Sunday, February 23, 2014


It has come to this. The Academy Awards are to be unveiled one week from today. But who cares, really, except for, seemingly, the entire world? The New York Film Critics Circle? By busting a door down to be first, they are now furthest away in the rear view mirror, having more or less defined the framework of the entire awards season, Armond White’s contributions notwithstanding. No, this weekend, the awards that really mean something have already begun to be unveiled, and they are the 2013 edition of the Muriel Awards

Back in 2006 Paul Clark gathered a cadre of feisty, articulate, thoughtful writers and inaugurated the group’s first collection of writing in consideration of the year in film. (I’m proud to say I’ve been among that merry band from the get-go.) He named the award after his beloved, deceased guinea pig (and why not, Uncle Oscar?) and each year, in the week preceding the higher-profile, worldwide movie award night, those who follow the Muriels get a healthy flashback on the year in a variety of selected divisions, each with accompanying insightful essays, as well as anniversary awards voted on in 10, 25 and 50-year anniversary categories.

This year is, thanks to the tireless herding efforts of Paul and Steve Carlson, no exception. Behold what has already posted:

The Muriels vote on the year’s Best Performance by a Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill, pictured, placed but did not finish-- the doomed goldfish he finished, all right… )

Best Performance by a Supporting Actress  (Scarlet Johanssen scored a solid second as the disembodied, not-quite-human-but-perhaps-soon Samantha in Her...)

The 50th Anniversary Award for Best Film of 1963 (Godard, Bardot, Coutard, Piccoli, Palance and Lang were only good enough for a third-place finish...)

And this afternoon comes the category devoted to Best Music (Original, Adapted or Compiled), featuring a piece written by Yours Truly on the landslide winner, Inside Llewyn Davis. Here’s a taste:

Those expecting an earnest documentary approach to the cultural climate informing Inside Llewyn Davis, one which precisely lays out the scene and the means by which we are to understand it from a historical perspective, will inevitably be put off by the Coens’ typically perverse challenge to understand a landmark moment in musical history from the point of view of a fly on the wall. We are, after all, inside Llewyn Davis, a place where music has lost its meaning as a social tool, as a means of reciprocal human connection, or as anything other than the nearly abstract expression of pure talent and the desire to be recognized. (In this regard, it ought to have resonated more fully than it apparently did in the age of American Idol and instant, disposable fame.)

You can read the rest of that essay, and the rest of the pieces already posted on the official Muriels blog Our Science is Too Tight, or you can check in here at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule for periodic updates and links to the latest 2013 Muriel awards as they come in.