The 2022 Dionysus Awards

Sunday, August 7, 2022
First Aired: 
Sunday, March 20, 2022

What Is It

What recent movies artfully explored philosophical ideas and questions, or complicated political or ethical issues that previously seemed straightforward? Josh and guest co-host Jeremy Sabol present our annual Dionysus Awards for the most thought-provoking films of 2021, including:

  • Best Attempt to Redeem 80+ Years of Questionable Ethics
  • Best Film about Complicated Mothers Telling Uncomfortable Truths
  • Best Adapted Novel about Trauma, Marginalization, Self-Deception, and the Gap Between Appearance and Reality

Listening Notes

In this episode, Josh and Jeremy present the ninth annual Dionysus Awards for their favorite, most philosophically thought-provoking movies of the year. They begin by comparing “The Lost Daughter” and “Parallel Mothers” for the category of Best Film About Complicated Mothers Telling Uncomfortable Truths. Josh and Jeremy agree that the award should go to “Parallel Mothers” for its ability to combine the story of two mothers with a larger national story of civilian killings in Spain, which are tied together through the theme of truth-telling. 

Next, the philosophers welcome Alex King, Professor of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University, to the show to discuss the nominees for Best Adapted Novel About Trauma, Marginalization, Self-Deception, and the Gap Between Appearance and Reality. She compares the similarities between “The Power of the Dog”  and “Passing” — the time period and having two main characters as foils to one another. In the end, Alex gives the award to “Passing” for its well-crafted use of intentional ambiguity. 

In the last segment of the show, Josh and Jeremy hear nominations from the audience as well as from Ray Briggs, a regular co-host of Philosophy Talk. Listeners award “The Last Duel” with Best Rashomon-Style Film About Patriarchal Domination with an Existentialist Hero and “Cuties” with Film that Uses Looking to Get Beyond Looking. Ray highlights the recent motif of strong female leads and global characters in Disney movies “Encanto” and “Cruella,” and the latter receives the Dionysus Award for Best Effort to Redeem 80 Years of Questionable Movie History for its intentional complexity. 

  • Roving Philosophical Report (Seek to 1:24) → Holly J. McDede finds the philosophy in the docuseries “The Beatles: Get Back.”



Josh Landy  
Welcome to Philosophy Talk, the program that questions everything...

Jeremy Sabol  
...except your intelligence. I'm Jeremy Sabol, sitting in for Ray Briggs.

Comments (5)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, February 13, 2022 -- 5:50 AM

An affectionate nod to our

An affectionate nod to our friends in BC. My nephew is a musician/singer/songwriter in Vancouver.
I am fond of the Canadian art culture and happy for the success of my kin.

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, March 18, 2022 -- 10:11 PM

There is no tension between

I think Alex has misunderstood The Power of the Dog.

There is no tension between Phil and Peter. One is a man, and the other is a shadow of manhood. Peter states a definition, protect your mother, then murders Phil to get it done. There is only one man in this film, and it is Peter. Masculinity is redefined to unabashed attention to one's sexuality regardless of the Power of the Dog. That Peter sees it right away emasculates Phil. Take a drag of that anthrax ciggy and reimagine gender expression as a dominant masculine path. And, of course, protect your feminine kin while you are at it. A new masculinity is defined and masterfully executed by Kodi Smit-McPhee.

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Saturday, March 26, 2022 -- 9:03 PM

It is worth it. Cleary Alex

It is worth it. Cleary Alex understood the movie.

I like both these movies and the conversation was to the point. It was funny when Alex loses her train of thought. Production sometimes can miss the train.

Good ride though. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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Daniel's picture


Tuesday, June 28, 2022 -- 6:42 PM

The brilliance and compact

The brilliance and compact unity of evenly distributed ambiguities make "Power of the Dog" a viable candidate, even if not successfully achieved, for a Dionysius award. Its potential flaw, preventing the viewer's imagination from filling in the gaps in collaborative exercise with its production-elements, describable as narrative autonomic healment which is characteristic of great works of film, like "Deliverance" of 1972 or the several films produced by Frederick Hobbes during that same period, is the token female character of Rose used as a narrative bond which ties the two male characters, the dutifully masculine Phil and the comfortably doesn't-need-to-be-masculine Peter, together in a reversal of gender-role recognition which moves from traditional appearances to comprehensive realities which are given emphasis by being set in an environment of ranch work and cowboy's attire. The Rose character serves the purpose of complicating the relationship between the two males and driving their opposing tendencies into each other, but remaining relatively one-dimensional herself, and therefore playing no able role in what needs to be assumed in imaginative interpretation to bring the ambiguities together. Besides this possible defect, however, it arguably fulfills one salient standard of intellectual enhancement in cinematic context: a film with many loose ends which the viewer her/himself successfully puts together.

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