The 2022 Dionysus Awards

Sunday, July 31, 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


Thursday, June 23, 2022 -- 8:38 PM

This poses an interesting

This poses an interesting question. The issue of worth comes up in at least two ways. One is what's worth being broadcast, which must take into account time constraints, topic relevance, concision, et. al. Another is what is worth being listened to, which regards potential benefits to the listener, respective desire on the part of the authors of the material with respect to its distribution, and the hope of contribution to a field of study and to society as a whole. Worthiness is thus a uniform predicate applied here to two distinct objects: an ear attached to a listener, and a pen, microphone, or other recording device attached to an author. What occurs if, considered in isolation for the sake of argument, Leibniz's principle of Identity of Indiscernibles is applied to this predicate application? If it's an identical predicate which fully determines the subjects to which it applies, they must be the same thing. But how are the listener and the producer the same? When speaking of the worth of a what, how's the being of the what impressed by the worth of the it? To clarify, "what" refers to worthiness-degree, whereas "it" is the thing which is worthy, but couldn't have begun that way. The it is "underway" to worthiness-determination by the what, described therefore as a value judgement on the factical it. Isn't it the case then that this can be found not in what exists, but what could exist: a potential object of common aspiration or possibility? Regardless of how such a possibility might be described, e.g. as common understanding, mutual participation in unexamined questions, or what have you, it seems to offer a way to resolve the question of how a single predicate can appear to fully determine two apparently separate objects without having to commit one's self to the claim that they are separate objects. In speaking of the connection of it-worthiness to what-existence, then, is one constrained to refer to a merely possible understanding or perception of a single object which is bifurcated in actual understanding and perception?

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