Sunday, March 04, 2012


My own year-end piece is likely to be delayed another week, as it does its annual teetering job on the brink of irrelevance yet again. But the Muriels are going strong, and the wrap-up continues, with the countdown to the Muriel Best Picture winner mere hours away. (The Muriels’ benevolent overseer Steve Carlson will be posting away throughout the day, with the reveal of the big winner coming sometime midday PST.)

The full account of this year’s Muriels vote can be accessed at the official Muriel Community website, Our Science Is Too Tight, but I’ve also got links here to the Muriel Awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematic Moment and Other Stuff We Liked That Didn’t Necessarily Win Any Actual Awards (parts one and two).

Then there are the year’s best pictures. A full list of the votes received are available, of course, but each year Steve commissions pieces on certain movies that gained a certain amount of passionate support amongst the voting body, and this year is no different. For instance, you can read Scott von Doviak on Bellflower (#63 overall), Michael Lieberman on Film Socialisme (#33), Glenn Heath Jr. on Raul Ruiz’s Mysteries of Lisbon (#23) and Christianne Benedict's piece on my second-favorite movie of the year, Lee Chang-dong's Poetry (#19), all available right now. And I finally get my chance to write at some length about my own number-one choice, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, which came in at a respectable #26 in the Muriel voting. Here’s a taste:

By embracing the melodramatic splendor of the story of the bond between young Albert (Jeremy Irvine), his beloved horse Joey, and their journey of separation and eventual reunion across the impossibly gorgeous landscapes and ravaged, scarred battlefields of World War I, and then robustly channeling that splendor into his filmmaking, Spielberg finds the emotional power he often overreaches for when he approaches “mature” subject matter head on. Ironically, the director accesses a portrait of the human condition that bests even that of Empire of the Sun by following Joey’s journey of hardship and reflecting the experience of soldiers (British and German) not through Joey’s perspective-- as some have claimed-- but simply by the fact of the animal’s presence and how it affects those whose lives are most derailed and devastated by the war. Simply put, Joey reminds them of their own humanity.

Keep checking Our Science Is Too Tight for further updates as the announcement of the Muriel Best Picture winner draws near. There’s plenty of good writing to be enjoyed in celebration of the past year in movies still to be had courtesy of the finely tuned voices speaking up with the Muriels this year, and as always it’s a real honor to be counted among their number.


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