out about another movie you may have missed that is leagues ahead of The Reader and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button andFrost/Nixon, and perhaps even Milk and Slumdog Millionaire for best picture quality.

And thanks again, Paul, Steven and company. It has been an extraordinary pleasure keeping your company this winter. Bring on Muriels 2009!



Lucas said...

Dennis, I'm thinking this is gonna be a 3 film race at the end between The Dark Knight, Rachel Getting Married, and WALL*E.

I haven't seen Rachel, but I know The Dark Knight isn't nearly good enough to deserve it. So, fingers crossed for WALL*E

Dennis Cozzalio said...

You might be right, L.M. Frankly, I;m surprised at the strength Rachel Getting Married has shown so far. But would the appearance of In Bruges in the top three be a surprise?

Lucas said...

i think it would have been, yeah.

of course, that's easy to say now

Anonymous said...

awesome! I was just recently thinking something similar about that movie, though not as strongly as to voice it. I still think they could have spent some time studying race scenes from Cars, just to have an idea of how to make them engaging, but putting that apart, I just really enjoyed Speed Racer.

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