The 2022 Kaedrin Movie Award Winners were announced last week, so now the awards get arbitrary. The idea is to recognize aspects of films that aren’t reflected in more traditional awards or other praise like a Top 10 list. However, any awards system will fail to capture all the nuances and complexity available; hence the 2022 Arbitrary Awards, an opportunity to commend movies that are weird or flawed in ways that don’t conform to normal standards. A few of these “awards” have become an annual tradition, some were stolen from other folks, but most are just, well, arbitrary. Previous Arbitrary Awards: [2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006]
The “You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else” Award for Worst Dialogue: Morbius. I’ve always been somewhat amused by the weird, ironic, performative internet fandom that’s grown around this movie, in part because of the ridiculous dialogue. Plentiful choices, but one of the best/worst has to be: “It’s Lethal To Bats….But Deadly To Humans.” You don’t say! This is one of those awards that’s sorta painful to sort out, because who wants to relive bad dialogue? But I’m guessing some runners up might include stuff like Clerks III and Black Adam.
The Proximity to Jason Vorhees Award for Heroic Stupidity: Halloween Ends. The franchise just keeps getting stupider, which isn’t necessarily the worst thing (it’s a “bozo masterpiece” as someone once put it), but yes, the franchise “wins” this award for the second year in a row. At least it didn’t win the worst dialogue award too (as happened with last year’s Halloween movie). The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake/reboot/whateverthehellthatthingis was a distant second in the voting.
The “Weiner” Award for Unparalleled Access to Documentary Subjects: Navalny. There’s a phone call scene in this that is pretty amazing. Otherwise, this doesn’t exactly have astounding access (like the namesake of the award), but that phone call is certainly something. Fire of Love is worth mentioning as a runner up here due to the gorgeous footage of volcanos, eruptions, lava flows, etc… that was made available.
The Garth Marenghi “I know writers who use subtext, and they’re all cowards” Award for Achievement in Didacticism: Triangle of Sadness and Women Talking (tie) This is an update to the original post (original winner still below, and mighty quaint compared to this new, winning duo), as I have caught up with these two Oscar nominated films that, well, exemplify Marenghi’s ethos (though I suspect in a much less entertaining way than Marenghi’s writing). The original winner was Smile, which doesn’t even come close to the above two. Of course, the movie’s literalizing of horror’s current obsession with trauma is part of the point, and I ultimately quite like the movie, but it does suffer from that impulse. I wanna say that The Bubble might also be a fit for this award, but quite frankly, I don’t remember much about that movie? Like, I know I watched it, and I do get a sorta didactic vibe from it in my head, but specifics are out of reach.
Best Treatment of the Pandemic: Kimi. Movies, for the most part, have ignored the pandemic. Some make fleeting references, some were clearly filmed during the pandemic and have the odd blocking and editing to show for it, but few have really embraced it. Steven Soderbergh has made a habit of tossing off zippy thrillers of late, and this latest one deals with the pandemic reasonably well, while also being pretty entertaining and relevant. It’s not perfect or anything, but it’s nice. Also of note: The way that Glass Onion acknowledges the pandemic then swiftly dismisses it with a pretty funny Ethan Hawke cameo is great.
Most Unnecessary Origin Story: Death on the Nile. I enjoy these Branagh Poirot movies (I mean, obviously the 1978 version is better, but the Agatha Christie story remains mostly intact, so how could you not enjoy?), but this one has an almost comical origin story for Poirot’s mustache that was just completely unnecessary.
Achievement in the Field of Gratuitous Violence: It’s a special Holiday tie: Violent Night and Christmas Bloody Christmas. Both flawed movies, but the violence is indeed gratuitous (if you can get past the dumb setup or inane chatter, respectively).
Best Robot Manager: Gary the Robot from Moonshot. I mean, he’s sorta dumb comic relief, but I kinda loved Gary and wish he showed up later in the movie. The movie itself is an underseen and perfectly cromulent romantic comedy with SF trimmings. It’s got Zach Braff in it for some reason! It’s got teen actors that I don’t recognize, but who apparently have huge fandoms! It’s set on a trip to Mars, despite the title? Look, it’s not exactly fine cinema, but I enjoyed myself more than the reviews seem to indicate.
Most Underseen Romantic Comedy: I Want You Back. This Charlie Day and Jenny Slate romantic comedy didn’t get much play this year, probably because it was a direct to streaming release. Not sure it would have done The Lost City or Ticket to Paradise numbers, but I do think it’s better than those two movies, even if it’s lacking in starpower. But Day and Slate are great, and even Scott Eastwood is likeable here (which is saying something, cause he’s pretty bland everywhere else).
Best Losing Her Shit Monologue: Resurrection. About midway through the movie, Rebecca Hall just drops this amazing monologue that washes over you like a ton of bricks. And sure, I’ll also through a notice to Pearl here, as Mia Goth also unleashes a corker of a monologue towards the end of the film. I’ll let Rebecca Hall have this award though, as we’ll give Mia Goth:
Best Fake Freeze Frame: Pearl. It’s not exactly meant to be a fake freeze frame, I guess, but the camera holds on Mia Goth’s ridiculous smiling face for a comically long time.
Best Cameo: David Lynch playing John Ford in The Fabelmans. Absolutely perfect, and while this was apparently known before the movie was released, it was fortunately not spoiled for me.
Most Unexpected Appearance of Chain Mail: Decision to Leave. If you so desire, you can explore a lot of thematic depth in Park Chan Wook’s police procedural, but it’s still a thriller that features scenes where a cop, confronted with a knife wielding criminal, pulls out a chain mail glove, catches the knife blade in his armored hand whilst beating the criminal with his other fist.
Most Baffling Use of Color Grading: Emancipation. I get that digital color grading in post production can be a powerful tool, but I don’t know what on earth was going on with this movie. I mean, I get it – a desaturated color palette can emphasize certain thematic elements in a movie about slavery – but the execution was just painful. Like, literally painful, my eyes were so constantly strained throughout the film that by the end, I had a pounding headache. Just shoot the damn thing in black and white and digitally colorize the fire in those scenes, and you’d be much better off. I have not seen it yet, but Women Talking apparently has a similar feel to it (the trailer I saw was not quite as bad, but it was still hurting my eyes). (Update: I have now seen Women Talking, and it is indeed desaturated in the extreme, though not quite as bad as Emancipation. Still distracting and downright ugly, and yes, I get the point of said desaturation and director Sarah Polley tries her best to make the proceedings more interesting through blocking and compositions, but it all just feels drab and bland rather than an accentuation of the film’s themes, which encompass more than that.)
The Wholesome Frankenstein Award: Brian and Charles. This lovely low-fi story about a lonely beardo inventor who creates a robot out of an old washing machine is weird and fun and charming.
Best YouTube Release: Line Goes Up – The Problem With NFTs. Not exactly a traditional film, but this 138 minute long takedown of Crypto and NFTs is certainly well done for something done on a shoestring and released on a personal YouTube channel.
Should Host the Oscars: Johnny Knoxville. As paraphrased by longtime Kaedrin friend Dave: “Hi, I’m Johnny Knoxville and this is the Oscars!” *gets slapped in the dick by Will Smith.* Other potential hosts: Lydia Tár, Benoit Blanc, the aformentioned Gary the Robot, and of course, the Predator.
That does it for the 2022 Arbitrary Awards, but stay tuned, moar 2022 movie commentary incoming, including the traditional Top 10 list (this will probably take a couple weeks) and some Oscars commentary…
Update: I’ve caught up with a couple of Oscar nominees that necessitated updating the Garth Marenghi award for didacticism. Big shocker, I know. Say what you will about the rest of the films, but they’re almost cartoonishly didactic films and representative of the Oscars’ desperate attempt to make a Statement (capital S). One of these films also qualifies for the Most Baffling Use of Color Grading, more as a runner up (but it’s still not great).