Monday, January 26, 2009

The Muriels are Coming

I've been lucky enough (it certainly wasn't based on my prolific output) to be invited to participate in this year's Muriel Awards, which are organized by Paul Clark to honor the year's best films and filmmakers, by the most knowledgeable and opinionated people around: amateur movie bloggers (okay, there are some professionals in there too).

Among the awards given out are the 50th/25th/10th Anniversary Awards, for the best films released in 1958, 1983, and 1998 (based on New York release dates). Since those lists don't involve my frantically catching-up on 2008 titles before the deadline, here are my top-five lists for those respective years.

UPDATE 2/5/09:
Lists slightly revised to accomodate the actual rules of the Muriels - the movies are organized by actual release dates, not U.S. dates, so I'm removing Fanny and Alexander from my 1983 list since it's a 1982 film.

1. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
2. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles)
3. Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati)
4. I Bury the Living (Albert Band)
5. Elevator to the Gallows (Louis Malle)

1. Videodrome (David Cronenberg)
2. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio)
3. The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese)
4. A Christmas Story (Bob Clark)
5. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman)

1. The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick)
2. Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg)
3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam)
4. The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)
5. Rushmore (Wes Anderson)


Joel E said...

Excellent work there, Jeff. I love the love for Thin Red Line, which is one of my favorite films of all time, although Shaving Ryan's Privates would be lower on my list I can't argue with your other 3 selections for 1998. I would have some different selections myself (98 was a pretty good year), but all of those are good.

Ditto your selections for 1983, although I admit I've only seen your #1 and #2 for 1958.

How did you determine the releases for those years, just out of curiosity? I'd love to look them over.

Jeff McMahon said...

Paul Clark made up a partial list for those years and made it available to the Muriel voters, but IMDB is really the best tool for that kind of thing, and easy to use, too. It only gets complicated when you try to factor in US release dates of foreign films, since they often aren't in the same years (Fanny and Alexander is a 1982 movie since that's when it came out in Sweden, for example, and Curse of the Demon was released in Britain in 1957 as Night of the Demon.

I unfortunately haven't seen a lot of major 1958 movies, such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Hidden Fortress or Ashes and Diamonds, but I have seen a shit-ton (that's a technical term) of sci-fi/horror movies.

Somehow, despite being the highest-grossing film released in 1998 and winning five Oscars, Saving Private Ryan has managed to become an underrated film.

Alexander Coleman said...

I love I Bury the Living! Richard Boone is wonderfully understated in that picture.

These are fine selections for 1998, 1983 and 1958, Jeff.

The years were selected by the Muriel Awards, Joel. 1958 = 50 Year Anniversary; 1983 = 25 Year Anniversary; and 1998 = 10 Year Anniversary.

Saving Private Ryan is actually my #1 for 1998, but The Thin Red Line is in my Top Five. I sort of wish the Muriels were doing 30 Year Awards, too, as then I could give Malick top-of-the-year honors for Days of Heaven. The Big Lebowski is a favorite from 1998, as well as Festen, After Life, Beau Travail, Buena Vista Social Club, Black Cat, White Cat, Cabaret Balkan, Conte d'Automne, The Dream Life of Angels, The Flowers of Shanghai, Eternity and a Day, Fucking Amal, Fufu the Worldweary, Mother of 1084, Lovers of the Arctic Circle and, yes, I have a soft spot for Face/Off. Whoa, I didn't mean to unload like that here! Anyway, good work, Jeff.

Joel E said...

I've heard of a crap-kilo, so it's not surprising the English have their own similar term.

Yeah, I'm not arguing the validity of SPR vs TRL, but we disagree a smidge. (gestures, makes DeNiro-esque expression).

I would have to sort through the imdb list, which has a shit-ton of titles in it to add some accurate picks of my own...which seems like far too much effort.

I'll just commend your selections and leave it well enough alone.

Jeff McMahon said...

Alexander, I'm glad to find someone else who's heard of I Bury the Living, let alone seen it. I think a case could be made for it as a film of metaphysical anguish, but I don't want to puff it up too much.

Again, I haven't seen a lot of your 1998 titles (Face/Off is actually '97). I have seen Beau Travail and The Celebration and both would make a top 10 or 15 list but not a top 5.

Joel: Works for me!

Alexander Coleman said...

Yes, I Bury the Living is a wonderful gem, and I agree with you about its "metaphysical anguish."

As soon as I finished posting this afternoon I realized Face/Off was '97. D'oh!

John M said...

Having seen TRADING PLACES very recently, I'm sad to say that it doesn't hold up so well for me anymore. You might disagree. It's awfully mechanical, and as funny as certain parts are (almost all involving Eddie Murphy), it could've been much, much funnier. John Landis is due for a major reappraisal--the man just wasn't very talented.

If you haven't seen it, Jeff, an amazing 1983 release was Maurice Pialat's A NOS AMOURS. Was put out on Criterion two or so years ago. An incredible film.

Jeff McMahon said...

You're right, John, and I wimped out - one of real marks of a 'favorite' movie should be the ability to watch it over and over again without it getting tiresome. And since I misunderstood some of the rules, I'm revising my lists to exclude movies that are really from 1982 and 1957.

John M said...

Wait, so, did you check it out again? It's weird, I was just discussing TRADING PLACES with a friend last night, and he'd just seen it and thought it held up beautifully.

Different strokes.

Jeff McMahon said...

No, basically deep-down I had wanted to put A Christmas Story on the list but didn't for fear of looking uncool, and your remarks got me over that hump. I'd still put Trading Places in my top ten for that year. I last watched it about a year or two ago and I think it does hold up, although the whole third act is kind of pointless - I mean, it's a movie that starts out as a Twain-esque satire of the class and race divide in America, and slowly devolves into a movie featuring Rick Baker in a gorilla suit.

John M said...

The 3rd act goes completely off the rails. Have you read Dave Kehr's capsule about the film? He's got some interesting points about Landis--a comedy director who can't get past the mechanics:

A CHRISTMAS STORY, I have no clue anymore if it's good or what. The 24-hour XMas runs on TBS have killed whatever pleasure the film once had. It's a nice movie...but a classic?

Also, seriously, do check out A NOS AMOURS. Have you watched any Pialat? He'll floor you.